| Henton Saxon |
|Nouns decline according to...|
|Verbs conjugate according to...|
Though the language itself is in general referred to plainly as Sächsisch — natively rendered as Saxisch — the term Henton Saxon refers specifically to the language codified by the Henton & Ȝearliȝe Wordbook (henceforth abbreviated as H&Ȝ), pressed by the Wessiȝ Prefecture and the Burgraveship of Fromenmoot. The grammatical norms and words defined in the H&Ȝ somewhat accurately reflect the semi-standardised variety of a Saxon language spoken in eastern Cornwall, in Wessiȝ, Suthiȝ and Kent, though much dialectical standardisation and levelling is shown in the H&Ȝ forms.
The proscribed name for this form of the language is formally Henton-and-Ȝearliȝe Saxon — even as the majority of speakers use "Saxisch" as their term of choice.
The phonology of the Wessiȝ dialect of Henton Saxon is fairly representative of the language area as a whole. It reflects several very distinct southern English features, though it is generally free of the more extensive German influence exerted on more eastern dialects. It has 27 consonant phonemes and 13 vowels.
The twenty-seven consonant phonemes, along with their most common orthographical representations, are:
|Nasals||m (m)||n (n)||ŋ (nk/ng/nch)|
|Stops||p b (p b)||t d (t d)||tʃ dʒ (tch/ch dg/j)||k g (k g)|
|Fricatives||f v (f v/f)||θ ð (th þ/th)||s z (s z)||ʃ ʒ (sch j)||
|Sonorants||w (w/ȝ)||r l (r l)||j (ȝ)||ʟ (l)*|
- * in a coda position, written without an intrusive vowel
The 13 vowels, in the vowel space:
|High||i: ɪ||aɨ aʉ||u: ʌ|
|Mid||ɛ|| əɨ əʉ|
A fourteenth vowel, /ɪ̈/, may appear in transcription; this vowel is phonetically identical to /ɪ/, except that it is considered its unstressed counterpart.
Stress, Phonotactics, Phoneme DistributionEdit
As is the general case among Germanic languages, Wessiȝ Saxon allows both words that are monosyllabic and polysyllabic. Not deviating from the common Germanic norm, it allows various sorts of consonant clusters and tends to avoid vowel hiatuses. Vowels are the only permissible syllable nucleus — epenthetic vowels may be inserted to break up clusters that do not conform to phonaesthetics, and often undergo syncope when a syllabic suffix is added.
Stress in words is generally fixed. Native words are always stressed on the first syllable of the root: the stress doesn't retract to the first syllable of a word when a prefix is added. Foreign loans, especially those that are recent or otherwise poorly integrated into the phonetics and lexicon of the language, may have stress on syllables other than the root initial: e.g. Latinate words tend to retain the stress they had in Latin. Saxon stress is a combination of pitch, loudness, and vowel quality: length is phonemic, and short vowels are quantitatively the same regardless of the stress.
A peculiarity of Saxon is that it generally disallows word-initial voiceless fricatives — the only exceptions are the clusters /sp st sk/ that have a voiceless sibilant, certain loans such as <France> /fra:ns/, and words influenced by loans, such as <frank> /frank/. The fricative /ʃ/ is exempt from this rule as it lacks a native voiced counterpart.
As with most English languages with a literate tradition, Henton Saxon has an orthography that is sprinkled with irregularities and odd patterns, stemming from its long history of development. It continues several prominent Old and Middle English scribal traditions and peculiarities, such as the retention of the ȝeoch and þorn.
Tradition divides the graphemes of the H&Ȝ standard into two groups: the vowel graphemes <a e ȝ i o u y> and the consonant graphemes <b c d f g ȝ h j k l m n p q r s þ t v w x z>. The ȝeoch <ȝ> is counted as both a consonant and a vowel due to its erratic representation and usage.
Ultimately, this orthographical guide should be treated as just a guideline: many words break expected patterns and behave in erratic ways.
The consonantal grapheme set <p b t d k g> represents the plosives /p b t d k g/.
The fricative grapheme pair <v h> maps to /v ɣ/, whereas the remaining pair <f s> can map to both the voiceless /f s/ and their voiced counterparts /v z/; while <f> is /v/ only initially, <s> may be /z/ intervocalically, as well as word-finally in unstressed monosyllables.
