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A Simple Guide to 2010 Neo Patwa





This is a short and simple 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 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 emerged from speakers of different languages, and consequently is 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, two semivowels, and 14 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, or alternately shell); S (sit); F (find); H (loch, red); M (mine); N (not); L (long)




Y (yard); W (water)


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", or as an R sound. This is a quite wide range of sounds, and is to make the sound more recognizable. Also, C is pronounced either as English "ch" or "sh". 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).


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.




For speakers using stress, it seems that people tend to stress the last syllable of words, as this is a simple principle, and seems to go well with most Neo Patwa words. For compound words, the stress can be placed on the last syllable of each word in the compound. However, this will not be easy for speakers of many languages, so this is a loose principle.





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: Canti. (peace)

Good Bye: Canti 

Thank you: Asante (thanks)

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

I'm sorry: Skusa

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

Excuse me: Mafan



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.



Mi: I, me

Myamyan: eat

Pwason: fish


Mi myamyan pwason. (I ate the fish) or (I 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. Pwason can be either "a fish" or "more than one fish". And third, there is no conjugation of verbs. Myamyan 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:


Mi pwason myamyan.


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 just 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 lu-pela mi tyen-tinta cidya. (These six blue birds of mine)


Na: that

Pela: Counter word (see below)

Lu: 6

Mi: I, me

Tyen-tinta: Blue (literally, sky-color)

Cidya: Bird


The word pela 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


You don't need prepositions, but when precision is needed, you can use a number of verbs to indicate the role of the phrase in the sentence.


Yu: You

Kata: Cut

Nyama: Animal, meat

Kata-ada: Knife (literally, cut-tool)

Pakai: Use


Using a verb as a preposition, you could write:


Yu pakai kata-ada, kata nyama. (You cut meat using a knife) 


Other verbs that can function as prepositions include the following:


Cule: From (depart)

Fika: To (arrive)

Tomo: With (accompany)

Anda: At (sit)



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:


Cidya myamyan pwason. (The bird eats fish)


Is fine the way it is. But if you wanted to say that two blue birds ate fish, it would be better to say:


Do-pela tyen-tinta cidya, ta-pela myamyan pwason. (The two blue birds, 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

Ale: Irrealis/future particle (see below); go

Wiki: Quickly, fast


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


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


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


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". Suda is not a marker of the past, but rather marks the "anterior aspect" (it means "already"). 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, anda means that an action or state is still ongoing (technically, the "non-punctual aspect") and ale 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.


Myamyan pwason, ta dolce. (Eating fish is easy; literally, "eat fish, it easy")



Asking Questions


Ma: Question particle

Ke: What

Yan: Person


To ask a yes or no question in Neo Patwa, just raise your tone at the end of the sentence. So for example:


Yu myamyan nyama. (You eat meat)

Yu myamyan nyama? (Do you 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:


Ta-yan John. (That person is John)

Ta-yan 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-kote (what-side)

When: Ke-tokitoki (what-time)

Who: Ke-yan (what-person)

Why: Ke-ibo (what-reason)

How: Ke-moda (what-way)

How much: Ke-mwito (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:


Ta-pela pwason, ta ke-hefi?


Literally, this means, "that fish 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 you can stress the subject to indicate the mood. So you might say:


Yu myamyan yu pwason. (Eat your fish!)



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.


Nuwa mi mesa, tene wan-pela cidya. (There is a bird 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)



Topic Prominence


Topic prominence involves bringing something to the front of a sentence to emphasize it. In English, 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 cidya, mi myamyan ta. (I ate that bird)



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 the word omni, meaning "all". So mi-omni is "we".




Ya means "yes".

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


Ta is "this" or "that".

Ke is "what".




Suda indicates that an action is finished.

Anda indicates that an action is ongoing.

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


Helping Verbs


Sabi (can) is used to indicate possibility. "I can swim" is mi sabi nata.

Yau (want, need) is used to indicate desire or necessity. "He wants to eat" is Ta yau myamyan.

Fanya (do) can be placed before a noun to indicate doing some action. For example, to play tennis is fanya 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 bawa feda.

Subi (undergo) is placed before another verb or verb phrase to make it passive. For example, "the fish was eaten by the bird" is Pwason subi cidya myamyan.


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





The numbers in Neo Patwa are:

1 wan, 2 do, 3 twa, 4 si, 5 nam, 6 lu, 7 sem, 8 pal, 9 nin.

10 deka, 100 hekuto, 1000 kilo.

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