Novial (1928) by Otto Jespersen

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

2. Grammar The alphabet comprises 23 letters. The vowels are a [pr. as in father], e [fête, yes], i [machine], o [most], u [rule]. The 18 consonants are b, d, f, g, h, j [as in journal], k, l, m, n, p, q(u), r, s, t, v, x, y [pr. as in yes]. While c is not admitted as a single consonant, it appears in the digraph ch admitted with the same value as the digraph sh. c and z have been abolished for ordinary dictionary use but are admitted for proper names and for abbreviations of chemical elements. Double consonants to differentiate the meaning of words [D biete, bitte] are not admitted.
The stress falls on the vowel preceding the last consonant. The addition of the ordinary consonant endings does not change the stress of the main word.
The definite article is li for all genders and numbers. The indefinite article is un.
The singular noun has no determinative grammatical ending. The plural is formed by adding -s. The grammatical endings are respectively used to indicate persons, no sex indication or distinction [-e], masculine [-o], and feminine [-a] [home, homes; homo, homos; homa, homas; nule = no one, nulo = no man, nula = no woman].
A special neuter ending -um has been introduced [li bonum de ti situatione es ke.. = what is good in that situation is that..]. The neuter plural is formed in -um/es or -us [ver/um/es = true things, or ver/us].
The personal pronouns are me, vu, le, lo, la, for things lu; nus, vus, les, los, las; lus for things. The reflexive pronoun is se.
The possessive pronouns are men, vun, len, lon, lan; nusen, vusen, lesen, losen, lasen.
The verb in the infinitive has no definite grammatical ending [ama, protekte, mari, konstitu] but the English to = tu has been introduced to indicate the infinitive.
The present tense is expressed by the stem [me ama vu, lo protekte nus].
The imperative is indicated by the simple stem [Veni!].
The hortative is indicated by let [let nus starta, let on pensa kom on vol!]. The optative is indicated by mey [mey lo viva longitem!].
The past tense is obtained by adding -d, or -ed if the stem ends in a consonant [ama/d, protekte/d, mari/d, es/ed].
The past can also be expressed by an analytic from for which Jespersen introduced did [me did ama, lo did estima la].
The future tense is formed by employing sal, from English shall, but this has later been changed to ve, but often the simple present may be used to express futurity, if there is some time indication like `to-morrow', in the sentence [me joya tu sal visita vus], or the newer form [tu ve visita vus].
The conditional is formed by employing the auxiliary vud [se lo vud veni, me vud rida = if he came (should come) I should laugh].
The perfect and pluperfect tenses are formed with the auxiliary ha and had in combination with the infinitive verb form, not the participle [me ha perda klefe = I have lost a key, me had perda klefe = I had lost a key]. Ha and had must be used with all verbs, even in cases where some ethnic languages use `to be' [lo ha veni = er ist gekommen].
These auxiliaries can be combined [vu sal ha perda = you will have lost, la vud ha veni = she would have come].
The present participle is formed by adding -nt to the infinitive [hant veni = having come]; the past or passive participle is formed by adding -t to the infinitive.
The passive voice is formed with the auxiliary `to be', bli [preterite blid] for the passive of becoming, combined with the stem-form of the verb. The passive of being (expressing the state of) is expressed by es and the passive participle [lon libres blid venda in grandi nombre = his books were sold in great numbers; li libre es vendat = the book is sold]. With verbs like hate, praise, blame, admire, see, hear, Jespersen admits equally bli or es because these verbs denote an activity that is not begun in order to be finished.
The chief parts of the verbal system of Novial are:
me protekteme bli protekte
me protekted (did protekte)me blid protekte
me ha protekteme ha bli protekte
me had protekteme had bli protekte
me sal protekteme sal bli protekte
me sal ha protekteme sal ha bli protekte
me vud protekteme vud bli protekte
me vud ha protekteme vud ha bli protekte
The adjectives are invariable in number and gender [natural formes]. For euphony Jespersen adds an -i to the adjectives saying that it is optional, admitting thereby alternative forms [bon, boni, kruel, krueli, matur, maturi, sam, sami, publik, publiki]. If the adjective is used by itself with reference to a noun just mentioned (anaphorically) a plural -s may be added to the -i which is then obligatory [Hir es multi roses, ob vu prefera li blankis o li redis? = Here are many roses, do you prefer the white or the red ones?].
The cardinal numbers are: un or uni, du, tri, quar, sink, six, sep, ok, nin, dek, sent, mil. For the tens is added the suffix -anti [20 = duanti, 30 = trianti; quaranti, sinkanti, sixanti, sepanti, okanti, ninanti; 23 = duanti tri, 99 = ninanti nin]. Nouns may be formed in -o [duo, trio, etc.]. Jespersen does not expect that ambiguity will arise out of such use, although -o is used to express the masculine.
The ordinal numbers are formed by the use of the suffix -esmi [un-esmi, du-esmi, sent-esmi; 345th = trisent-quaranti-sinkesmi]; adverbs can be formed by -im [unesm-im = firstly].
The degrees of comparison are bon(i), plu bon(i), maxim bon(i); bon(i), min bon(i), minim bon(i).
Syntax: The ordinary word order is subject-verb-object. The interrogative phrase begins with qui or one of its inflected forms que [quo, qua], quum [Pro quum = why]; ob is used in phrases like Ob tum non fita belisim? = Does this not fit beautifully? The negation is indicated by no.

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