Where ~ appears, it indicates free variation between phonemes.

Nasals: m – /m/, n – /n/, ny – /ɲ/
Plosives: p – /p~b/, t – /t~d/, k – /k~g/, /ʔ/
Affricates: ts – /t͡s~t͡ʃ/, tl – /t͡l~ t͡ɬ/
Continuants: s – /s~ʃ/, h – /h~ɦ/, l – /l~r/
Semivowels: u – /w/, y – /j/

Labialized consonants: /pʷ/, /kʷ/, /mʷ/, /nʷ/, /sʷ/, /hʷ/, /t͡ʃʷ/
Palatalized consonants: /pʲ/, /kʲ/, /mʲ/, /hʲ/

Prenasalized consonants

In Kala, almost every consonant can be prenasalized, but primarily the plosives /p/, /t/ and /k/ can be analyzed as prenasalized, while most other instances should be analyzed as cases of syllabic /ⁿ/. It often assimilates to bilabial [ᵐ] before [p] and velar [ᵑ] before [k]. mp /ᵐp~ᵐb/, nt /ⁿt~ⁿd/, nk /ᵑk~ᵑ/


Kala has five vowels /i/, /e/, /a/, /o/ and /u/, vowel length is not normally distinguished. Each occurs in both stressed and unstressed syllables. Phonetic nasalization occurs for vowels occurring between nasal consonants or when preceding a syllable-final nasal, e.g. tsunka [ˈʧũŋka] (‘bug’). Both of the falling diphthongs, ai [a͜ɪ] and ao [a͜ʊ], as well as uai [ʷ~wa͜ɪ] and yao [ʲ~ja͜ʊ] only occur word finally (with few exceptions), and very infrequently.


Kala phonotactics does not allow the onsets of adjacent syllables to be identical, nor both to be labialized or palatalized. (There are a few exceptions to this, such as tata for the informal/familiar form of father, etc.) Syllables beginning with /l/ do not occur as the first syllable of a headword.

Much like Japanese and Chinese, Kala has a limited number of syllables.

The syllables highlighted in red only occur word finally (with few exceptions), and very infrequently.


The nasal at the end of a syllable can be pronounced as any nasal stop, though it is normally assimilated to the following consonant. That is, it typically occurs as an [n] before /t/ or /s/, as an [m] before /p/, as an [ŋ] before /k/, and as an [ɲ] before /j/. Kala allows for quite a lot of allophonic variation. For example, /p t k/ may be pronounced [b d ɡ] as well as [p t k], /ts/ as [dz] or [tʃ] as well as [ts], /s/ as [z] or [ʃ] as well as [s], /l/ as [ɾ] as well as [l], and vowels may be either long or short.


In Kala stress is penultimate with the exceptions of negatives and words that end with a syllable onset palatal approximant, in which case stress is ultimate.