I've made this account just now to ask a question about our world-building project. Axobit - the most dominant species on my planet - are axolotl-like bipedal organisms. They have blowholes on their necks that contain their vocal-cords and a muscle to articulate. Specifically, I'm unsure on how to pick consonants for these creatures. They can't produce nasal sounds (at least I don't think they could), and they can't make dental sounds due to the lack of teeth in their speaking-blowhole things.

What sounds could/couldn't my creatures produce? I plan on them making sounds humans can't produce as well - like chirping and croaking. Is this possible? And how do I include this in a language?

I have more additional questions, but will opt to include those in another post :3

All help is greatly appreciated ^.^

  • Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer.
    – Community
    Aug 11, 2023 at 11:31
  • A loadspeaker or a pair of headphones have no vocal chords, no lips, no teeth, no nose and no throat and yet they can make all the souns a human can make and many more which humans cannot make. The question is fundamentally unanswearable. (And I suspect that there may be a misunderstanding of what vocal chords do. They make possible the distinction between p and b, t and d, k and g, s and z, f and v. Humans have a mode of speech called whispering where they keep their vocal chords relaxed and inactive, with the loss of distinction between those pairs of sounds.)
    – AlexP
    Aug 11, 2023 at 13:43
  • Long story short, it all depends on how their phonation mechanisms work. For example, how much fine control they have on their vocal chords. Consider the parrots who have no lips and no teeth, but they have excellent control on their phonatory apparatus and they can make all human speech sounds and lots more.
    – AlexP
    Aug 11, 2023 at 13:48
  • Welcome to worldbuilding! Please edit your question to have only one question and not several: "What sounds could/couldn't my creatures produce? I plan on them making sounds humans can't produce as well - like chirping and croaking. Is this possible? And how do I include this in a language?"
    – Daron
    Aug 11, 2023 at 14:07
  • 1
    This is more for the conlanging stack than the worldbuilding one
    – wokopa
    Aug 11, 2023 at 15:02

1 Answer 1


Frame challenge: Don't rely on IPA symbols or IPA categorizations for being whose articulatory mechanisms don't match that of humans; the IPA was designed for human articulation.

Having said that, you can get away with using the IPA symbols and classifications that would result from humans trying to imitate the phonemes of the Axobit language. For example, if the closest a human can come to a particular Axobit sound is a voiced glottal fricative, represent that sound using the IPA symbol ɦ. It's not going to work for everything, especially if they make sounds that are not part of human linguistic phonology.

  • 1
    I agree, there should be no difference in an IPA chart that is intended to allow humans to emulate the Axobit language. The differences in organs which you are concerned about do not need to be a factor at all, you simply give the Axobit race a syrinx such as the lyrebird, and a vast range of vocalizations can be accomplished far beyond what human vocal organs can produce. The function of the IPA chart is to facilitate vocalization with human physiology. Rather than change that purpose, re-define concepts like a "retroflex" right-hook ɽ in terms of articulations of the syrinx.
    – Vogon Poet
    Aug 11, 2023 at 13:39

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