Focurc language

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Focurc (ifocurclíd [ɜ́fòkʰʌrkʰʟid]) is a West Germanic language spoken in the Falkirk area in the Scottish Lowlands. Focurc is a Scots language and as such it is closely related to Scots. This family is a branch of the Anglo-Frisian languages which include Yola, Fingalian, English and Frisian. In particular the Scots languages descend from the Northumbrian dialect of Old English. Like other Scots languages, Focurc has been at the receiving end of attempts to wipe the language out in favour of English, these attempts have been successful as Focurc is now a moribund language with only several hundred speakers remaining and with children not learning Focurc at all anymore. More specifically Focurc is spoken in a group of villages in the south of the district called Focurclanwurt (“rural Falkirk”).The earliest mention of Focurclanwurt is of the region being a census registration area in the 19th century under the anglicised name “Falkirk Landward”. Despite Focurclanwurt no longer existing as an official entity is still remains a region for locals to identify with, and as a home for the Focurc language. Traditionally the area has been used for agriculture but especially for mining, although mining has all but ceased in the area you can still see many bings (“shale heaps”) standing around as a testament to the past.

Phonology[edit]

Vowels[edit]

Front Central Back
Oral Nasal Oral Nasal Oral Nasal
High í /i/ íñ /ĩ/ ú /ʉ/ ó /u/ óñ /ũ/
Near-High é /ɪ/ éñ /ɪ̃/
High-Mid ui /ɘ/

ú /ɵ/

uiñ /ɘ̃/

úñ /ɵ̃/

Mid e /e/ eñ /ẽ/ y,a /ə/ o /o/

(ô,o [o̙])

oñ /õ/
Low-Mid i /ɜ/ iñ /ɜ̃/ u /ʌ/ uñ /ʌ̃/
Low a /a/ añ /ã/
  • Before word final /ŋ/ the vowels /a ɪ ɜ/ become the diphthongs [aːɘ ɪːɘ ɜːɘ], this change is showing in the spelling as <aui éui iui>: sauing ("song"), réuing ("ring, circle"), hiuing ("thing").
  • The vowel ô [o̙] is an allophone of /ʟ/ when syllablic or when not in the onset of a syllable.
  • The vowel /ʉ/ is rare, occurring only in the conditional proclitic úd- and the interjection hoú ("hey, attention").

Diphthongs

Diphthongs
iú /ɘɵ/ iúñ /ɘ̃ɵ̃/ aj /ai/ ij /ɜi/ iñj /ɜ̃ĩ/ ój /ui/
  • The diphthong aj is rare due to having mostly merged with ij, it remains mostly in use in the word aj ("yes") but only as a variant of ij ("yes, hey, wow").
  • There are also diphthongs which consist of any vowel plus /o̙/, although depending on analyses these may be seen as vowel hiatuses.

Low Central Vowel-Dropping

Low Central Vowel Dropping (or LCVD) is a process of syncope where the vowels /ɜ/ or /ʌ/ preceding a nasal consonant are lost in non-initial syllables. LCDV does not apply if the vowels come after /r/ or if the vowels are sandwiched by

  • sin [sɜ̀ːń̩] ("son") → masn [másǹ̩] ("my son")
  • schpin [ʃpʰɜ̀ːn] ("spoon" → ischpn [ɜ́ʃpǹ̩] ("the spoon")
  • binane [bɜ̀náne̞] ("banana") → mabhnane [máβǹane̞] ("my banana")
  • binanís [bɜ̀nánis] ("bananas") → ôbnanís? [ò̙̯bń̩anis] ("will bananas?")
  • -binc- [bɜ̀ŋkʰ] ("to press down") → aobnc [áo̙bŋ̀kʰ] ("I will press down")
  • in [ɜːn] "in" → ewsn [é̞ws̀n̩] ("he was in")
  • lum [ʟʌ̀ːm] ("chimney") → iôm [ɜ́o̙m̩̀] ("the chimney") (if the initial consonant is /ʟ/ then it will alternate to [o̙] as it is now in a syllable final position])
  • -cum- [kʰʌ̀ːm] ("come") → wuocm [wʌ́o̙kʰm̩̀] ("we will come")
  • unca [ʌ̀ŋkʰá] ("weird, odd") → a-nca mn [áŋkʰà mǹ̩] ("a weird man")

