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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. Glosa is an isolating language, which means that words never change form, and spelling is completely regular and phonetic.
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).
Being an a posteriori language, Glosa takes most of its vocabulary from Greek and Latin roots, seen by the authors as international in a sense by their usage in science.
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. A Wiki in Glosa was created in 2021.
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, so it's not clear exactly which changes were made by Hogben and Clark, and which were made by Clark and Ashby.
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. Glosa is thereby a completely analytic language: there are no inflections for noun plurals, verb tenses, genders, and so on – the words never change.
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 usually compared to two natural languages which are analytical in different degrees, Chinese and English. It is also similar to the auxiliary Lingua sistemfrater, also known as Frater, published in 1957 by the Vietnamese Phạm Xuân Thái. Frater is also isolating, has a similar vocabulary base, but a slightly different syntactical structure, and has no articles – where Glosa uses u/un for both “the” and “a”/“an”, or gendered pronouns.
Glosa is written with the Latin alphabet without special characters. There are no double vowels or consonants and pronunciation rules are simple and regular.
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.
Spelling and pronunciation
Glosa spelling is completely regular and phonetic: one spelling always represents one sound, and one sound is always represented by one spelling. With the sole exception of SC which represents the sound ʃ (as “sh” in short), every letter just represents one sound, and vice versa. Glosa is written with the Latin letters. The alphabet consists of the following letters (and digraph), and their upper case equivalents:
Unlike several other auxiliary languages, Glosa uses the letters Q and X. C makes the “ch” sound in church. The “sh” sound in short is represented by the letter combination SC – the only digraph. As in many languages, J makes the “y”-sound found in yell or yak. G and S are always "hard" (goat and, respectively, hi
ss/snake). R should be trilled or "tapped" (the tongue lightly taps the palate of one's mouth), never uvularized.
The practice of pronouncing N before a velar sound (g or k) as ŋ is generally non-preferred but is used commonly in order to simplify pronunciation. X may be pronounced z at the start of a word but this is non-preferred.
Some foreign names may include non-Glosa letters in order to retain original spelling.
The first pronunciation is the preferred one:
- a – /a/ or /æ/
- o – /ɔ/ or /o/
- e – /e/ or /ɛ/
- u – /u/ or /ʌ/
- i – /i/ or /ɪ/
There are no diphthongs in Glosa. Where two or more vowels occur together they are pronounced separately.
The stress or accent should be placed gently on the vowel before the last consonant.
Glosa contains two major groups of words:
Primitives are 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 here are the group of words that represents 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".
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.
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.
|1||I, me||mi||we, us||na|
|2||you (s.)||tu||you (pl.)||vi|
Glosa, unlike English, distinguishes between "you" about one person, which is tu, and about several people, which is vi.
Most words can act as verbs, depending on their places in the sentence (usually in the medial position).
|Example of Verb Tenses|
|Tense||Prior Word||Glosa Text||English Translation|
|Infinitive||-||Mi volu lekto u bibli.||I want to read the book.|
|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...)|
"Prior word" here means a 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 lekto mo bibli – I will read one book
- Mi fu lekto 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
- 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
Words 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.).
Here are some examples. There are other ways to say the following correlatives, the table just shows the most basic and systematic of these:
(what [horse]? which [horse]?)
|–mode (manner)||qo-mode?, komo?
(how, in what way)
(in any way)
(in every way)
(in no way, no-how)
(why; for what cause)
(for some cause)
(for any cause)
(for all causes)
(for no cause)
(why; with what intention)
(with some intention)
(with any intention)
(with all intentions)
(with no intention)
|–metri (quantity)||qo-metri?, qanto?
In addition to the above, there is the prefix/beginning singu- (each), and the suffixes/endings -numera (amount/number), -speci (quality/kind of) and -kron (time), which can be used in the same way as the above.
Qo horo? can also be used for “What time?” or “What is the time?”.
