Xwere Gonom

Xwere Gonom [ˈxʷɛɾɛ kɔˈnɔ̃] is a recent – begun October 2022 – language spoken by the Łiined Gonom [ɬiːˈnɛt̪ kɔˈnɔ̃], a riverine people living in an area with a tropical climate and a cycle of wet/dry seasons. Their culture has a traditional emphasis on fishing and horticulture, with only a relatively limited amount of animal husbandry.

The language is strongly head-initial, exhibiting a basic VSO constituent order, prepositions and postposed adnominal modifiers. It possesses a restrained three-case system which exhibits differential argument marking for depending on the animacy of subjects and objects. Verbs agree with their absolutive argument in person and number. There are a total of 11 aspects/moods, which are conflated into a single morphological category, but no morphological tense or voice. Grammatical number is a salient morphological category only for animate referents. Pronouns and verbal agreement distinguish clusivity in the first person and consanguinity in the first person inclusive and second person; in the third person, there is a distinction between human, other animates and inanimate.

The consonant phoneme inventory includes a two-way voiceless–glottalised contrast for bilabial and velar plosives but a three-way voiceless–glottalised–aspirated contrast for dental/alveolar and retroflex plosives and affricates. The vowel phoneme inventory distinguishes four broad monophthongal qualities, all of which come in short–long pairs; there are also various diphthongs; there is a further oral–nasal contrast for all monophthongs and diphthongs. Stress is weight sensitive and anchored towards the right edge of the word: a final syllable is stressed if it is heavy (i.e. contains a diphthong, long vowel, nasal vowel or coda consonant), otherwise stress is penultimate.

On 23 April, I gave a presentation entitled Clausal negation in Xwere Gonom at the 10ᵗʰ Language Creation Conference. See the slides here, the clipped video here and that day’s full livestream here.