This rule still applies even when the proclitic is not directly attached to the noun; for example when it attaches to an adjective instead. It could be assumed that LCVD started as a feature that only occurred when the proclitic was directly attached to the word yet by association of being used with the proclitic it must have spread by analogy to occur even when the proclitic attached to another word in the phrase:

  • ighid sn [ɜ́ʝɜ̀d sǹ̩] "the good son"
  • imañche schpn [ɜ́mã̀ɕe̞ ʃpǹ̩] "the dirty spoon"
  • majela bhnane [májè̞ʟa βǹáne̞] "my yellow banana"
  • ôbrúan bnanís? [ò̙̯brɵ́ən bǹ̩ánis] "will all brown bananas?"
  • aonó bnc [áo̙̯nu bŋ̩kʰ] "I will not press down"
  • ewsnó n [é̞ws̀nu n̩] "he wasn't in"
  • ito ôm [ɜ́tʰo̞ o̙m̩̀] "the tall chimney"
  • wuonó cm [wʌ́o̙nu kʰm̩̀] "we won't come"

Consonants[edit]

Labial Labiodental Dental Alveolar Post-Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal p /p/

b /b/

t /t/

d /d/

k /k/

g /g/

t /ʔ/
Plosive m /m/ n /n/ ng /ŋ/
Fricative ph [ɸ]

bh [β]

f /f/

v /v/

ð /ð/ s /s/ sch /ʃ/ ch [ɕ~ç]

gh [ʑ~ ʝ]

(x ɣ) h /χ/ h
Affricate tch /t͡ʃ/

dj /d͡ʒ/

tch [t͡ɕ]

dj [d͡ʑ]

Approximant j /j/ quh /ʍ/

w /w/

Lateral Approximant l /ʟ/
Trill r /r/
  • The voiceless plosives besides the glottal stop are all aspirated: /p/ [pʰ] /t/ [tʰ] /k/ [kʰ].
  • The trill /r/ is pronounced as a tap [ɾ] between vowels, and there is free variation with [ɾ] elsewhere, mostly after consonants.
  • The clusters /(s)tr/ and /(s)dr/ are realised as dental [(s̪)t̪ɾ̪] and [(s̪)d̪ɾ̪].
  • The pronunciation of s as /s/ is in free variation with [s̺].
  • The consonants /p b t d/ become [pm bm Nː dn] when a nasal consonant or /b/ follows. /t/ becomes a geminate version of whatever nasal follows and is unaffected by /b/: amiht ("I might") > amihnne ("I might not").
  • When /Vʔ/ comes before /d/ (even across word boundaries), the glottal stop is dropped leaving a long vowel: it- ("third person neuter") + -d- ("conditional clitic") + ge ("go") = idge [ɜ́ɜ̀dgeː] ("it would go").
  • Around front and central vowels, the affricates /t͡ʃ/ and /d͡ʒ/ palatalise to [t͡ɕ] [d͡ʑ]. Similarly the clusters /t͡ʃj/ and /d͡ʒj/ are [t͡ɕ] [d͡ʑ].
  • The alveolar plosive /d/ becomes /ð] when before /m/: it- ("third person neuter") + -d- ("conditional clitic") + -mn- ("epistemic clitic") + ge ("go") = iðmnge ("it would have to go").
  • Intervocalic /n/ is always long [nː].
  • When a word ends in a vowel the vowel is long, except for [o̙] which can never be long. If the vowel is accented then it is realised as two adjacent same vowels with different pitches, either High-Low or Low-High.
  • Voiced plosives devoice before /s/ and /ʃ/.
  • All word final nasals are syllabic.


Lenition

In the Focurc there is a form of of consonant gradiation called lenition which happens at the phonetic level only. The phones [β] [ɸ] [ɕ~ç~x] [ʑ~ʝ~ɣ] occur as post-vocalic allophones of /b/ /p/ /k/ /g/ except when followed by a consonant, unless the consonant is [ʟ̩]. However [ɕ] is a mini-phoneme as it is phonemic in some words such as techích /tɛ́kìk/ ("to peer") vs cích /kìɕ/ ("bird shit"). When it is phonemic [ɕ] doesn't revert to [kʰ] when followed by a consonant e.g cíchs [kʰìç̟s] ("bird shit is"). Lenition is marked in orthography by placing <h> after the letter.

