Friday, November 23, 2012


According to Wikipedia: Polyglotism is the ability to speak several languages with a high degree of proficiency. There is no consensus on exactly how many languages a person has to speak to be a polyglot. One could say "four or more", since speakers of two or three languages are commonly called bilingual and trilingual, respectively. The term multilingual is similar.
Linguist Richard Hudson uses the term "hyperpolyglot" for a person who can speak six or more languages fluently.

Fluent in 3 months is a website run by Benny the Irish Polyglot and has lots of information about various languages, Benny talks about different languages whats easy, whats difficult. Benny also offers the Speak from Day One video course + Language Hacking Guide which is his own language learning course. (Definitely worth checking out!) He also has a Youtube page where you can hear Benny talking in the different languages he knows.  

PageF30 is another interesting website I like to peruse now and then in the language section. 

Here is a video I just found of a 16 year old boy who can speak 20 languages! I am so jealous, I love languages very much (hence this blog) currently I can speak some basic Esperanto and I am a little better than basic Russian I am also dabbling with Afrikaans and Indonesian Bahasa.  

A few sites worth checking out are:

Polyglot Club

The Polyglot Dream

Speaking Adventure

How To Learn Any Language

So here is to learning a new language or two or three...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Square Word Calligraphy...

The Square Word Calligraphy system presented on this page and developed by Dr. David B. Kelley in 2012 is a new version of the original Square Word Calligraphy (英文方块字) system developed in 1994 by the Chinese artist, Xu Bing (徐冰).

Xu Bing attempted to fuse written English and written Chinese. He designed a system whereby English words are written in the format of a square, so as to resemble the consistent size of all Chinese characters. To achieve this, he utilized the fact that some of the 214 different radicals (component parts) used to write Chinese characters also resemble the letters in the Roman alphabet. Based on the similarities of certain of the Chinese radicals and the Roman alphabet, Xu Bing created his own Sino-Roman alphabet. Using those Sino-Roman symbols, he began to write English words by combining the letters of individual English words into squares, with all the letters of any English word present, but formatted into a square shape. Modern Korean writing does this with the 24 letters of the Hangul alphabet. The result is a Chinese-like grouping of symbols into single "characters" (or English "words") of the same size.

David's version of Square Word Calligraphy differs from the original system by creating a different set of symbols from the 214 radicals, thus forming a different Sino-Roman alphabet. David's alphabet uses different symbols because he thought that ten of Xu Bing's original Sino-Roman alphabetic symbols could be improved by replacing them with more Chinese-like ones, specifically the symbols for "A", "D", "E", "H", "K', "M", "Q", "R", "V" and "Z". David's goal is to aim for a more consistently Chinese-like appearance to SWC words.

Both Xu Bing's and David's versions initially appear indecipherable to English speakers; however, once they see the alphabet chart, they can read everything easily. Yet, many people say they feel really strange because of the sudden complete awareness of comprehension, after being so sure it was unreadable. Use the Sino-Roman alphabet chart below and see for yourself whether you can read the example text, and how quickly.

Notable features

  • Type of writing system: alphabet
  • Direction of writing words: left to right in horizontal or vertical lines. The letters do not follow one another linearly but are fitted together to form a square shape.
  • Used to write: English or any language employing the Roman alphabet.

Here is an example text.

Square Word Calligraphy by David B Kelley
Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Ok, I know I recently did a post about a Slavic/Russian conlang but this one is really worth looking at because it allows a very simplistic form, an intermediate form and advanced form of the language. 

«Slovianto» is a highly simplified form of Interslavic, mostly intended for use by non-Slavic people who want to be able to express themselves at the very basic level...

So begins the opening words for the International Slavic Language: Medžuslovjanski jezyk - this language follows a simple, primitive, pidginesque grammar model that is characterized by regularity, minimalism and the absence of anything that is not really needed on the most basic level of communication. It has been constructed in such way that it does not look or sound too awkward to Slavic speakers, but rather like the kind of language used by children.

The working title Slovianto is a portmanteau word for „Slavic Esperanto”. This name, albeit somewhat tongue-in-cheek, refers to the simplicity of Slovianto: it has no gender, no cases, no aspect, little conjugation and no irregularity. Yet, that is where the similarity to Esperanto ends, because Slovianto's means of simplification are in fact far more similar to those used by Interlingua.

