Hamtai (Kapau) Language/Review of Hamtai Phonetics

Phonetic Rules and ConstraintsEdit

Vowel LossEdit

In Hamtai, it commonly occurs for when two vowels come together, for the second vowel to be lost. For example,

a lost before oEdit

fa'na (road) + -on (I, the one) produces:

fa'non, I am the way

a lost following eEdit

oe- (the root of lie) + -a (he) produces:

qoe, he lies


If the two vowels form a diphthong, neither of the vowels are lost. For example:

i- (the root of do) + -a (he) produces:

qiya, he is in the state of doing

Note: the i in this case ends in a glide, so when it is in a diphthong, it will end in a y

Vowel HarmonyEdit

na'a (big) + -on (I, the one), produces:

no'on, I am the big one

Sound ChangesEdit

n always becomes ng before k and q

mä'än (to know) + -qa (I), produces:

mä'änqa, I know (/mʌʔʌŋqa/)

The glottal stop sometimes becomes q before ng, according to the Kapau Pedeological Grammar, this is caused when it is

between homophonous vowels except when the morpheme is reduplicated: nuta + nga + nga becomes nuta'anga.


When two identical nasals are next to each other, one of them is lost. For example:

ym (below) + m (out of sight), produces:

ym, below out of sight

Verb PrefixesEdit

The verb prefixes qa- and na- lose their vowels when prefixing a verb that begins with a vowel. For example:

qa + oeäpa produces qoeäpa, he will come down

na + itna produces nitna, you (sg.) will soon come down

Morpheme SplittingEdit

Frequently the morphemes -hi (2nd and 3rd person dual) and -hu (2nd and 3rd person plural) split. When this happens, h- occurs before the final vowel, so that both stem and the morphemes become discontinuous (this seems to occur most often, but not exclusively in the Future and Immediate Future Tenses). For example, also as according to the Kapau Pedeological Grammar:

ka + -hi is k-h-a-i-na 'You two will ford water'

ka + -hu is k-h-a-u-na 'They two will ford water'

Though, this does not occur with the verb prefix hi-. When the stem of a verb prefix ends in i, or with hu- when the stem ends with u, this occurs due to how two homophonous vowels reduce to a single vowel.


Using the rules given above and in previous lessons, please pronounce the following words:

  1. Strong - yangamaknqa
  2. Lower - mhaknga
  3. Moon - qämngä
  4. To get up - hauyäu
  5. They are in the habit of coming down - qoeäpmanguwa ti
  6. That book is red - anga mpuka hamäta ti