|Created by||Joël Landais|
|Setting and usage||International auxiliary language|
|Sources||based on Indo-European languages|
|ISO 639-3||None (
Uropi is a constructed language which was created by Joël Landais, a French English teacher. Uropi is a synthesis of European languages, explicitly based on the common Indo-European roots and aims at being used as an international auxiliary language for Europe and thus contributing to building a European identity. Besides, given the spread of Indo-European languages outside Europe (today half the world population speaks an I-E language).
Uropi was initiated in 1986; since then, it has undergone certain modifications; its vocabulary keeps growing (the French-Uropi dictionary has over 10,000 words).
After studying languages at Orléans University, then at the Sorbonne and at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, Joël Landais obtained the Agrégation diploma in English. He speaks French, English, Italian, Spanish, German and has a working knowledge of modern Greek and Russian… Today, he teaches English in a Chartres college. Parallel to his training as a linguist, his travels throughout Europe, Senegal, the Maghreb, Egypt, Mexico, the USSR, Vietnam and the West Indies, together with a passion for languages, led him to create Uropi, on which he has been working for over 30 years.
The Uropi alphabet has 24 letters, the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet minus q, x and y, plus the letter ʒ, which comes from the International Phonetic Alphabet. Each letter corresponds to a sound and each sound to a letter. All consonants are pronounced as in English except
- c which is always pronounced as sh
- g which is always pronounced as in give
- j which is pronounced as y in you or boy
- ʒ which is pronounced as s in pleasure, measure, leisure
- r which is rolled as in Italian, Spanish or Scottish
- s which is always pronounced as s in this or ss in boss, and never as z.
The vowels a, e, i, o, u are pronounced as in Italian or Spanish: casa, solo, vino, luna, pepe. Stress normally falls on the main root. For example in apkebo = to behead, the stress falls on keb = head. However some suffixes (such as -èl indicating an instrument) and the ending -ì for the past are always stressed; when two or more suffixes are combined, the stress always falls on the penultimate suffix (the last but one). The stress is marked with a written accent (à è ì ò ù) on the stressed vowel when it falls on the last syllable. For example: kotèl, perì, fotò, menù = knife, carried, photo, menu.
Uropi roots can be divided into three categories:
First and foremost Uropi claims to be a way to recreate a unity between Indo-European languages. With this aim, a great many Uropi roots correspond to common Indo-European roots which have been simplified, in their pronunciation and length (very often Uropi roots have one or two syllables). Thus, mother is mata (from Indo-European: mātēr*); sun is sol (from Indo-European: sāwel*). This simplification corresponds to the natural evolution of Indo-European roots which have given birth to the words which are used today in modern I-E languages. Thus mata corresponds to Hindi mata, sol to Spanish and Scandinavian sol.
When there is no common Indo-European root or when there are several roots to express the same reality in various languages, Uropi may use "hybrid" words, crossing two different roots taken from different languages so as to create the most easily recognizable term for speakers of the greatest number of Indo-European languages. Thus, in liamo, to love, the li-' comes from Germanic and Slavic languages (cf German lieben and Russian liubit'), and the -am, from Latin languages (amo, amare, amar); or in mand, hand, the ma- comes from Latin languages and the -and, from Germanic languages. This process is not so artificial as it seems at first sight: It has been observed in natural languages, for example, the French haut (high) comes from the crossing between old Fr. aut (from Latin altus) and Frankish hōh. It has also been deliberately used in languages like English to form new words: "portmanteau-words", for instance, the famous London smog comes from the crossing of smoke and fog. Let us also mention the words 'franglais (Fr = français + anglais), denglisch (Ger. = deutsch + English), spanglish (US = Spanish + English). These "hybrid" words only account for 3% of Uropi vocabulary.
