High Valyrian Phonotactics

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Syllable structure

The maximum possible syllable structure in High Valyrian is CCCVːCC.[1]

Permitted onsets

A syllable may begin with a single consonant, or a permitted cluster. Known permitted clusters consist of an oral stop followed by either a liquid, or a sibilant.


A word may begin with a vowel, a single consonant, an oral stop followed by a liquid, or either of those preceded by a sibilant. That is, I word may begin with three consonants provided they occur in the following configuration:

1st 2nd 3rd
s p
z b

Permitted nuclei

A nucleus may be a short vowel, a long vowel, or a permitted diphtong.[1]

Permitted codas

Any consonant may appear as a geminate, except for the palatals[1] (ñ, lj, and possibly also j)


A word may end with a vowel, s, n, t, z, or r. The only permissible consonant cluster word-finally is ks.[1]

Palatal resonants

The palatal resonants, ñ and lj, have a particularly limited distribution:

  • They may not double.[1]
  • They depalatalize before i, or any consonant except for j.
    • When this happens, lj [ʎ] becomes l [l].
    • Likewise, ñ [ɲ] becomes [n], however this is not consistently reflected in the transcription system: the sound may be written either n or ñ, but either way it is pronounced [n].

Disallowed consonant clusters

The following consonant clusters are known to be disallowed:

This is most frequently seen in the first person singular of the future active indicative, where *-il·na becomes -inna
It is also common with the suffix -non: *qrin·rhol·no·rqrīdronnor. Compare also the hypothetical *obūlj·non*obūnnon[2]
  • Conversely, *nl appears to become ll, based on qrin·laodagonqrillaodagon

Cr clusters

A number of common soundchanges occur when a consonant is followed by r. These are particularly important for the declension of aquatic nouns and adjectives:

  • *hr becomes rh [r̥], e.g. *ñuhroñurho[3]
  • *zr becomes j[4]
Often seen in words of the aquatic gender whose stem ends in z, e.g. vestriarzir → pl. vestriarja
Also with the prefix oz-, e.g. *oz·rughagonojughagon.
(Presumably examples of this change will also occur with the prefix maz-, or type I adjectives with stems ending in z, but no examples of either are known so far.)
  • *sr may also become j, but it does not always do so.[5] Thus, either kesrio or kejio are acceptable.
  • *lr apparently remains unchanged in aquatic nouns, such as pelar,[6]but produces ldr in zaldrīzes.

For the nasals, n, m, and ñ, see Nasal Deletion, below.

Nasal Deletion

  • *nr or ñr become dr, with lengthening of the preceding vowel:[7]
This is frequently seen with the prefix qrin-, e.g. *qrin·rughagonqrīdrughagon
It is also common in nouns and adjectives of the aquatic gender whose stem ends in n, e.g. bianor → pl. biādra[8]
Cf. also the word hēd, derived from *hen·rȳ.
  • By the same process, *mr produces br. Presumably this includes lengthening of the previous vowel as well, but in all examples we know so far, the vowel is already long, e.g. sūmar → pl. sūbri.[9]
  • A similar soundchange occurs when n or m (and presumably ñ as well) come before s: the nasal is deleted, with the preceding vowel lengthened, and the s becomes z
This is most commonly seen in emagon and derived words, where *em·zaēza. This apparently is also an option for regular verbs whose stems end in a nasal.
It is also seen in the word hēzir, derived from *hen·sīr.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 http://dedalvs.tumblr.com/post/108188435345/what-is-high-valyrians-syllable-structure-and
  2. Probably not a real word. See http://www.dothraki.com/2015/01/asshekhqoyi-anni-save-save-save/#comment-85568
  3. http://dedalvs.tumblr.com/post/123153508192/i-am-tyraxes-from-yesterday-what-do-you-know
  4. http://dedalvs.tumblr.com/post/118971485709/hi-i-was-wondering-how-you-would-say-stories-can#comment-2025739614
  5. http://dedalvs.tumblr.com/post/118971485709/hi-i-was-wondering-how-you-would-say-stories-can#comment-2032888591
  6. https://dedalvs.tumblr.com/post/52747943689/hi-im-a-big-fan-of-your-work-on-game-of-thrones
  7. http://dedalvs.tumblr.com/post/94740862654/you-said-bianor-biadra-was-subject-to-the
  8. http://www.dothraki.com/2014/02/relative-clauses-in-high-valyrian/#comment-7846
  9. http://dedalvs.tumblr.com/post/110910885973/how-do-you-say-tea-in-hv-is-it-subar-or
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