Nouns can have the endings -Ø (= consonant), -a, -o and -e. In the Slavic languages they convey information about gender and declension, but in Slovianto gender doesn't play a role. All you need to know is that the plural is formed by replacing the final vowel by -i: muž - muži "man", žena - ženi "woman", jednost - jednosti "unit(y)", slovo - slovi "word". To make it feel a bit more natural, nouns on -o/-e (neuter nouns in Slavic) can have the plural -a instead of -i: slovo - slova.

When a word ends in a consonant, it can happen that the vowel preceding it dropped in the plural: pes - psi "dog", spisok - spiski "list". This is of course not mandatory.


Adjectives always have the ending -i. They are not inflected and should be placed before the noun.

An adjective can be made into an adverb by substituting -i with the ending -o: dobri "good" - dobro "well".

Adjectives are compared by means of the words više- (more), mene- (less), naj- (most) and najmene- (least). These words can best be connected to the adjective with a hyphen: dobri "good" - više-dobri "better" - naj-dobri "best", etc.
ja "I"  | ti "you, thou" | on "he"| ono "it" | ona "she" | mi "we" | vi "you" | oni "they"


The cardinal numbers are:

  • 1-10: jedin, dva, tri, četiri, pet, šest, sedm, osm, devet, deset.
  • The "-teens" (11-19) are formed by adding -nast: jedinnast, "11", dvanast "12"...
  • The "-ties" (20, 30... 90) are formed by adding -deset: dvadeset "20", trideset "30"...
  • The "-hundreds" (200, 300... 900) are formed by adding -sto: dvasto "200", tristo "300"...
  • Higher numbers: tiseč "1,000", milion "1,000,000", miliard "1,000,000,000".

Combinations of these are always made from high to low: pet-tiseč šeststo sedmdeset osm "5678".
Ordinal numbers are formed by adding -i to the corresponding cardinal number, except for the following: prvi "1st", drugi "2nd", treti "3rd", četvrti "4th", sotni or stoti "100th", tisečni "1000th".


Verbs in Slovianto are conjugated for three persons, but not for number. There are three tenses: present tense, past tense and future tense. Furthermore, there are participles, imperatives and verbal nouns. Aspect does not play a role; from the dictionary we take the simplest form (usually the perfective form when a verb has a prefix and the imperfective form when it does not).

There is only one regular conjugation. Irregularity is allowed only when it really cannot be avoided. Endings are unitary, so that every form will be instantly recognisable.


The stem is formed by removing the ending -ti from the infinitive.
ja, midelamprosimnesem
on/ona/ono, onidelatprositneset

The present tense can be obtained by using the ending -t to the stem. If the present tense stem ends in a consonant, -e- is inserted between the stem and the ending. For example: ja delat "I do", vi prosit "you ask", oni kovat "they forge".

To the Slavic ear, however, this sounds clumsy. To prevent that from happening, it would be worth the effort to use -t only in the third person, and learn two additional endings: -m in the first person (singular and plural) and -te in the second person. A confidential second person (for family, friends, children etc.) the personal pronoun ti can be used, in which case the ending is instead of -te.

Past Tense
The past tense in formed by replacing the -ti of the infinitive by the ending -l (singular) or -li (plural).Present Tense

ja, ti, on/ona/onodelalprosilnesl
mi, vi, onidelaliprosilinesli

Future Tense:
The future tense is formed by combining the future tense of the verb biti „to be” with the infinitive. The forms are the same as if a verb *bud-ti were conjugated in the present tense: ja budem delati, vi budete delati, on budet delati, etc.

The conditional is formed by adding the particle bi to the past tense: ja bi delal „I would do/I would have done”.

Imperative: The imperative has the endings -jte for the second person and -jmo for the first person, placed after the stem. If the stem ends in a consonant, -i- is inserted.

