I've sought for justification for the phoneme inventory of my conlang, but finally, I think I found one, at least for consonants.

순음 Labial 설음 Coronal 반설음 "Semi-coronal" 치두음 Front Sibilant 정치음 Rear Sibilant 아음 Dorsal
Fortis P [p] T [t] L [ɭ] C [t͜s] Q [t͜ɕ] K [kʰ]
Lenis M [m] N [n] R [ɻ~ɽ] Z [z] J [ʑ] G [k~k̚~g]

This classification of consonants is due to the medieval phonologists of Chinese and Korean. And the orthography is quite consistent to the pinyin. The syllable structure is (C)V(C), where the coda is lenis if present.

What I'm unsure about is the so-called "semi-coronal" consonants, as which Sejong The Great classified. Though Korean puts the lateral and the rhotic as the same phoneme, namely ㄹ, I decided to declare them as different phonemes because I wanted some "symmetric" structure for my conlang.

I think Sejong himself would've been convinced, but what about phonologists of medieval Chinese languages, or those of any other languages with strict fortis/lenis pairs?

  • Are you asking if it's phonologically natural—that is, if you'd expect a lateral in a leniting environment to turn into a rhotic, or a rhotic in a fortiting environment to turn into a lateral—or if it's natural for someone describing a language (especially in mediaeval times) to group them this way?
    – Draconis
    Mar 4 at 19:34
  • @Draconis The latter. Mar 4 at 20:21


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