My first conlang's phonological inventory--how does it look?

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LittleLynx_53
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My first conlang's phonological inventory--how does it look?

Post by LittleLynx_53 »

I did my best to make this naturalistic. It may still be a bit similar to English, but I'm happy with it unless you guys catch something glaringly unlikely to occur in a real language.
The highlighted sounds are the inventory. The one in light green is technically in the language, but it's considered a "squished" pronunciation of /i/. They also have a back-of-the-throat hiss that's used as a swear or exclamation.

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Last edited by LittleLynx_53 on 30 Mar 2022 19:53, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: My first conlang's phonological inventory--how does it look?

Post by Titus Flavius »

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Re: My first conlang's phonological inventory--how does it look?

Post by LittleLynx_53 »

I changed the link. Does it work now?
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Re: My first conlang's phonological inventory--how does it look?

Post by Acipencer »

I can see it now. The phonology seams perfectly fine to me. For the 'squished' pronunciation of /i/, I think what you're referring to is called an allophone.
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Re: My first conlang's phonological inventory--how does it look?

Post by Khemehekis »

LittleLynx_53 wrote: 30 Mar 2022 17:31 but it's considered a "squished" pronunciation of /i/.
By "squished", do you mean like the u in Japanese suki?
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Re: My first conlang's phonological inventory--how does it look?

Post by Salmoneus »

This seems very straightforward and ordinary (which is probably a good thing). There are a few bits that are a little unusual:I'd kind of expect /E/ and /a/ to raise to /e/ and /{/ (sorry for SAMPA - I mean having your two front low vowels each be one symbol higher), since this both closes a bit of a gap between /i/ and /E/ and increases the contrast between /a/ and /A/ - it's unusual to have two low unrounded vowels, and would be more ordinary to raise one of them a little - but this "unusual" weird not "unrealistic" weird (probably not even "remarkable" weird); it's a bit unusual as well to have a only a single palatal consonant - I instinctively wonder where it came from, or where the other palatals might have gone - but it's not bizarre; contrasting two rhotics is unusual, but not bizarre (eg Spanish); having the approximant R at all is unusual, and postalveolar approximant English has is downright odd (which is why there are so, so many dialectical realisations of it and different allophones and dropping of it in many dialects), but, again, not freakish.

So yeah, I'd call this inventory "perfectly ordinary with a few minor quirks". Oh, and the othe thing about the consonants is that there aren't many of them - it's on the small side as inventories go, with probably (going by WALS numbers and guess the maths in my head) only 15-20% of languages having few consonants. But that's far from freakish, needless to say.

As regards /I/... either it's a phoneme or it isn't. It could be an allophone - a specific way to realise a phoneme in specific contexts that differs from how it is realised elsewhere - or a dialectical variant, but either way I'd not that your language would in practice have a lot more allophones and dialectical variants and you don't need to mention this one specifically.

As regards the 'hiss' sound... I don't think you can make a 'hiss' at the back of the throat exactly, but it doesn't matter. A sound that doesn't feature in words but only as a symbol in its own right is a "para-linguistic" sound - it's part of the language, but it's not a phoneme in the normal sense and doesn't have to be included in the inventory. ["words" for 'yes' and 'no' are often paralinguistic. English paralinguistic sounds include the 'tsk-tsk' or 'tut-tut' noise, the "plumber pretending to be reluctant to say 'that'll cost you!'" sound, and the clicking noise used to communicate with horses. Some languages use paralinguistic sounds so extensively that you have to consider including them in the inventory if only in a footnote, but if it's just a single sound with a single meaning I wouldn't worry about it]
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Re: My first conlang's phonological inventory--how does it look?

Post by LittleLynx_53 »

Thank you for the feedback! It really helps me out to know what's unusual and what's not. "Perfectly ordinary with a few quirks" is what I was hoping for.

The single palatal consonant will probably get a history added to explain it now that you've pointed that out. Would you think it would be more likely for it to be the only survivor of a sound change where the other palatals were lost, or picked up from another language?

Yes, "I" is technically an allophone. Thank you for the clarification. It will probably happen to /i/ on un-stressed syllables.

The "hiss" sound is, I think, the voiceless pharyngeal fricative. It arose as one of the para-linguistic sounds of the culture the language is for because of the tendency for them (a semi cat-like race) to blow air across the top of their mouths to try to clear a bad smell. (So "hissing" at someone is like saying that they're as unpleasant to you as an unbearably strong sewer smell.) The reason I think this is interesting is they don't have the glottal "h" that English does, so when speaking English that "hiss" may be what they approximate "h" with.
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Re: My first conlang's phonological inventory--how does it look?

Post by Dormouse559 »

LittleLynx_53 wrote: 04 Apr 2022 20:49The single palatal consonant will probably get a history added to explain it now that you've pointed that out. Would you think it would be more likely for it to be the only survivor of a sound change where the other palatals were lost, or picked up from another language?
The first thing I'd ask is "Does the language have [j], at least phonetically?" If so, it would match French, which has only /ɲ j/ for palatals, and /j/ often alternates with /i/. French originally had /ʎ/ as well, but it merged into /j/.

To go on an approximant tangent, does the language have /w/? I noticed it isn't included in your consonant chart.
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Re: My first conlang's phonological inventory--how does it look?

Post by LittleLynx_53 »

Dormouse559 wrote: 05 Apr 2022 00:46
LittleLynx_53 wrote: 04 Apr 2022 20:49The single palatal consonant will probably get a history added to explain it now that you've pointed that out. Would you think it would be more likely for it to be the only survivor of a sound change where the other palatals were lost, or picked up from another language?
The first thing I'd ask is "Does the language have [j], at least phonetically?" If so, it would match French, which has only /ɲ j/ for palatals, and /j/ often alternates with /i/. French originally had /ʎ/ as well, but it merged into /j/.

To go on an approximant tangent, does the language have /w/? I noticed it isn't included in your consonant chart.
I do not think it has /j/ as a separate phoneme. It may have it as an allophone of /ɲ/ or as a combination like /ɲj/ (to make it more distinguishable from /n/.

As it stands right now, it does not have /w/. It didn't factor heavily into the aesthetic I wanted, and I was trying to see which English sounds I could do without. I'm somewhat undecided weather to add either or both of those sounds back in. I'd like to avoid /w/ if I can unless it would be too difficult to approximate when speaking English. (Part of a worldbuilding-related constraint on this language is a decent amount of co-learnability between it and English, hence the English "r" sound and some other similarities. In fact it may end up being harder for them to pronounce English then for us to pronounce their language.)
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