The grapheme <z> represents /z/ in native words, and the affricate /ts/ in loans from languages such as German and Italian.
The grapheme <þ> represents /ð/, and occurs only initially. Word-internally (as well as occasionally initially), the digraph <th> is used to represent /θ ð/.
The digraphs <ch hw> represent /x ɣʷ/, and the trigraph <sch> represents /ʃ/. A few loans from French and Spanish have <j> representing the voiced /ʒ/.
The grapheme <c> represents /s/ before front vowel graphemes (even when the vowel itself isn't front), and /k/ in all other contexts.
The affricate /tʃ/ is represented by <ch> word-initially — as native words do not have /x/ in initial positions — and <tch> internally. Its voiced counterpart /dʒ/ is represented by <dg> in native words, where it is never initial, and by <j> in loans from Norman.
The grapheme <m> represents /m/ in all cases, whereas <n> represents a coronal /n/ only when not near velars; <n> followed by any of <k g ch> always represents /ŋ/, though the sequence <ng> is ambiguous as to whether it represents the cluster /ŋg/ or just the nasal /ŋ/.
The duo <w r> represents /w r/ in all positions. The function and distribution of the ȝeoch <ȝ> is best covered as a part of the framework of vowel graphemes. The grapheme <l> represents /l/ in prevocalic positions (even when the vowel is silent or intrusive); it represents /ʟ/ in a coda position before consonants when not after one of /i: ɛ əɨ ɑɨ/ and when not after a stressed /ɪ/. The phoneme represented by <l> word-finally after vowels varies as /l~ʟ/ based on dialect.
The grapheme <x> generally represents /ks/ initially and /gz/ internally; some foreign loans may have <x> stand for /z/; this is usually the case with French and Venetian loans.
Digraphs are resolved first in non-compounds; compounds that generate such sequences may optionally be written with a hyphen.
In unstressed syllables, the grapheme set <e i> generally represent the reduced vowels /ə ɪ̈/. Furthermore, most foreign unstressed <o u a> also come to represent /ə/.
In stressed syllables, written before either a final single consonant or a consonant cluster between vowels, the set <a e i o u> represents the short set /ɑ ɛ ɪ ɔ ʌ/. Before single medial consonants, or final single consonants with a silent <e>, <i a o> represent the long set /əɨ ɑɨ əʉ/; the graphemes <e o> do not occur in such a position. The vowel grapheme <y> always represents /ɪ/ regardless of stress or position.
The digraphs <aa ie oa ou> represent /a: i: əʉ u:/ in practically all positions. These four digraphs also represent the same phonemes before word-final single consonants with a silent <e>.
A word-initial <ȝ> generally represents /j/ before front vowel graphemes, and seldom occurs before back vowels, with the exception of <u>. It is generally mute in the sequences <iȝe aȝe ouȝe oȝe oaȝe>, which verbosely represent plain /əɨ ɑɨ u: əʉ əʉ/; an exception to this would be the word-final sequences <iȝe aȝe oȝe, which can stand for /ɪj aj ɔj/, as well as (possibly hyperorrective) /ɪjə ajə ɔjə/. Likewise, final <ȝ> is generally silent, except in the sequence <-iȝ>, which represents /ɪ̈j/ after consonants. It is also often used for non-initial /w/ with sporadic regularity; the sequence <ieȝe> could be read as both /i:w/ and /i:j/. Additionally, initial /ja:/ and /jɔ/ are represented with <ȝea> and <ȝeo>.
Several morphologically conditioned phonological alternations operate as significant factors in Saxon. Some of these are common Germanic innovations, while others are uniquely Saxon in form and fucntion.
