Da Mätz se Basa: A Lost Germanic Language (S9)



Syllables are C(C)V(C)(C). Not all constraints have been found out yet.

Open syllables have longer vowels. Often, the quality is also slightly different, i.e., the vowels are tense in open syllables and lax in closed syllables


There is no phonemic length.

front center back
unrounded rounded unrounded rounded
close i [i,ɪ] ü [y,ʏ] u [u,ʊ]
mid ä [e,ɛ] ö [ø,œ] e [ɵ,ɜ] o [o,ɔ]
open a [a]

The pairs [i,ɪ], [y,ʏ], [u,ʊ] denote tense/lax distinctions due to open/closed syllables.

The pairs [e,ɛ], [ø,œ], [o,ɔ] and [ɵ,ɜ]denote free variation.


The following diphthongs exist.

ei au äo ir iu ui ur
[aɪ] [aʊ] [ɛo] [iɐ] [iʊ] [uɪ] [uɐ]

The diphthongs are falling, i.e. the nucleus is on the first vowel.

Note 1: The diphthongs in [ɐ] use a somewhat fossilised orthography in |r| to reflect historic development.

Note 2: The diphthong in [aɪ] also uses a somewhat fossilised orthography |ei|.


labial alveolar velar glottal
voiced voiceless voiced voiceless voiced voiceless voiced voiceless
plosiv b p d t g k
[b] [ph] [d] [th] [g] [kh]
fricative w f s ch h
[v] [f] [s] [ç,χ] h
affricate z, tz
nasal m n ng
[m] [n] [ŋ]
liquid l

'j' is the voiced palatal approximant [j].

The alveolar phones are laminal (not apical).

'p', 't', 'k' are unaspirated before nasals, liquids, and fricatives.

Furthermore, 'x' is [ks], 'br' is [pχ], 'dr' is [tχ], 'gr' is [kχ].

[ts] uses the grapheme 'z' at the beginning of words, and 'tz' otherwise.

'ch' is palatal after front and center vowels, and uvular after back vowels.

Note: There seems to be no /r/ phoneme anymore. All occurences of |r| are fossilised and actually a different phoneme -- sometimes /x/ (in br, dr, gr) and sometimes /a/ (in diphthongs).


In multisyllabic words, stress is always on the penultimate syllable. The stressed syllable is pronounced with a long vowel (but vowel length is not phonemic). This may sounds strange to German ears: operieren > pächirt ['p_hE:XIO)t]

Historic Development

The history of the development of Da Mätz se Basa is not at all revealed yet, since the language was found only recently and there has not been much research. This section lists some assumed sound changes from Standard High German to Da Mätz se Basa. One of the most More irregular effects must have in earlier times, e.g. fusions of words and certain borrowings often show i-umlaut and sometimes a-umlaut phenomena.

One yet unexplained phenomenon is the strong reduction of consonant clusters.


original Da Mätz se Basa
[ɔʏ] [uɪ] ui
[ɵʏ] [ɛo] äo
[ɪɐ] [iɔ] ir
[iːɐ] [iɔ] ir
[yːɐ] [iɔ] ir
[yɐ] [iɔ] ir
[aɐ] [a] a
[aːɐ] [a] a
[ɔɐ] [uɔ] ur
[oːɐ] [uɔ] ur
[ʊɐ] [uɔ] ur
[uːɐ] [uɔ] ur
[ɪ] [i], [ɛ] i, ä often short vowels were lowered and long ones raised
[e] [i], [ɛ] i, ä often short vowels were lowered and long ones raised
[st]- [ts] z
[ʃt]- [ts] z
-[ls(t)] [ts] tz
-[ns(t)] [ts] tz
-[nʃ(t)] [ts] tz
-[mf] [pf] pf
-[lf] [pf] pf
[ʃ] [s] s
[z] [s] s
-[ɐ] [ɔ] o
-[kt]- [t] t


Intervocalic -n- often dropped. Often, vowels dropped with it: 'General' > 'Gächal'.

-r- after consonant dropped but after plosives at the beginning of words

Intervocalic -r- often > -h-, or > -ch- or was lost. Final -r either > -ch or was lost.

Most intervocalic clusters were reduced to only one consonant.

Most 'ge-' prefixes were lost.

Words in German words in '-tion' and '-sion' and Dutch words in '-tie' and '-sie' (mostly loans from Latin) drop the ending except a final '-s'. Probably the German words were re-interpreted as Dutch and then the '-ie' was dropped since it had no stress. So, '-ation'/'-atie' > 'as'. The corresponding verb ending '-ieren' ('-iert') > 'irt'.

Like 'ge-', many unstressed syllables at the edge of the stems were lost, especially in longer words originally borrowed from Latin: 'Operation' > 'pächas', 'operieren'/'operiert' > 'pächirt'.


original context Da Mätz se Basa
[a], [aɪ], [iɐ] [i] [ɛ] ä
[o], [ɔ], [aʊ] [i] [ø] ö
[u], [ʊ], [uɐ], [ʊɐ] [i] [y] ü
[u], [aʊ] [a] [o] o
[ü] [a] [ø] ö
[i] [a] [ɛ] ä
October 28th, 2007
Comments? Suggestions? Corrections? You can drop me a line.