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|Created by||Ronald Clark and Wendy Ashby, based on the Interglossa of Lancelot Hogben|
|Setting and usage||international auxiliary language|
|ISO 639-3||None (
Glosa is an international auxiliary language based on a previous draft auxiliary called Interglossa. As an isolating language, there are no inflections, so that words always remain in their dictionary form, no matter what function they have in the sentence. Consequently, grammatical functions, when not clear from the context, are taken over by a small number of operator words and by the use of word order (syntax).
- 1 History
- 2 Overview
- 3 Alphabet and phonology
- 4 Words
- 5 Parts of Speech
- 6 Compound Words
- 7 Phrases and Clauses
- 8 Punctuation
- 9 Sample and Useful Words
- 10 Example Text
- 11 Word Derivation 
- 12 References
- 13 External links
Glosa is based on the draft auxiliary language Interglossa devised by the scientist Lancelot Hogben in the empty hours of fire-watching in Aberdeen during World War II. Interglossa was published in 1943 as a draft of an auxiliary.
Ron Clark came across the handbook of Interglossa: a draft of an auxiliary about 1960. Then he met Professor Hogben with the aim of developing the language. They worked to refine it, in order to make it more easily usable in all possible forms of communication. Wendy Ashby joined the project in 1972. When Hogben died in 1975, most changes had already been discussed. Hogben and Clark had agreed that the language should have a phonetic spelling (that is: each letter representing a single sound). This principle implied that the Greek CH, TH and PH now should be spelt K, T and F.
Finally a few further changes were introduced by Ron Clark and Wendy Ashby, who then gave the language the new name Glosa (from the Greek word for tongue, language [glossa being the English transliteration]), and thus founded a new auxiliary language.
Until about 1979, Ashby and Clark tested the use of Glosa using local volunteers in the town in which they were living. During this period, the vocabulary and some details of sentence formation were developed and revised. They had moved to another town by the time they had published the first Glosa dictionary.
From 1987, the charity-status organisation GEO (Glosa Education Organisation) has promoted the teaching of Glosa as a second language in schools worldwide.
GEO’s official website was set up by Paul O. Bartlett in 1996, and it is managed at present by Marcel Springer. It provides the Glosa Internet Dictionary (Glosa Inter-reti Diktionaria), as well as an introductory course, and other resources.
According to History behind Glosa, after Hogben’s death “a few further and trivial changes were introduced”. But there is no precise information about them. Concerning the turn to a phonetic spelling in Glosa, it is not clear whether Hogben would have agreed that the word Glosa is “fully phonetic” while Interglossa is not:
The single “s” [in Glosa] emphasises that the language is now fully phonetic.— GEO, History behind Glosa (2006)
Glosa is usually compared to two natural languages which are analytical in different degrees, Chinese and English.
Glosa is interesting among conlangs in that it is a completely analytic language: there are no inflections for noun plurals, verb tenses, genders, and what-not. Somewhat as in English, a word may be used as more than one part of speech.— Paul Bartlett, Critiques of individual planned languages
While aspects of Hogben’s Interglossa were explicitly inspired by the auxiliary Basic English, Glosa tends to work like normal English. Interglossa works with a small number of essential light verbs (up to 20), which Hogben calls “verboids” or “verbal operators”, like the 18 verb operators of Basic English. In Glosa words from this special class can be elided if the context is clear. So the question again is whether this change is the result of the earlier Clark-Hogben discussions or of the later Clark-Ashby tests.
In Glosa, words always retain their original form, regardless of their function in a sentence. Thus, the same word can function as a verb, noun, adjective or preposition. Grammatical functions are taken over by a limited number of operator words and by the word order (syntax). Subject-Verb-Object order is the standard word order, and "adjectives" usually precede "nouns", and the "verbs" follow the tense particles and the "adverbs".
Glosa is written with the Latin alphabet without special characters, there are no double vowels or consonants and pronunciation rules are simple and regular.
Alphabet and phonology
|Consonants||Vowels||Digraphs and Consonant Combinations|
|/p/||p||/b/||b||/a/ or /æ/||a||/ks/||x 2|
|/t/||t||/d/||d||/i/ or /ɪ/||i||/kw/||q 3|
|/ɡ/||g||/k/||k||/u/ or /ʌ/||u||/ʃ/||sc|
|/m/||m||/n/ 1||n||/e/ or /ɛ/||e||/tʃ/||c|
|/f/||f||/v/||v||/ɔ/ or /o/||o|
- 1The practice of pronouncing n before a velar sound (g or k) as /ŋ/ is generally non-preferred and controversial but is used commonly in order to simplify pronunciation.
