Phonology | Sekko

In the rest of this article, the following notation is used:

  • C refers to a standard consonant.

  • V refers to a standard vowel.

  • Cc refers to a geminated/​long consonant.

  • Vv refers to a long vowel.


Labial Alveolar Post-alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal _ m ⟨m⟩ _ n ⟨n⟩ _ (ɲ) _ ŋ ⟨q⟩
Plosive p b ⟨p b⟩ t d ⟨t d⟩ k g ⟨k g⟩ ʔ _ ⟨’⟩
Affricate (tʃ dʒ)
Fricative s z ⟨s z⟩ (ʃ ʒ) h _ ⟨h⟩
Approximant _ (w) _ l ⟨l⟩ _ (j)
Tap _ ɾ ⟨r⟩
Trill _ r ⟨rr⟩

Hot take: The “whatever rhotic” is highly problematic and should not be used. It is so awful and I cannot believe people still permit it. Don’t you realize how many rhotics there are? This is why I enforce rhotics in Sekko to only be the alveolar tap and alveolar trill. No other rhotics are permitted.

Thoughts: I might permit the palatal and retroflex fricatives to be allophones of the post-alveolar fricatives.

Phonology help for (Standard American) English speakers:
/​ʃ/​ is the sh sound in shell
/​ʒ/​ is the j in French (think j in j’aime). It’s the voiced version of ʃ.
/​tʃ/​ is the ch sound in chin.
/​dʒ/​ is the j sound in jam.
/​ɾ/​ is the r sound in Japanese. It is not the r sound in English, which is the voiced alveolar (or postalveolar) approximant /​ɹ/​. It’s similar to the Spanish trilled r, except that you only touch the tongue to the palate once, rather than multiple times.
/​r/​ is the Spanish trilled r sound.
/​j/​ is the y sound in yuck or yum.
/​ɲ/​ is the ny sound in “nyan cat”. It’s the ñ sound in Spanish.
/​ŋ/​ is the ng sound in going or boing.
/​ʔ/​ is the glottal stop, which is the catch in the throat in uh-oh.
The rest of the sounds you should already know.

In the earlier stages of Sekko development, there were more sounds represented with non-ASCII characters: ň ž š ņ, the last one being the velar nasal (which remains). Changes caused the other three to be removed, leaving ņ as the only non-ASCII character. Because of this, the velar nasal is now written as q, following Toaqic and Ceqlian tradition. There is a wide variety of sounds assigned to letters c, and q since they don’t really have canonical pronunciations, and IPA does not use them. Sekko used to have c to mark tʃ, but it was removed.

Phonemes in parentheses are permitted allophonically (see further down).

All consonants may geminate and have length distinction, except for h and '. Geminated consonants are written twice. The length of a geminated consonant is twice the length of a short consonant.

Due to the structure of allophones (see below), the following consonants also cannot geminate: w j ʃ ʒ ɲ

The geminated form of the alveolar tap is the alveolar trill. At least two taps must be spoken for the alveolar trill.


Front Back
Close i _ ⟨i⟩ _ u ⟨u⟩
Close-mid _ o ⟨o⟩
Open-mid ɛ _ ⟨e⟩
Open a _ ⟨a⟩

Thoughts: I might permit the back open vowel and have a front-open back-open vowel distinction. For now, I consider roundedness to be non-allophonic. You must have rounded u and o, and you must unrounded i e a. I may change this, but this means that the approximants have to have allophones as well. Phonology help: Roundedness refers to the shape of the lips when pronouncing a vowel. Notice how when you say o, your mouth puckers up. But when you say i, the lips relax. Many languages have phonemic roundedness distinction. Compare German i and ü. (Okay, ü is slightly centralized in German but my point stands!)

Vowels have length distinction. Long vowels are written twice. The length of a long vowel is twice the length of a short vowel.

Only /​Vi/​ /​iV/​ /​uV/​ /​Vu/​ diphthongs are allowed. Length distinction is forbidden in diphthongs, and all vowels in diphthongs are to be pronounced short. (e.g. /​uua/​ is forbidden)

Allophones permitted:

  • /​niV/​ == /​ɲV/​

  • /​tiV/​ == /​tʃV/​

  • /​diV/​ == /​dʒV/​

  • /​iV/​ == /​jV/​; /​Vi/​ == /​Vj/​

  • /​uV/​ == /​wV/​; /​Vu/​ == /​Vw/​

  • /​siV/​ == /​ʃjV/​; /​suV/​ == /​ʃwV/​ (Note: Bare /​ʃV/​ is forbidden.)

Syllable structure

Sekko has a CcV+(C(c)) syllable structure. Consonant clusters may only occur across syllable boundaries; consonant clusters cannot occur in the same syllable (ignoring approximants). The nucleus may be of arbitrary length, so long as all pairs of vowels are legal diphthongs. (e.g.: In /​kuioua/​, /​ui/​ /​io/​ /​ou/​ /​ua/​ are all legal diphthongs.)

Null onsets are forbidden.

See this Google Sheets chart for a chart of permitted consonant clusters (sadly, I cannot figure out how to embed pictures in the editor).


Sekko uses Latin script as of now. Spaces are optional (the self-segregating morphology system is sufficient to find word boundaries unambiguously) but highly recommended for ease of reading.

Punctuation, such as the question mark to mark interrogative sentences, commas for connection, and periods for sentence endings is optional (the sentence fence suffixes are sufficient to find sentence boundaries unambiguously).

Capitalization to mark sentence beginning and names is optional.

The apostrophe, representing the glottal stop, has no upper-case form.

In Lojban, capitalization and punctuation are not used (in the English style, at least). However. Toaq does use English-style capitalization and punctuation (but it is not mandatory). Sekko takes the Toaq approach and makes it preferred but optional to have English-style capitalization in Latin orthography.