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Creolian 1.0 (draft)


Updated on June 15, 2006


Original Website Intro


This wiki provides an introduction to Neo Patwa, a proposal for an international language (earlier known as Dunia Patwa). They are both organized under what I call the Creolian project. This project is an attempt to design a form of "world pidgin," a new international auxiliary language (IAL) created through a mixture of various languages (hence the use of the term Creolian).


The main idea behind this language is that with our increasingly globalized world, a new international language will eventually be born, and here I am proposing a structure for it. I am not proposing that this will be the final version. Rather, it is intended to be a sort of "peek preview" of what will finally emerge.


It is firmly based on the idea that we should look toward creole languages for ideas for an international tongue. Generally speaking, creole languages have simplified grammar and phonology, and have fairly long words and sentences to make up for deficiencies in the other areas. Neo Patwa is essentially based on that idea. In creating it, I tried to take concepts and words fairly from a variety of existing languages. I hope you find it helpful. Access the following pages to learn more.




I. History and Background

1. Basic Philosophy

2. Process

3. About the Author


II. Technical Details

1. Phonology

2. Orthography

3. Morphology

4. Vocabulary

5. Grammar and Syntax


I. History


1. Basic Philosophy


The ideas for a language here started with some ideas I had about how to create a successful international auxiliary language. As an essential premise, I personally believe that it would be good for humanity to have a single language recognized as the official language of the world. It would be used in international forums, and presumably in international business and culture. I believe this would be beneficial, because each person would only need to learn two languages: her or his own native tongue, and the international language.


One might argue that there is already a move toward English becoming an international language, but for various reasons I think it’s better not to adapt a living natural language. For one thing, it leads to an unfair distinction between native and non-native speakers. So then, what about Esperanto or another existing proposal? I have concluded that creating a pure IAL is difficult, not the least because it would require people to settle on one.


Consequently, this idea involves the adoption of a sort of “world Creole,” mixed from various languages. Though not quite scientific, my own belief is that generally speaking, pidgin languages tend to have simplified grammar and phonology, accompanied by long words and long sentences to make up for deficiencies in the other areas. This language project is based on that idea.


Over time, this project has used several titles. One was the term “Keolian,” as a modification of the term Creole, meaning a mixture of languages that has become grammatically logical, as opposed to Pidgin, which is simply a mixture. The pronunciation was changed slightly to conform to the sounds permitted in the language. I later decided to call it "Dunia Patwa." And finally, I decided on "Neo Patwa", the name I'm using at present.


Essentially, however, these ideas are related to the project on LangX that is being led by Antony Alexander. We share many of the ideas outlined below on how a language should be adopted.


2. Process


How, then, should the new language be established? First of all, I think it is necessary to look at how language is actually used in international settings, and to develop proposals or ideas based on the real use of contact languages. Thus, some research is required.


As far as the process of adoption is concerned, I would envision having a working group make proposals, and then having a legitimization group, a sort of commission, give sanction to certain changes, and encourage those changes to be adopted within the standard world language.


I’ve started here to work on a original proposal. I started by setting a phonological range, and have assumed that all words in the vocabulary should be kept within that. Then, I have started to propose a grammar. I have also started working on a vocabulary, but basically it will have to be a long process of adoption. This is not meant to be a set, self-contained language, but rather a set of ideas outlining a direction for how the eventual language should be structured.


3. About the Author


I am a translator/editor and occasional ESL instructor by profession, currently living and working in Japan. I was born in the U.S., but moved to France when I was eight years old, and went to French schools or roughly five years. I studied Spanish in high school, and probably had an unfair advantage because of my fluency in French. After graduating from SUNY Purchase with a probably undeserved BA in economics, I moved to Japan, and eventually became essentially fluent in both reading and speaking. I’m currently studying Mandarin, but do not find it easy.


II. Technical Details


1. Toward a Universal Phonology


The goal is to adopt a phonology that is easy for a large number of speakers, from different backgrounds. In addition, at least initially, it is necessary to try to avoid sounds that are easily mistaken. This proposal is based entirely on the top 20 consonants identified by the UPSID survey of 317 world languages.

There are two main corrections that might be made to the basic phonology, that I’ve considered at times. One is to remove all voiced stops, so that there would no longer be any B, G, or D. The other, conversely, would be to add in voiced fricatives, so we would have J and V. Another consideration would be to remove R, which poses problems for some speakers. For the moment, I will leave it as is,





A (father) (Open front unrounded)

E (pet) (Close mid-front unrounded)

I (sheet) (Close front unrounded)

O (coat) (Close mid-back rounded)

U (shoot) (Close back rounded)





P (pen) (Voiceless bilabial plosive)

B (bet) (Voiced bilabial plosive)

K (cat) (Voiceless velar plosive)

G (go) (Voiced velar plosive)

T (ten) (Voiceless alveolar plosive)

D (den) (Voiced alveolar plosive)

C (cheat): Z (jet) is an option (Voiced bilabial plosive)

‘ (uh-oh) Glottal stop. There is generally no need to indicate it.



S (sit) (Voiceless alveolar fricative)

X (shell) (Voiceless post-alveolar fricative)

F (find): V (Venice) is an option (Voiceless labiodental fricative)

H (hat): X (loch) is an option (Voiceless glottal fricative, but can also be an uvular or velar fricative)



R (red): Preferably an alveolar tap, as in Japanese, though a trill is also acceptable as in Spanish.



