|Created by||Otto Jespersen|
|Setting and usage||international auxiliary language|
|Sources||Romance and Germanic languages; also Occidental and Ido|
Novial [nov- ("new") + IAL, International Auxiliary Language] is a constructed international auxiliary language (IAL) for universal communication between speakers of different native languages. It was devised by Otto Jespersen, a Danish linguist who had been involved in the Ido movement, and later in the development of Interlingua.
Novial was introduced in Jespersen's book An International Language in 1928. It was updated in his dictionary Novial Lexike in 1930, and further modifications were proposed in the 1930s, but the language became dormant with Jespersen's death in 1943. In the 1990s, with the revival of interest in constructed languages brought on by the Internet, some people rediscovered Novial.
- 1 An International Language
- 2 Alphabet and pronunciation
- 3 Grammar
- 4 Vocabulary
- 5 Novial compared to Esperanto and Ido
- 6 Language sample for comparison
- 7 Criticism
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
An International Language
Novial was first described in Jespersen’s book An International Language (1928). Part One of the book discusses the need for an IAL, the disadvantages of ethnic languages for that purpose, and common objections to constructed IALs. He also provides a critical overview of the history of constructed IALs with sections devoted to Volapük, Esperanto, Idiom Neutral, Ido, Latino sine flexione, and Interlingue. The author makes it clear that he draws on a wealth of earlier work on the problem of a constructed IAL, not only the aforementioned IALs.
Part Two of An International Language describes Novial in detail. Alternative possible solutions for problems in the phonology, orthography, grammar and vocabulary are considered. The choices made are explained by comparison with ethnic languages and previously constructed IALs.
Alphabet and pronunciation
|IPA phonemes||a||b||ʃ, tʃ||d||e||f||g||h||i||ʒ, dʒ||k||l||m||n||o||p||k||r||s||ʃ, tʃ||t||u||v||ks/gz||j|
- The letter S occurring among vowels may sound /z/.
- The letter J may be pronounced /dʒ/.
- The digraph CH may be pronounced /ʃ/.
Jespersen suggested that it might be possible instead of the digraph SH to use the phonetic symbol ʃ.
Personal pronouns, subject and object
|Person||English (Nominative)||English (Oblique)||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|
In Novial, nominative and oblique pronouns are identical.
The standard word order is subject-verb-object, as in English. Therefore, the object need not be marked to distinguish it from the subject: E.g.:
- me observa vu – "I observe you"
- vu observa me – "you observe me"
The accusative (direct object) is therefore most often identical to the nominative (subject). However, in case of an ambiguity problem, an optional accusative ending, -m (-em after a consonant), is available but is rarely used. The preposition em is equivalent to this ending.
The personal possessive adjectives are formed from the pronouns by adding -n or after a consonant -en. This is in fact the genitive (possessive) of the pronoun so men means both "my" and "mine" ("of me"): E.g.:
- "My dog" = Men Hunde
- "The dog is mine" = Li Hunde es men
Possession may also be expressed with the preposition de: de me, de vu, and so on.
|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|
Verb forms never change with person or number. Most verb tenses, moods and voices are expressed with auxiliary verbs preceding the root form of the main verb. The auxiliaries follow the same word order as the 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 expressed 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 is li which is invariant. It is used as in English.
There is no indefinite article, although un (one) can be used.
The plural noun is formed by adding –s to the singular (-es after a consonant).
The accusative case is generally identical to the nominative but can optionally be marked with the ending -m (-em after a consonant) with the plural being -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 prepositions.
All adjectives end in -i, but this may be dropped if it is easy enough to pronounce and no confusion will be caused. Adjectives precede the noun qualified. Adjectives do not agree with the noun but may be given noun endings if there is no noun present to receive them.
Comparative adjectives are formed by placing various particles (plu, tam, and min) in front of the adjective receiving the comparison. Likewise, the superlative particles (maxim and minim) precede the adjective. The adjective does not receive an inflection to its ending.
An adjective is converted to a corresponding adverb by adding -m after the -i ending of the adjective.
Comparative and superlative adverbs are formed in the same manner as comparative and superlative adjectives: by placing a specific particle before the adverb receiving the comparison.
Novial compared to Esperanto and Ido
Jespersen was a professional linguist, unlike Esperanto's creator.[neutrality is disputed] He disliked the arbitrary and artificial character that he found in Esperanto and Ido. Additionally, he objected to those languages' inflectional systems, which he found needlessly complex. He sought to make Novial at once euphonious and regular while also preserving useful structures from natural languages.
- Syntax is largely a matter of word order, as in English and modern Scandinavian languages. There is no obligatory accusative marker as in Esperanto, but the accusative may optionally be marked with either an accusative ending or an accusative preposition.
- A genitive or possessive case is available as an alternative to the preposition de. This is based on Jespersen's observation that many modern languages have lost complex noun inflections, yet retain a possessive form.
- Auxiliary particles express most verb tenses. An inflectional ending is available as a shorthand for the simple past tense.
A major difference between Novial and Esperanto/Ido concerns noun endings. Jespersen rejected a single vowel to terminate all nouns (-o in Esperanto/Ido), finding it unnatural and potentially confusing.  Instead, Novial nouns may end in -o, -a, -e, or -u or -um. These endings may be taken to indicate natural sex according to the custom in Romance languages. Also there is no grammatical gender or requirement for adjectives to agree with nouns.
Language sample for comparison
Here is the Lord's Prayer in Novial and several related languages:
|Novial version:||Esperanto version:||Ido version:||Latin version:|
Nusen Patre, kel es in siele,
Patro nia, kiu estas en la ĉielo,
Patro nia, qua esas en la cielo,
Pater noster, qui es in caelis:
As Jespersen relates in his autobiography, in 1934 he proposed an orthographic reform to Novial, which displeased a part of the users. Jespersen abandoned the essential principle of one sound, one letter :
I proposed some not inconsiderable amendments, especially by introducing an "orthographic" Novial alongside the original phonetically written language. (...) Thus the sound [k], besides being represented by the letters k and q and the first part of x, also acquired the new sign c (before a, o, u and consonants), a practice with which nearly all Europeans, Americans, and Australians are familiar from childhood. (...) I know that this orthographic form has displeased several of Novial's old and faithful friends, but it is my impression that many others have applauded it.— Otto Jespersen (1995 , pp. 227–8)
Some of Jespersen's colleagues among philologists jokingly referred to Novial as Jesperanto, combining his surname with Esperanto, the prototypical auxiliary language.
|Novial edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia|
- Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Novial". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
- Jespersen, Otto (1928). An international language. London: Allen & Unwin. LC no 29000603.
- Jespersen, Otto (1930). Novial lexike, international dictionary, dictionnaire international, internationales Wörterbuch. London: G. Allen & Unwin. LC no 31014004.
- Ager, Simon. Novial (Nov International Auxiliari Lingue). Retrieved from omniglot.com on the 20th Dec. 2011
- [https://www.gutenberg.org/files/54694/54694-h/54694-h.htm%7Cdate=July 2019}}
- Jespersen, Otto (1995 ). A linguist’s life: an English translation of Otto Jerpersen’s autobiography [En Sprogmands Levned] with notes, photos and a bibliography. Edited by Arne Juul, Hans F. Nielsen, Jørgen Erik Nielsen. Odense: Odense University Press. ISBN 87-7838-132-0.
|Look up Novial in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
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