Could you help me with a conlang idea I had? I want to make a language that has a solid amount of phonemes so I don't have to make words too long (I want the language to he agglutinative, so there's always a risk of it getting out of control lol). But I also wanted it to sound relatively natural. Could you please give me some useful constructive criticism on this draft of the language's phonetic inventory and phonotactics? The vowel a here is a mid vowel, like Italian. A macron on top doubles the quantity but doesn't change the quality. An apex means that the vowel is more open. The circumflex is just an apex with a macron (so an open vowel with double the quantity). Kh and Gh are like the Greek fricatives. Th and dh are like think and then. Sh is like in English and zh is its voiced version. Ly is like Spanish Ll. Y is /j/.


Vowels: a e i o u ā ē ī ō ū é í ó ê î ô

ha he hi ho hu hā hē hī hō hū hé hí hó hê hî hô

Phonotactics: The back vowels are of the "a, o, u" groups, and the front vowels are of the "e, i" groups. Use ' to separate breathing vowels from modifiable consonants (e.g. perlet'he, to differentiate it from perlethe). Back vowels can only be in contact with Front vowels and vice versa. So *āō is not a valid combination, but ēa is.

Consonants: p b f v k g kh gh t d th dh s z sh zh r l ly m n y

Phonotactics: ly and y are never syllable final. b v g gh d dh z zh are never word initial. Voiced consonants cannot go beside unvoiced consonants. Voiced consonants change unvoiced consonants, in case of agglutination. So if you have a word like eg and it should agglutinate with the word tu, it would become egdu, but if it was ek + tu it would become ektu. Also el + tír = eldír.

Possible syllable structures: V, VV, VC, CV, CVC, VVC, CVV, CVVC

Stress: Stress is always on the antipenultimate syllable. If there are two syllables, stess is on the first syllable.

  • Most of what I put into a How To Phonotactics on this site is already evident here. If you haven't seen that, there may be a short search worth of insight left for you. If your goal is to give the language "character" with its own sound, looks good! I get the sense you want words to "crescendo." Food for thought, none neces. issues: 1 stressed syl. even in long words? l,m,n,r are okay onsets? Context tells egtu=egdu from egdu=egdu? Does getu->gedu? Know of Turkish V & C harmonies? H in examples, not in C list; what if eg+hu? Encode any grammar with reserved or rule-breaking phonotactics?
    – Vir
    Jun 24, 2023 at 0:42
  • 1
    By the way, I replied in a comment because I wonder if you might be asked to revise your question to be more broad than your own example and less open-ended. E.g., maybe something like, "What factors could we evaluate phonotactics/phonetics over?"
    – Vir
    Jun 24, 2023 at 1:21
  • Even in long words the antipenultimate rule would apply. l, m, n, r and ly are all valid word starters yes! Basically ek + tu will produce ektu, because both consonants are voiceless. But if any of the consonants are voiced, the voiced consonant would make the voiceless one voiced too. Ge + tu would make getu. Vowel + consonant does not affect if it is voiced or not. eg + hu is eg'hu (the ' is just to differentiate it from eghu with a voiced gh). It is basically just a breathed vowel and can appear anywhere any other vowel can. Not sure how I'd go about the rule-breaking. Any suggestions?
    – Victor BC
    Jun 24, 2023 at 2:58
  • I think I was unclear by trying to fit a lot into the char limit. I understand the consonants and voice rule and the ' ;) It's also similar to consonant harmony in Turkish. So h does not transform into a voiced cons. after a voiced cons.? Good to know for lmnr and vowels. I still wonder how you tell apart homographs like eg+tu=egdu vs eg+du=egdu. If it's context-based, there's nothing wrong with that but I don't know yet if you've thought about it. I suggest it could be fun to think of grammar or even pragmatics concepts you could encode by reserved or rule-breaking phonotactics combinations.
    – Vir
    Jun 24, 2023 at 6:01
  • Oh now I get what you mean. I said in the OP that "b v g gh d dh z zh are never word initial." But I said that between a lot of other information so it's normal that you missed it. Basically, except for l, ly,.m, n and r (the only voiced consonants without an unvoiced equivalent), all initial consonants invariably become unvoiced. So *du is impossible. If they met someone called Deven for example, they would instinctively call him Têvan or something similar. They can't do initial voiced consonants. Given that l, ly, m, n and r are all voiced there is though a possibility of confusion. (Cont)
    – Victor BC
    Jun 24, 2023 at 11:58


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