Monday, October 29, 2012

Rusanto: The Simplified Russian

Wow, after writing my last blog post my site was picked up by another Esperantist blogger who locates lists of blogs in Esperanto. My blog is listed as number 2 currently and can be found here.

This post is about Rusanto, a simplified form of Russian with an Esperanto-like grammar. I provided a link to the site but the site is very small (only 1 page) but does have a forum and starter dictionary, its well worth checking out!

NOUNSApart from the plural form, nouns don't change. Exception: object or direction. (The object ending can be left out if object follows subject or if object is preceded by a preposition)
noun plural  -(n)i
object / direction (noun singular) -(u)m
object / direction (noun plural) -(ni)m
BASIC WORDSroot + ending:
adverbs -(n)o
adjectives -(n)oi
morebolsx + adverb / adjective
mostnaibolsx + adverb / adjective
lessmensx + adverb / adjective
leastnaimensx + adverb / adjective
PRONOUNSya, ti, on, ona, ono, mi, vi, oni
GENDERRusanto has no grammatical gender. Only gender of obviously female beings is being accepted.
TO BEpresent: (  ) none
future: bu
past: bil, bila, bili
conditional: bi
VERBS NEUTRALroot +li       -(i)t
VERBS CONDITIONALpronoun  + bi + neutral
VERBS FUTUREpronoun  + bu + neutral
VERBS PAST SINGULARpronoun + root-(i)l
VERBS PAST PLURALpronoun + root-(i)li
verb present "I"root + -yu
verb present "you" (singular + familiar)root + -(i)sx
verb present "he"root + -yet
verb present "she"root + -yet
verb present "it"root + -yet
verb present "we"root + -yeme
verb present "you" (plural or polite)root + -yete
verb present "they"root + -yut
present active participle (adverb)verb-root + -yucx
present active participle (adjective)verb-root + -yucxi
passive participleverb-root + -noi
passive participle pastverb-root + -(e)nsxoi
NOUN FROM VERBverb-root + -(e)nie

So that is the entire grammar in a nutshell! Russian grammar is full of complex conjugation which must match in gender and number. Rusanto is perfect for the beginner to understand the vocabulary and could be very useful as a stepping-stone into proper Russian.

I like to think of Rusanto in the same regard as Basic English. Both are based on the natural language but with simplified grammar, especial for those just starting out learning.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Esperanto a fresh start...

Nu, mi prenis renovigitan intereson en Esperanto. Esperanto estis la unua Konstruita lingvo mi neniam lernis kaj ĝis nun, estis la plej facila. Tia estas kun nova dediĉo al mia amo al lingvoj kiujn mi refreŝigi min en la lingvo kaj provu memori ĉiujn vortojn mi iam konis kaj lerni novaj en esperoj de esti pli duagrada.

Mi studis malsamaj planlingvoj iuj estas pli bonaj ol Esperanto kaj iuj multe pli malbone sed la problemo kuŝas en la fakto ke Esperanto estas pli bona konata kaj uzata kompare kun la aliaj lingvoj. Ekzemple Ido estis desegnita por plibonigi sur Esperanto kaj faras mirindan laboron, tamen, estas tiel malmultaj parolantoj kaj iom disponeblas en la vojo de lernado kaj praktikado ... ĝin faras malfacile uzi tian lingvon.

Cxar nun Mi enfokusigante la 3 lingvoj: la rusa, afrikansa kaj Esperanton. Rusa lingvo pro mia edzino kaj bopatroj paroli ĝin. Afrikaans ĉar estas ĝermana lingvo (kiun mi volis studi) kaj liaj vortoj estas similaj al la nederlanda sed ĝia gramatiko estas simpligita, plisimpligita kaj facila. Laste, Esperanto, ĉar ĝi estas ankaŭ tre facile por lerni kaj estas miloj da parolantoj monde kun kiu mi povas komuniki kun.

Do, jen mi iras, studante Esperanton denove. Espereble ĉi tiu tempo Mi lernas pli kaj fariĝi bona parolanto.  


Well, I have taken a renewed interest in a Esperanto. Esperanto was the first Constructed language I ever learned and so far, has been the easiest. So it is with a new dedication to my love of languages that I refresh myself in the language and try to remember all the words I once knew and learn new ones in hopes of being more than mediocre. 

I have studied different constructed languages some are better than Esperanto and some much worse but the problem lies in the fact that Esperanto is better well known and used compared to the other languages. For example Ido was designed to improve upon Esperanto and does a wonderful job, however, there are so few speakers and little available in the way of learning and practicing... it makes it difficult to use such a language. 

