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Guide-old

Page history last edited by Jens Wilkinson 12 years, 7 months ago

A Guide to Neo Patwa 1.0

 


 

Introduction

 

Neo Patwa is not a difficult language to learn. Compared with other languages you may have studied in the past, it has a relatively small vocabulary, a simple grammar, and a simple phonetic system.

 

This guide is divided into three major parts. The first is "rules", meaning things that are an essential part of the language. Thankfully, this is not very long! The second part includews examples of usage. This gives you ideas on how to use the language in practice. And the third is a reference section, reminding you of the important words used in Neo Patwa.

 

One thing to keep in mind as you learn Neo Patwa is that this language is not intended to be a strict, rule-oriented one where there is a "right way" and a "wrong way" to say things. The important thing is to make yourself understood. Consequently, much of the language involves the lexical items (words that have meaning, like "book" or "eat"), and very little involves purely grammatical ideas (like singular vs. plural and tenses).

 

Neo Patwa is basically intended to function as a sort of "world pidgin." Because of this, the most important thing for you to do is to remember the relatively small lexicon of important words. From then on, it's just a question of putting the words together in a way that is understandable to others.

 

First, on to the rules of the language.


 

Pronunciation

 

Neo Patwa is designed to be easy to pronounce. The sounds that are used are common across languages, so it should be easy to communicate with others. There are five vowels, and 16 consonants.

 

Vowels

 

A (father); E (pet); I (sheet); O (coat); U (shoot)

 

Consonants

 

P (pen); B (bet); K (kangaroo); G (go); T (ten); D (den); C (cheat); S (sit); X (shell), F (find); H (loch); M (mine); N (not); R (red)

 

Semivowels

 

Y (yard); W (water); L (long)

 

These are for the most part pronounced as in English. The major exceptions are H, which should preferably be pronounced with a guttural sound, like the "CH" in "loch". This is to make the sound more recognizable. The spelling is usually similar to English, except that C is pronounced like the English "ch" and X is pronounced "sh". Although R is in the list, I've tried to keep the number of words using it to a minimum, since it is easily confused with R among some speakers.

 

When two vowels follow one another, you should pronounce the two more or less separately, as in "chaos," "Israel," or "viola," for example, but it's generally acceptable to flow them together, so that "pei," for example, could be pronounced as "pay" in English.

 

In addition, there are consonants that can be used in Neo Patwa, but are not used in the core vocabulary except for some exceptional cases. These sounds can be used in specific cultural terms and in proper nouns, for example. They are Z (zebra); V (vote); and J (jack).

 

Stress

 

I am proposing that the stress be placed on the first syllable of words. For compound words, the stress can be placed on the first syllable of each word in the compound.


 

Greetings

 

Greetings in Neo Patwa can be left to individual preferences to some extent. But in the interest of creating a world culture, here are some suggestions.

 

Hello: Xanti. (peace)

Good Bye: Xanti / Cao

Thank you: Asante (thanks)

You're welcome: No mesti asante (no need thanks)

I'm sorry: Sori

Don't worry: Oke / No susi (no worry)

Excuse me: Mafan / Pemisi


 

Simple Sentences

 

Sentences in Neo Patwa are basically built like English sentences. In other words, there is a subject, a predicate (verb, if you want), and an object.

 

Just to get you started, here are a couple of words.

 

Balu: bear

Cifan: eat

Pwasan: fish

Balu makan pwasan. (The bear ate the fish) or (Bears eat fish).

 

Note: There are three interesting things to note here for an English speaker. First, there are no articles, like "the" and "a" in English. The second is that there is no distinction between singular and plural nouns. Balu can be either "bear" or "bears". And third, there is no conjugation of verbs. Cifan can mean "will eat", "eats" and "ate".

 

Another thing to note here is that the so-called "word classes" are not as strict in Neo Patwa as they are in English and most natural languages. For example, the word pensa, meaning "think", can also be used to mean an "idea". So theoretically, you could make a strange sentence like "mi pensa pensa," literally, "I think a thought." Of course, nobody would say that for the same reason that people don't say it in English -- it's true by definition. Though interestingly, we do sometimes say things like, "sing a song," which is true by definition.