- 218 Steps to Fluency in Euro-Glosa notes that x may be pronounced /z/ at the start of a word but this is non-preferred.
- 318 Steps to Fluency in Euro-Glosa indicates q (rather than qu) for the spelling of the kw sound combination.
- In the vowel-IPA section above, the first pronunciation is the preferred one.
Spelling is phonetic. PH replaced by F, hard Greek CH by K, Y by I, RH by R, TH by T. There are no diphthongs in Glosa. Where two or more vowels occur together they are pronounced separately.
- Section Note: Some foreign names may include non-Glosa letters in order to retain original spelling, observe: Spanish = Español
- Section Note: Unlike several other auxiliary languages, Glosa uses the letters q and x. C makes the 'ch' sound in "church". Glosa lacks a character representing the phone [ʒ]. It also lacks a single letter/symbol for the 'sh' sound in "short", unlike Esperanto. Glosa represents this sound by the letter combination sc. Like Esperanto, German, Polish etc. J makes the y-sound found in "yell" or "yak" in Glosa. G and S are always "hard" (goat and, respectively, hi
ss/snake). In Glosa, "R" should be trilled or "tapped" (the tongue lightly taps the pallate of one's mouth), never uvularized.
Accent & Vocal Inflection
The stress/accent should be placed gently on the vowel before the last consonant.
Vocal inflection in Glosa is generally comparable to that of English- there usually is a rising inflection before a comma, semicolon, or terminal if interrogative (that is, if it is a question, the voice tends to "go upward" towards the end). A falling inflection is to occur before a full stop.
Glosa contains two major groups of words:
- Primitives: the small number of basic function words present in most languages—these allow us to describe the relationships between the major concepts we convey. These are basically prepositions and conjunctions, such as: de [of], e [and], pre [before], supra [above], sub [under; below; lower; beneath; lesser; somewhat].
- Substantives: the list of words representing the more complex things, actions and descriptions (sometimes usable for all three) present in a language, such as: via [road], kurso [run], hedo [happy], vide [see], celera [swift], tako [fast; quick; swift; brisk; hasty; prompt; hurry; nimble; rapid; rapidity; rate; speed; haste; sprint; quick; speedy; velocity]; oku [eye]. Please note that many of these words have multiple meanings, based on how they are used in a sentence (verb, adjective, etc.), exempli gratia: "oku" can mean "eye", "optical", "to notice with the eyes", "see (look)", "perceive (with the eyes)", or "to peep".
Parts of Speech
Glosa words can often serve as more than one part of speech. Thus part of speech is a role that the word plays in a sentence, not a tightly-bound property of a word.
|each other (reciprocal)||alelo|
Most words can act as verbs, depending on their places in the sentence (usually in the medial position).
|Example of Verb Tenses|
|Tense||Prior Word1||Glosa Text||English Translation|
|Infinitive||de/te(nde)||de lekto||To read|
|Simple Past||pa||Mi pa lekto u bibli.||I (did) read the book.|
|Imperfect||pa du||Mi pa du lekto u bibli.||I was reading the book.|
|Past Participle||ge-||U ge-lekto bibli||The read book / The book that has been read|
|Simple Present||(nu)||Mi (nu) lekto u bibli.||I (do) read the book / I am reading the book.|
|Continuous Present||du||Mi du lekto u bibli.||I am reading the book.|
|Present Perfect||nu pa||Mi nu pa lekto u bibli.||I have (just) read the book.|
|Future-in-Present||nu fu||Mi nu fu lekto u bibli.||I am just about to read the book / I am just going to read the book.|
|Future-in-Past||pa fu||Mi pa fu lekto u bibli.||I was about to read the book / I was going to read the book.|
|Simple Future||fu||Mi fu lekto u bibli.||I shall/will read the book.|
|Future Perfect||fu pa||Mi fu pa lekto u bibli.||I shall/will have read the book (by tomorrow).|
|Conditional||sio||Mi sio lekto u bibli...||I would read the book...|
|Negative||ne||Mi ne lekto u bibli.||I do not read the book/I am not reading the book.|
|Interrogative||qe||Qe mi lekto u bibli?||Am I reading the book? / Do I read the book?|
|Passive||gene||U bibli gene lekto ex mi.||The book is/gets read by me.|
|Gerund||-||(U) lekto (de bibli).||(The) reading (of the book...)|
- 1What is meant by "Prior Word" is the word used immediately prior to the verb of the sentence or clause in order to demonstrate or affect its tense. For example:
- To show that a verb is in the past tense, add "pa" before the verb.
