General

How many people can speak Dunian?

Currently speakers of Dunian are counted in tens. It is still a very new language.

How can I help to spread Dunian?

Learn Dunian! Speak it with others! Talk about it with others! Write stories or articles, make videos, podcasts, music, etc.

You can also help with this website by translating content and correcting mistakes. Contents ("source code") of this website are stored in GitHub. You can also send changes by email to risto@pandunia.info

When was Dunian created?

Dunian is a result of a long development process – and it is still ongoing! The earliest versions of Dunian, like many other auxiliary languages, were inspired by Esperanto. However the language turned soon away from Eurocentrism and toward evenly global vocabulary and grammar.

The development of Dunian went for long hand in hand with the development of its sibling language, Pandunia. Both languages are based on the worldlang idea i.e. the idea about an evenly global auxiliary language. The greatest difference is that one has isolating grammar whereas the other has agglutinating grammar. Both languages were developed under the name of Pandunia, which was a source of confusion.

The name Dunian has been in use since May 2018.

What's the connection between Dunian and Pandunia?

Originally Pandunia and Dunian were developed together. They have still many things in common but they are separate languages.

Dunian is an agglutinating language, a little like European languages in general but extremely simplified. Dunian words consist of a root and suffixes and word order is flexible.

The grammar of Pandunia resembles contact languages (i.e. pidgins and creoles). It is an isolating language. Pandunia words are unbreakable and word order is more or less fixed.

Why the mascot of Dunian is a duck-billed platypus?

Platypus is an egg-laying, duck-billed, beaver-tailed, otter-footed mammal that lives in eastern Australia. It is an unusual creature. That's why the platypus is a fitting mascot for Dunian, which is also an unusual mix, a mix of words and grammar from East and West, from North and South.

Dunian doesn't fit into any of the traditional types of languages. Also in that regard it is similar to the platypus, which is of its own type.

Past, present and future

I want to change something in Dunian. What should I do?

If your change is a small thing, you should try it in practice with other people and see how it works. If it really is a good change, other people will accept it and use it.

Creating offshoot languages is very common in the auxiliary language community. The case of Esperanto is famous. Offshoots of Esperanto are counted in the hundreds but most people haven't even heard of them. Esperanto is still the most popular language of its kind.

It is better to have one big language with several dialects than many competing languages.

Which languages have influenced the grammar of Dunian?

Dunian has been influenced by both natural and constructed languages. Works of earlier language makers were inspirational. Especially Esperanto, Ido and Novial have influenced the grammar of Dunian.

Auxiliary language

What is a worldlang?

A worldlang is a constructed interlanguage that borrows its words, speech sounds and possibly grammar from different language families of the world. There are many worldlangs. Some of them are listed here.

How does Dunian differ from other auxiliary languages?

  • The vocabulary of Dunian is evenly global. It consists of Western (Greco-Latin) words, Perso-Arabic words, Chinese words and Indian words. Many other auxiliary languages use only or mostly Western words, which is not ideal for the world language in our opinion.
  • Internationality is the main criterion for selecting words to Dunian. All the words of Dunian are known by many nations in some part of the world.
  • The grammar of Dunian is concise but very flexible. Dunian has only a few grammatical structures, which are re-used over and over again.
  • Dunian is a truly neutral language. It's not meant to imitate any languages, whereas for example Esperanto, Ido and Interlingua are intentionally similar to the European languages.

Should Dunian replace English?

Dunian is not meant to replace English or any other languages. People have ability to speak several languages and they speak every language for a different reason. Some people speak one language at home, another at work and yet another on international travels. We can imagine a world where English and all other languages will continue to be spoken, and where also Dunian is spoken.

In a way, English will never be replaced. Those who speak it today will speak it tomorrow. But new generations will grow and they will choose which language(s) they want to speak with each other. So it will be another world with another world language. Maybe it will be English, or maybe a new kind of English or maybe something else. The landscape of languages changes in a natural process. Different languages were spoken in the past and different languages will be spoken in the future.

