language building, sounds and syllables, fictional languages

Language Building: Sounds and Syllables, Part Two

Syllables are made up of two elements: consonants (C) and vowels (V). These are the elements that we chose in the last post. Syllables can take many different shapes, but phonologically, vowels are always necessary.

Common Structures for Syllables:

V example: a

CV ex: to

VC ex: at

CCV ex: true

CVC ex: cat

CVCC ex: best

CCVC ex: track

The multiple C’s in a row are consonant clusters, and you can decide for yourself whether you want your language to have them. All languages have rules— or constraints— on what type of clusters can exist in the language. For example, English can have the clusters [kr] and [sp] but not [vb] or [tm]. If you want to use consonant clusters, here’s a useful article going over the different constraints for creating and using them.

Tip: The most common syllable structure in language is CV. If a language has syllables, it’s probably got this one.

For my language, I can pull syllables from the same words I used for the phonetic inventory. This gives me the following syllables.

V

VC

VCC

CV

CCV

CCVC

CVC

CVCC

CVCCC

I could go more into depth and decide on the rules for what consonants can come where and in what order— onset clusters vs. coda clusters, etc. But I think I can leave that for later if and when I find I need it (unless, of course, you guys want to know about it). For now, I can use these clusters to create words.

Next time we’ll work on vocabulary, so be prepared to have some fun with dictionaries!

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