Good and Bad Homophony

One thing about conlanging is that it’s easy to end up with semi-accidentally homophonous words, which can be fine and happens a lot in natural languages, but when it happens with your conlang you need to decide if you’re OK with it in this particular instance or not. And there’s one minor one right now that bothers me.


  • o is an article / pro-clitic marking non-specific noun phrase
  • o- is the third person possessor agreement prefix for inalienable / inherently possessed nouns

Since stress is final, a noun with the proclitic and a noun with the prefix are not really phonetically distinct.

In a sense this is not ambiguous, because the noun root determines where the inalienable possessive prefixes are required, and non-specific + possessed is a slightly unusual combination in any case. For example, -chin “child” is a possessed noun, so ochin can only mean “his/her child”, whereas tacha’ “man” is not, so o tacha’ can only mean “a man”.

But there’s something bothering me the idea that if you come across an unknown noun root preceded by o-, then it could either mean indefinite/non-specific or possessed by a third person. It doesn’t feel right for reasons I can’t explain.