Compared to other Amutetikam languages, it has more vowels, and has a system of vowel harmony, but the semitic-like system has been lost or fossilized in all Afetak languages.
Afetak languages are considered as exceptions of the South Amutet Sprachbund, however, later developments of certain varieties have shown the influence from the South Amutet Sprachbund.
- Common Western Amutetikam(ca. 7000 BK - 5000 BK)
- Early Common Afetak(ca. 5000 BK - 3000 BK)
- Late Common Afetak(ca. 3000 BK - 1000 BK)
- a > ɑ
- ɪ > i
- ʊ > u
- pʰ > f
- tʰ > θ
- kʰ > x
- m̥ > x
- n̥ > tʰ > θ
- s sʰ ɬ > s
development of vowel harmony:
- i > ɪ / when there's a light vowel in the following syllable
- u > o / when there's a light vowel in the following syllable
- ɑ > ʌ~ɔ / when there's a heavy vowel in the following syllable
- ε > e / when there's a heavy vowel in the following syllable
Below is the reconstructed phonological system of Late Common Afetak language, which is believed to be spoke in around 2000 BK - 750 BK
- Plosives: */p/ */t/ */k/
- Fricatives: */f/ */θ/ */s/ */x/
- Nasals: */m/ */n/
- Resonants: */l/ */j/
vowels: /i/ */ɪ/ */e/ */ε/ */u/ */o/ */ʌ/ */ɑ/ */ə/
- */ʌ/ might actually be */ɔ/ in Bawim islands varieties and Fish River varieties.
Afetak language has developed a system of vowel harmony:
- heavy vowels: /i u e ʌ/
- light vowels: /ɪ o ε ɑ/
In Bawim islands varieties, vowel harmony ceased to be productive in later stages.
The nonconcatenative morphology of Proto-Amutetikam was greatly reduced in the Afetak languages.
it seems that in Afetak languages, the use of nonconcatenative cases ceased to be productive as inflectional devices early on, and the use of cases were replaced by prepositions except for the genitive "-ɪkam". Words pairs like "ʔaθεtal" ("river") and "ʔuθutil" ("river bank", originally "touching the river"), "ʔalεtal" ("day") and "ʔɪlatεl"("today, this day"), has become distinct words, and it seems that many prepositions were derived from nouns with locative meanings.
Although the nonconcatenative cases were no longer to be used as inflectional affixes, they were still be used to derivate new words.
The telacity system of Proto-Amutetikam is still used, although they are used in a derivations rather than true inflections in all varieties of the Afetak language family.
Verbs are conjugated according to tenses and moods, these suffixes trigger the vowel harmony of the root:
- Present: -
- Past: -ɑt
- Future: -ɑp
- Subjunctive: -ɑm