Novial (1928) by Otto Jespersen

(Chapter IV of `A Planned Auxiliary Language' by Henry Jacob, 1947)

7. Commentary Novial has many features in common with Ido of which Jespersen was, to a large extent, co-author during the years of the Delegation's activities. The most striking departure from the principles of Ido is his abolition of distinguishing vowel-endings to word-groups, the so-called pleonastic endings. It enabled Jespersen to devise the class of e/a/o words and similar groups, which represents a very noticeable solution to the problem of direct derivation. But the abolition of distinguishing vowel endings for word groups created a new set of problems which, according to many experienced interlinguists, makes the practical application of the language more difficult and also complicated the indirect derivation.
The adjectival ending -i is optional, but must be added if the adjective is used anaphorically with the plural -s [li blank/is]. It also is obligatory when used with the suffix -osi as otherwise it might stand for the plural form of -o [kuraj/osi]. It may be said, as Jespersen does, that the derivation in e/a/o does not clash with the noun forms ending in e/a/o indicating respectively neuter/feminine/masculine [home, homa, homo], but in practice it must mean a demand on memory to distinguish the two uses of these endings.
The first exception which we shall consider is the group of a/o and e/o nouns derived from a verb. In both these cases the last vowel of the noun is replaced by -o, but if the verb ends in -i or -u we have to retain this final vowel [defin/io]. The second exception concerns the suffix -ione. If the verb ends in either a, i, or u it retains its ending and a -t- is inserted between the full verb and the ending. It is doubtful whether by saying that the -t- stands for the passive participle the rule becomes any easier. We have to add further that verbs ending in -e do not add the ending to the passive participle but suppress the ending -e and add the suffix to the root [komunik/atione, but okas/ione]. A similar exception applies to verbs to which the suffix -eska is added. Verbs ending in -i retain this vowel [dormi/eska] while verbs ending in either -a or -e suppress the final vowel and join the suffix to the root [am/eska, kurs/eska]. The final vowel in connexion with suffixes is generally suppressed if the suffix begins with a vowel, and retained if the suffix begins with a consonant. -endi and -indi follow an exception [lekt/indi, but expedi/indi]. -u and -i remain, but -a and -e disappear before -endi or -indi. There is no possiblity of formulating a rule which would apply to all cases and the learner will have to rely on his memory to use the derivatives correctly.
A further exception which should be mentioned here is the use of alternative affixes for the same meaning. Jespersen admits -ere and -iste, and in his subsequent changes also admitted -tore with a similar meaning. It is true that we can obtain derivatives which are more international through a variety of suffixes with the same or similar meaning. This is the natural solution which leads away from precise expression and simplicity in word formation. The distinction made between -um and -ure seems rather subtle, and practice will have to show whether it is required. Jespersen himself pleaded for economy in languge, saying rightly that a planned language cannot attempt to express all the shades of meaning in all ethnic languages.
Jespersen's Novial has many features which are advocated by the naturalistic school of interlinguists, the use of auxiliary verbs, the revised system of spelling, a certain number of flexional elements in indirect derivation, the abolition of the so-called pleonastic endings, the plural form in -s. The introduction of the adverbial suffix -ari (revolution/ari) is superior to the Esperanto-Ido -ema. From Esperanto Jespersen has admitted, to some extent, the principle of sufficiency in indirect derivation.
On the whole Novial can be said to be midway between the extremes of naturalness and autonomy.

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