For now, I am focusing on 3 languages: Russian, Afrikaans and Esperanto. Russian language because my wife and in-laws speak it. Afrikaans because it is a Germanic language ( which I have wanted to study ) and its words are similar to Dutch but its grammar is simplified and easy. Lastly, Esperanto because it is also very easy to learn and there are thousands of speakers world-wide with whom I can communicate with. 

So, here I go, studying Esperanto again. Hopefully this time I will learn more and become a better speaker. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Languages with minimal vocabulary

Hiklaa! (Pronounced: Hai-klah) Toki! (Pronounced: Toe-key) 

    These words are greetings in E-minimal language and Toki Pona respectively, there is a third language I will introduce called Tika, but I cannot find a greeting in that language. E-minimal, Toki Pona and Tika are examples of minimalist vocabulary languages. Each language only has a few hundred words with must be compounded with other words to make a sentence. 

    Lets start with E-minimal: 

255 Default Nouns + below

aa = ah
i = eye
a = aye
e = ee
o = oh
u = oo  


(with short e) 
EM Past 
EN Present 
EL Future 
ER- a question?

- N That which Acts
- L That Acted on
- M Adjective 
- J Adverb
- Z Plural 
- EV Possessive (ehv)

pro- = preposition
di- = conjunction
te- = mated principle
pi- = the study of
-po = the opposite of
-to = an increment of

E-minimal is a small language with 255 nouns ( I won't list them all here ), and what is written above, the language is ambiguous but has enough of a vocabulary to get your point across.

 Minimal  languages are very small and use many words over again and again or compound words and/or root words to make new words and express new concepts. Although it might seem impossible to speak efficiently with such a limited vocabulary, it really isn't all that difficult. What it does is force the speaker to forgo the vast majority of words and simply focus on the most basic form of communication. For example, instead of saying "he is insubordinate" the same could be said in the most basic form of communication: "he no listen me" 

 While this might sound strange to your English ears, "Ti naa spa ni!" Literally: "He no listen me" actually gets the message across with little problem.


Next we have Toki Pona, while E-minimal has a larger vocabulary than Toki Pona, there is more information about Toki Pona available and it offers a learning course! 

There are fourteen letters in the Toki Pona alphabet: nine consonants (j k l m n p s t w), and five vowels (a e i o u).

letter      pronounced as in

k            kill
l             let
m           met
n            net
p            pit
s            sink
t             too
w            wet
j             yet

Okay, one of the first principles you'll need to learn about Toki Pona is that there is no form of the verb to be like there is in English. For example:

mi pona. = I (am) good.

sina suli. = you (are) big/important.

Simply state mi or sina, then complete the sentence with a verb or adjective. These are the absolute simplest type of sentences in Toki Pona, but already you've come across something that you're probably not accustomed to: All those beloved words like is, was, and will be are gone. Say goodbye! Although this might seem strange to you, it's actually simpler, if you think about it. There are other languages that don't have a form of to be, so don't think this lack of to be is completely strange. It'll just take some practice to get used to the idea.

e - introduces direct object    li - separates a 3rd person subject from its verb

 Phrases such as mi moku could have two potential meanings: I'm eating or I am food. You have to rely on context heavily in these situations. However, there is one way to specify that you want to say I'm eating versus I am food. Observe:
   mi moku e kili. = I eat fruit.
   ona li lukin e pipi. = He's watching the bug.
Whatever is getting action done on itself is the "direct object," and in Toki Pona, we separate the verb and the direct object with e so that there is no confusion. [ while that sounds easy, it is harder to do in practice ]

For sentences that don't use mi or sina as the subject, there is one small catch that you'll have to learn. It's not very complex; it'll just take some practice to remember to use it. Look at how li is used:
   telo li pona. = Water (is) good.
   suno li suli. = (The) sun (is) big.
   moku li pona. = Eating/food (is) good.
li is a grammatical word that separates the subject from its "verb". Remember: It's only used when the subject is not mi or sina. Although li might seem worthless right now, as you continue to learn Toki Pona you will see that some sentences could be very confusing if li weren't there.


