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Novial language

Novial [nov-, new + IAL, International Auxiliary Language] is a constructed language devised by Otto Jespersen, a Danish linguist who had previously been involved in the Ido movement. He devised Novial to be an international auxiliary language, which would facilitate international communication and friendship, without displacing anyone's native language.

It features a vocabulary based largely on the Germanic and Romance languages, and a grammar heavily influenced by English. The first introduction of Novial was in Jespersen's book An International Language in 1928, with an update in his dictionary, Novial Lexike, published two years later.

Further modifications were proposed in the 1930s, but with Jespersen's death in 1943, it became dormant, although in the 1990s, with the revival of interest in artificial language brought on by Internet, many people rediscovered Novial.

Novial Today

While Novial is not very popular relative to its famous predecessor, Esperanto, it has a small group of enthsiasts. Several efforts to revise Novial have emerged. One such project is Novial '98; see below.

Novial Compared to Esperanto and Ido

Jespersen was a professional linguist, unlike Esperanto's creator. He disliked the arbitrary and artifical character that he found in Esperanto and Ido. Additionally, he objected to those languages' Latin-line systems of inflection, which he found needlessly complex. He sought to make Novial at once euphonious and regular while also preserving useful structures from natural languages.

In Novial:

  • Syntax is largely a matter of word order, as in English and modern Scandinavia languages[?]. There is no obligatory accusative marker as in Esperanto.
  • A genitive or posessive case is available, based on Jespersen's observation that many modern languages that have lost complex noun inflections yet retain a posessive form.
  • Auxiliary particles express most verb tenses. An inflectional ending is available as a shorthand for the simple past tense.

The most striking difference between Novial and Esperanto/Ido concerns noun endings. Jespersen rejected a single vowel to terminate all nouns (-o in Esperanto/Ido), finding it unnatural and potentially confusing. Instead, Novial nouns may end in -o, -a, -e, or -um. These endings may be taken to indicate natural gender according to the custom in Romange languages. Of course there is no grammatical gender or requirement for adjectives to agree with nouns.

External References

  • A summary of 1928 Novial (http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/3141/novial)
  • A summary of the 1930 version (http://www.cs.brown.edu/~dpb/novial/n30grammar)
  • Novial '98 (http://www.cs.brown.edu/~dpb/novial/novial98): "an ongoing project to revive and improve...Novial" in order to modernize it and release it for contenporary use



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