The primary morphophonolgical alternation operating in Saxon is grammatical ablaut, inherited directly from Proto-Indo-European through Proto-Germanic. It is generally poorly preserved in the nominal system, though verbs generally reflect a much more vivid and productive image. Some examples of extant ablaut patterns in Saxon:
- /*a ~ *u/ — tooth :: tind (from Proto-Germanic *tanþs & *tundijaną)
- /*ō ~ *u/ — root :: wurt (from Proto-Germanic *wrōts & *wurds)
- /*eu ~ *u/ — tie :: tycht (from Proto-Germanic *teuhaną & *tuhtiz)
Alternations involving nominals are generally very opaque and span what are now multiple Saxon words, rather than influencing the alternations within one paradigm alone. Strong verbs preserve a much better accord of ablaut:
- /*a ~ *ō ~ *a/ — forzake :: forzook :: forzaken (from Proto-Germanic *frasakō & *frasōk & *frasakanaz)
- /*ī ~ *ai ~ *i/ — drive :: droave :: ydriven (from Proto-Germanic *drībō & *draib & *dribanaz)
- /*e ~ *a ~ *u/ — ficht :: facht :: yfochten (from Proto-Germanic *fihtō & *faht & *fuhtanaz)
Many of the alternations present in Proto-Germanic have been rendered at least partially opaque, and the sound changes have rendered many of the original relationships hard to spot, as many new alternations have developed and been introduced due to umlaut and general vowel shifts.
Some of the more contemporary morphophonological alternations include the Ingvaeonic Nasal-Spirant Law:
- /Vnk ~ Vxt/ — slink :: slichte (from Old English slincan)
A relatively early Anglic development of trisyllabic vowel shortening is also observable:
- /əi ~ ɪ/ — Crist :: Cristendom
- /ɑʉ ~ ʌ/ — house :: huslerd (from Old English hūs-hlāfweard)
Saxon nouns are morphologically fairly simple. They tend to distinguish two numbers and three cases, in a manner much more simplified compared to earlier stages of English. They are much more poorly inflected, and with a general paradigmatic levelling indicative of morphological simplification. In turn, nouns have acquired definiteness marking by use of articles, an innovation compared to Old English.
Lexically, Saxon nouns reflect the category of gender only very poorly. As gender agreement has been eroded away in adjectives, this has only left its trace in pronouns used to refer to nouns. Otherwise, the only lexically determined category a noun has is its nominative plural marking, which has become unpredictable in contemporary Saxon, and has always been cited alongside the nominative in every edition of H&Ȝ.
Generally, all regular Saxon nouns fall into one large declensional category that only has an umpredictable nominative singular. All nouns nominally distinguish between the nominative, accusative (or, oblique) and genitive cases, though the distinction is total only in the plural of some nouns; in the singular, the nominative and accusative cases regularly have identical forms, also called the direct form of the noun.
The direct form of each noun is unique. The genitive singular is always readily derived from the noun's direct form. In the plural, nouns sometimes have a unique plural stem to which suffixes are added. In addition to showing the irregular plural suffix, the nominative plural also helps provide the plural stem for each noun.
Four sample nouns, of different regular plural classes, and an irregularly pluralising noun, are best examples of what suffixes nouns take in inflection:
|hammer (p1)||trie (p2)||xeniver (p3)||house (p4)||mann (irr)|
The genitive plural of each noun can be derived either from its nominative plural (in which case it takes the nominative suffix and adds a single suffixed /-s/), or its accusative plural (where the same process applies). Nouns that have nominative plurals identical to a singular case form, be it nominative or genitive, always build the genitive plural off the accusative, and nouns that have irregular, but distinct nominative plurals build their genitive plurals off the nominative.
The distribution of nouns in plural classes varies geographically: nouns may differ in the plurals they take based on provenance. Thus, many nouns in various areas take several plurals. The primary source of confusion is alternation between class 3 (-s plural) and class 4 (zero plural) nouns, which may even be in free variation in certain areas.
The primary category of plurals is by and large class 3 plurals, taking <-s>; these nouns generally descend from old masculine nouns that took <-as> in Old English, and also cover old polysyllabic neuter nouns. Weak plurals, belonging to class 2, take <-en> and level the nominative and accusative plurals; they belong to any gender. Class 1 nouns, taking a plural in <-er>, have been generalised across many class 2 and 3 nouns, and are generally the plurals loaned nouns from North Scandinavian, and some from German, tend to take. Many German nouns that have <-e> plurals also take the class 1 suffix; this also extends to cognates with North Scandinavian, where native nouns end up taking on Scandinavian plurals. Zero plurals, making up class 4, are generally formed on old monosyllabic neuters (such as <ȝear>), many of which can additionally form class 3 plurals (giving forms such as <ȝeares>). Irregular nouns generally have stem alternations, or irregular plural suffixes, and can usually additionally be categorised as belonging to one of the four regular plural classes.
