Diachronics & Phonology
Anthologica Universe Atlas / Universes / Context 34 / Weyötiss / Diachronics & Phonology


Boeotian had many points of divergence from Attic. Here is a list:
  • No /aː/ > /ɛː/, no movable ν, no weak declension of i-stems, no /ti/ > /si/
  • contraction of /aːɔ(ː)/ > /aː/ (rather than /ɔː/), /ae/ > /eː/
  • backing of /ra/ > /rɔ/
  • lowering of /ri/ > /re/
  • raising of prevocalic /e/
  • resolution of *čč(ʰ) to /tː/ (rather than /s/)
  • assimilation of /zd/ > /dd/ (initial /d/)
  • retention of /w/
  • /g/ > /j/ after front vowels
  • /u/ > /ju/ after coronals
  • apocope of prepositions
  • nom. -ές/acc. -έ for pl. pronouns
  • 3rd. decl. dat. pl. -εσσι
  • nom. sg. -ᾱ beside -ᾱς
  • gen. sg. of masculine a-stems -ᾱο
  • gen. pl. of a-stems -ᾱ́ων (but article τᾶν)
  • inf. -μεν (both thematic and athematic)
  • 3pl. -νθ- instead of -ντ-
  • 3pl. -ᾰν instead of -σᾰν
  • imperative 3pl. -νθω, also ἔνθω [ὄντων]
  • part. of εἰμί is ἐών (not ὤν)
  • perf. act. part. -ων, -οντος
  • doubling of aor. -σ- after short vowel
  • occasional -ξ- in aorists of -δδω (-ζω) presents
  • ἐξ assim. to ἐς before cons., but ἐσς before vowels
  • patronymic adjective -ώνδᾱς
  • doubling in hypocoristics (nicknames), also hypocoristics in -ει

The most interesting feature of Boeotian is its vowel system. Attic Greek had mid vowels /e ɛː o ɔː/, inherited from PIE, and /eː oː/, arising from later lengthening of /e o/. Boeotian, uniquely, had /e eː ɔ ɔː/, an asymmetrical system that contributed to several of the above changes. Additionally, Attic Greek had /u/ > /y/, but Boeotian did not. However, Boeotian did resolve the diphthongs /aj/ and /ɔj/ to /ɛː/ and /œː/ respectively.

With that in mind, here is a rough list of sound changes from classical Boeotian to Weyötiss:
  • /mb/, /nd/, /ŋg/ become /m:/, /n:/, /ŋ:/
  • /b/ > /w/.
  • /ɡ/ > /ɣ/.
  • /ɔ/ is lengthened in open syllables. <!—brugmann—>
  • /eu/ > /œy/.
  • Umlaut of /a/ > /ɛ/, /ɔ/ > /œ/, /u/ > /y/ before /i/ or /Cj/. /au/ > /œy/. Notably, however, there is no umlaut before intervocalic /j/.
  • /s/ assimilates to a following liquid /r l m n/.
  • Unstressed vowels are shortened in closed syllables.
  • Shift of stress to the last long vowel, or, failing that, the antepenultimate syllable—however, stress only falls on the ultima if it also has high tone.
  • /uː/ becomes /um/ before a vowel.
  • /s/ > /h/ before a consonant.
  • /Clj/ > /Cj/
  • /j/ is lost after a consonant.
  • Epenthesis of /ɔ/ between a consonant and a following liquid.
  • /h/ lowers the tone of the preceding mora, causing a split in tones that is especially notable in substantive inflection.
  • Syncope of many short, unstressed vowels.
  • /h/ is lost.
  • /d/ > /s/ > /sʰ/ (chain shift).
  • Assimilation of stop clusters, usually to the second element: *kepʰalā́ > *kpʰalā́ > *ppʰalā; kʰtʰṓn > ttʰṓn; pterón > ptrón > ttrón.
  • Loss of contrastive length in vowels and consonants.
  • Loss of final unstressed /a/.


This produces the following phoneme inventory:
Μ /m/	Ν /n/	Γ /ŋ/
Π /p/	Τ /t/	Κ /k/
Φ /pʰ/	Θ /tʰ/	Ψ /kʰ/
Ϝ /w/	Σ /s/	Η /h/
Λ /l/	Ρ /r/	Ͱ /j/

Ι /i/	Υ̨ /y/	Υ /u/
Ε /e/
Α̨ /ɛ/	Ο̨ /œ/	Ο /ɔ/
	Α /a/

Note that Ͱ is not Claudian, but rather an old letter meant as a graphical compromise between Ε and Ι. Note also that Ψ represents /kʰ/ rather than /ps/. Digraphs for /ks/ and /ps/ do not exist. Dipthongs are ΑΙ /ai/, ΑΥ /au/, ΕΥ/ΑΥ̨ /œy/. The ogonek, which functions as an umlaut, is an approximation of a tail-like diacritic which developed from a reduced form of ε.

Even in classical times, the Boeotian alphabet lacked /z/, and therefore lacked Ζ. As a consequence of this, the letter was never borrowed into Latin, and thus was never used in English. Greek loans of course would never have had /z/, but rather /dː/, so we would use e.g. doölogical or baptidded. Native words would probably be spelled with ⟨s⟩, as mase, rase. A more interesting question is what other languages would do—perhaps German would replace it with ⟨ts⟩, etc. I leave this as an exercise for the reader.

A more interesting problem is, however, Y. The letter was borrowed into Latin because the sound it represented, /y/, was unknown there. But since Υ represents /u/ in classical Boeotian, there would have been no need to borrow the letter, and therefore it would not exist in English or other languages. Again, Greek loans would have had /u/, so rhuthm, hupothesis. English final -y would probably be spelled with -ie instead: happie, quicklie, mie. Consonantal Y, on the other hand, competed in Middle English with ȝ (yogh), and so it is likely that yogh would take the place thereof in Modern English: ȝes, plaȝ, ȝellow.

Note also that many Greek-derived words would also be different: damocrocie (democracy), mettoderm (mesoderm), diontology (deontology), voeconomie (economy), Artamis (Artemis).