I am about to create a constructed language. Is it acceptable if I follow the levels of language in the given order: phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics? Or do I need to do this other way? enter image description here

2 Answers 2


As already said, this order is logical but each aspect shouldn't be designed independently. For instance, if you want your language to have an agglutinative morphology, its phonology should be thought beforehand with this purpose in mind. To give an example if your phonology have consonant final words but doesn't tolerate some consonants to be adjacent, it means that you cannot have suffixes starting with a consonant as morphemes, or you need to add rules to handle them:

  • by adding a vowel between the root and the suffix (turkish: masa + m > masam, my table -- but kalem-i-m, my pen). Is it going to be the same for all suffixes ?
  • by deleting or modifying one the conflicting consonant (inuktitut: umiaq + liuq- > umialiuq- to build a boat). Should you delete the root or the suffix consonant ? Or merge them into something else, following what rules ?
  • and many other solutions

so that your morphology can easily become extremely complicated for some choices of phonology. Of course you can have a virtually constraintless phonology and all sorts of morphemes (like georgian does) or a very rigid phonology and syllable structure and morphemes that fit into the pattern (like japanese).

The same is true for morphology/syntax interactions. If your language has a lot of information encoded morphologically, you would expect (at least for naturalistic conlangs) its word-order to be relatively free, or you might end up with your grammar doing a lot of things redundantly, which a lot of conlangers find aesthetically unpleasant. Instead you should have a quite rigid word order if your language is isolating [*].

In the end, everything is a matter of taste, but if you want your result to be consistent, it is a good idea to have a general picture of the result before diving into the details, for example by defining beforehand some typological features of your conlang-to-be.

[*] of course this is by no means systematic, chinese can switch easily from SVO to topic-comment sentence structure without any morphological device to indicate it.


The way you do this is up to you, essentially -- it's your language. However, it seems logical to follow this order, because you will compose larger units that you use in subsequent stages of your design.

For example, when looking at syntax, you will be dealing with words. It's a lot easier if you already know what those words look like, though you can of course use placeholders instead. But then you dont get the 'feel' of the language.

This doesn't have to be strict: if, during your work on syntax, you find that a word doesn't look so good, simply go back and change it.

As I said, this is more advice than fixed rules.

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