The lenited forms of the velar plosives /k/ and /g/ have several realisations depending on the surrounding vowels, if the preceeding vowel is front or central then they will be realised as [ɕ] and [ʑ]: tesích [ʔé̞sìɕ] ("to search"), stegh [stʰèʑ] ("stag"), tebhigh [ʔé̞βɜ̀ʑ] ("to build") and drúchit [drɵ̀ɕɜ́ʔ] ("wet, soaked"). If the preceding vowel is /a/ then they will lenite as the true palatals [ç] and [ʝ]: bach [bàç] ("back") and bagh [bàʝ] ("bag"). If the preceding vowel is back then they will lenite as [x] and [ɣ]: moghur [mo̞ɣʌr] ("despite") and dugh [dʌ̀ɣ] ("dog").

This rule works across word boundaries, so when a noun beginning in /b, p, k, g/ followed by a vowel and takes on a modifier ending in a vowel then this causes lenition:

  • buich [bɘ̀ɕ] ("book") → ibhuich [ɜ́βɘ̀ɕ] ("the book")
  • paartn [pʰáə̀rʔń̩] ("crab") → iphaartn [ɜ́ɸàərʔn̩] ("the crab")
  • [kʰɵ̀] ("cow") → ichú [ɜ́ɕɵ̀] ("the cow")
  • gét [gɪ̀ʔ] ("road") → ighét [ɜ́ʑɪ̀ʔ] ("the road")

However if the initial consonant is followed by another consonant then this doesn't happen:

  • bríd [brìd] ("bread") → ibríd [ɜ́brìd] ("the bread")
  • prían [pʰríɘ̀ń̩] ("needle") → iprían [ɜ́pʰrìɘn̩] ("the needle")
  • cro [kʰróò] ("crow") → icro [ɜ́kʰròó] ("the crow")
  • grú [grɵ́ɵ̀] ("horror") → igrú [ɜ́grɵ̀ɵ́] ("the horror")

Similarly words that end in a vowel followed by /b, p, k, g/ lenite them into [β, ɸ, ɕ~ç~x ʑ~ʝ~ɣ] except when followed by a consonant. In the following examples the plural suffix causes the final consonants to unlenite, if the suffix is begins in /s/ then the final consonant will devoice also:

  • buich [bɘ̀ɕ] ("book") → buics [bɘ̀kʰs] ("books")
  • bagh [bàʝ] ("bag") → bacs [bàkʰs] "bags"

Note: word final /p/ will typically be [ʔ]. This glottal stop will lenite into [ɸ] in the same conditions as [p].

Lenition will also occur when followed by /Vs/ such as in is bhuich ("this book") and íschítng ("he is peering"). This is due to the sound change which brought about lenition being conditioned like this: p, b, k, g → ɸ β ç ʝ/V(s)_(V)(ʟ). The lenition itself seems mostly confined to word boundaries with clitics and affixes triggering lenition in some alternations, auxiliaries and particles don't trigger lenition due to being unbound morphemes: ísnó cítng ("he isn't peering").

Prosody[edit]

Focurc has a phonemic high/low pitch accent system which originated from an earlier stress based system. There are two possible pitch patterns that a word may follow which are refereed to as Fixed Pitch and Shifting Pitch respectively. A minimal pair distinguished only by pitch is idé HL ("the doe") vs idé LH ("today").

Fixed Pitch[edit]

The Fixed Pitch pattern consists of monosyllabic and polysyllabic words which have a low tone on the first syllable of the stem and a high tone on the second syllable (in polysyllabic words). It is named Fixed Pitch as the pitches do not shift when modifiers are attached:

  • hús [hɵ̀s] ("house") → ihús [ɜ̟́hɵ̀s] ("the house")
  • tód [tʰùd] ("fox") → itód [ɜ́tʰùd] ("the fox")

Polysyllabic words which have a low pitch on their first syllable and a high pitch on the second syllable will lose the high pitch on the second syllable when a modifier is attached:

  • féður [fɪ̀ð̪ʌ́r] ("father") → iféður [ɜ́fɪ̀ð̪ʌ́r] the father
  • duiar [dɘ̀ə́r] ("door") → iduar [ɜ́dɘ̀ər] the door
  • haan [hàə́n] ("hand") → ihaan [ɜ́hàən] the hand

