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Questions tagged [phonology]

For questions about the sound systems of languages

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Are there conlangs using constructed sounds?

Usually, constructed languages of all kind (naturalistic or not) draw their sounds from existing natural languages. Are there conlangs with constructed sounds, i.e., sounds that do not occur in ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
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19 votes
4 answers
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Can features in the physical environment meaningfully affect the development of a local language's phonology?

Imagine that I'm creating phonemic inventories for multiple conlangs, each of which is spoken by a people settled within (or roaming about) a very different physical environment from the others. ...
Aporia's user avatar
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18 votes
2 answers
1k views

How do tones disappear from a language?

There have been many good writeups on Tonogenesis, i.e. how language acquire tones. But never have I seen such a writeup on the opposite phenomenon, which one might call Tonoexodus. Obviously, one way ...
Sascha Baer's user avatar
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17 votes
3 answers
479 views

How could a syllabary be adapted for a language with a complex syllable structure?

By definition, a syllabary has separate glyphs for each possible syllable (and usually unrelated or at least not systematically related ones for similar syllables, unlike alphasyllabaries). This ...
Sascha Baer's user avatar
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14 votes
3 answers
282 views

Consider an isolated, close-knit community; which characteristics is their language likely to have?

For the sake of concreteness, let's say my low-tech conculture is living in a few villages on a smallish island in the middle of the ocean (Pitcairn Islands comes to mind). Basically, this would ...
caconyrn's user avatar
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12 votes
0 answers
113 views

How can we define words? [closed]

Even though the question seems trivial, it's still a hotly debated topic (as far as I'm aware). For example, in the Oxford Handbook for Polysynthesis, Fernando Zúñiga says: Recent literature (e.g. ...
Darkgamma's user avatar
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11 votes
3 answers
623 views

What reasons would there be for not having a human conlang with only vowels?

All natlangs have both consonants and vowels, but it's not immediately obvious why a human language couldn't be made from only vowels. Has anyone theorised about why natlangs always have consonants? ...
curiousdannii's user avatar
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11 votes
3 answers
612 views

What is an overview of sound changes?

One of my works-in-progress is a language called Proto-Oreadin. As the name suggests, it is a proto-language, which eventually I am hoping to expand into a family of languages. Currently I have a ...
CHEESE's user avatar
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11 votes
1 answer
802 views

What do double consonants specify in Esperanto?

The Esperanto word for 'Finland' is Finnlando. What does the doubled consonant specify? The Esperanto alphabet is phonemic. Why are there two consonants? Is it gemination (which doesn't appear often ...
Duncan's user avatar
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9 votes
3 answers
291 views

What are sounds that I have to include in my phonology for it to be naturalistic?

Additionally, are there any such things as hierarchies, where if I want to include one sound, I should also include another?
Sascha Baer's user avatar
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8 votes
2 answers
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Creating a language for intelligent, sapient creatures that resemble large cats

In my world, there is a race of intelligent, sapient creatures that resemble large cats. They have fur, tails, and whiskers, and can purr and meow like regular cats, but they can also walk upright on ...
Jacob Valdez's user avatar
8 votes
3 answers
1k views

What is the key to realistic inventories [closed]

Shy of simply recreating or stitching together natural languages' phonological inventories, what is the solution for making a naturalistic conlangs' inventory naturalistic?
TrEs-2b's user avatar
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8 votes
1 answer
186 views

Are there conlangs designed to be whispered?

We all know that natural languages can be whispered and we use whispering for several purposes, e.g., to avoid someone unwanted listening, or in order not to disturb a larger audience. But are there ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
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8 votes
1 answer
446 views

How does one go about designing phonotactics for a conlang?

Most every conlanger has heard of phonotactics. However, I have yet to encounter resources about how should one go about the design of a conlang's phonotactics. How should one go about creating a ...
Qaziquza's user avatar
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8 votes
1 answer
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phonology design for a nonhuman species

I'm working on an alien species for a fantasy-ish world I'm making, and I recently started on making a language for them. For the most part, their consonant-making abilities are very similar to humans,...
Zackbuildit777's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
189 views

Would these features be naturalistic in this scenario?

Background I am planning a naturalistic Goidelic language which shall have quite an influence from Old Norse – probably at least 1/4 or 1/3 of the vocabulary to be of North Germanic origin, as well ...
Tomsk's user avatar
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7 votes
5 answers
406 views

Strategies for dealing with limited/simple phonologies

What problems arise when creating a language with an extremely simple phonology and what are some good strategies for dealing with them? I'm calling this type of phonology extremely simple for the ...
Greg Nisbet's user avatar
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7 votes
4 answers
201 views

Do I need to start with a phonology when creating a new conlang?