Lastly we come to Tika:

 Phonemes Pronunciation # 1 Pronunciation # 2
 a /a/ which is pronounced like the a in father  /ə/ which is pronounced like the a in about
 i /i/ which is pronounced like the i in machine /e/ which is pronounced like the e in net
 k /k/ which is pronounced like the k in kangaroo /g/ which is pronounced like the g in goal
 l /l/ which is pronounced like the l in lime /ɾ/ which is pronounced like the tt in American English kitty; any pronunciation of the letter r is acceptable
 n /n/ which is pronounced like the n in name /m/ which is pronounced like the m in money
 p /p/ which is pronounced like the p in plant /b/ which is pronounced like the b in banana
 t /t/ which is pronounced like the t in tiger /d/ which is pronounced like the d in doughnut
 u /u/ which is pronounced like the oo in food /o/ which is pronounced like the o in gold

Tika is an extraordinarily easy language. It only has 8 phonemes (5 consonants and 3 vowels), and 100 words which can be compounded to make even more words. The language is SVO meaning that the order is the subject, the verb, then the direct object, which is exactly like English. The only difference is that, in all cases, the indirect object comes after the direct object. The proper way to say "I gave you the ball" in Tika, would be,  "I gave the ball to you". Just like in English, the adjectives precedes the nouns (example: red cat, not cat red). Vowels can be pronounced as diphthongs or separately. Capital letters are never used. Any punctuation besides the period (.), is never used in Tika. Tika follows the Chinese way of forming questions. For example, take the sentence "You see me". If you wanted to make this into a question, you would say "Do you see me?", well in Tika, the way to turn it into a question is by asking "you see not see me?".

Because the phonology is so small, there are alternate ways to pronounce some of the phonemes. Choose the pronunciation that feels most natural to you.

Lord's Prayer

nuita puku patinu pila ni kiali. nuita puku kia puna tua tupi titula. nuita puku pili tupi natiu nupi tua. nuita puku pili tupi pili pila kapi piti. lilu kapi piti ni puanita ku kiali. nuita puku pili nuita puku luka tipu kunali kita ku nuita puku pili tupi lana nuita puku nala kuali nuita puku lana nala pua tipi pikua. nuita puku pili tupi kapi nuita puku pua tipu pua tupi kapu pua nuita puku puna ku kapi nuita puku pua nala. pila.

Literal translation:

Our parent is truly in the sky. We do goodness towards your name. We want your nation to move toward. We want your desires to truly give view. It'll give view in Earth and in the sky. We want our daytime eating stuff and we want you to accept our evil like we accept the evil of other people. We want you to hold us from the time of your opinions of our purity and keep us away from evil. Truly!


There you have it folks, 3 complete minimal languages you can actually use! If you want to learn more about these languages check out the following sites:
E-minimal, Toki Pona, Tika.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Spelling Reform

   Unlike many other languages, English spelling has never been systematically updated and thus today only partly holds to the alphabetic principle. As an outcome, English spelling is a system of weak rules with many exceptions and ambiguities.
   The English alphabet has several letters whose characteristic sounds are already represented elsewhere in the alphabet. These include X, C or K, and Q.

   It is argued that spelling reform would make the language easier to learn, raise literacy levels, and save time, money and effort.

   Advocates note that spelling reforms have taken place already, just slowly and often not in an organized way. There are many words that were once spelt un-phonetically but have since been reformed. For example, music was spelt musick until the 1880s, and fantasy was spelt phantasy until the 1920s. For a time, almost all words with the -or ending (such as error) were once spelt -our (errour) and almost all words with the -er ending (such as member) were once spelt -re (membre). In American spelling, most of them now use -or and -er, but in British spelling, only some have been reformed.
Pronunciations gradually change and the alphabetic principle that lies behind English (and every other alphabetically-written language) gradually becomes corrupted. Advocates argue that if we wish to keep English spelling regular, then spelling needs to be amended to account for the changes.

   Here is an example of "Cut Spelling" a reform proposal: "Wen readrs first se Cut Spelng, as in this sentnce, they ofn hesitate slytly, but then quikly becom acustmd to th shortnd words and soon find text in Cut Spelng as esy to read as Traditionl Orthografy, but it is th riter ho really apreciates th advantajs of Cut Spelng, as many of th most trublsm uncertntis hav been elimnated."

Phonemes are represented as follows, with nearest possible IPA equivalent.

