I am developing 4 conlangs (sparish, old sparish, elvian and barrish (need a new name)) for a story which is used by humans of Spar, Northern Sparian, Elves/Aspian, Barrians of south respectively. I have no knowledge about developing language whatsoever, I have learnt some few things from youtube and google(youtube was much helpful). I have the constants and vowels that I want to use in my language, but I am facing trouble with the letters.

  1. The sound of "q". I don't understand how to pronounce any words that have "q" in it. According to IPA pulmonic consonant chart (with audio), it sounds like /ka/. So how should I pronounce a word like "qakt"
  2. Are there any kind of rules for word building? Like a word should never end with certain letters, or shouldn't start with certain letters.

I want these languages to sound and feel as natural as possible. I am asking because some of my created words exist in one language or the other, and I want them to be as distinct as possible.

Moreover, I want sparish to have a word like "re(letter)". This letter helps them to in poetry, its intonation depends upon the letter that is placed inside the bracket, but it does not feel write when you pronounce it. Can anyone help me with it too?

How to Create a Language

How to Create a Made Up Word

Conlang Case Study

How to Make a Language

Artifexian (channel)

How to Create a Language


3 Answers 3


Yes, there are but they are language-specific. These are called phonotactics. They are well explained in the book of David Peterson "The Art of Language Invention"(E-book download link). Actually, these rules include:

  • structure of a syllable. E.g. in Hawaiian language closed syllables are impossible. So words like "heck" are not allowed. ;)

  • stress. The Finnish language always stresses the first syllable.

  • What consonants/vowels can be combined. "st" is quite common in English but not in Hungarian. But "ts" is quite common in Russian but not in English. But on the other hand Russian allows "st" too.

  • there are many other things. I suggest reading this article on Wikipedia.

P.S. I'm not good at linguistic terms in English, sorry for possible wrong use of words ;)

  • 2
    Also: minimum word length; allowed initial/medial/final consonants; vowel harmony; sesquisyllabicity; and so on and so forth.
    – bradrn
    Commented Dec 12, 2020 at 7:22
  • @bradrn yeah. There are just too much stuff so I wrote the first things I came up with. Commented Dec 20, 2020 at 12:47
  • Of course; you could probably write a book on this topic! (And I’m sure that many have been.) I just tried to suggest some other things that I see as reasonably common and/or relevant to the question.
    – bradrn
    Commented Dec 20, 2020 at 13:21
  • @bradrn ohk thx. You mean I should edit my answer out? Commented Dec 20, 2020 at 13:23
  • I don’t think that’s necessary; I simply intended to add some additional information to supplement your answer. (Also, I’m finding it difficult to understand what you mean by ‘editing out’ your answer: if you mean that you should delete it, then no, of course you shouldn’t do that!)
    – bradrn
    Commented Dec 20, 2020 at 13:35

Yes, there are various rules to the structure of words, this is a mix of syllable structure and phonotactic rules. These, however, are not universal, but rather, are language-specific, as mentioned above.

For example, in Japanese, it is a Open Syllable language, but it can have -n or -m serve as a Coda. But no other consonant can act as such.

無限 (Mu-gen)

月讀 (Tsu-ku-yo-mi)

This is quite universal in structure in Japanese, CV or V, and CVC2 only when C2 is -n or -m.

You can simply set these rules, but it is more complicated if developed naturalistically, where it is based around specific phonological changes that lead to this consistent rule emerging.


(Side note: asking multiple questions at once is not recommended here. I see that @VictorVosMottor has already given a good answer to your question (2), so I will restrict myself to answering (1).)

The sound of "q". I don't understand how to pronounce any words that have "q" in it. According to IPA pulmonic consonant chart (with audio), it sounds like /ka/. So how should I pronounce a word like "qakt"

The sound /q/ is a voiceless uvular plosive. By contrast /k/ is a voiceless velar plosive. We can compare the two:

  • They are both voiceless: produced without vibration of the vocal cords.
  • They are both plosive: produced by blocking the mouth and then releasing it.
  • They differ only in their place of articulation. /k/ is velar; that is, it is produced with the tongue touching the back of the soft palate. By contrast, /q/ is uvular; that is, it is produced with the tongue touching the uvula. (Another way to think about it: /q/ is produced towards the back of the mouth compared to /k/.)

So, to summarise: /q/ and /k/ are very similar sounds, except /q/ is slightly backer than /k/. Due to this similarity, it is not surprising that they will sound the same to you if your native language does not distinguish the two.

  • It seems like 2 questions, but it is actually one. I realised that there have to be rules for constructing words when I was building the word "qakt". it is quite difficult to pronounce that word, but I had to be sure. Therefore, I posted them as 2 different questions, maybe someone can actually pronounce that word.
    – Momobear
    Commented Dec 12, 2020 at 12:04
  • @Gurkirat The fact that you had to list your questions separately to cover them fully is evidence that they are two questions, at least from the perspective of how Stack Overflow works. No-one can deny that they are related questions — they both relate to phonology — but they are still two questions.
    – bradrn
    Commented Dec 12, 2020 at 12:46
  • @Gurkirat It may also interest you to know that phonotactic rules often have little, if anything, to do with ease of pronunciation. For one thing, people vary in how they pronounce words — e.g. I find /qakt/ very easy to pronounce, while you find it hard. Also, languages readily forbid easier words while allowing more difficult ones; a good example is Halkomelem, which allows words like /txʷstχʷás ʔal̰/ while disallowing words like /áʔa/.
    – bradrn
    Commented Dec 12, 2020 at 12:52
  • That a lot for sharing that piece of information. For the future, I will remember the rules.
    – Momobear
    Commented Dec 12, 2020 at 14:14
  • 1
    @Gurkirat I did it by learning more about linguistics. If you haven’t read them already, a good place to start is Mark Rosenfelder a.k.a. zompist’s books. Past that, I’d suggest reading lots of reference grammars as well as finding books on linguistics. r/conlangs has a nice list of resources as well.
    – bradrn
    Commented Dec 14, 2020 at 22:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.