The few conlangs I've read about/watched being developed in videos (such as those by Biblaridion) either started with phonology, or the description begins that way. Whether that's a representative ...
AncientSwordRage's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
186 views

Would a "Common Denominator" phonology be too simple (or even non-existent)?

Many languages have sounds that are very hard to pronounce to certain speakers. For example, the French "R" sound is hard for English speakers. What if we have a language that accepts many ...
brendt's user avatar
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7 votes
2 answers
148 views

Why would a language created by humans lack the /j/ semivowel, and even the /i/ vowel?

What I mean is the sound /j/ (as in English yellow and French hyène 'hyena') is the most common semivowel around the world. This phoneme is highly conserved in Indo-European languages (this language ...
mammifereviolet4694's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
58 views

Two different symbols representinɡ a phoneme

How would I represent multiple transliterations for one phoneme in a chart? I was thinking something like this: ⟨k~q⟩ /k/ It might work, though it doesn't make the most sense, and I would prefer to ...
CaptainYulef's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
165 views

What are the reasons behind ROILA's phonology?

ROILA (RObot Interaction LAnguage), a constructed language for communication between robots and between robots and humans, comes with a 5 vowel system. the vowels are written a e i o u but their sound ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
70 views

In compound words/suffixed words, does the stress change?

I'm creating a language where the stress is on the third to last syllable and I have a sound change where an unstressed short vowel at the beginning of a word is deleted. (so in 'a.ta.ra. the word vs ...
user3563's user avatar
6 votes
4 answers
339 views

Four vowels, with no /i/ sound. Is it possible?

My vowel phonemic inventory would be just /a/, /e/, /o/ and /u/ with no /i/ sound. Is this possible or not?
SPYRX's user avatar
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6 votes
4 answers
901 views

Could a language with no voiced fricatives exist?

I am working on a language and I am trying to bring it down to seventeen consonants. One of the ways I am trying to do that is by removing all voiced fricatives. Is this even reasonable?
skout's user avatar
  • 179
6 votes
2 answers
548 views

Designing a mildly weird phonology

I want to design a mildly weird phonology with the following features Not particularly difficult to pronounce for speakers of average European languages Feeling somewhat unnatural or weird The ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
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6 votes
2 answers
126 views

By what means might the roots "let" and "ly" mean the same thing in a naturalistic conlang?

I apologize for how this question may be perceived. I am casually learning linguistics with no curriculum. I can understand that this question may have many possible answers, but I am not quite sure ...
user2738698's user avatar
6 votes
4 answers
339 views

What symbols should I use for phonemes when I have many vowels?

Most conlang examples I find in tutorials use a small set of vowels, but the one I'm working on has 13 and I'm having trouble finding the simplest transliteration to work with. Here are the IPA ...
Domino's user avatar
  • 316
6 votes
2 answers
136 views

Adding entire musical concepts to expand vocabulary

I want my language, Syn, to be as precise, efficient, unambiguous, and aesthetic as humanely possible. To do that, I think even the texture, dynamics, rhythm, and the likes should be accounted for. ...
Kyle Zabala's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
133 views

Is there a set of sound change rules that undoes Grimm's law?

Zompist has a Sound Change Applier that comes with some example rules: [sm]//_# i/j/_V L/V/_ e//Vr_# v//V_V u/o/_# gn/nh/_ S/Z/V_V c/i/F_t c/u/B_t p//V_t ii/i/_ e//C_rV Is ...
AncientSwordRage's user avatar
6 votes
4 answers
902 views

How many unique sounds does the average conlang have?

At the moment I have 90 unique vowel/diphthong sounds that use tonal and length distinction in my conlang. In addition I've chosen 14 consonants, making my total of unique sounds 104. I don't ...
Wilko's user avatar
  • 147
6 votes
1 answer
158 views

Could a language with only fricatives at the end of words reasonably exist?

There are several non-constructed languages, including English, in which almost all words end in consonants, but what about a language in which almost all words end in a certain type of consonant? In ...
Why It's user avatar
  • 61
6 votes
1 answer
174 views

Which sounds could a lipless humanoid produce?

