|Setting and usage||
Romance and Germanic languages; also Occidental and Ido
Novial is a constructed international auxiliary language (IAL) intended to make international communication and friendship, without displacing any native languages. The language was created by linguist, Otto Jesperson in 1928, who was previously involved in the founding of Ido, and later in the development of Interlingua. The name is broken into two parts: nov– meaning "new", and IAL, an abbreviation for International Auxiliary Language.
The Novial vocabulary is mainly based off of the Germanic and Romance languages, and its grammar was influenced by the English language.
The language was first introduced in Jesperson's book, An International Language in 1928. It was subsequently updated in his dictionary, Novial Lexike and further modifications to Novial were suggested in the 1930s, but the language became unused as Jesperson died in 1943. In the 1990s, the interest of constructed languages was revived due to the Internet, where some people rediscovered Novial.
An International Language
Novial was first described in Jesperson's book, An International Language, published in 1928. Part One of this publication discussed the need for international auxiliary languages, the disadvantages of ethnic languages, and common objections to constructed IAL's. Jespersen also provides an overview of some constructed IAL's, with sections dedicated to the Volapük, Esperanto, Idiom Neutral, Ido, Latino sine Flexione, and Occidental (Interlingue) languages. In the book, Jespersen makes it clear that he draws on a wealth of earlier work on the problems of constructed IAL's, not only the previously mentioned IAL's.
Part Two of An International Language describes the Novial language in detail. Different possible solutions in the problems of phonology, orthography, grammar, and word-stock are considered. The choices made are explained by comparisons with ethnic languages and previously constructed IAL's.
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|A||a||a as in English father||abandona||abandon|
|B||b||b as in bet||bebe||baby|
|C||s or k||foreign names only. Generally: s before e and i
as in Celsius, otherwise k as in Cairo
|CH||ʧ or ʃ||ch as in church or sh as in shine||chanse||chance|
|D||d||d as in deep||defini||define|
|E||e or ɛ||é as in French fiancée or e as in in English pet||egal||equal|
|F||f||f as in food||fala||fall|
|G||g||g as in get||garda||guard|
|H||h||h as in hot||helpa||help|
|I||i||ee as in seen but shorter or i as in French petite||impeda||impede|
|J||ʤ or ʒ||j as in jet or s as in pleasure||jirafe||giraffe|
|K||k||k as in ski||kioske||kiosk|
|L||l||l as in let||lande||land|
|M||m||m as in moon||magnetisa||magnetise|
|N||n||n as in never||nature||nature|
|O||o or ɒ||o as in Italian Roma or o as in British English on||observa||observe|
|P||p||p as in sport||papa||daddy|
|QU||kw or kv or ku||qu as in question or qu as in German Quelle or cu as in Spanish cuesta||questione||question|
|R||r or ɹ||rolled r as in Scots English
or English r
|S||s or z||s as in summer or s as in rise||sune||sun|
|SH||ʃ or ʧ||sh as in shine or ch as in church||shuta||shoot|
|T||t||t as in step||teknike||technique|
|U||u||u as in put||unik||unique|
|V||v||v as in victory||variatione||variation|
|W||w or u or v||w as in west or ou in French ouest or w as in German West||watt||watt|
|X||ks or gz||x as in axe or x in example||auxiliari||auxiliary|
|Y||j||y as in you||yuna||young|
|Z||z or s||foreign names only. Generally: z as in Zambia
or as in original language if different
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|Person||English (Nominative)||English (Accusative)||Novial|
|3rd Singular (Male)||He||Him||Lo|
|3rd Singular (Female)||She||Her||La|
|3rd (Common)||N/A (He/She/They)||N/A (Him/Her/Them)||Le|
|3rd Singular (Neuter)||It||It||Lu|
|3rd Plural (Male)||They||Them||Los|
|3rd Plural (Female)||They||Them||Las|
|3rd Plural (Common)||They||Them||Les|
|3rd Plural (Neuter)||They||Them||Lus|
Note: In Novial, Nominative and Accusative pronouns are the same.