 

And finally, you may notice that the sentences here are almost invariably in subject-verb-object order. However, this is not a firm rule. Sentences can also be made in the subject-object-verb form, which is very common (Hindi is the biggest language that uses this, but so do Japanese and Korean, for example). The key is to make sentences that can be understood by the listener. So writing:

 

Balu pwasan cifan.

 

is understandable, and there is nothing inherently wrong with it. I believe that Neo Patwa will eventually settle on subject-verb-object, but that is my speculation.


 

Modifying Nouns

 

Often, you will want to modify nouns in a sentence, using adjectives and the like. The following is a complicated phrase, which would be unlikely to be used in real life, but it illustrates how a noun can be modified by various words.

 

Na-pela lyu-pela mi di nila di cidya. (These six blue birds of mine)

 

Na: That

Pela: Thinkg/counter word (see below)

Lyu: 6

Mi: I, me

Di: Modifier particle (see below)

Nila: Blue

Cidya: Bird

 

There are two important words here that require some further explanation.

 

The very important one is the particle di. It follows a noun to indicate possession, and follows an adjective before a noun.

 

Another word is -pela, which is placed after a numeral to mean it's being used to count something, or after a word like "what" or "that" to mean it is referring to a specific object (like "which" instead of "what" in English).

 


 

Prepositions and Sentence Structure

 

In principle, all parts of sentences outside of the subject, verb and direct object should be marked with a preposition. There is a basic preposition po that can be used as a default. When more precision is needed, you can use a number of verbs to indicate the role of the phrase in the sentence.

 

Yu: You

Kata: Cut

Myaso: Meat

Caku: Knife

Pakai: Use

 

Using a verb as a preposition, you could write:

 

Yu pakai caku kata myaso. (You cut meat using a knife)

 

But you can also say:

 

Yu kata myaso po caku. (You cut meat with a knife)

 

Other verbs that can function as prepositions include the following:

 

Cule: From (depart)

Fika: To (arrive)

Tomo: With (accompany)

Anda: At (sit)


 

Two Important Words: Di and Po

 

The two words di and po are probably the most important ones in Neo Patwa. Learning about these two words is important for using Neo Patwa effectively. Luckily, the principle is quite simple.

 

From an English speaker's point of view, you can think of po as meaning "of", or any simple preposition such as "to", "for", "from", or "at". Or you can think of it, more logically, as meaning "belongs to".

 

So for example,

 

Kasa po mi. (the house of me, my house)

 

And you can think of di as meaning something like "'s" or "-ish" in English, like "the man's house" or "the blue-ish" house.

 

Mi di kasa (me's house, my house)

 

So in other words, "my house" can be expressed either as:

 

Kasa po mi or Mi di kasa.

 

With adjectives, similarly:

 

Nila di kitabo (blue-ish book)

 

or

 

Kitabo po nila (book of blue)

 

In the sense, the two words can be thought of as opposites. With di, the word before di modifies the word after it. With fo, it is the word after po that modifies the one before it.

 

Once you get the hang of these two words, you can put together thoughts in different orders. So you might say:

 

Nila di kitabo po me. (My blue book)


 

Repeating the Subject

 

In sentences where the subject is more than just one word, and particularly when the subject is complex, it is better to put a pronoun before the verb. So for example:

 

Balu cifan pwasan. (Bear eats fish)

 

Is fine the way it is. But if you wanted to say that two blue bears (for grammar's sake!) ate fish, it would be better to say:

 

Do-pela nila di balu, ta cifan pwasan. (Two blue bears, they ate fish)


 

Modifying Verbs

 

Verbs can be modified by placing verbs, particles and modifiers in front of them. This can be illustrated with the following sentence.

 

Ta: He/she/it

No: Negative particle

Sa: Future/irrealis particle (see below)

Wiki: Quickly, fast

Ale: Go

 

Ta no sa wiki ale. (He won't go quickly)

 

The first particle, no, is simply for negation (you would normally use "not" in English).

 

The second, sa, is a tense marker, equivalent perhaps to "will" in English. The tense markers in Neo Patwa are ya, which indicates that an action has already been completed, sta, meaning it is still ongoing, and sa, meaning that it is hypothetical or future.

 

The word sta actually has a wide range of uses. It can be used to mean that an action is ongoing, but is also used to show equivalence, i.e. "he IS a student".