You are free to speak Dunian, English and any other language that your heart desires.

Grammar and vocabulary

Why agglutinating structure was chosen for Dunian?

Different structures were considered and tested during the development of Dunian. The main choice was between an agglutinating and an isolating structure.

  1. In an agglutinating language every word can be clearly divided into component parts. For example Esperanto word "niaj" (our) consists of three parts: ni- (we), -a- (adjective marker) and -j (plural marker).
  2. In an isolating language every word consists of just one part. For example in Mandarin Chinese the word for "our" consists of three separate words: wǒ (first person pronoun), men (plural marker) and de (possessive marker). Then they are simply put together: wǒmende, 我们的.

Dunian is a lightly agglutinating language. It uses separate words to express things like person, number, mood, tense and aspect, which are typically expressed with inflection in agglutinating and inflecting languages.

To demonstrate the difference, let's compare the same sentence in Esperanto (a heavily agglutinating language) and Dunian. Parts of word are separated with the bar sign.

Esperanto: Mi vol|as  vid|i  vi|a|j|n  du  bel|a|j|n  okul|o|j|n  nun.
Dunian:    mi wol     wid|a  tu da     do  sundar     yen         nun.
           I  want to see    your      two beautiful  eyes        now.

Why is the letter X pronounced like SH?

Dunian follows the phonetic principle. One letter represents exactly one sound, and one sound is written with exactly one letter.

Traditionally there isn't any dedicated letter for /ʃ/ in the Latin alphabet. This sound is frequently written by the letter combination SH in English. Other languages use different letters and letter combinations such as CH in French, SCH in German, SJ in Swedish, SZ in Polish, Š in Czech and Ş in Turkish.

However, there is a handful of languages that use the letter X for /ʃ/. Basque and Maltese do it without exception. Portuguese and Catalan are less consistent, but X stands for /ʃ/ frequently. Dunian word xampu is written exactly the same as in Portuguese. It means shampoo.

In the Chinese romanization systen, Pīnyīn, the letter X stands for /ɕ/ which is close to /ʃ/. Dunian has many words with X from Chinese, for example xia, xim, xin and xuxi.

Why is the letter C pronounced like CH?

Actually there are several languages where C is pronounced like English CH. Some of them are Indonesian, Hausa, Oromo and Rwanda. In Italian, when C is followed by E or I, it is pronounced /tʃ/. This pronunciation is attested in loand words from Italian such as cello and cappuccino.

On the other hand, the letter C doesn't stand for any dedicated sound in English. The hard C can be represented by K and the soft C by S. So it kind of makes sense to drop the H from CH.

Shouldn't "salam" mean "peace"?

In many languages, expressions of greeting have something to do with peace, health or well-being. The origins of Dunian's word salam can be traced back to Semitic triliteral root SLM, which covers a variety of meanings including safety, security, peace and health. Likewise the English word salutation (and French greeting salut) can be traced back to Latin "salus", which means safety, security, health and well-being.

So the meaning of salam is greater than the meaning of peace. It means well-being in general and you can use it as a general expression for well-wishing in all kinds of situations, not just when you meet somebody. See the first lesson in the phrasebook for a lot of examples!

Why Dunian borrows words only from widely spoken languages?

Dunian has words in common with almost all languages of the world.

About 6500 languages are spoken in the world today. If one word was taken from each language, there would be 6500 words in the dictionary. It sounds like enough, doesn't it?

However, it's not so simple. All words are not equal. Some words are more frequent than others. According to the Zipf's law, the most frequent word will occur approximately twice as often as the second most frequent word, three times as often as the third most frequent word, etc. By this rule, only 150 words will account for more than half of everything that is said and written in any given language. The rest, 6350 words, would be more or less rare. Many of them would be hardly ever used! So the value of adding one more source language gets smaller and smaller.