The basic demonstratives used for indication (this, that, etc.) are:
- ci, here
- u-ci, this, this one, this [X]
- plu-ci, these
- la, there
- u-la, that, that one, that [X]
- plu-la, those
The demonstratives can also be used in the same way as the words in the table above: u-ci mode, u-la mode (thus; in this way, in that way), u-ci ka, u-la ka (for this cause, for that cause), u-ci te (with this intention), etc.
For “this time”, there's also nu (now), and for “that much/that many”, you can say tanto; for “that kind” talo.
To change a statement into an interrogative, qe is placed at the beginning of the sentence.
The prepositions of Glosa are here presented with their English translations, and with English example words containing cognates or the same roots in parenthesis, with the corresponding part italicized.
- ab – away from (abduct)
- ad – to / towards (advance)
- ana – up (anabolic)
- anti – against (antibiotic)
- de – of / about / pertaining to (describe)
- dextro – (on the) right (ambidextrous)
- dia – through (diagonal)
- epi – on (epicentre)
- ex – out (of) / by (agent) (exterior)
- infra – below / under / lesser (infrared, inferior)
- intra – inside (intracloud)
- kata – down (catastrophe)
- ko – with (coöperate)
- kontra – counter / opposite (counter, contrast)
- laevo – left (levorotation)
- margina – edge / side (margin)
- meso – middle (Mesopotamia)
- minus – without / lacking (minus)
- para – beside (parallel)
- per – by (instrumental) (per)
- peri – around (pericarp)
- po – after (post scriptum)
- pre – before (previous)
- pro – for (pro or con)
- proxi – near (proximity)
- supra – over / above (supranational)
- te – in order to... (tendency)
- tem – for a period of time (temporary)
- tele – far (telephone)
- to(po) – at place (topology)
- trans – across (transition)
- ultra – beyond (ultrasophisticated)
- vice – instead of (vice-president)
The numbers from 0–10 are: ze, mo, bi, tri, tet, pen, six, seti, ok, nona, deka. For 0, 4, 5, 7 and 8 (ze, tet, pen, seti, ok), there's also the longer forms zero, tetra, penta, septi and okto. Higher numbers are formed by combining the numerals in the number, and in some cases by proper names:
|Number||Glosa name||Exact translation|
|100||hekto (mo-ze-ze)||(one) hundred (one-zero-zero)|
Note that some use centi, the older form of hekto, for “hundred”. Centi is now used as “hundredth” in accordance with the ISO standard usage.
Numbers placed after a noun will function as ordinal numbers: u bibli tri, “the third book”. Mo, bi and tri also means single, double and triple, respectively.
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
Sample words and expressions
Phrases and expressions
- Hello, greetings, salutations – 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/an/the (singular) – u before all consonants but h; un before vowels and h
- the/some (plural) – plu
- 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
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)|
|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 words in the second declension become the nominative plural. Therefore:
- -us, -i ending are adapted to -i ending (rami, soni, tubi)
- -er, -ri become -ri (libri)
- -um, -i use the -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.
Glosa English 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.
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.
And here continued as regular text, first in Glosa:
- 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.
And the English translation of the last paragraph:
- 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.
The Lord's Prayer
The following is the Lord's Prayer in Glosa, compared with Interglossa, Frater and English versions, respectively:
|Glosa version||Interglosa||Frater version||English
Na patri in urani:
Na Parenta in Urani:
Pater mis in sel,
Our Father in heaven,
Notice that in Glosa the word ”sky” is derived from Greek (Πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, Ουρανός, God of the sky → Urani, sky) while Frater uses a Latin derived word (caelum, caeli).
- 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) 
- Glosa Wiki
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, Bartlett, Paul O. “Critiques of individual planned languages” . Updated: 2005-11-30.
- Paraleli textu[dead link] on Kafejo.com, ”From Prof. Hogben's Language Planning”
- Hogben (p. 242).
- Praying Together Archived 2007-07-02 at the Wayback Machine (ELLC – 1988)