 

Note: In general, you don't have to use these markers unless you want to indicate the time. There is no need to keep using a "past tense" like in English to discuss things that happened in the past. Technically speaking, the Neo Patwa particles do not mark tense but rather "aspect" and "mood". Ya is not a marker of the past, but rather marks the "anterior aspect". In English, you might say "Once I have finished my homework, I'll watch TV." The "have finished" is not really the past tense, since you are actually discussing a future action! And similarly, sta means that an action or state is still ongoing (technically, the "non-punctual aspect") and sa means an action is planned or hypothetical, like in the sentence, "If it rains, I will use an umbrella" (technically, this is the "irrealis mood").

 

The third word, wiki, means "fast". Modifiers can be placed before the verb without any particle in between.

 

Discussing an Action

 

Another interesting thing to note is that in Neo Patwa, words never change in form. So a verb can be made into a subject or object of a sentence, as in when we say "eating is fun." There is no "-ing" form, so you can just use the verb as is.

 

Cifan banana, ta sta fasil. (Eating bananas is easy)


 

Examples of Use

 

That is pretty much the end of the "grammatical rules." The following sections illustrate how to use the language in practice. They are not really rules, but rather suggestions on how to use the language in a way that is easy to understand.


 

Helping Verbs and Serial Verbs

 

One interesting aspect of Neo Patwa is that verbs can go together without anything in between. In English, we would "I like to go", but in Neo Patwa you can simply say "I like go". In addition, you can put verbs together to create a sentence, so you might say "I shoot bear make die," which means "I shot the bear dead" or something like that.

 

First, here are some helping (auxiliary) verbs.

 

Sabe: Can

 

This is used to show something is possible. For example:

 

Mi sabe nata. (I can swim)

 

Yao: Want, need, must

 

This shows either desire or necessity. For example:

 

Ta yao cifan. (He must eat)

Mi yao cifan. (I want to eat)

 

Paswa: Should

 

This shows advisability. So for example:

 

Mi paswa cifan. (I should eat)

 

Sase: Cause

 

This is placed before another verb (with the object in between) to make it causative. For example:

 

Mi sase balu mati. (I killed the bear)

 

Lese: Allow

 

This is placed before another verb to indicate that something has been allowed to happen. For example, "He dropped the money" is Ta lese (fall) pesa.

 

Ta lese pesa oci. (He dropped the money)

 

Finally, a note about verbs: as I mentioned earlier, Neo Patwa does not make a clear distinction between word classes, and this also applies to verbs. Verbs can be used without too much regard to the distinction between transitive and intransitive verbs. So you could say the equivalent to "I fall ball" instead of "drop" like in English. The terms sase and lese can be used to show that a verb is transitive, but it is not necessary if the context makes it clear.

 

For example, mati means "die." So:

 

Ta mati. (He died)

 

However, both:

 

Mi mati ta. and Mi sase mati ta. can be used to mean "I killed him".


 

Passive Voice

 

A similar structure can be used to make passive sentences (like "I was hit by the car" in English). There is not real passive form in Neo Patwa, but you can use the helping verb subi to make a similar form.

 

Subi: Undergo, receive

 

This is used to make a passive sentence. It is placed before another verb or verb phrase to make it passive. For example:

 

Pwasan subi balu cifan ta. (the fish was eaten by the bear)

 

Not that this really means, "The fish underwent, the bear ate it."

 

There are actually two other ways to make a form like a passive. One is to use the subject ta-saba (meaning "they"), when the subject is actually not known. So:

 

Ta-saba cifan mi di pwasan. (They ate my fish)

 

This actually means, "my fish was eaten (by something)".

 

And finally, you can place the word you want to emphasize at the beginning of the sentence, using the the word nipa, which means something like "regarding". So:

 

Nipa pwasan, balu cifan ta. (About the fish, the bear ate it)


 

Asking Questions

 

Ma: Question particle

Ke: What

Yan: Person

 

To ask a yes or no question in Neo Patwa, just add the word ma at the end of the sentence. So for example:

 

Balu cifan mjaso. (The bear eats meat)

Balu cifan mjaso ma? (Does the bear eat meat)

 

To ask a content question, like "who are you?" simply insert a question word in the proper place of the original sentence. So for example:

 

Na-yan sta John. (That person is John)

Na-yan sta ke-yan? (What person is who?/Who is that?)

