The phonotactics of a language refers to the possible sound sequences of a language. This includes what sounds are found together and where certain sounds can be found in terms of phonological environments. The limitations of a language’s phonotactics is also called phonotactic constraints (Zsiga, 2013, p. 222); this means that some strings of sounds are allowed but some sequences would not be allowed. Phonotactics rule out difficult-to-pronounce or “marked” sequences of sounds.


Hul’q’umi’num’: Resonants only occur adjacent to vowels in Hul’q’umi’num’; a word-initial resonant will always be followed by a vowel and a word-final resonant will always be preceded by a vowel (Suttles, 2003, p. 14).

Secwepemctsin: Sonorants /m’, n’, l’, y’, w’/ (resonants) do not occur word-initially, illustrated in the following (Gibsons, p. 3, 1973). The bolded characters indicate that they are the relevant sounds to this discussion:

  • su’kʷəmín’ ‘come on!’
  • k’él’əp ‘mattress’