Notation IPA Example
a /æ/ sat
e /ɛ/ set
i /ɪ/ did
o /ɑː/ dot
u /ʌ/ cut

Notation IPA Example
ae /eɪ̯/ sundae
ee /iː/ see
ie /aɪ̯/ die
oe /oʊ̯/ toe
ue /jʊː/ cue

Notation IPA (Gen. Amer.) IPA (RP) Example
ar /ɑr/ /ɑː(r)/ bar
er /ɛr/ /ɛː(r)/ merger
or /ɔr/ /ɔː(r)/ for

Notation IPA (Gen. Amer.) IPA (RP) Example
arr /ær/ /ar/ marry
err /eɪ̯r/ /ɛɪ̯r/ cherry
orr /ɔr/ /ɒr/ sorry

Notation IPA (Gen. Amer.) IPA (RP) Example
air /eɪ̯r/ air
aa /ɑː/ alm
eer /iːr/ beer
oo /uː/ moon
uu /ʊ/ book
oi /ɔɪ̯/ oil
ou/ow /aʊ̯/ out
au/aw /ɑː/ saw
ur /ɔr/ /ʊə(r)/ tour
uer /jər/ /jʊə(r)/ cure

Notation IPA Example
b /b/ bat
c/k /k/ cat, kit
ch /t͡ʃ/ chat
d /d/ did
f /f/ fat
g /ɡ/ gag
h /h/ hat
j /d͡ʒ/ jet
l /l/ let
m /m/ met
n /n/ net
ng /ŋ/ singing
nk /ŋk/ ink
p /p/ pep
q /kʷ/ quake
r /ɹ/ red
s /s/ set
sh /ʃ/ shed
t /t/ tot
th /θ/ thin
th /ð/ this
v /v/ van
w /w/ war
wh /ʍ/ why
x /ks/ box
y /j/ yes
z /z/ zoo
zh /ʒ/ azure

Exceptions and other differences

U, meaning "you", is capitalized.

Common words
There is no change in the words was, as, of, the, he, she, me, we, be, do, to, and off. Words derived from these (such as being, together, and thruout) also remain unchanged. Words ending in -ful remain unchanged.

Word-final S
There is no change in the plural suffix -s (as in jobs), the possessive suffix -'s (as in man's), and in the third person present singular verb suffix -s (as in he runs), even though in all these cases the s is sometimes pronounced [z].

"Th" digraph
There is no change in the digraph th, even though it can be pronounced as voiced [ð] or unvoiced [θ]. Similarly the letter x is retained for both voiced [gz] and unvoiced [ks]. The reason may be that unvoiced occurrences outnumber the voiced 5 to 1, and words normally calling for a voiced x are understood even if pronounced unvoiced.

There are usually no changes in the spelling of short (schwa) vowels in the unstressed syllables of words like organ, novel, pencil, and lemon, unless the spelling would otherwise indicate an over-pronunciation of the word (as in mountain).

Depending on its position in the word or root, the unstressed "half ee" (as in between, detect, reform, champion, editorial, hapyer, and fifty) continues to be spelled as e, i, or y.

Double "rr"
As in traditional orthography, indicates that the preceding vowel is short (as in carry, merry, and sorry).

Double ll
Indicates that the preceding a is pronounced English pronunciation: /ɔː/, as in fall, tall, and call.

Word-final O and I
The long o or long i sound at the end of a word may be written with a single letter, as in banjo, go, so, alibi, hi, fli, mi (but banjoes, alibieing, flies, etc., since the vowel is no longer at the end of the word).
Ambiguous syllable breaks

A hyphen following a vowel unambiguously separates a long vowel from another vowel following, as in re-enter and co-operate.

False diphthongs
If two vowels—such as ea—do not match a digraph on the SoundSpel chart, then the syllable ends with the first vowel: react (ea is not a digraph), jeenius, memorial, creaetiv. In cases of more than two vowels the syllable ends with the first digraph: flooid (oo, being the first digraph, ends the syllable—it is not flo-oid), hieest, freeing, inueendo, power, continueing, paeabl, evalueaet.

An example: The Star by Herbert George Wells

It was on the ferst dae of the nue yeer the anounsment was maed, allmoest siemultaeniusly frum three obzervatorys, that the moeshun of the planet Neptune, the outermoest of all planets that wheel about the Sun, had becum verry erratic. A retardaeshun in its velosity had bin suspected in Desember. Then a faent, remoet spek of liet was discuverd in the reejon of the perterbd planet. At ferst this did not cauz eny verry graet exsietment. Sieentific peepl, however, found the intelijens remarkabl enuf, eeven befor it becaem noen that the nue body was rapidly groeing larjer and brieter, and that its moeshun was qiet different frum the orderly progres of the planets.