 

The question words in Neo Patwa are generally combinations of ke, meaning "what", and other words.

 

Where: Ke-lado (what-side)

When: Ke-wela (what-time)

Who: Ke-yan (what-person)

Why: Ke-po (what-for)

How: Ke-moda (what-way)

How much: Ke-muito (what-many/what-much)


 

Asking Questions About Quality

 

In English, we say something is heavy, but ask you much it weighs. Neo Patwa avoids this multiplication of words by using the same term. In Neo Patwa, the word for "heavy" is hefi. So to ask, how much does that bear weigh, you would say:

 

Na-pela balu, ta sta ke-hefi?

 

Literally, this means, "that bear is what heavy?"


 

Imperative

 

Imperative is the kind of sentence used to give orders. In English, for example, we say "Go" or "Eat". In Neo Patwa, the subject can be left in, but a grammatical marker la can be put at the end of the sentence to indicate the mood. So you might say:

 

Yu cifan yu di cawal, la. (Eat your rice!)


 

Existential Sentences

 

In English, we say "there is a man," for example, in a way that simply expresses the presence or existence of something. In Neo Patwa, you can use the verb tene meaning "have." For example.

 

Wiye mi di mesa, tene wan-pela myao. (There is a cat on my table)

 

In fact, the verb tene can be used without a subject to simply indicate existence.

 

Tene wan-pela yan. (There is a man)


 

Using "One" (indeterminate pronoun)

 

In English, we sometimes say, "One never knows." The "one" in that case is an indeterminate pronoun. Neo Patwa does not have this. But you can use "person" or alternatively, "they."

 

Yan paswa ale po skola. (One should go to school)


 

Topic Prominence

 

Topic prominence involves bringing something to the front of a sentence to emphasize it. In Engish, for example, instead of saying "I read the book," we can say, "It's the book that I read." This puts the emphasis on the book. In Neo Patwa, you can use the word nipa, meaning discuss (from Yoruba), to mean roughly "regarding" in front of the object of a sentence, and bring it to the front. For example:

 

Nipa nyoka, mi cifan ta. (I ate that snake)


 

Ways to Modify a Sentence

 

 

Using "Supposedly"

 

For a construction like, "it is said that" or "supposedly," just say yan-sema, meaning "somebody says" or "people say."

 

Yan-sema ta ya mati. (It is said that he died)

 

Using "To the Contrary"

 

To say, "to the contrary" or "by contrast", simply use anti.

 

Anti, ta no ale skola. (On the contrary, he didn't go to school)

 

Saying "By the Way"

 

Cinami, mi no suka legim. (By the way, I don't like vegetables!)

 

Saying, "Fortunately"

 

Laki, mi no mati. (Fortunately, I didn't die)

 

Saying, "Actually"

 

Satya, me suka dolce. (To be honest, I like sweets)


 

Making Comparisons

 

The verb lalu (exceed, pass) can be used to express comparison between two things. For example:

 

Mi wiki kule lalu hisam. (I run faster than a horse)

 

Nume-wan is literally "number one" or "first", and can be used to mean "most". For example:

 

Ta sta nume-wan maha di pikin. (He is the biggest child)

 

Similarly, the word mwan can be used like lalu but to express sameness. So:

 

Mi sabe wiki kule mwan hisam. (I can run as fast as a horse).

 

A similar form of sentence is sentences like "the faster the better" or "the rain is getting harder." In these cases, you can use muito ("more" or "very"). To indicate the passage of time, you can use the word lai meaning "come". "The more it comes, the bigger it is," means "it gets bigger with the passage of time".

 

Muito wiki, muito hau. (The faster the better)

 

Muito lai, muito maha. (It is getter bigger)

 

The word lalu (exceed) can also be used to mean that something is excessively big or heavy, for example. So for example,

 

Da-pela kitabo, ta lalu hefi. (That book is too heavy)


 

"When I Finish"

 

An English speaker might be tempted to use the word ke-wela, meaning "when", in a sentence like "When I finish work, I'll go to sleep." But actually, ke-wela really means "what time" or "what day," not "at the time." In this case, it's OK to use ako ("if"), but you can also use "after".

