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A pseudoword is a unit of speech or text that appears to be an actual word in a certain language (at least superficially), while in fact it is not part of the lexicon. Within linguistics, a pseudoword is defined specifically as respecting the phonotactic restrictions of a language. That is, it does not include sounds or series of sounds that do not exist in that language: it is easily pronounceable for speakers of the language. Also, when written down, a pseudoword does not include strings of characters that are not permissible in the spelling of the target language. "Vonk" is a pseudoword in English, while "dfhnxd" is not. The latter is an example of a nonword. Nonwords are contrasted with pseudowords in that they are not pronounceable and by their spelling, which could not be the spelling of a real word.

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