Shifting Pitch[edit]

The Shifting Pitch pattern consists of monosyllabic and polysyllabic words which have a high pitch on the first syllable of the stem and low pitch on the second syllable (in polysyllabic words). I named this pattern Shifting Pitch as the pitches shift when modifiers are attached, more specifically the pitch shifts one syllable to the left, for example when used with the definite proclitic i the high tone shifts to i and the low tone to the first syllable of the stem and the second syllable continues to go lower than the first syllable:

  • fit [fɜ́ʔ] ("foot") → ifit [ɜ́fɜ̟̀ʔ] ("the foot")
  • bórah [búràχ] ("group") → ibhórah [ɜ́βùraχ] ("the group")
  • aturcap [áʔʌ̀rkʰaʔ] ("spider") → iaturcap [ɜ́àʔʌrkʰaʔ] ("the spider")

Origin of pitch accent[edit]

The pitch accent of Focurc appears to have originated of an earlier stress timed system (which is still widely found among Scots dialects). A hypothesis is that the vast majority of words belong to the "Fixed Pitch" pattern with the low pitch on the initial syllable of the stem. It seems that Focurc turned stressed syllables into syllables with low pitch and the preceding unstressed syllable became a syllable with high pitch:

  • σ1[+stress]σ2[-stress] → σ1[+high]σ2[+low]

This however doesn't explain how the "Shifting Pitch" pattern arose, perhaps there are more complex environments which caused the Shifting Pitch pattern to begin in a high pitch which haven't yet been identified. Coming from a stress timed system would also explain why function words such as conjunctions, auxiliaries, prepositions etc don't have any pitch as surrounding dialects which retain a stress timed system tend not to place stress on these words and it is fair to say that North-Mid didn't either when it had a stress timed system, and if these words never had stress then they never would have gained pitch either according to the above change.

It also appears that North-Mid Scots shifted stress onto proclitics instead of stressing only the stem. In the shift from North-Mid C to Focurc these stressed proclitics took the high pitch with the initial syllable of the stem taking the low pitch. It is this that caused the pitch to shift when a clitic is attached as shown above in the Shifting Stress section. North-Mid Cstarted to turn determiners (in this case the definite article) into proclitics and shifted the stress onto the proclitics which would later affect the pitch placement.

All of the previous examples have shown how the pitch placement of nouns can be affected by proclitics but verbs undergo the very same thing as Focurc has verbal proclitics. The verbal proclitics (which will be discussed later on in this book) are subject pronouns. These verbal proclitics always take the high tone and cause the initial syllable of the verb stem to take the low pitch, however verb endings always take a high pitch meaning that a verb can have three syllables with pitch (provided that the verb ending is made up of a vowel followed by a consonant, or just a syllabic consonant) which is unlike nouns and adjectives which can only take two syllables with pitch.

  • tescrív [ʔé̞skʰɾìːv] ("to write") → amscrívn [ámskʰɾìːvń̩] ("I am writing")
  • teflit [ʔé̞fʟɜ́ʔ] ("to move") → amflitn [ámfʟɜ̟̀ʔń̩] ("I am moving")

When the future tense interrogative proclitic o/ô- is attached to a proclitic pronoun it takes a low pitch. The reason for this is unlikely to be do to the previous stress system as this proclitic formed when the pitch accent was already in place. Rather it takes a low pitch as the next syllable it attaches to always has a high pitch and Focurc doesn't allow two adjacent syllables to have the same pitch. To avoid this clash the future tense interrogative proclitic always takes a low pitch.

  • ôascrív? FUT=1ST.SG=write? ("will I write?")

Also noteworthy is how when pronoun clitics retain their high pitch even when they are not attached to the verb directly when they attach to a modal verb instead. This is interesting as when attached to a modal verb (which never had pitch or stress) the pronoun is away from the original environment which gave it pitch in the first place. It seems that the pronoun clitics on modal verbs gained pitch by analogy of pronoun clitics on verbs.

  • ôabhi scrívn? FUT=1ST.SG=be writing? ("will I be writing?")

References[edit]

Template:Reflist

https://inews.co.uk/news/long-reads/focurc-newly-documented-language-found-one-scottish-area/

https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/why-focurc-could-be-the-newest-regional-scots-language-1-4556919

External links[edit]