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Flag of Kotava.svg
Created byStaren Fetcey
Setting and usageInternational auxiliary language
Sourcesa priori language
Official status
Regulated byLinguistic committee (Kotava Avaneda)
Language codes
ISO 639-3avk

Kotava is a proposed international auxiliary language (IAL) that focuses especially on the principle of cultural neutrality. The name means "the language of one and all", and the Kotava community has adopted the slogan "a project humanistic and universal, utopian and realistic". The language is mainly known in French-speaking countries and most material to learn it is in French.


Kotava was invented by Staren Fetcey, who began the project in 1975, on the basis of her study of previous IAL projects. The language was first made available to the public in 1978, and two major revisions were made in 1988 and 1993. Since then, the language has stabilized, with a lexicon of more than 17,000 basic roots. In 2005, a committee of seven members was established with the responsibility of guiding the future evolution of the language.

The overall goal was to create a potential IAL that was not based on a particular cultural substrate. To do this, a number of subgoals were established:

  • A simple and limited phonetic system that can be pronounced easily by the majority of people.
  • A simple and totally regular grammar that reflects the grammars of the majority of languages in the world.
  • A clear morphology, with each morpheme having a well-defined and exclusive function.
  • An a priori lexicon that does not favor any language. (This appears to be of supreme importance to its creator.)[citation needed]
  • A collection of basic roots that are clearly defined and homonym-free.
  • Mechanisms for productive derivation and composition to allow for maximum expressiveness, from the most general to the most subtle and precise.

Linguistic properties[edit]


As an a priori constructed language, Kotava is not related to any other language, natural or constructed. The word order is very free, but current practice leans toward object–subject–verb (OSV).

Writing system[edit]

Kotava is written with the Latin alphabet, but doesn't use the letters H or Q. The letter H, which was only used to palatalize an L, M, or N, before it, was eliminated and replaced by the letter Y in all cases. It uses no diacritics except for an acute accent, only used to mark the first person of verbs, which is accented on the final vowel.


In Kotava, words are pronounced exactly as written, without exceptions.

Most consonants are pronounced as in English, but C is pronounced as English sh, J as in French (or the s in English pleasure), and the X as in Scottish loch, and the R is rolled.

The consonants (in IPA form) are:

Bilabial Labio-
Alveolar Post-
Palatal Velar
Nasal m n
Plosive p b t d k ɡ
Fricative f v s z ʃ ʒ x
Trill r
Approximant l j

The vowels are pronounced as in Spanish, Swahili, or Tahitian, with no differences of length and no nasalization.

Front Back
Close i u
Mid e o
Open a

There are five diphthongs: ay, ey, iy (very rare), oy, uy (very rare).

The stress rule in Kotava is regular for all polysyllabic words: on the last syllable (ultima) if the word has a final consonant; on the second from last syllable (penult) if the word has a final vowel, except for the first person of conjugated verbs, which is stressed on the last syllable, marked with an acute accent.


Kotava has strict morphological rules, outlined in a table which prescribes order and interaction. All parts of speech are marked, so there is no ambiguity. Nouns and pronouns are invariable and there is no system of declensions. There are no affixes of gender or plurality, both of which can be indicated with particles or other words, if necessary. One unusual feature of Kotava is a "euphonic" principle which matches endings of adjectives and other modifiers with their nouns.


The verbal system is the pivot of Kotava. Verbs are conjugated into three tenses (present, past, and future) and four moods (realis, imperative, conditional, and relative). In addition, there are mechanisms for voices, aspects, modalities and other nuances, permitting a great deal of subtlety in expression. There are seven persons for verbs, including an inclusive and exclusive first person plural.

In Kotava, the word order tends to be object–subject–verb, and all objects and other complements must be introduced by prepositions. There are also innovations involving conjunctions and prepositions (i.e. its system of locative prepositions).


Literature has an important place in the Kotava-speaking community. There are hundreds of translations of novels (Tolstoy,[2] Zola,[3] Maupassant,[4] Mirbeau,[5] Camus,[6] Molière,[7] Sholokhov,[8] Saint-Exupéry,[9] Hugo,[10] etc.), tales (La Fontaine, Perrault, Grimm, Andersen, legends of the world[11]) and other literary texts (Machiavelli, etc.).

In Les Tétraèdres (The Tetrahedra, big novel in French by Yurani Andergan, Verintuva, ISBN 978-2-9536310-0-5, 1274 p.), a wide historical and fantastic fresco, Kotava is the spoken language would have Neanderthals and transmitted in secret to their descendants for many generations and is recited by some heroines as long oracles (additional translations at the end).[12]

Example of text[edit]

Tale of Hans Christian Andersen: The Princess and the Pea.[13]

Lekeon tiyir sersikye djukurese va sersikya, va sersanhikya. Ta da vaon trasir, va tawava anamelapiyir vexe kotviele koncoba me dojeniayar ; sersikya, jontika tiyid, vexe kas tiyid sersanhikya ? Batcoba tiyir voldrikafa karolara, kotviele koncoba ok arcoba nuvelayad mekotunafa. Gabenapaf in dimdenlapiyir, va sersanhikya loeke co-djudiyir.