Uropi also uses many words which are already "international", like taksì, skol (school), bus, art, matc (match), polìz (police), simfonij (symphony), tabàk (tobacco), etc.…
As many other conlangs, Uropi uses many compounds, either combining two roots, or using prefixes and suffixes. Among the former, we can give the following examples: lucitòr, lighthouse, from luc, light and tor, tower; or, with sopo, to sleep, sopisàk, sleeping-bag, or sopivagòn, sleeper (train). We can also give numerous examples of compounds built with prefixes or suffixes: for ex. with davo, to give, you can form disdavo, to distribute; with tel, goal, purpose, you can form atelo, end up in, come to; with breko, to break, and us, out, you can form usbreko, to break out; with apel, apple, you can form aplar, apple-tree, and aplaria, apple orchard. In most cases, it's very easy when you read or hear those compounds to find the roots and thus the meaning of the compound. However, some of those compounds, even if they follow the etymology of equivalent words in living European languages, have a more obscure, rather metaphorical meaning. Thus, ruspeko, literally to look back, means to respect; or incepo, literally to seize, to grasp inside, means to understand.
Like some modern Indo-European languages, Uropi has a very limited declension with only two cases: nominative and genitive in the singular and the plural. Uropi substantives are divided into three groups: those ending in a consonant, those ending in -a and those ending in another vowel. Among those ending in a consonant, we find all masculine nouns, i.e. nouns denoting men or male animals: man: man; kat: (tom)cat. Those nouns take an -e in the plural; the genitive singular is marked with an -i, and the genitive plural, with -is: man, mane, mani, manis = man, men, man's, men's. All feminine nouns, i.e. nouns denoting women or female animals end in -a: ʒina: woman; kata: (she)cat. These nouns take an -s in the plural. The -a becomes -u in the genitive singular, -us in the genitive plural: gala, galas, galu, galus = hen, hens, hen's, hens' . All the other substantives are neuter: they can equally end with a consonant or with an -a: for ex: tab: table, ment: mind, or teatra: theatre, centra: centre. They correspond to the neuter personal pronoun je = it. The nouns ending with another vowel are essentially "international" words like: taksì, eurò, menù. They take an -s in the plural, but no specific mark in the genitive.
As in English, qualifying adjectives are invariable. They are placed before the noun they qualify. Some are "pure" adjectives: bun: good; glen: green, kurti: short, others are derived from nouns. In this case, their form is identical to that of the genitive singular: mani: manly, man's; ʒinu: feminine, woman's. A few quantitative indefinite adjectives which are also pronouns take an -e in the plural: mol, mole = much, many, poj, poje = litlle, few, tal, tale = every, all, ek, eke = some, a few.
Personal pronouns have three cases: nominative, accusative (also used with all prepositions) and dative. Possessive adjectives are used for the genitive. As in English, there are three pronouns in the third person singular (masculine: he; feminine: ce; neuter: je) as well as a reflexive pronoun. For ex: i = I (nominative), ma = me (accusative), mo = to me (dative), tu, ta, to = you, etc. List of personal pronouns: i, tu, he, ce, je, nu, vu, lu = I, you (singular), he, she, it, we, you (plural & polite form), they. Reflexive pronoun: sia = oneself.
- Except in the imperative, the verbal form remains the same whatever the person.
- The infinitive ending is -o : jedo: to eat, sopo: to sleep, avo: to have.
- The form of the simple present is that of the radical: i jed: I eat, tu sop: you sleep.
- The simple past is formed by adding a stressed -ì : i jedì: I ate, he avì: he had.
- To form the future you use the particle ve with the infinitive: i ve jedo: I'll eat, ve tu sopo?: will you sleep? lu v'ne veno: they won't come.
- The conditional is formed by adding -ev to the stem: Is i sev fami, i jedev: If I was (lit. would be) hungry, I would eat.
- The perfect uses the auxiliary avo: to have and the past participle ending in -en: i av jeden: I have eaten, ce av venen: she has come.
