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A Simple Guide to Neo Patwa 1.0





This is a short and simply guide to Neo Patwa. There is also a more complete version available, which has lots of example sentences. This guide is limited to what you really need to know.


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


One thing to keep in mind as you learn Neo Patwa is that it is not intended to be a strict, rule-oriented language 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).


First, on to the rules of the language.




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.




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




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)




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).




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 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 cifan 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, 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: 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

Mjaso: Meat

Caku: Knife

Pakai: Use


Using a verb as a preposition, you could write:


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


But you can also say:


Yu kata mjaso 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 Fo


Learning the usage of di and po is important for using Neo Patwa effectively. From an English speaker's point of view, think of po as meaning "of" and di as meaning "-ish". So for example, to say a book that belongs to me, you could either say:


Mi di kitabo (me-ish book)




Kitabo po mi (book of me)


With adjectives, similarly:


Nila di kitabo (blue-ish book)




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 po, it is the word after po that modifies the one before it.


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-pela 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: 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)


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 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 mjao. (There is a cat on my table)


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


Tene wanpela yan. (There is a man)


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)


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 pela to the end. So mipela is "we".




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 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".




Ya indicates that an action is finished.

Sta indicates that an action is ongoing.

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


Helping Verbs


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

Mesti (must) is used to indicate necessity. "He must eat" is Ta mesti 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!




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.


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