Widmann’s Language Creator


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Places of articulation

Labial and labiodental consonants include /p/, /b/, /f/ and /m/. How many labials?


Dental/alveolar distinction?


Retroflex consonants are widely used in Indian languages. How many retroflex consonants?


How many palatal consonants?


How many uvular consonants?


A pharyngeal consonant is a consonant that is articulated primarily in the pharynx. Some phoneticians distinguish upper pharyngeal consonants, or "high" pharyngeals, pronounced by retracting the root of the tongue in the mid to upper pharynx, from (ary)epiglottal consonants, or "low" pharyngeals, which are articulated with the aryepiglottic folds against the epiglottis in the lower larynx, as well as from epiglotto-pharyngeal consonants, with both movements being combined. Stops and trills can be reliably produced only at the epiglottis, and fricatives can be reliably produced only in the upper pharynx. When they are treated as distinct places of articulation, the term radical consonant may be used as a cover term, or the term guttural consonants may be used instead. In many languages, pharyngeal consonants trigger advancement of neighboring vowels. Pharyngeals thus differ from uvulars, which nearly always trigger retraction. For example, in some dialects of Arabic, the vowel /a/ is fronted to [æ] next to pharyngeals, but it is retracted to [ɑ] next to uvulars, as in حال [ħæːl] 'condition', with a pharyngeal fricative and a fronted vowel, compared to خال [χɑːl] 'maternal uncle', with a uvular consonant and a retracted vowel. How many pharyngeal consonants?


How many glottal consonants?


Modes of articulation

How many ejective consonants?


How many voicedimplosive consonants?


How many approximant consonants?


How many palatalised consonants?


Languages differ in the number and nature of their liquid consonants. Many languages, such as Japanese, Korean, or Polynesian languages (see below), have a single liquid phoneme that has both lateral and rhotic allophones. English has two liquid phonemes, one lateral, /l/ and one rhotic, /ɹ/, exemplified in the words led and red. Many other European languages have one lateral and one rhotic phoneme. Some, such as Greek, Italian and Serbo-Croatian, have more than two liquid phonemes. All three languages have the set /l/, /ʎ/, /r/, with two laterals and one rhotic. Similarly, the Iberian languages contrast four liquid phonemes. /l/, /ʎ/, /ɾ/, and a fourth phoneme that is an alveolar trill in all but some varieties of Portuguese, where it is a uvular trill or fricative (also, the majority of Spanish speakers lack /ʎ/ and use the central /ʝ/ instead). Some European languages, for example Russian and Irish, contrast a palatalized lateral–rhotic pair with an unpalatalized (or velarized) set (e.g. /lʲ/ /rʲ/ /l/ /r/ in Russian). Elsewhere in the world, two liquids of the types mentioned above remains the most common attribute of a language's consonant inventory except in North America and Australia. In North America, a majority of languages do not have rhotics at all and there is a wide variety of lateral sounds though most are obstruent laterals rather than liquids. Most indigenous Australian languages are very rich in liquids, with some having as many as seven distinct liquids. They typically include dental, alveolar, retroflex and palatal laterals, and as many as three rhotics. On the other side, there are many indigenous languages in the Amazon Basin and eastern North America, as well as a few in Asia and Africa, with no liquids. How many liquids?


Should it use nasal stops (like /m/ and /n/)?


A lot of languages in southern Africa use clicks. How many clicks?


Should it use voicing?


Should it use aspiration?


Should it have fricatives?



Oral Vowel Heights

How many degrees of opening should the language have? The most common number is three, resulting in a typical vowel inventory of /a e i o u/, but values from two to five are all well-documented.


Languages sometimes have as many nasal vowels as they do oral ones, but often there are much fewer. For instance, French distinguishes four degrees of opening in its oral vowel system, but only two in its nasal one. How many degrees of opening for nasal vowels should the language have? 0 means no nasal vowels, and 1 means as many as oral vowels, but you can specify a number inbetween.


Languages often reduce the number of vowels in subsequent syllabels. How many degrees of opening for reduced vowels should the language have? 0 means only one (schwa), and 1 means using the full vowel set.


Some languages phonologically only distinguish vowel height, but it's much more common to distinguish between front and back vowels. Some languages furthermore add a central vowel series to the mix. How many degrees of backness should the language employ?


Some language distinguish short and long vowels. Should the language do this?


Some languages phonologically only distinguish vowel height, but it's much more common to distinguish between front and rounded vowels. Some languages furthermore add a central vowel series to the mix. Should roundedness be distinctive?