- To indicate the future tense, add "fu" before the verb.
- To indicate the conditional, add "sio" before the verb.
Adjectives, like the rest of the language, are not inflected. They do not change to fit the tense, number, gender, formality, or etc. of the nouns that they modify. They generally precede the word that they modify. Sometimes an adjective's place determines its meaning:
- Mi fu lektu mo bibli = I will read one book
- Mi fu lektu bibli mo = I will read the first book
To create "opposites", one just places "no-" as a prefix to the adjective. This usage is similar to that of the prefix "mal-" in Esperanto which gives the word the exact opposite meaning. So the Glosa usage below means "not beautiful". It is the equivalent of some of the uses on in- or un- in English
- kali = beautiful
- no-kali = ugly
- termo = hot, heat
- meso-termo = warm
- no-termo = cold
- u-la = that
- plu-la = those
- u-ci = this
- plu-ci = these
- po-kron = late
- pre-kron = early
- pa-di = yesterday
- nu-di = today
- fu-di = tomorrow
- imedia = immediately
- akorda-co = accordingly
- alo = or
- alo...alo = either...or
- alora = in that case...
- anti-co = however
- e = and
- fini-co = finally
- hetero-co = otherwise
- jam = already
- kaso = case...
- ko-co = also
- klu = even...
- ni....ni = neither...nor
- pene = almost
- po-co = after that
- posi = perhaps
- plus-co = moreover
- qasi = as if...
- sed = but
- si ne... = unless
- vice = instead of...
Question and Answer Words
A word used to ask or answer a question of who, where, what, when, why, how or how much. These words form a set in a semi-systematic manner with a particle of the compound indicating abstract quantity (what person or thing, what place, what time, for what reason, in what manner, what is the amount) and the prefix/other particle indicating the specific function of the word (exactly which, all, some, negating, etc.). There are other ways to say the following correlatives, the table just shows the most basic and systematic of these:
(this thing, that thing)
(this one; that one)
(what[horse]? which [horse]?)
(this [horse]; that [horse])
(how, in what way)
|u-ci mode, u-la mode
(thus; in this way, in that way)
(in any way)
(in each way)
(in every way)
(in no way, no-how)
(why; for what cause)
|u-ci ka, u-la ka
(for this cause, for that cause)
(for some cause)
(for any cause)
(for each cause)
(for all causes)
(for no cause)
(why; with what intention)
|u-ci te, u-la te
(with this intention, with that intention)
(with some intention)
(with any intention)
(with each intention)
(with all intentions)
(with no intention)
|nu, u-la kron
|u-ci numera, u-la numera, tanto
(this many, that many)
|u-ci metri, u-la metri, tanto
(this much, that much)
(what kind of? what sort of?)
|u-ci speci, u-la speci, talo
(this kind, that kind)
- What is the time? = Qo horo?
- To change a statement into an interrogative, "qe" is placed at the beginning of the sentence.
|Prepositions: Glosa-English Comparison|
|Glosa Word||English Word||English Example Words|
|ad||to / towards||advance|
|de||of / about / pertaining to||describe|
|dextro||(on the) right||ambidextrous|
|ex||out (of) / by (agent)||exterior|
|infra||below / under /lesser||infrared / inferior|
|kontra||counter / opposite||counter / contrast|
|margina||edge / side||margin|
|minus||without / lacking||minus|
|pro||for||pro (or con)|
|supra||over / above||supranational|
|te||in order to...||tendency|
|tem||for a period of time||temporary|
The following table uses a period (.) is used to group numbers in threes.
|Arabic Numeral||English Name||Glosa Name||Exact Glosa-English Translation|
|0||zero||nuli/ze(ro)||null; nullify; nothing; abolish; cancel;
eliminate; naught; nil; no; repeal; zero
|100||one hundred||hekto (mo-ze-ze)||(one) hundred (one-zero-zero)|
|101||one hundred and one||mo-ze-mo||one-zero-one|
|1.000||one thousand||(mo-)kilo||(one) thousand|
|1.000.000||one million||(mo-)miliona||(one) million|
- Note: Some use "centi" the older form of "hekto" for "hundred". "Centi" is now used as "hundredth" in accordance with the ISO standard usage.
