The Meó language is a language spoken within the nation of Meó as well as within its former colonies and throughout the Malaeze Sea. It is the official language of the Meó Amalgamate. It has millions of speakers. It is ultimately derived from Ancient Meó
Many consonants have a high degree of allophony; The nasals /ɳ ɳʲ/ <ṇ ṇy> have the intervocalic allophones of [ɻ̃ ɻ̃ʲ~j̃] respectively in fast speech, making the preceding vowel nasal. They also have these allophones at the end of a syllable, but may also delete, leaving the preceding vowel nasal (and occasionally also rhoticised in some accents, though this is considered nonstandard), i.e. /aɳ/ -> /ã~ã˞/ /aɳʲ/ -> /ãj̃~ã˞j̃/
The voiced continuants tend to be closer to approximants, and the voiceless continuants closer to fricatives. /ʐ/ varies between [ʐ~ɻ̝~ɻ] with [ɻ̝] (a non-sibilant fricative) being considered the most correct. Q /q/ is additionally present in loanwords, and may be an allophone of /k/ before back vowels for some speakers.
Palatalised consonants are written Cy, or C' at the end of words - mya, am'.
Meó consonants have two forms of sandhi, lenition and fortification. They are important as they occur primarily (almost exclusively) in the conjugation of verbs, the passive (lenition) and third person (fortification) affecting the final consonant of the verb stem. All verb stems historically ending in consonants in Proto-Meó-Hsuqliht, but a few have been lost leading to vowel-ending stems - providing conjugations that rely on changing the tones instead. These are represented primarily by ʔ. The letter ø is used to signify the placement of the floating tone. ɣ is a historic consonant that has underwent numerous sound changes resulting in irregular vowel-ending verb conjugations. Superscripts represent environment specific changes. All vowels that follow in verb conjugations are palatal (ya, yu, yo, e, i) 'e' and 'i' can be written 'ye' and 'yi' respectively if a vowel procedes them (i.e. in the -h and -ʔ conjugations).
- † consonants marked with crosses are historical consonants which have been lost in Modern Meó, but whose reflexes in conjugations survive
- †† z derived from historic ɖʱ -> ɻ which avoided the alveolar-retroflex merger
- ‡ ø̀z derives from historical -z, whereas øz derives from historical -s. Borrowed verbs ending in -s take the øz conjugation.
Sandhi for verb roots that end in clusters is based off of their final consonant, and tone if they end in -z.
The vowels are in two sets in complementary distribution; the palatal series /ʲa ʲe ʲi ʲɵ ʲʉ/ <ya e i yo yu>, and the plain series /ɑ ɘ ɨ o u/ <a ë ï o u>. Only palatal vowels may follow palatal consonants, and only plain vowels may follow plain consonants. Therefore /mʲʉ/ and /mu/ are valid syllables but */mʉ/ and */mʲu/ are not. While typically /ʲe ʲi/ are written <e i>, <ye yi> are acceptable variants.
The vowels /ɨ/ and /ɘ/ are quite rare, but have a wide range of allophones, all of which are unrounded. The vowel /ɘ/ varies from [ɘ~ɪ] to even [ɛ], whereas /ɨ/ varies from [ɨ~ə~ɯ] and is often diphthongised as [ɨj] or lengthened as [ɨː~ɪ̈ɨ̯]. In unstressed syllables, /ɘ/ always reduces to /ɨ/.
Unstressed /o/ may have the allophone /ʊ/. In some speakers this vowel is even higher and thus merges with /u/. Similarly, some speakers merge unstressed /ʲe/ and /ʲi/ as [ʲɪ] or even [ʲi].
The vowel /ʲe/ is mid to close-mid [ʲe~ʲe̞] whereas ʲɵ is mid to open-mid [ʲɵ̞~ʲɞ]. /ʲɵ/ and /ʲʉ/ additionally may be fronted - [ʲø̞~ʲœ] and [ʲy], respectively, for some speakers.
The vowel /ɑ/ is cardinal /ɑ/, but may have the allophone /ɐ/ in unstressed syllables, some speakers do the same with /ʲa/; becoming /ʲɐ/.
There are no phonemic dipthongs, but two adjacent vowels may combine to form a diphthong. Diphthongs typically agree in palatalisation, with the first element assimilating the second e.g. /ʲau/ -> [ʲaʉ] or /ɑʲe/ -> [ɑɛ~ɑɘ~ɑɪ].
Meó has five tones;
- Low - mè ˨˩ (sometimes creaky)
- Mid/default - me ˧
- High - mé ˥
- Rising - mě ˧˥
- Falling - mê ˥˩