Once upon a time there was a prince who wanted to marry a princess; but she would have to be a real princess. He travelled all over the world to find one, but nowhere could he get what he wanted. There were princesses enough, but it was difficult to find out whether they were real ones. There was always something about them that was not as it should be. So he came home again and was sad, for he would have liked very much to have a real princess.

Sielon konviele, kultasazon, koafimayar ise ediayar ise muvapayar maneke kovudason, kontan ben tuvel ke widava ve tazeyer aze guazaf gazik miv ve laniyir aze ve fenkuyur.

One evening a terrible storm came on; there was thunder and lightning, and the rain poured down in torrents. Suddenly a knocking was heard at the city gate, and the old king went to open it.

Sersikya batlize diveon tiyir. Vexe Lorik ! Nuvelayar mancoba leve bata muva, koe bat saz ! Lava tidu usukeem is vageeem traspuyur ise koo vukuduul koayar aze koo buu divayar… voxe in espuyur da tiyir sersanhikya !

It was a princess standing out there in front of the gate. But, good gracious! what a sight the rain and the wind had made her look. The water ran down from her hair and clothes; it ran down into the toes of her shoes and out again at the heels. And yet she said that she was a real princess.

— Va batcoba en witit ! guazafa gazikya trakuyur voxe va mecoba ve kaliyir. Ko maga ve laniyir aze va dualteem ve deswayar aze ludevon ic ilava va urt ve rundayar ; va tol-sanoya cipia azon ve plekuyur aze mo urt ve krepkayar aze, vamoon, va tol-sanoya eider bruxafa krinca ware ve plekuyur. Vamoe batcoba sersikya batsielon co-gosenheter.

"Well, we'll soon find that out," thought the old queen. But she said nothing, went into the bed-room, took all the bedding off the bedstead, and laid a pea on the bottom; then she took twenty mattresses and laid them on the pea, and then twenty eider-down beds on top of the mattresses.

Gazdon, sin ve eruyud inde in al kenibeyer.

On this the princess had to lie all night. In the morning she was asked how she had slept.

— Rotapon, in ve dulzeyer, mielon itafenkumuyur. Lorik va coba koe bata ilava gruper. Vamoe koncoba olgafa maneke moe varafo alto va jontika faltagla isu ebeltagla dí senheyé ! Eaftafa !

"Oh, very badly!" said she. "I have scarcely closed my eyes all night. Heaven only knows what was in the bed, but I was lying on something hard, so that I am black and blue all over my body. It's horrible!"

Bam sin ve kagrupeyed da in tiyir sersanikya larde, reme tol-sanoya cipia isu eider bruxafa krinca va urt al peztaleyer. Mana gustafa alma anton rotiyir tela ke garifa sersikya.

Now they knew that she was a real princess because she had felt the pea right through the twenty mattresses and the twenty eider-down beds. Nobody but a real princess could be as sensitive as that.

Acum sersikye va in ve kureyer, dure tison lanafe da in tiyir sersanhikya nume urt koe yanbajwaxe di zo wonayar lize zo rowir ede metan al ilburer.

So the prince took her for his wife, for now he knew that he had a real princess; and the pea was put in the museum, where it may still be seen, if no one has stolen it.

Batcoba tir ageltafa rupanha.

There, that is a true story.


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Kotava". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ Anna Karenina, Lev Tolstoy Anna Karenina
  3. ^ Germinal, Emile Zola Germinal
  4. ^ Dumpling, Guy de Maupassant Cwekfixuya
  5. ^ The Diary of a Chambermaid, Octave Mirbeau Pone ke mawakwikya, Cahiers Octave Mirbeau n°20, march 2013
  6. ^ Exile and the kingdom, Albert Camus Divblira is Gazaxo ; Emudenik
  7. ^ Scapin's Deceits, Molière Nhagaceem ke Scapin
  8. ^ And Quiet Flows the Don, Mikhail Sholokhov Don diliodaf bost
  9. ^ The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Sersikam
  10. ^ Claude Gueux, Victor Hugo Claude Gueux (Claude Jastrik)
  11. ^ 100 legends of the World, in Kotava, 2007. 100 vunda ke tamava
  12. ^ Le Canard Gascon, n°35, p.28-29, nov. 2010, Criticism
  13. ^ Sersikya dem urt – Wikikrenteem


  • Fetcey, Staren (1979). Kotava, langue internationale neutre. Québec, Canada : Ed. Univers des langues T.B. INC. 148 p.
  • Kotava Avaneda (Kotava linguistic committee). Official grammar of Kotava {PDF}; Official grammar of Kotava (French) {PDF}. Kotava Organisation (March 2007, version III.8, 49 p. ; March 2013, v.III–14, 59 p.)
  • Christo Moskovsky & Alan Reed Libert (2011). Aspects of the Grammar and Lexica of Artificial Languages. Peter Lang GmbH. ISBN 978-3631596784

External links[edit]