Front rounded
Back unrounded

Morphology and marking


Grammatical categories


Should the language have number as a grammatical category?



Should the language have gender as a grammatical category?

Two genders: masculine and feminine
Distinguishing animate and inanimate
Three genders
Four genders
Noun classes

Syntactic relations

Nominative and accusative

Should the subject and object be marked?

No marking

The relative clause

Which of the following three strategies should be used for relative clauses?

The following sentences indicate various possibilities (only some of which are grammatical in English): So perhaps we should try three main options (roughly corresponding to Georgian): (1) woman-NOM REL-FEM-DAT I-NOM letter-ACC write-FUT Tbilisi-LOC live-PRES (2) I-NOM letter-ACC write-FUT-REL woman-NOM Tbilisi-LOC live-PRES (3) woman-DAT I-NOM letter-ACC write-FUT-REL, 3RD-SING-DEM-FEM-NOM Tbilisi-LOC live-PRES Investigate these additional options: (4) "[Which person I saw yesterday], that person went home". (A correlative structure, as in Hindi.) (5) "The person [that I saw him yesterday] went home". (A complementizer linking the two sentences with a resumptive pronoun indicating the role of the shared noun in the embedded clause, as in Arabic, Hebrew or Persian.) "The person [that her I saw yesterday] went home". (Similar to the previous, but with the resumptive pronoun fronted. This occurs in modern Greek and as one possibility in modern Hebrew; the combination that him of complementizer and resumptive pronoun behaves similar to a unitary relative pronoun.)

Which strategy shold be used?


The adjective

Should adjectives be like nouns or verbs?

Should adjectival phrases be head-marked?

Should adjectival phrases be dependent-marked?

Should adjectives come before or after the noun? [scale]

Adpositions (prepositions, postpositions etc.)

Should adpositional phrases be head-marked?

Should adpositional phrases be dependent-marked?

Prepositions or postpositions

Should the language use prepositions or postpositions?



NGen or GenN

Should the possessor/owner precede or follow the possessed/owned?



Inflections, affixes and clitics


What kind of marking should be used?

01 – Prefixes
01 – Suffixes
01 – Circumfixes
01 – Infixes
01 – Preclitics
01 – Postclitics
01 – Independent words

Fusion and complexity

To what extent should the language fuse different elements together?


To what extent should the language use different inflectional paradigms?


To what extent should the language have irregularities and exceptions to rules?



Locus of Marking in Possessive Noun Phrases

Should the possessor in a possessive construction be marked, for instance by using a adposition or grammatical case?


Marking of owned (possessive)

Should the owned in a possessive construction be marked?



Definite article


Should the language have a definite article?


Indefinite article


Should the language have an indefinite article?


Other things


Suffixaufnahme (German: [ˈzʊfɪksˌaʊfˌnaːmə], "suffix resumption"), also known as case stacking, is a linguistic phenomenon used in forming a genitive construction, whereby prototypically a genitive noun agrees with its head noun. It was first recognized in Old Georgian and some other Caucasian and ancient Middle Eastern languages as well as many Australian languages, and almost invariably coincides with agglutinativity. A subject, for instance, would be marked with a subjective affix as well as a genitive affix. So, for example, in Old Georgian perx-ni k'ac-isa-ni (foot-NOM.PL man-GEN-NOM.PL) 'a man's feet', the genitival noun phrase agrees in case (nominative) and number (plural) with the head noun. However, while such a possessive construction is most frequently found in suffixaufnahme, other nominal constructions may also show similar behavior. In Old Georgian, a postpositional phrase modifying a noun could take on that noun's case and number features: "Ra turpa prinvelia!" c'amoidzaxa ert-ma bavshv-ta-gan-ma [one-ERG child-GEN.PL-from-ERG] ("'What a wonderful bird!' exclaimed one of the children") has the ergative (also called narrative) case -ma on ertma repeated in the modifying postpositional phrase, headed by -gan.

Should the language do suffixaufnahme?



Languages such as Turkish and Greenlandic have a lot of suffixes expressing ideas that would normally be expressed through verbs, adjectives, or adverbs in other languages. For instance, in Greenlandic, "to have" is often expressed through the suffix -qarpoq, e.g., illu "house" > illoqarpoq "he has a house". (Be aware that Turkish isn't normally considered a polysynthetic language, but it really ought to be, considering examples such as "Avrupalılaştıramadık" "one that is unable to be Europeanised".)

Degree of polysynthesis?


Word order


Order of verb, subject and object


NDem or DemN

NNum or NumN