As in the English language, Novial's standard word order is subject-verb-object. Therefore, the object does not need to be marked to distinguish it from the subject: ex:
- me observa vu – "I observe you"
- vu observa me – "you observe me"
The accusative, or direct object, is therefore most often the same as the nominative, or subject. However, in the case of an ambiguous problem, an optional accusative ending, –m (–em after a consonant), is available, but hardly used. The preposition em is equal to this ending.
Personal possessive adjectives in Novial are formed from pronouns by adding –n or –en. This is in fact the genitive, or possessive, of the pronoun, so men means both "my" and "mine". Ex:
- "My dog" = Men Hunde
- "The dog is mine" = Li Hunde es men
Possession may also be expressed with the pronouns de, de mu, de vu, etc.
|Person||English (Nominative)||English (Possessive)||Novial|
|3rd Singular (Male)||His||His||Lon|
|3rd Singular (Female)||Her||Hers||Lan|
|3rd Singular (Common)||N/A (His/Her/Their)||N/A (His/Hers/Theirs)||Len|
|3rd Singular (Neuter)||Its||Its||Lun|
|3rd Plural (Male)||Their||Theirs||Losen|
|3rd Plural (Female)||Their||Theirs||Lasen|
|3rd Plural (Common)||Their||Theirs||Lesen|
|3rd Plural (Neuter)||Their||Theirs||Lusen|
The forms of verbs never change with their person or number. Most verb tenses, moods, and voices are expressed by with auxiliary verbs following the root form of the main verb. The auxiliaries follow the same word order as their English equivalent. The pronouns are indicated with parentheses and are given for example purposes.
|Present||(I) protect||(me) protekte|
|Present Perfect||(I) have protected||(me) ha protekte|
|Simple Past||(I) protected||(me) did protekte or (me) protekted|
|Past Perfect||(I) had protected||(me) had protekte|
|Future||(I) shall protect or (I) will protect||(me) sal protekte or (me) ve protekte|
|Future Perfect||(I) shall have protected or (I) will have protected||(me) sal ha protekte or (me) ve ha protekte|
|Future In The Past||(I) was going to protect||(me) saled protekte|
|Conditional||(I) would protect||(me) vud protekte|
|Conditional Perfect||(I) would have protected||(me) vud ha protekte|
|First Imperative||Let (me) protect!||Let (me) protekte!|
- Present active participle: protektent – "protecting"
- Past passive participle: protektet – "protected"
Novial clearly distinguishes the passive of becoming and the passive of being. In English the forms are often the same, using the auxiliary verb to be followed by the past participle. However, the passive of becoming is also often expessed with the verb to get which is used in the examples below.
The passive voice of becoming is formed with the auxiliary bli followed by the root verb form.
|Infinitive||to get protected||bli protekte|
|Present||(I) get protected||(me) bli protekte|
|Present Perfect||(I) have got protected||(me) ha bli protekte|
|Simple Past||(I) got protected||(me) blid protekte|
|Past Perfect||(I) had got protected||(me) had bli protekte|
|Future||(I) shall get protected or (I) will get protected||(me) sal bli protekte or (me) ve bli protekte|
|Future Perfect||(I) shall have got protected or (I) will have got protected||(me) sal ha bli protekte or (me) ve ha bli protekte|
|Future In The Past||(I) was going to get protected||(me) saled bli protekte|
|Conditional||(I) would get protected||(me) vud bli protekte|
|Conditional Perfect||(I) would have got protected||(me) vud ha bli protekte|
|First Imperative||Let (me) get protected!||Let (me) bli protekte!|
|Second Imperative||get protected!||bli protekte!|
The passive voice of being is formed with the auxiliary es followed by the past passive participle (stem + -t).