Participle The past passive participle is created by adding -ni to the infinitive stem: dela-ni "done". If the stem ends in -i- or consonant, then add -e- between the stem and the ending: govori-eni "spoken".

past passivedelaniprosienineseni

The passive voice
The passive voice is created as in English, by combining a form of the verb biti „to be” with the past passive participle:

ja jesm neseni „I am being carried”
ja bil neseni „I was being carried, I have been carried”
ja budem neseni „I will be carried”
ja bil bi neseni „I would be carried, I would have been carried”
The verb biti „to be”
The only irregular verb in Slovianto is biti "to be". It is conjugated as follows:

present tense: jes-: ja/mi jesm "I am/we are", vi jeste "you are", on/ona/ono/oni jest "he/she/it is, they are"
past tense: bil-: ja bil "I was, we were", mi bili "we were", ...
future tense: bud-: ja/mi budem "I/we will be", vi budete "you will be", on/ona/ono/oni budet "he/she/it/they will be"
conditional: bi bil-: ja bi bil "I would be/would have been", mi bi bili "we..."
imperative: bud-: budte "be!", budmo "let's be!"


The preferred word order is subject – verb – object. It isn't mandatory, but because of the lack of cases in Slovianto any other word order might easily make a sentence unclear or ambiguous. Word order can be altered more easily when the subject or object of the sentence is a personal pronoun or a pronoun like kto, because they have separate accusative forms, so the meaning is always clear.
There are two types of questions:
  • Yes-no questions differ from normal indicative sentences only by intonation. Otec kupil kniga "Father has bought a book". Otec kupil kniga? "Has father bought a book?"
  • Other questions start with an interrogative pronoun or adverb. kotore kniga kupil otec? "Which book has father bought?", Gde otec kupil te kniga? "Where did father buy that book?
The easiest way for expressing possession (expressed by most natural Slavic languages with the genitive) is simply placing the possessor before the possessed: moj otec kniga "my father's book". When this is not clear enough, use the preposition od "from, of": kniga od moj otec.

Likewise, you don't have to use any special accessories for the indirect object (the Slavic languages use the dative): Dajte moj otec to kniga "Give that book to my father". Whenever this is not clear enough, use the preposition k "to": Dajte te kniga k moj otec.

Where the Slavic languages use the instrumental, you can use s "with" or posredstvom "by means of": Ja udaril svoj otec s to kniga "I hit my father with that book".


Babel text

I celi zemja imal jedin jezik i podobni slova. Ale kogda ludi premestili se iz vozhod, oni nahodili ravnina v kraj Šinar i tam osadili se. I oni govorili jedin k drugi: "Hodijte, delajmo cegli i dobro palijmo ih!" I cegli služili dla ih kak kameni, a smola služila dla ih kak cement. I oni govorili: "Hodijte, budovajmo grad i veža, kotori budet dosegati do nebo, i delajmo dla sebe imeno, abi mi ne razsipali se na celi zemja."
Togda Bog shodil v dol, abi videti grad i veža, kotori deti od ludi budovali. I Bog govoril: "Vidijte! Jedin narod i jedin jezik dla vsi, a vidijte čo oni načeli delati. I sejčas ničo ne budet dla ih nemožlivi, čo oni ne hoteli bi delati. Vidijte! Mi shodim i razmešim ih jezik, abi oni ne razumeli se."
I Bog razsipal ih na celi zemja, a oni obstanovili budovati grad. Za to on nazivat se Babel, za to že tam Bog razmešil jezik od celi zemja i odtudi Bog razsipal ih na celi zemja.
И цели земја имал једин језик и подобни слова. Але когда луди преместили се из возход, они находили равнина в крај Шинар и там осадили се. И они говорили једин к други: "Ходијте, делајмо цегли и добро палијмо их!" И цегли служили дла их как камени, а смола служила дла их как цемент. И они говорили: "Ходијте, будовајмо град и вежа, котори будет досегати до небо, и делајмо дла себе имено, аби ми не разсипали се на цели земја."
Тогда Бог сходил в дол, аби видети град и вежа, котори дети од луди будовали. И Бог говорил: "Видијте! Једин народ и једин језик дла вси, а видијте чо они начели делати. И сејчас ничо не будет дла их неможливи, чо они не хотели би делати. Видијте! Ми сходим и размешим их језик, аби они не разумели се."
И Бог разсипал их на цели земја, а они обстановили будовати град. За то он називат се Бабел, за то же там Бог размешил језик од цели земја и одтуди Бог

You can discover more about this beautifully made InterSlavic language as well as the other 2 forms, Intermediate and Advanced, by going to the official website at: Interslavic

Newspaper online in Interslavic!