- The durative (continuous) form uses the auxiliary so: to be and the present participle, ending in -an: i se jedan: I'm eating, se he sopan? is he sleeping?.
- The imperative: jed, jede, jedem: eat! (singular/plural), let's eat!.
- The passive uses the auxiliary vido: to get, to become and the past participle: De mus vid jeden pa de kat: The mouse is eaten by the cat.
1: un; 2: du; 3: tri; 4: kwer; 5: pin; 6: ses; 7: sep; 8: oc; 9: nev; 10: des; 100: sunte; 1000: tilie. 357: trisunte pindes-sep. Ordinal numbers are formed by adding -i or -j (after a vowel): duj: second; trij: third, kweri: fourth, pini: fifth; the exception is pri: first. Fractions are formed by adding -t to numbers: u trit: a third, u kwert: a fourth, a quarter; the exception is mij: half.
Example: "A Child's Thought", by R. L. Stevenson
|U Men Kidi||A Child's Thought|
|Be sep, wan i it a led,
I find sul’ imaʒe in mi ment,
Ki dragone valgan aròn kastele,
Gardine wo un find maʒiki frute;
Lovi damas in u tor inkarsen,
O perlasen in u fost insaren;
Wo galan kwalore rait su ber rijis
We se de frontias da landi soinis.
I find ja, sa klarim in mi ment
Be sep, wan i it a led.
Be sep, revos ma vekan
De maʒiki land i cek in van;
U sel se stan za wo stì de kastèl,
De gardini bod wen u tapìz cel.
Nun feja se vadan tra de plor,
Bote, ne kwalore, se stan ner de dor,
Id wo de blu rije sì flujan ki rikle
Num u banar id vodikrùg je ste;
I cek de maʒiki land in van
Be sep, revos ma vekan.
At seven, when I go to bed,
I find such pictures in my head :
Castles with dragons prowling round,
Gardens where magic fruits are found ;
Fair ladies prisoned in a tower,
Or lost in an enchanted bower ;
While gallant horsemen ride by streams
That border all this land of dreams
I find, so clearly in my head
At seven, when I go to bed.
At seven, when I wake again,
The magic land I seek in vain ;
A chair stands where the castle frowned,
The carpet hides the garden ground,
No fairies trip across the floor,
Boots, and not horsemen, flank the door,
And where the blue streams rippling ran
Is now a bath and water-can ;
I seek the magic land in vain
At seven, when I wake again.
- Ducos, Étienne, «Joël Landais invente la 251e langue», in Libération, October 16, 1986
- Bremer, Hans-Hagen, «Vok vu Uropi: Ein Lehrer träumt nachts auf europäisch» in Frankfurter Rundschau, November 24, 1986
- Долгополов, Николай, «Уроки Уропи» in Комсомольская Правда, November 21, 1987
- Étienne Ducos, «Des lettres russes arrivent par centaines chez Joël Landais», in L'Écho républicain, December 15, 1987
- Webster, Paul, «Uropi, the new lingua franca», in The Guardian Weekly, week of January 15, 1989
- Singer, Enrico, «Uropi, una nuova lingua per l'Europa», in La Stampa, February 24, 1989
- Tabone, Bénédicte, «L'Uropi n'est pas une utopie», in La Nouvelle République du Centre Ouest, July 2, 1989
- Author not mentioned, «Uropi, mehr als eine private Geheimsprache - Ein Chance in Europa» in Tagespost, October 28–29, 1989
- Долгополов, Николай, «Мы снова говорим на разных языках» in Комсомольская Правда, April 29, 1990
- Hrabovský, Jiří, «Vok vu Uròpi? Hovoříte po Evropsku?» in Svět v Obrazech, November 29, 1990
- Tribout, Carole, «Les Suisses se penchent sur l'Uropi», in République du Centre, October 23, 1991
- Official website
- Blog by the author of Uropi (in Uropi, French, English and sometimes other languages)