In the course of their development, the Saxon dialects covered by H&Ȝ have acquired grammaticalised articles that indicate the definiteness of their nouns. The articles only reflect the number of the noun they stand with, and do not agree in any other grammatical category with it.
The indefinite article derives from a semantically bleached variant of the numeral "one", whereas the definite article derives from a demonstrative. There is considerable dialectical variation between geographical areas as to which articles they use, and it is often possible to determine the rough provenance of a speaker based only off a sample of his articles.
A rough sampling of the most common average articles of speakers by rough dialectological province:
|H&Ȝ Standard||Fromenmoot||Kenneth||Angliȝe & Martch||Bywales||Londyll|
|def||þe /ðə/||þe /ðə/||þe /ðə/||þe /ðə/||þy /ðɪ/||þe /ðə/||þy /ðɪ/||þy /ðɪ/|
Saxon verbs represent a morphologically complex category relative to the other parts of speech, though it still represents a simplification relative to older English verbs. Saxon verbs morphologically distinguish two tenses (present and preterite), and two moods (indicative and subjunctive/imperative). Based on how they form their preterites and past participles, they may be divided into strong, weak and, innovatively for Saxon, mixed category verbs. Where the weak verbs form their past forms using a dental suffix, strong verbs do so through ablaut; mixed verbs show characteristics of both, having (occasionally irregular) ablaut, while also reflecting a dental suffix.
There is little dialectical variation for verbs: the only significantly noticeable dialectically determined feature is the formation of the subjunctive (most of all, its preterite). Other than such edge cases, conjugation is relatively uniform and most of the differences are on a lexical level. Other dialectically determined features are the formation of the supine and present participle, both of which have a derivational nature.
Morphologically, Saxon reflcects two tenses, the present and preterite (with three formation tactics), both of which can take two moods, the indicative and subjunctive (also serving as an imperative). They also have two participles, an active and passive one, and the infinitive (whose form varies between dialects but generally lines up with either the singular or plural of the present subjunctive). Additional forms, such as the gerund, supine and actor derivations, are occasionally also counted as morphological inflectional verb categories.
Personal conjugation is limited to the indicative present: all other verbs have levelled person marking. All verbs take the same person agreement markers, regardless of class. An example with three verbs; one strong, one weak, and one mixed:
|eite (str. V)||drauȝe||bezaak (mx. IV)|
The indicative present is regularly derived from the present subjunctive singular, which is predictable from a verb's infinitive form. Regardless of the form of the infinitive, the subjunctive is formed from the infinitive stem to which the same suffixes are attached for all three conjugational classes. An example with three verbs; one strong, one weak, and one mixed:
|finde (str. IIIb)||lichte||kerve (mx. IIIc)|
The presence or absence of a schwa in the present subjunctive singular can be indicative both of provenance (speakers from areas such as Kenneth and the Estuary towns like Londyll insert the schwa often), as well as sociolinguistics (more educated circles insert the schwa more often, even when it is not from their dialect zone).
The Saxon infinitive is noteworthy for being very variant across dialects, with many different solutions and realisations and multiple isoglosses affecting distribution of forms. The infinitive comes in two broad forms: a syllabic infinitive, always one of <-e, -en> /-ə, -ən/, and the short infinitive, which is indicated by a zero morpheme. Due to Saxon orthographical concerns, it is not always easy to see whether an author has syllabic or short infinitives. The H&Ȝ Standard is remarkably lenient, and it accepts dialects with both short and long infinitives. Entries in the Wordbook frequently indicate both the short and syllabic infinitive forms for many verbs, though precedence is given to short infinitives, found natively in Wessiȝ.
Some of the distributions, charted across prominent Saxon townships and regions:
|All Acceptable||VK, V̄K||V̄#||V̆C||V̆CC||V̄(CC)#||V̆C||V̆CC||V̄(CC)#||V̆C||V̆CC||V̄(CC)#||V̆C||V̆CC||V̄(CC)#||Str. V.||Wk. V.||V̄#||Str. V.||Wk. V.||V̄#|