Interslavic Dictionary

Multilingua Mutterings

Monday, November 5, 2012


Welcome to Blissymbolics Communication International

Blissymbolics is a symbolic, graphical language that is currently composed of close to 4,500  authorized symbols - or Blisswords. Bliss characters are semantically based and can be combined and recombined in endless ways to create new Blisswords. Blisswords can in turn be sequenced to form many types of sentences, and express many grammatical capabilities. Simple shapes are used to keep the symbols easy and fast to draw. 

There is a grammar PDF here

Blissymbolics is a communication system originally developed by Charles K. Bliss (1897-1985) for the purpose of international communication. It was first applied to the communication of children with physical disabilities by an interdisciplinary team led by Shirley McNaughton at the Ontario Crippled Children's Centre (now the Bloorview MacMillan Centre) in 1971.

The Blissymbolics language is currently composed of over 4,000 graphic symbols. Each symbol or Bliss-word is composed of one or more Bliss-characters which can be combined and recombined in endless ways to create new symbols. Bliss-words can be sequenced to form many types of sentences and express many grammatical capabilities. Simple shapes are used to keep the symbols easy and fast to draw and because both abstract and concrete levels of concepts can be represented, Blissymbolics can be applied both to children and adults and are appropriate for persons with a wide range of intellectual abilities.


  • Are quick and easy to learn
  • Can be used at a pre-reading level but are sophisticated enough to allow expression of thoughts, ideas and feelings
  • Can be expanded as ability grows
There is a complete dictionary here. What language would be complete without a learning course, found here

Here are some pictures of Bliss with translations: 

Are you here to teach or to learn? 

We learn by teaching. 

I think, therefor I am. 

I will come to your house. 
It does not matter what language we say this in, the picture remains the same: 
Я приду в ваш дом. Ես կգամ ձեր տուն. אני אבוא לבית שלך. وسوف يأتي إلى منزلك.
Mi venos al via domo. 당신 집에 올 것이다. Saya akan datang ke rumah Anda.
Ek sal na jou huis toe kom. Beidh mé ag teacht ar do theach. მე მოვა თქვენს სახლში. 
Tôi sẽ đến nhà bạn. நான் உங்கள் வீட்டிற்கு வருவேன். Θα έρθει στο σπίτι σας.

I think you get the idea! :) 

What better form of International Communication is there than a pictorial language? Everyone can easily understand a picture and once it is understood, they can communicate with each other using pictures rather than trying to learn another language. 
Imagine if millions of people knew this, or a similar pictorial language, and could easily communicate with each other without the need of a translator! 

Omniglot has a short article explaining about Blissymbolics also. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Occidental Interlingue

    So, after my previous post about Esperanto I was asked if I knew about Occidental also known as Interlingue (Note the "e" at the end of the word not to be confused with Interlingua with an "a" at the end word, a separate language)

  Edgar de Wahl was born on 11th August 1867 in Olwiopol (Ukraine) He studied Volapük and Esperanto
In 1894 he looked into a naturalistic solution of the problem and collaborated in 1906-7 with Rosenberger, the then president of the Akademi Internasional de lingu universal. His idea was the construction of an auxiliary language without submitting a complete language. The principal ideas in his memorandum were,
  1. that none of the existing systems is satisfactory;
  2. that the international language to be constructed, be founded on the international linguistic material;
  3. that such project should have its own system of word formation, i.e., really international words should be obtained through a number of rules formulated for that purpose;
  4. that it should possess a grammar which produces no unnatural forms, i.e., forms deviating from the ethnic languages; and
  5. that it should possess an international orthography.
    These are the ideas to which de Wahl imparted in his new language idea: 
  1. It should be an organic, autonomous entity, living and growing according to its own laws, harmonizing and assimilating new elements, and not be a conglomeration of different words put together at random.
  2. For our special purpose it should be based on the international forms common to the European languages in phonetics, spelling, and mode of expression.
To further its introduction it should also have the following qualities,
  1. it should be comprehensible at first sight and without previous instruction to all civilized Europeans,
  2. it should not shock the public through incomprehensible forms but should have the aspect of an almost natural language, and
  3. to secure adoption and use it should not only be easy to read, but also easy for practical use, and easy in its grammatical structure.
    Since 1922 the theories of the Wahl have attracted serious minds and have influenced Jespersen and his Novial to some extent. IALA (The international Auxiliary Language Association) has classified it as one of the systems of demonstrated usefulness.

