Grammatical changes between Novial30 and Novial98

  1. The most striking change has been the addition of -r to verbs. Jespersen had verbs ending in -a, -e, -i, -u. We changed these to -ar, -er, -ir, -ur, because all these endings had other functions as well: -a and -e are noun endings, -i is the adjectival ending, and -u is both a concrete noun ending and an adverbial ending; we felt it better to distinguish the verbs somehow, and the ending -r appears both in most Romance languages in the infinitive of verbs, and in the Scandinavian languages in the present tense (in Danish, Norwegian, Swedish) and other tenses (Icelandic, Faroese). [07.02.1997]

  2. The auxiliaries did, sal / ve, and vud, which were previously used only to form verbal tenses, may now be used with other parts of speech as well, eg. did bruni hause "a formerly/previously brown house, a house which was brown"; sal bruni hause "a house which will be brown (in the future)". We also created one new auxiliary, sta, which can be used to emphasize the ongoing, continuing nature of an action, eg. me lekter = "I read, am reading"; me sta lekter = "I am reading (right now), I am engaged in the act of reading". [07.02.1997]

  3. Changes to the affixes:

  4. Though the basic noun ending is -e, Jespersen gives some nouns such as piano, mensu, with other terminations; we are regularizing these everywhere possible, thus ending up with forms like piane, mensue. This includes the suffixes -ia, -ilo and -ologia, which have become -ie, ile and -ologie. [07.02.1997]

  5. The pronouns in the third person are le "he/she", lu "it (concrete neuter)", and lum "it (abstract neuter)". These are formed regularly according to the same pattern as nouns, eg. bone, bonu, bonum from boni. It has been decided for Novial '98, however, that while it is always correct to use the three distinct pronouns le, lu, lum, it is also permissible to use just le as a "general third person pronoun" for all beings and things, if it is felt that no confusion or ambiguity will thereby result. [05.04.97]

  6. The phonology philosophy of Novial98 can be summed up as follows: Every letter (or digraph--CH, SH, and QU) has one or more "ideal pronunciations", zero or more "positional variants", and zero or more "accepted alternative pronunciations". If there are multiple "ideal pronunciations", either can be used anywhere the corresponding letter appears in a word. This is the case for e.g. J ([Z] or [dZ]) or (at the moment) CH/SH ([S] or [tS]). A "positional variant" is perfectly allowed, but only in certain phonological environments. For instance, N may be pronounced as [N] before a velar (K, G, X). And lastly, some letters have "alternative" pronunciations; these are not considered correct Novial, but are better at least than unacknowledged alternatives. For instance, X is usually [ks], but [gz] is a substandard alternative. (This is more of a clarification than a change.) [8.5.1997]

  7. The letter W has been added (on a limited basis) to the Novial alphabet. Its exact pronunciation has not yet been fixed, however. [12.05.1997]

  8. The letter Z has been added to the Novial alphabet, with the pronunciation [z] (as in English). [06.06.1997]

  9. In order to differentiate between it and the pronoun tu, the infinitive marker has been changed from tu to at. [15.06.1997]

  10. Now that we have the letter Z, there are a few places where S needs to be changed to Z. A number were approved by unanimous consent; the most important are the number "zero" (0), and the suffix "-izar". A nonproductive suffix "zoo-" was tentatively added; and several others, listed in the Vocabulary section. [21.08.1997]

  11. An additional correlative adverb ending has been added: -rez, meaning "reason": thus quirez "why"; tirez "for that reason", etc. [23.09.1997]

  12. To accomodate speakers of languages without the [h] sound, [x] (German "ch" (the ach-laut), Spanish "j") is now allowed as a secondary pronunciation for /h/ (written "H"). [17.11.1997]

  13. The N28/30 form for the number 5 was sink, which is terrible in terms of visual recognizability. We have changed it to the Greek-derived pent, which is internationally recognizable from words like "pentagon", "pentium", etc. [24.11.1997]

  14. The close deictic prefix, dis-, was considered extremely unwieldy. It was changed to h- (partially by analogy with Germanic here/there; also partially from the Latin deictics). Thus we now have te "that" and he "this"; likewise tilok, hilok, and so on. [24.11.1997]

  15. In America, large numbers are written with commas separating blocks of three digits, whereas elsewhere internationally we see periods serving that purpose. The reverse is true for the decimal point. To resolve this issue, Novial98 will adopt the scientific convention of separating thousands blocks with spaces, and allowing either the comma or period as the decimal point. [24.11.1997]

  16. The suffix -atr, derived from French, really didn't occur outside of French, and wasn't very recognizable. We have changed it to the very international (from scientific usage) -oid. [25.11.1997]

  17. The N28 way of forming comparatives and superlatives was not especially regular; we had min and plu but minim and maxim. For Novial98 we have changed this so that comparatives are min and max, and superlatives are li min and li max. Max as a comparative is evidenced with Spanish más; and the article+comparative construction is found in many of the Romance languages. [20.12.1997]

  18. The suffixes -endi and -indi had several problems: they were very similar, and relatively rare; thus they were easily confused. Plus, no language (other than Esperanto) really evidences them nowadays. Thus, we have chosen to collapse them into a single suffix, -ndi, which conveys both meanings. [20.12.1997]

  19. The N28 future particle was sal, and N30 added ve. The N98 group has instead adopted va, which is more in line with the Romance forms. Sal was derived only from English, Dutch, and the Scandinavian languages; J's primary objection to va was that "combinations like la va ja ha fa `she will already have done' are not particularly pleasing". It appears that ve was chosen as a deformed version of va to avoid this problem, but we decided that such constructions would be only a minor difficulty, and in any case, exceedingly rare. [21.01.1998]

  20. Where languages were formed with -um in N28/30, they will be formed with -ese in N98. [21.01.1998]

Don Blaheta /

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