Are questions* like "Does my phonology look naturalistic", "How can I improve my phonology (to make it look more naturalistic)" and "How can I evolve my phonology" allowed here? It seems, at first glance, that these type of questions are too subjective, but investigating what's wrong with a phonological system is educative.

Naturally, simple answers like 'do this' are wrong, and answers should not contain what to do but how to do it, talking about kitchen-sinkness, balance in phonological systems (and mass changes and chains that might occur there), phoneme occurence in systems and Euro-/Anglocentricism.

Furthermore, many new conlangers ask these questions (see /r/conlangs's SD) and can give the conlang SE more questions and views, as Area 51 stats show that the SE 'needs work'.

Proposed Q:

How natural my phonology?

This is my phonology for my language examplang.
PLOSIVE | p b | t d | k g |
NASAL | | | |
FRICATIVE | f v | θ s | x |
APPROXIMANT | | ɹ | w |
FLAP/TAP | | ɾ | |

| i y u
| e
| ɛ ɔ
| a

Ideal A:

There are a couple things to notice. First, balance. The only voiced fricative is /v/, which is very unbalanced (although there are exceptions [with link]) and via sound changes, it might be removed or other voiced fricatives added. Then, the only front rounded vowel is /y/ and the Close-Mid row misses a back.

Then, occurrence. Less than 2% of languages have no nasal stops (Maddieson, Ian. 2008. Absence of Common Consonants. Accessed online at http://wals.info/feature/18). Also, /j l/ look quite common in a system like yours.

Common sound changes to evolve your phonological systems are: a chain in the vowels (which partially will fix irregularities), voicing when intervocalically (Old English had /f s ʃ h/ (or /x/), and borrowing /v/ from French added /v z ʒ/ due to balance), adding diphthongs via gemination (i.e. Vr > V[+gem], then a: > ai, e: > ei, ɔ: > o (fixing unbalance), i: y: > i (later inducing merger between /i y/ too) and use those diphthongs to get glides).

A different question may have been answered including Anglo-/Eurocentricism, kitchen-sinkness and relex.

1 Answer 1

  1. Questions asking for value judgements should be closed as Primarily Opinion Based. This includes your (original) example question.

  2. Questions can however ask how naturalistic a conlang's phonology system is. Questions do have to explicitly ask this though, don't interpret a question asking if their phonology looks good as meaning whether it is naturalistic.

  3. Questions about diachronic phonology are okay, but many would be duplicates of What is an overview of sound changes? Hopefully we'll get some more narrow diachronic questions which can build on the general overview.

  • See revised question. Would that be fine?
    – Duncan
    Commented Mar 24, 2018 at 9:32
  • 1
    @DuncanWhyte Sure. What would make you think it wouldn't be?
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Commented Mar 24, 2018 at 9:40
  • 1
    Nothing, I was just wondering. Many new conlangers ask these type of questions and can help our userbase.
    – Duncan
    Commented Mar 24, 2018 at 10:19

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