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My approach to conlanging is to not do phonology at all. Ever.

The way I figure it is that phonology is the least important part of a
language. Any widely used language has no single standard phonology.
Boston English, Cockney English, Texas English, Liverpool English,
Australia English, Bombay English, all have vastly different
phonologies, and yet are all mutually intelligible. Clearly phonology
has nothing to do with "language" and everything to do with "dialect"
or "regional accent".

If you want to add regional accents and dialects to your conlang then
by all means, dip your toes into phonology. But to define a LANGUAGE,
phonology is far from necessary.

Now I DO find phonology interesting. It's fascinating to read about,
listen to, and study the regional variations of English and Spanish,
the two languages I'm familiar with. But again, phonology really only
applies to language if you are talking about a language used by a
single small cultural group in a single small region. Any widespread
language simply has no such thing as A phonology.

A certain conlanging forum which shall remain un-named seems to
conflate "phonology" with conlang to such an extent that the posts
there seem to be nothing but "here's my new conlang" followed by an
enumeration of a phonology. That's like saying "here's my new sports
car design" followed by a few paint chips for the interior and
exterior color scheme. Where's the engine? Where's the drive train?
Where's the wheels? Who cares about what color you paint it after it's
done. And who cares how your conlang is pronounced in different
regions of the world? It's not a language until it has a grammar and a
lexicon. Phonology is just a superficial paint job on the surface.

(End of my annual phonology rant for 2012. The conlang airwaves are
again safe to visit until February 2013. For historical perspective,
here is my annual phonology rant from 2004:
http://listserv.brown.edu/archives/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0404B&L=CONLANG&D=0&P=11611
)

--gary

On Tue, Feb 28, 2012 at 9:13 AM, Daniel Burgener
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> I find grammar, morphology, and pretty much everything about language that
> I've learned except for phonology to be absolutely fascinating.  However,
> as someone with no linguistics training, phonology just gives me a really
> hard time.  Whenever I try to start a new conlang, I usually start with
> phonology, and get bored and stopped before I get it looking like I want
> it.  My central problem is that I have trouble making a phonology
> interestingly different from English, partially because I have a lot of
> trouble pronouncing most non-English phonemes (In terms of consonants,
> essentially I can pronounce English, the German ch, and dental stops  For
> vowels, I generally can't tell them apart at all).
>
> Lately I've found myself wishing I could just skip the phonology section or
> take care of it in a few minutes and get on to the interesting parts right
> away.  Are there any shortcuts I could take that would allow a non-linguist
> to quickly create a phonology that's interesting, easy for someone with
> only experience in English, German and Spanish to pronounce, and not
> totally "cookie cutter"?
>
> Thanks.