I determined to create a conlang with tri-consonantal roots (I call them tri-cons for short). My question then arose, "what words would naturally have a tri-con?" Verbs and the nouns derived from them would have tri-cons as exemplified in natural nonconcatenative languages. At the same time, those very languages have words which seem unrelated to tri-cons. In essence, I do not want to create tri-cons where none would evolve for naturalism and efficiency purposes.

Perhaps a more clear question is, "how prevalent are tri-cons in nonconcatenative languages?"

1 Answer 1


Besides nouns and verbs, there are more content words that probably evolve triconsonantal root, namely adjectives and adverbs.

I won't expect function words like articles, determiners, pronouns, pre-/post-positions, particles, and conjunctions to be triconsonantal: Those words tend to be very short in any language and three consonants are already a heavy payload.

Somewhere on the fence are numerals and interjections: They can be "rooted", but they needn't.

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    Triconsonantal "I, me" isn't out of the question though, as the real-world East and Southeast Asian Sprachbund is the home of co-opting nouns into service as personal pronouns for the sake of politeness. Look at w-t-š or b-k-w from Japanese or k-ñ-m from Khmer. Not to mention both Arabic and Japanese ʔ-n-t "you". Dec 11, 2022 at 0:41
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    @DamianYerrick and in the context of triconsonantal languages, the Tigrinya 2nd & 3rd person pronouns also come from the PS n-p-š "breath/soul" root (albeit with the f < p assimilated to the s < š)
    – Tristan
    Dec 19, 2022 at 15:57

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