In order to form a composite word in Glosa, one just combines existing words. For example:
- pe – person who does/person (short form of persona)
- an – male (from andros)
- fe – female (from femina)
- do – building where (from domo meaning house)
- lo – location, place of (from loko)
- Therefore, a student is stude-pe (one who studies), a male student is stude-an, a female student is stude-fe and a building where students study (school, college, etc.) is a stude-do. Likewise a hospital is pato-do (from the word pathology but meaning sickness), literally meaning a house/building for the sick.
- tegu – cover; ceiling; (to)shutter; deck; lid (cover); eclipse; (to) shelter; casing
- oku-tegu – eyelid
- agri – field, countryside
- agri-lo – farm
- a-nu – until now
Meals can also be formed by noun-compounding:
- evening = vespera
- to eat, to devour = vora
- dinner, supper = vespera-vora
Phrases and Clauses
Phrases, the basic unit of recognizable meaning in Glosa, follow a "Subject+Verb+(Object)" order and noun phrases are "Substantive Final", which means that they start with the least important word, and are followed by additional words combining progressively to extend the meaning of the substantive, which comes last.
- Full-stops end sentences. They can be the normal full stop (.), the interrogative point (?), exclamation mark (!), and, theoretically, the interrobang.
- Semi-colon separates clauses, principal and subordinate.
- Colon precedes items of a catalogue. If three or more items occur in a row, they should be separated with a comma and, prior to the final item, the word "e" or "plus" (and, plus).
- Fe stude: biologi, kemi, e/plus Français.
- Comma separates items from each other.
Sample and Useful Words
- Hello, greetings, saltutations = Saluta! Ave!
- Welcome = Bene-veni
- Please! = Place!
- Sorry! = Pardo! Penite!
- What is your name? = Tu habe qo nomina/nima? (literally: You have what name?)
- My name is... = Mi nomina/nima es...
- Where am I = Qo-lo es mi?
- How much? = Qanto?
- Do you speak Glosa = Qe tu dice Glosa?
- I don't understand you = Mi ne logi/kompreni tu.
- Thank you = Gratia
- You're welcome = Es nuli. (literally: It's nothing)
- Here's to your health = A tu eu-sani.
- Bless you!/Gesundheit! = (Eu-)sani (a tu)!
- It is a nice day = Es u bene di.
- I love you = Mi amo tu.
- Goodbye = Vale.
- What is that? = Qo-ra es u-la?
- That is...? = U-la es...?
- How are you? = Komo tu?
- Good morning! = Boni matina/mana!
- Good evening! = Boni po-meso-di! Boni di! (literally: Good after mid-day, Good day)
- Good night! = Boni noktu!
- Good night, sweet dreams = Boni somni! Plu boni sonia!
- I can't find an error = Mi ne pote detekti u defekti.
- Well = Bene
- Be well = Vale
- Good/well = Boni/bene/eu
- Well (healthy) = Sani
- Ki = movement, to go, to move
- A cat, the cat = U feli(s)
- Cats = Plu feli(s)
- Dog = Kanis
- Pig = Sui
- Bovine (cow/bull) = Bovi (fe-bovi, an-bovi)
- Horse = Equs
- Frog = Rana
- Bird = Avi
- Bee = Apis
- Spider = Aranea
- Fish = Piski
- A/an/the (singular) = U (before all consonants but h); un (before vowels and h)
- The/some (plural) = Plu
- Glosa text (From: Prof. Hogben's Language Planning.)
- A prima vista posi id feno u no-spe ergo de face u verba-lista; qi fu sati panto nece volu de interkomunika; sed inklude ne ma de, posi, u kilo basi verba. U nova-papira uti minimo 20,000 verba; e in English mero de mikro English - French lexiko proxi 10,000 gene lista. Pe ne nece studi id mega tem te detekti u mega mero de lista es ne-nece.
- U logika ge-face verba-lista sio apo multi sinonima alo proxi-sinonima, de qi Anglo-Amerika lingua es ple. Ex. little-small, big-large, begin-commence. Id ne nece tolera funktio imbrika homo band - ribbon - strip. Plus, id sio evita excesi specializa per face mo verba akti qod in Plu Palaeo Lingua gene face per tri alo ma. Exempla, u France demo nima un extra tegu de homi soma la peau, u-la de cepa la pelure; e u-la de botuli la cotte. Anti na es mei precise de France demo, na auto supra-kargo u lexiko per ko-responde seri skin - rind - jacket - peel. Kron na vide u difere inter thread - twine - cord - string - rope - tow na solo kumu nima epi nima pro qo es, a fini u metri-difere.