Below is a concise but short grammar of Occidental:

2. Grammar

The alphabet comprises 26 letters, y fulfilling a double rфle as consonant and vowel. The vowels are a [pr. as in father], e [fкte], i [machine], o [most], u [rule], y [F u, or D ь]. The 21 consonants are b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, v, w, x, y, z. Several consonants have two pronunciations [c hard as "k" before a, o, u, or any consonant; soft as "ts" before e, i, yg hard as in gold before a, o, u, or any consonant, soft as in general before e, i, yt as "ts" before ie, ia, io].

The stress falls on the vowel before the last consonant. The plural endings [-(e)s] and the adverbial endings [-bil, -ic, -im, - ul, -um] remain unstressed. Further exceptions not falling under any of these rules are marked with the accent [ґ, or `]. The length of the vowels varies. Unstressed syllables have the short vowel [a in fane in bendi in fito in dropu in full]. Stressed vowels followed by two consonants are short. The rest are long except in some short words, mainly prepositions.

Occidental has four diphthongs, au, ay, ey, oy, as well as eu in D ц.
The definite article is li for all genders and numbers. The indefinite article is unlu may be used for as an article if an adjective is used alone as an abstract conception.
The singular noun has no specific grammatical ending. The plural is formed by adding -s to the words ending in vowels, or in -c, -g, -um; -es to words ending in other consonants. An exception, however, is -e, -o, -a, respectively used to distinguish neuter, masculine, and feminine [camarad/e, /o, /a].

The pronouns are yo, tu, Vu, il, illa, it; noi, vu, ili. the reflexive pronoun is se.
The possessive pronouns are mi, tu(i), su; nor, vor, lor.

The verb in the infinitive ends in -r [ama/r]. The present indicative is obtained by removing the infinitive ending [yo ama, tu ama, il ama].
The imperative form is the same as the present indicative, followed by a mark of exclamation [!]. The composite imperative is formed with ples plus the infinitive [audi! ples audir].
The past tense is obtained by adding -t to the present tense [yo ama/t].
The future tense is formed by employing the auxiliary va where English used either "shall" or "will" [yo va ear = I shall go].
The conditional is formed by employing the auxiliary vell where English used either "should" or "would" [illa vell ear si yo vell consentir = she would go if I should consent].

The optative is distinguished from the imperative by using mey with the infinitive [que il mey trovar it = that he may find it]. The hortative is formed with the word lass and the infinitive [lass nos ear in li citй].
Two auxiliary verbs are used, ha/r (an abbreviation of have/r), and esse/r, for the latter the abbreviated form es as an auxiliary and for the present tense.

The perfect and pluperfect are formed by the auxiliary verbs preceding the past participle [yo ha amat = I have loved].
The passive voice is formed with the verb esse/r [yo es vocat, yo es videt = I am seen; yo esset videt = I was seen].
The conjugation of esse/r = to be is:
present tensepast tensefuture tense
yo es (esse)yo essetyo va esser
tu (Vu) es (esse)tu (Vu) essettu (Vu) va esser
il es (esse)il essetil va esser
illa (or ella) es (esse)illa (or ella) essetilla (or ella) va esser
it es (esse)it essetit va esser
noi es (esse)noi essetnoi va esser
vu es (esse)vu essetvu va esser
ili es (esse)ili essetili va esser
The present participle is essent; the past and passive participle is esset.
The adjectives are invariable in number and gender [litt, bon, micri].
The adverbs have no one grammatical ending. Some adjectives may be used as adverbs without alteration [tу esset bon fat = that was well done]. The adverbial endings -men, -li, -ъ may be used, but a number of adverbs have no particular grammatical ending.