|Infinitive||to be protected||es protektet|
|Present||(I) am protected||(me) es protektet|
|Present Perfect||(I) have been protected||(me) ha es protektet|
|Simple Past||(I) was protected||(me) did es protektet or (me) esed protektet|
|Past Perfect||(I) had been protected||(me) had es protektet|
|Future||(I) shall be protected or (I) will be protected||(me) sal es protektet or (me) ve es protektet|
|Future Perfect||(I) shall have been protected or (I) will have been protected||(me) sal ha es protektet or (me) ve ha es protektet|
|Future In The Past||(I) was going to be protected||(me) saled es protektet|
|Conditional||(I) would be protected||(me) vud es protektet|
|Conditional Perfect||(I) would have been protected||(me) vud ha es protektet|
|First Imperative||Let (me) be protected!||Let (me) es protektet!|
|Second Imperative||be protected!||es protektet!|
The definite article of Novial is Li, which does not vary. It is used as it is in English.
There is no indefinite article, though un, or one, can be used.
Plural nouns are formed by adding –s (–es after a consonant) to the singular noun in Novial.
The accusative case is commonly identical to the nominative, but can sometimes be marked with the ending –m (–em after a consonant), with the plural form being with an –sem (–esem after a consonant) or with the preposition em.
The genitive is formed with the ending –n (–en after a consonant), with the plural being –sen (–esen after a consonant) or with the preposition, de.
Other cases are formed with the prepositions.
All adjectives in Novial end in an –i, but this could possibly be dropped if the word is easy enough to pronounce and no confusion will be caused. Adjectives follow the noun qualified and do not agree with the noun, but may be given noun endings if there is no noun present to receive the adjective.
An adjective is converted to its corresponding adverb by adding –m after –i in the adjective.
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Comparison to Esperanto and Ido
Otto Jespersen was a professional linguist, unlike Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof, the inventor of Esperanto. Jespersen was not found of the arbitrary and artificial character that he found in Esperanto and Ido. Additionally, Jespersen object to languages with Latin-like systems of inflection, which he found very complex. He at once planned to make Novial pleasant-sounding and regular, while also keeping useful structures from natural languages.
- Syntax depends largely upon word order, as in English and current North Germanic languages. There is no obligatory accusative marker as there is in Esperanto, but the accusative may be optionally marked with an accusative ending or an accusative preposition.
- A genetive or possessive case is available as an alternate for the preposition de. This is mainly based on Jesperson's observation that several modern languages have lost complex noun inflections, yet keep a possessive form.
- Verb tenses are usually expressed with auxiliary particles. An inflectional ending is available as a shorthand for past tense.
One of the most significant differences between Novial and Esperanto/Ido are the noun endings. Jesperson rejected a single vowel to terminate all the nouns, like -o in Esperanto and Ido, finding this unnatural and confusing. Instead, Novial nouns are ended in -o, -a, -e, -u, or -um. These endings may be taken to identify natural sex according to the custom of Romance languages. Also, there is no grammatical gender or requirement for adjectives to fit with the nouns.
Here is the Lord's Prayer in Novial, Esperanto, Ido, Latin, and English for comparison.
|Novial version:||Esperanto version:||Ido version:||Latin version:||English version:|
|Nusen Patre, kel es in siele,
mey vun nome bli sanktifika,
|Patro nia, kiu estas en la ĉielo,
Via nomo estu sanktigita.
|Patro nia, qua esas en la cielo,
tua nomo santigesez;
|Pater noster, qui es in caelis:
sanctificetur Nomen Tuum;
|Our Father in heaven,|
hallowed be your name,
|Novial edition of Wikipedia.|
- An International Language: Prof. Otto Jespersen's 1928 book which introduced Novial.
- Novial Lexike: Novial to English, French and German dictionary.
- Novial Wiki Book: A Novial course for beginners.
- Novial Discussion Group: Novial discussion group at Yahoo!
- A summary of 1928 Novial
- A summary of the 1930 version
- Novial '98
- A classified word list with Novial equivalents
- Spelling reform proposal by J. Chandler