Phonotactics are deeply related to phonology. In fact, one cannot exist without the other. Phonotactics is the structure of phonological elements within a word. Languages can differ greatly based on phonotactics alone.
The most important element of phonotactics is the syllable structure. This determines the placement of consonants and vowels within syllables, as well as the number of each. It is often written with C symbolizing consonants and V symbolizing vowels. Languages are classified as having simple to complex syllable structures, with gradients in between. A language with a simple syllable structure would be Hawaiian, which only allows for one consonant and one vowel in a syllable. On the other side, Gregorian is often noted for having the most complex syllable structure, allowing for words like გვრწვრთნი (gvrts’vrtni) meaning “you train us”.
Syllable structure also defines how many consonants can come after the nucleus, that being the central vowel. Some languages do not allow consonants to come after the vowel, like our old friend Hawaiian from earlier. Most of Earth’s languages do allow consonants in the coda but greatly limit the number and type. Japanese for example only allows coda N, which can variably be n or m. Other languages allow for the same number of consonants at the coda as at the onset of the syllable. English does this in a word like strengths, s–t–r–e–ng–th–s.
- Molnar, T. (n.d.). The basics on syllabic structure. Linguistics Network. https://www.linguisticsnetwork.com/the-basics-on-syllabic-structure/