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A Kenku can only speak by mimicry, so can a Kenku fulfill the verbal portion of spells of his class? I would assume that he could only cast a verbal spell if he has heard the spell be cast by another caster of his same class. Also, the other caster would have to have cast the spell in a way that the Kenku knew what was spoken and why.

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A kenku should generally be able to produce the required sounds

Taking a look at what the verbal spell component consists of, we have this (my emphasis):

Most spells require the chanting of mystic words. The words themselves aren't the source of the spell's power; rather, the particular combination of sounds, with specific pitch and resonance, sets the threads of magic in motion.

As long as the kenku can cobble together sounds with the required pitches and resonances, it doesn't really matter how they do it. The sounds don't even really need to consist of speech. Even a kenku with a very limited vocabulary will have a wide repertoire of other sounds that they could mimic to fulfill the verbal components, such as birdsong, animal calls, the sounds of rushing water, etc. In short, unless the kenku was raised from birth alone in a soundproof room, they should be able to produce a sufficient variety of sounds to provide the verbal components of spells.

So, rather than making this a limitation, use this as an opportunity to add some unique flavor to your kenku spellcaster by indicating what kind of unique sounds they are using to provide the verbal component to each spell - perhaps the sound of a rushing river to cast tidal wave, the crackling of a bonfire to cast burning hands, or a bird's mating call to cast charm person. Or work it into your backstory by creating (in collaboration with your DM) an NPC mentor who taught them all the basic phonemes they would need to combine in order to cast verbal spells.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the NPC mentor thing could be a really cool plot point-- someone hears the voice of Super Old Wizard Man and bursts in, addressing the party as if he's there, but instead, it's his apprentice, and drama ensues... \$\endgroup\$ – Blue Caboose Dec 10 '18 at 18:37
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Yes, they can.

See the relevant sage advice:

Kenku speak by mimicking sounds they've heard. They're not prevented from uttering verbal components.

This might seem confusing at first. However, disallowing Kenku from casting spells (or imposing massive restrictions on doing so) would basically render Kenku unuseable as casters. Hence, for balancing reasons, they are allowed use verbal components.
Crawford justifies this ruling by using the phrasing "uttering verbal components", which suggests that verbal components are not real words. Either way, verbal components (and somatic components, for that matter) are notoriously loosely defined, aside from being audible.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Kenku only being able to speak with mimicry isn't really any different from how anyone else speaks. We all learn language by hearing and copying. I guess the only real effect on Kenku should be that they can't sound out a written word and pronounce it if they haven't heard it spoken before. \$\endgroup\$ – user47897 Dec 10 '18 at 14:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MarkTO yes, it is different from how others speak. See the description in Volo's Guide to Monsters, page 110: they literally mimic sounds they heard, they "cannot create new sounds". If you teach a child how to pronounce the letters of the alphabet, it will be (maybe with difficulty) able to pronounce an arbitrary combination of these letters. A Kenku won't be able to - everything they say is literally what they've heard. Hence, a Kenku that learned words from one single person will sound exactly like that person. \$\endgroup\$ – PixelMaster Dec 10 '18 at 14:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ I get that, I am also a old enough to remember picking classes and races that are suboptimal because they were fun to play... seems lost to new audiences where everyone can do everything and to have a weakness is "poor design". Heck I even restrict class choice based on the culture from which you choose to have your character. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Dec 10 '18 at 15:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for pointing out that verbal components =/= words. Without producing language, birds in the real world can produce a wide variety of noises, especially the ones capable of mimicking speech and words (notably parrots, but crows are also up there). The discussions of Wizard spellbooks suggest that the process of spellcasting is unique for each caster, so it makes sense that verbal components might vary from caster to caster. \$\endgroup\$ – Blue Caboose Dec 10 '18 at 15:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ I feel like this conversation gets into a weird place regarding how language works. If a person or animal knows that they can make a specific series of noises and make something happen (whether it's receiving a beer or casting a spell), how does that not count as a language? (Additionally, there's plenty of suggestion that specific parrots do understand what the words they're saying mean, and that they are capable of expressing themselves on par with a young human child. But these are also magical fantasy birds, so, ymmv.) \$\endgroup\$ – Blue Caboose Dec 10 '18 at 17:56

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