- English Translation:
- At first sight it may seem a hopeless task to construct a vocabulary that would cover all the essential words of intercommunication, yet contain not more than, say, a thousand basic words. A newspaper uses at least 20,000, and in the English section of a small English-French pocket dictionary some 10,000 are listed. It requires no lengthy scrutiny to discover that a large portion of the material is not essential.
- A rationally constructed word-list would discard many synonyms or near-synonyms, of which the Anglo-American language is full. For example, little - small, big - large, begin - commence. It need not tolerate functional overlap as with band - ribbon - strip. Also, it would avoid over-specialization by making one word do what in natural languages is often done by three or more. For example, the French call the outer cover of the human body la peau, that of the onion la pelure, and that of the sausage la cotte. Though less precise than the French, we ourselves overburden the dictionary with the corresponding series skin - rind - jacket - peel. When we distinguish between thread - twine - cord - string - rope - tow we are merely heaping name upon name for what is ultimately a difference in size.
Language Sample for Comparison
The following is the Lord's Prayer in Glosa and other languages:
|Glosa version:||Esperanto version:||Greek version:||Latin version:||English (ELLC - 1988)|
Na patri in urani:
Patro nia, kiu estas en la ĉielo,
Πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς·
Pater noster, qui es in caelis:
Our Father in heaven,
- notice that in Glosa the word "sky" is derived from Greek (Ουρανός (God of the sky) > Urani (sky)) while Esperanto uses a Latin derived word (caelum-caeli)
Generally, the following derivation rules apply when creating new words for Glosa. Some basic words (often that act as specificational prefixes) are shortened (such as "an", "fe", or "pe").
Indefinite words remain as they are (ad, de, si, kata).
|Derivational Rules (from Latin origin)|
|Latin Ending||Glosa Ending||Example|
|-a, -ae (from genitive)||-a||silva (forest)|
|-us, -us||-u||manu (hand)|
|-is, -is||-i||turi (tower, turret)|
|adjectives: -us/-a/-um||-o||karo (dear)|
|verbs: -ere||-e||face (to make, build, commit)|
|verbs: -are||-a||lauda (to praise, esteem, applause)|
|verbs: -ire||-i||veni (to arrive)|
- Latin o-declination-words become the nominative plural. Therefore:
- -us, -i ending are adapted to -i ending (rami, soni, tubi)
- -er, -ri become -ri (libri)
- -um, -i are -a ending in Glosa (exempla)
- Words built from the perfect-tense-radix become -i (cepti, fluxi, komposi)
- Latin -io, -ionis are not changed to the ablative-ending (-ione) but keep the nominatives -io (natio, okasio, petitio, religio, tensio).
- The same occurs when deriving from Greek (however, Greek lacks an ablative so the dative is used instead):
- -os, -u become -o (fobo, orto).
- Occasionally the Greek aorist-root is taken instead of present-tense-root (gene).
- Greek verbs become -o (1st person singular) such as: skizo.
- Species names keep nominative (equs, ursus).
Any time Greek CH, Y, RH, TH and PH occur they become K, I, R, T and F respectively in Glosa.
- Hogben, Lancelot (1943). Interglossa. A draft of an auxiliary for a democratic world order, being an attempt to apply semantic principles to language design.  Harmondsworth, Middlesex, Eng. / New York: Penguin Books. OCLC 1265553.
- Glosa Education Organisation (GEO) (2006). History behind Glosa. (pdf) , p. 7.
- W. Ashby, P. Bartlett, R. Clark, C. Ganson, R. Gaskell, N. Hempshall, G. Miller, W. Patterson, K. Smith, M. Springer. "Glosa Inter-reti Diktionaria. Glosa Internet Dictionary. Glosa-English and English-Glossa. (pdf)  Updated: 2009-11-05.
- W. Ashby & R. Clark (1985-1992). 18 Steps to Fluency in Euro-Glosa. Richmond, UK: Glosa Education Organization, ISBN 0-946540-15-2. HTML-version by Marcel Springer (2001-2006) 
- Bartlett, Paul O. «Critiques of individual planned languages» . Updated: 2005-11-30.
- Praying Together