The cardinal numbers are: un, du, tri, quar, quin, six, sett, ott, nin, deci, deci-ъn or ъundeci, deci-dъ or dъdeci; duant = 20, triant, quarant; cent, ducent, sixcent, etc.
The ordinal numbers are formed by the use of the suffix -esim [unesim, duesim, etc.].
The degrees of comparison are bon, plu bon, max bon; bell, minu bell, minim bell.

In word derivation Occidental accepts both the principle of direct and indirect derivation. Direct derivation is limited to certain cases which are indicated in the complete list of affixes below. For direct derivation we must apply the three rules of the Wahl. To form nouns from verbal roots we detach the infinitive -r or -e/r [vid, vid-e/r] to obtain the perfect stem.
  • Rule 1: If, after removing the grammatical ending [-r, -e/r] the stem ends in a vowel, add -t or change -y into -t [crea/r, crea/t, crea/t/or; atiny-e/r, atin/t, atin/t/ion].
  • Rule 2: If the final consonant of the stem should be either d or r, the letters are changed into -s [decide/r, deci/s, deci/s/ion].
  • Rule 3: In all other cases, except those especially cited below, the removal of the infinitive -r (or -er gives the required perfect stem [duct/e/r, duct-, duct/ion]. The six exceptions are cede/r, perfect stem cess-sede/r, sess-; move/r, mot-; tene/r, tent-; verte/r, vers-; veni/r, vent-.
To form verbs from nouns and adjectives, we remove the endings and obtain the perfect stem. By adding -r or -er we will obtain, in most cases, the verb [decora/t/ion, decora/t, decora/r].

Syntax: The ordinary word order is subject-verb-object. [li monument es plazzat avan li palazzo = the monument is (placed) in front of the palace]. Short adjectives generally precede the noun [un bon idй = a good idea]; long adjectives may follow the noun [li lingue international = the international language]. The interrogative phrase begins with esque [esque vu va promenar? = are you going to walk?] or any other interrogative pronoun or adverb [qui, quo, quande]. Inversion may be used without the interrogative esque [have vu li libre? = have you the book?]. The negation is indicated by the word ne [il ne ha fat it = he has not done it].

Here are some examples of Occidental Interlingue:

Li material civilisation, li scientie, e mem li arte unifica se plu e plu. Li cultivat europano senti se quasi in hem in omni landes queles have europan civilisation, it es, plu e plu, in li tot munde. Hodie presc omni states guerrea per li sam armes. Sin cessa li medies de intercommunication ameliora se, e in consecuentie de to li terra sembla diminuer se. Un Parisano es nu plu proxim a un angleso o a un germano quam il esset ante cent annus a un paisano frances.

Material civilization, science, and even art unify themselves more and more. The educated European feels himself almost at home in all lands that have European civilization, that is, more and more, in the entire world. Today almost all states war with the same armaments. Without pause the modes of intercommunication improve, and in consequence from that the world seems to decrease. A Parisian is now closer to an Englishman or a German than he was a hundred years before to a French peasant.

Hodíe yo labora ci.

Today I work here.

Yer yo ha arivat.

Yesterday I have arrived.

Yo arivat per li tren de Paris, u yo hat laborat antey.

I arrived by the train from Paris, where I had worked before.

Deman yo va departer per auto pos har finit mi labor.

Tomorrow I will depart by car after having finished my work.

Yo vell restar plu long, ma on telegrafat me: Veni tam bentost quam possibil! Dunc lass nos finir nor maxim urgent labores.

I would rest longer, but one telegraphed me: Come as quick as possible! So let us finish our most urgent work.

Li altri labores queles yo ancor vell har devet far, yo va dever far plu tard; ples excusar to.

The other work that I still would have done, I will have to do later; please excuse that.

Quande yo fa bon mi labores, yo es estimat e yo va esser bon payat.

When I do my work well I am appreciated and I will be well-paid.

In Paris yo hat esset honorat per un special premie. To mey suficer.

In Paris I had been honoured by a special prize. That may suffice.

A concise grammar can be found here, a Yahoo group exists here and there is even a wikipedia in Occidental!