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This is my first attempt at any kind of constructed language, so I'd
appreciate any feedback I can get on my crazy idea.  Obviously, when
dealing with a wholly fictional species, human physiology and psychology
don't apply.  But I'd like to be able to pronounce and use the language I
create, even if only approximately - and my fictional humans should, too.
And I don't know enough to recognize how hard I'm making things.

My idea:  the insectoid species I'm crafting a language for has lungs and
produces a limited number of human-like phones, as well as a few that we
can't (like mandible clacking).  They have no lips and mouths more
specialized than ours, so they can only manage dental, alveolar, and
palato-alveolar sounds from the human range.  It seems reasonable to say
that their ability to make vowels would also be somewhat restricted - no
rounding possible, and a limited 'back' dimension.  Add on the restriction
that their language would have to involve a lot of buzzing, so voicing is
mandatory... and there aren't that many possible sounds remaining, and the
restricted vowel space makes it harder to distinguish between the available
options.

But what if their language compensated by utilizing features human
languages don't?  Everything I've read on tonal languages stresses that the
tone profiles depend on the speaker's normal pitch and are not precisely
defined even in an individual.  what if that changed?  What if every vowel
had to be sung, and pitch was phonemic for vowels?  I could take a very
limited number of vowels and distinguish between them by assigning them
notes.  I've read of musical languages that were pure notes, and tonality,
but never anything in-between.

Unfortunately, several sources I encountered stressed the importance of not
distinguishing words with vowels alone; that's an inevitable consequence of
my hypothetical feature.  And since I want to be able to pronounce the
language (and have fictional humans productively approximate it), normal
human capacities matter.

I realize this would be a challenging feature for humans to learn and use,
but... just how challenging?  How terrible an idea is this, for something
human beings could learn and use?

Matt G.