 

Nyuma mi fini kuli, mi hase lala. (After I finish work, I'll go to sleep).

 

Also, when saying, "when I was a child," you wouldn't use ke-wela either. In that case, you could just use:

 

Wela mi sta pikin. . .

 

This translates directly as "in time I am child".


 

"Kali" and "Wela"

 

I think the distinction between kali and wela, which are both listed as "time" in the dictionary, may be difficult for English speakers. Basically, wela is "time" as in the passage of time, or a season. So "what time" would call for the use of wela. By contrast, kali means "time" in the sense of "how many times," like "once" and "twice" in English. So for example, the mathematical expression "x" would call for kila. In English, we happen to use the same word for both ideas. In Spanish, for example, you would use "vez" for kali and "tiempo" for wela.


 

A Short Reference to Helping Verbs and Grammar

 

A lot in Neo Patwa is done with helping verbs. Remembering a few common words and particles, along with just a few helping verbs, can be very helpful. I recommend that you print this section out; it essentially gives you what you need to remember.

 

Personal Pronouns

 

The personal pronouns in Neo Patwa are:

Mi (first person singular)

Yu (second person singular)

Ta (third person singular)

 

To make plurals, add saba to the end. So mi-saba is "we".

 

Particles

 

Si means "yes".

No means "no". It is used before a verb to form the negative.

Di means basically "modifies" or "have", and comes after an adjective and before the noun it modifies, or after a possessor and before the possessee. "A blue person" is nila di yan.

Po (or fo) is in a sense the opposite, meaning "belongs to" or "is modified by". It can also be used as a general-purpose preposition.

 

Ce is "this".

Na is "that".

Ke is "what".

 

Tenses

 

Ya indicates that an action is finished.

Sta indicates that an action is ongoing.

Sa indicates that an action is not yet realized, or hypothetical.

 

Helping Verbs

 

Sabe (can) is used to indicate possibility. "I can swim" is mi sabe nata.

Yao (want, need) is used to indicate desire or necessity. "He wants to eat" is Ta yao cifan.

Hase (do) can be placed before a noun to indicate doing some action. For example, to play tennis is hase tennis.

Sase (cause) is placed before another verb to make it causative. For example, "kill" is sase mati, meaning "cause to die."

Lese (allow) is placed before another verb to indicate that something has been allowed to happen. For example, "He dropped the money" is Ta lese oci pesa.

Subi (undergo) is placed before another verb or verb phrase to make it passive. For example, "the fish was eaten by the bear" is Pwasan subi balu cifan.

 

Ending Particles

 

Ma is used to ask a question, and also to mean "or".

Si is used to ask for confirmation or for suggestions.

La is for an assertion.

 

That's all you really need to know. Plus the vocabulary, of course!


 

Numbers

 

The numbers in Neo Patwa are:

1 wan, 2 do, 3 san, 4 xi, 5 nam, 6 lyu, 7 sem, 8 pal, 9 nin.

10 deka, 100 heka, 1000 kilo.


 

The Names of Days

 

Days of the week have names ending in din. Like English and many other languages, they are named after the planets. So for example, Monday (day of the moon) is:

 

Luna-din

 

Days of the month are simply the numbers followed by din. So the 12th would be:

 

Dekado-din

 

For counting a number of days, the word pela is inserted after the number, as a counter. Two days, as a length of time, would be:

 

Do-pela din.

 

--

 

The Names of Months

 

The months of the year are expressed as a number followed by luna. So January is:

 

Wan-luna

 

Just like for days, a number of months can be stated by placing the word pela after the number. So three months is:

 

San-pela luna


 

The Names of Years

 

A year can be expressed by simply putting the numbers one after the other, and then appending anyo at the end. So 1987 would be:

 

Wanninpalsem-anyo

 

Two years as a period of time would be:

 

Do-pela anjo


 

 

Rule for New Words

 

One important thing to understand about Neo Patwa, as I've probably stated a number of times already, is that it is meant to evolve. Neo Patwa still has quite a restricted vocabulary, but new words can be freely created using compounding, and you can also make up new words. The key always is understanding, not correctness.

 

For items related to local culture (such as names of foods or local fauna and flora), words can be adapted from the local language directly. For scientific terms, it's OK to use words from the Western scientific vocabulary as an interim measure until terms are formally decided.

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