Lastly lets look at Benjamin Franklin's idea for English spelling reform:

Benjamin Franklin took great interest in the promotion of spelling reform. While living in London in 1768 he wrote A Scheme for a new Alphabet and a Reformed Mode of Spelling in which he proposed a fairly accurate phonetic system for spelling English. The alphabet was published in 1779 in Franklin's Political, Miscel­laneous, and Philosophical Pieces.

His new phonetic alphabet consisted all the lowercase letters of the Latin alphabet, minus c, j, q, w, x, and y, which he thought redundant, plus six new letters for sounds which he thought lacked unambiguous orthographic representation. The other letters all adhered to the principle of one symbol (or unique digraph) per one sound.

Franklin commissioned a type foundry to prepare a suitable type including for the 6 new letters, but soon lost interest in his alphabet. The only other person to show an interest was Noah Webster.

Notable features
Double vowels represent long vowel sounds, e.g. aa = [ a: ] and ii = [ i: ].
Only one accented letter appears in the alphabet: ê, which represents the a in mane and lane.
Consonant combinations are used to represent such sounds as the ch in chew and the j in jaw.

Here is a sample of text: 

Much as the imperfections of the alphabet will admit of; the present bad spelling is only bad because contrary to the present bad rules: under the new rules it would be good -- the difficulty of learning to spell well in the old way is so great, that few attain it; thousands and thousands writing on to old age, without ever being able to acquire it. 'Tis, besides a difficulty continually increasing; as the sound gradually varies more and more from the spelling: and to foreigners.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Old English, Germanic derived languages and Conlangs

 Welcumen! No, I did not spell that incorrectly, what you are seeing is the word "Welcome" in Old English. Old English is much different than what we speak today. It is amazingly similar in some ways, and yet drastically different in others. OE sounds more like German and you can listen to what OE might have sounded like by watching this video here.   

In modern English we do not change, very much,  or inflect words when talking about: me, you, he, she, it, they etc.  for example: I make, you make, he, she it makes.  However, OE was different and the variations of OE Conlangs keep with the idea of inflection. As in our example above from the Conlang Englisc Ic makeþu makest, he, sci, it makeþ. 

Another great site is The Anglish Moot, a place for linguistic purism (that is, removing words that are not from the base language from the language itself, in the case of English, removing all the Romance words from Latin, Greek, French etc.) Replacing borrowed words from the Romance languages with updated varioations of OE or Germanic-based words. Below is a smaple of the 23rd Psalm in Anglish. 

(Brought from the Hebrew tung over to Anglish by MDS)1 A song of David.The LORD is my shepherd. I cannot fail.
2 In green abodes He lays me down, upon springs of stillness He leads me.
3 My soul does He fill, and guide me in my paths of rightwisness for the sake of His Name.
4 Yea, were I even to walk in deathly hallows, I would not fear evil since You are with-me; Your rod and Your staff: they soothe me.
5 You set up before me a meal board against my downtrodders. You heap rich oil on my head and fill my cup to the brim.
6 Oh, that Goodness and godkindness would run after me every day of my life, that I could abide in the house of LORD forever! So be it. Wouldn't it be cool to talk like this once more? English has changed so much from its beginnings. I, for one, would love to see English change to a more German-like language. Some might think of this as a reversal but I think it would be good to get English back to the way it should have been all along. If Normandy hadn't won the war with England in 1066, it is quite possible English would have evolved like Frisian and would have been even closer to the Frisian language today. 

Other languages worth taking a look at are: Afrikaans which is very easy to learn because of its very regular and simplistic grammar, Chathan (a Conlang) Here is a sample of Chathan with other natural Germanic languages: 

Chathan Ek vejst niek velk honden sin scvart. /ɛk veɪst nik vɛɫk hɔndɛn sɪn ʃvɑɚt/
English I don't know which hounds (dogs) are black.       
Dutch Ik weet niet welke honden zwart zijn.
Afrikaans Ek weet nie wat honde swart is nie. 
German Ich weiß nicht, welche Hunde schwarz sind.
Danish Jeg ved ikke, hvilke hunde er sorte.
Swedish Jag vet inte vilka hundar är svarta.
Icelandic Ég veit ekki hver hundarnir eru svartir.
Auregan Ikt witte whilch honde swarthe zischens nick.
Dearish Ick wid neet wilk hoend swaard aar.
Oxman Ik weat neat welke hounds sy'n swart.
NOTE: the last three languages compared, Auregan, Dearish and Oxman are also conlangs!