M (mine) (Bilabial nasal)

N (not) (Alveolar nasal)

Q (long) Only at end of syllables (Velar nasal)



J (yard) (Palatal approximant)

W (water) (Labial velar approximant)

L (long) (Alveolar lateral approximant)


Neo Patwa

The phonology above describes Dunia Patwa, the original plan. Neo Patwa differs in that there are no voiced consonants, no R, no X, and no Q.



2. Orthography


The basic orthography is essentially included in the chart of sounds above. I think it’s safest to adopt the roman alphabet, because it is so widespread already. The only other important rule is capitalization. There is no need to capitalize the first letter of a sentence. Upper case should be used at the beginning of a proper noun, or any word that does not belong to Creolian.


Special Rules for Orthography

Despite these revisions, certain words can still be spelled in their traditional form. These words include proper nouns (people’s names, place names), technical terms from medicine, for example, and taxonomic names. As noted above, the first letter of such words should be capitalized.


3. Morphology



Basic Morphology

Syllables should be of the following form:

(Consonant or Initial Cluster) + vowel + (vowel) + (ending consonant)


Permitted Initial Consonants and Clusters

s, st, sk, sp, sl, (sr), sm, sn, sj, sw

x, xt, xk, xp, xl, (xr), xm, xn, xj, xw

f, fl, fr, fj, fw

t, tr, tj, tw

p, pr, pl, pj, pw

k, kr, (kl), kj, kw

d, dr, dj, dw

b, br, bl, bj, bw

g, gr, (gl), gj, gw

c, cj, (cw)

l. lj, (lw)

r, rj, (rw)




The sounds in parentheses are ones that I am unsure about. They seem difficult to pronounce, and maybe should be eliminated.


Restrictions on Vowel Combinations

Vowels can follow one another. Preferably, they should be pronounced as separate sounds, though it is also permissible to pronounce them as diphthongs, or alternatively, as separate sounds divided by a glottal stop. No more than two vowels should follow, however. The following vowel combinations are permitted: ai, ao, (au), (ei), eo, eu, oi, oe, oa. In addition, a vowel/vowel group following a j cannot contain an i, and a vowel/vowel group following a w cannot contain a u.


Restrictions on Ending Consonants

Syllables should only end with a vowel, nasal, or liquid. In other words, a syllable can end with any vowel, or m, n, and l.


Cautions with Sounds

There are some sounds that are similar, and are easily confused. This should be taken into account in the vocabulary:

P = b, k = g, t = d, n = l, s = x, r = l, f = p


4. Toward a Universal Grammar/Syntax


Basic Syntax

The basic sentence structure is SVO. Prepositional phrases are normally placed after the object.


No Conjugation or Declension

Word order rather than conjugation or declension is used. It is an analytical language.


No Linguistic Gender


No Special Form of Words for POS


No Syntactic Inversion

Word order is not changed in questions.


Topic Prominence

Some topic prominence is allowed in the form OSV.


Ending Particles

Certain ideas can be expressed by placing ending tags at the end of a sentence. Notably “ma” (interrogative), “la” (emphatic) and “ne” (quizzical).


Serial Verbs

Verbs can be concatenated to indicate various ideas.

Dem wen yao go makan rice. (She wanted to go eat rice.)


Tense, modality, aspect

Verbs are preceded by markers for tense (anterior), modality (irreal) and aspect (nonpunctual).



Nouns are not marked for gender, definiteness, or number.


Noun Phrase

The basic order for a noun phrase is:

diectic - quantifier - adjectives - NOUN - genitive - relative clause.

Possession is marked by adding a particle, "di" before the genitive, and a relative clause by adding a particle before the clause.



Modifiers (adjective/adverb type words) are placed before the head word.





5. Toward a Global Vocabulary


Rules for Choosing Vocabulary

The following basic philosophy has been adopted for the selection of words.

1. Choose words that are well known around the world. This includes terms like café, clinic, and boutique, which are commonly used, regardless of their origin.

2. Choose words that are distinctive; words expressing similar ideas should not be easily confused. In particular, since there is no modification of nouns or verbs, it is necessary to choose words that are not easily confused.

3. Choose words that do not use sounds that are difficult to pronounce. For example, the English word “sixths” would be a poor candidate. In general, I’ve tried to reject words with difficult sounds (r, th in English, for example), words with hard consonant clusters, and words starting with clusters like mb-, for example.

4. Choose words with fairness toward different languages. In particular, I have attempted to include terms from the major languages of the world: Chinese (Mandarin), English, Hindi/Urdu, Spanish/Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Bengali, Japanese, Malay/Indonesian, French, German. Considering that a large number of those languages are Indo-European, I have tried to include others: Swahili, Turkish, Korean, Vietnamese, Telugu, and Tamil.

5. Within these languages, I’ve tried to select words that are used in creolized or pidgin forms.

6. When possible, I’ve tried to choose words associated with a certain culture. This applies to words that are close to being proper nouns, such as sushi or spaghetti.

7. While there is no specific rule concerning the length of words, I’ve tried to choose short words for grammatically important terms, two-syllable words for commonly used nouns, verbs and modifiers of various sorts, and longer words for special terms that are not frequently used. Most languages seem to follow a pattern like this, which is natural.

8. I have not used specific rules concerning sound symbolism, but one would presume that inasmuch as universal sound symbolism exists, it will be reflected both by my own biases and by the fact that the languages I have used will have their own biases.

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