In my world, I have a race of humanoids who speak a language called Gé̃kt, which is derived from various Eastern Iranian languages such as Khotanese, Ossetian, Yaghnobi and Bactrian with a dash of ...
Arbiter Elegantiae's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
315 views

IPA for Voiced Velopharyngeal Stop?

A conlang I am working on contains the nasal syllabic consonants [m̩] and [n̩] fairly frequently. It seems like it would be a natural step for the language to develop what I would call a voiced ...
user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
188 views

What sounds would snake-people be able to pronouce?

The snake-people are humanoid creatures with snake-like traits: Their mouth and nose are longer than in humans. The tongue can work as in humans, but sits only in the front half of the jaw and is ...
Ichthys King's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
185 views

Naming language based on real language

I apologize if similar question has already been answered, I tried to look for it but didn't find anything. I'm trying to make a simple naming language that looks/sounds vaguely like nahuatl (if I ...
Zuzka Houšková's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
78 views

what kinds of vocal sounds echo less?

Please bear with me as I elaborate. I'm looking to create a language for humanoids that live in a set of cave systems and tunnels. While their language may have been 'born' on the surface, they have ...
user1237's user avatar
  • 163
5 votes
3 answers
376 views

Is there any general rule for constructing a word? Example: "q" or "w" should not end a word, something like this

I am developing 4 conlangs (sparish, old sparish, elvian and barrish (need a new name)) for a story which is used by humans of Spar, Northern Sparian, Elves/Aspian, Barrians of south respectively. I ...
Momobear's user avatar
  • 319
5 votes
2 answers
206 views

Why would a language created by humans lack both the /k/ and the /g/ consonants?

In my story, there is a species of aquatic humans often called merfolk (Homo maritimus, so they are still humans, just not Homo sapiens). They do not look the typical descriptions of merfolk (I want ...
mammifereviolet4694's user avatar
5 votes
3 answers
710 views

Why do I have such a problem with my conlangs being ugly? [closed]

This is a perpetual problem I have and I find it quite annoying. Yes, I know its kinda subjective, but that doesn't change the fact that, to me at least, my conlangs are always hideous. For a recent ...
user avatar
5 votes
3 answers
202 views

What decides where is the break between syllables?

I'm getting started with creating a language and I run into trouble when I started using rules I devised for protolanguage (e.g. only open syllables). However I run into trouble when I tried to apply ...
Maja Piechotka's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
232 views

Syllabic restriction/word boundaries set by IPA? Or it is decided by language creator

When creating syllables we basically require an onset, nucleus, and a coda. Now, usually, all language have an onset, and the coda is fairly optional. Before creating a phonetic system, we first ...
Momobear's user avatar
  • 319
5 votes
3 answers
209 views

Which character is best to use for a schwa? Ь or Ъ?

Cyrillic for English - (Сарилик фоьр Иңглиш) is an adapted Cyrillic orthography to write English using ь as schwa, so 'sofa' would be written 'соьфь'. Does ь make sense as a schwa or is ъ better? The ...
jastako's user avatar
  • 449
5 votes
1 answer
290 views

What language uses the most amount of phonemes?

I'm constructing an auxlang/artlang (temporarily named Syn). The Syn is (being) designed to interface with any known human language, with a wildly uniform set of simplistic, unambiguous symbols. I ...
Kyle Zabala's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
96 views

Setting a signature Phonetics

A year ago, I became fascinated by conlanging. So I set out to create one for my soon-to-be-completed world, but no matter what I came up with, the words sounded like English. It feels like I am just ...
Momobear's user avatar
  • 319
5 votes
1 answer
61 views

Is lowering the tongue at word-ending a voiceless vowel?

In my conlang, some consonants can cluster with l at the end. For example, 'story' is 'coánl'; following dictionary.com's IPA for 'metal' as / ˈmɛt l / I had set out pronouncing this like /koˈa:n l/. ...
Vir's user avatar
  • 1,296
4 votes
3 answers
797 views

Simplified Version of IPA?

In IPA, the sounds of many symbols are so close that they are indistinguishable to me! For example, [bʊk], [ɓʊk], or [βʊk]. Even though they do have some minor differences, but all a listener like me ...
PiggyChu001's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
96 views

Are words based on acronyms treated differently when the language changes over time?

Do sound and grammar changes affect acronyms, that can be pronounced as words, differently than other words in a language? Are words based on acronyms treated differently or not when sound/grammar ...
EveryBitHelps's user avatar