Cultures of the world

Hartmut Traunmuller divided the world into four major cultural spheres in his article A Universal Interlanguage: Some Basic Considerations. The languages within a certain cultural sphere share words (loan words and translated loan words) and cultural concepts. The four major cultural spheres are:

  1. The Western (i.e. European) cultural sphere
  2. The Islamic (i.e. Afro-Asian) cultural sphere
  3. The Indian (i.e. South Asian) cultural sphere
  4. The Chinese (i.e. East Asian) cultural sphere

They are roughly outlined in the picture below.

Samuel P. Huntington presented a division of the humankind into civilizations in his famous book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (1996). His division matches Traunmuller's division by and large. According to Huntington, civilization is the highest rank of cultural identity of people. It is defined by language, history, religion, customs and institutions.

Civilization Geographic area Religion Primeval language
Eastern Orthodox East Europe and North Asia Eastern Orthodox Christianity Greek
Western Europe, North America and Australasia Catholic and Protest ChristianityLatin
Latin American South and Central America Catholic Christianity Latin
African Sub-Saharan Africa African Christianity -
Islamic North Africa and South Asia Islam Arabic
Hindu Indian Subcontinent Hinduism Sanskrit
Buddhist Indochina, Sri Lanka, Tibet Theravada Buddhism Pali
Sinitic China, Korea and Vietnam Confucianism Middle Chinese
 Japanese Japan Shintoism and Buddhism Middle Chinese
Lone countries Ethiopia Ethiopian Christianity Ge'ez
Israel Judaism Hebrew
Haiti Catholicism and Vodou -

These kinds of classifications are always questionable because they are over-generalized. However they help us to understand that there are many well-developed and deep-rooted cultures in the world.

It is generally agreed that language and culture are closely related. Language can be viewed as a verbal expression of culture. It is necessary to consider all cultures and all international vocabularies in the making of a global language.

Loan words in natural languages

Natural languages can borrow words from one or more cultural spheres.

The table below illustrates how much words some notable languages have borrowed from the different cultural spheres.

Language Western Islamic Indian Chinese

Types of auxliary languages

Regional auxiliary languages

Many constructed auxiliary languages are based almost exclusively on the Western vocabulary, which stems from Greek and Latin. Such languages can be called Europe centric languages, Eurocentric languages or eurolangs in short. These languages rarely – if ever – go beyond the Western languages in search for new words. Some of the most widely known auxiliary languages are eurolangs:

  • Esperanto (published in Imperial Russia in 1887)
  • Ido (France, 1907)
  • Occidental/Interlingue (Estonia, 1922)
  • Novial (Denmark, 1928)
  • Interlingua (USA, 1951)
  • Lingua Franca Nova (USA, 1966)
  • Glosa (UK, 1972)

Some eurolangs even try to be understandable "at first sight", which is only possible if the language resembles some existing language very much. Often the goal was to look like Latin or some modern Latinate language like Italian. However all of these languages have failed to become popular in their home ground, the West, and it is unlikely that any other part of the world would adopt them.

Some auxiliary languages have been created for other regions such as Afrihili for Africa.

Global auxiliary languages

Languages with global scope have also been created. This heterogeneous type of languages is called worldlangs in the auxiliary language circle. Some of the most notable worldlangs are listed here.

Pandunia is one of the more developed worldlangs. Pandunia has even inspired the creation of other languages like Novbasa and Globasa.

How words are selected to Pandunia


Pandunia's words come from some of the most widely spoken languages of the world. There is a methodology for selecting words. The three key criteria for selecting words are:

  • Equality : Words are be borrowed equally from different regions of the world. In practice it means that Pandunia has words from the languages of Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa.
  • Prevalence : Wide-spread words are favored. The more people who know the word the better.
  • Simplicity : Word forms with easy pronunciation are favored.


Words of Pandunia come from the following language pools. Each pool includes 500-900 million people!

  1. Latinate languages : The languages in this group are descendants of Latin of the Roman Empire. They are very similar to each other. The languages in this group include Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian.
  2. Other Western languages : This groups includes the remaining Western languages. Most of them have been influenced greatly by Greek and Latin. The languages in this group include English, German, Russian, Polish and many others. English is the single most important language in this group.
  3. West Asian and North African languages : This group includes Arabic, Turkish, Persian and other languages of this region. The languages in this group have influenced each other and they have had a great impact on languages of the surrounding regions.
  4. Sub-Saharan African languages : This group includes most languages of Africa. More than two thousand languages are spoken in Africa, but there some major cross-border languages (Swahili, Hausa, Lingala) and other major languages (Amharic, Oromo, Igbo, Yoruba). Many languages in this group have been influenced by Arabic, English, French or Portuguese.
  5. Indo-Aryan languages : The languages in this group are descendants of Sanskrit. This group includes Hindi, Bangla, Urdu and many other languages of Northern India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. Perso-Arabic and English have left their print on this group.
  6. South Asian languages : This incoherent group includes the languages of South India, Indo-China and Austronesia. They have been influenced by Sanskrit and Pâli and also Perso-Arabic and Chinese to a lesser extent.
  7. Mandarin Chinese : Mandarin Chinese has more native speakers than any other language and therefore it is considered a group on its own.
  8. Other East Asian languages : This group includes other Chinese languages, such as Cantonese, Shanghaiese and Taiwanese, and also neighbouring languages, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese, which have been saturated by Chinese loan words.

In practice many words are shared by two or more language pools. Pandunia favors international, intercontinental and global words.

Word selection method

  1. Collect translations for a given word in the above-mentioned languages. (Use Wiktionary, Google Translate, or some other tool.)
  2. Identify families of similar words. Usually it covers one or more of the following groups of languages:
    • Languages of the Western culture: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, German
    • Languages of the Islamic culture: Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Urdu, Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Malay, Tagalog, Swahili, Wolof, Hausa
    • Languages of the Chinese culture: Mandarin, Cantonese, Wu, Min, Hakka, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Khmer (and sometimes also Filipino and Malay)
    • Languages of the Indian culture: Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Telugu, Kannada, Tamil, Burmese, Khmer, Thai, Malay, Tagalog
  3. Select the most international family of similar words.
    • The best words are cross-cultural.
    • If there's no cross-cultural word, select the one that is known by the greatest number of 1st language speakers.
  4. Select a form that fits into Pandunia.
    • Find out the stem of the word by stripping off all the prefixes and suffixes.
    • Use the sounds, the spelling and the normal word structure of Pandunia.
    • Make sure that the new word doesn't conflict with an already existing Pandunia word.

      Example: Selecting the word for "language"

First possible candidates are searched from widely spoken languages. The search reveals that there are several words that are international.

  • Arabic لغة /luɣa/ is also known in Swahili lugha. It is also known in Persian and Turkic languages but with the meaning "dictionary".
  • Persian زبان /zæba:n/ has spread to Urdu and Punjabi among others.
  • Latinate lingua is found in the Romance languages and it has spread to most European languages in words like linguistics and multilingual.
  • Indo-Aryan भाषा /bʱaʂa/ is used in Hindi and Bangla and it has spread to several neighbouring languages including Telugu, Thai and Indonesian.

The most prevalent of these words is /bʱaʂa/. It is recognised nearly everywhere in India, Indochina and Malay archipelago, which are some of the most densely populated areas in the world.

Language Spoken word Written word
Hindi bʱaʂa भाषा
Punjabi bʱaʃa ਭਾਸ਼ਾ
Gujarati bʱaʃa ભાષા
Marathi bʱaɕa भाषा
Bangla bʱaʃa ভাষা
Telugu baʃa భాష
Thai pʰa:sa: ภาษา
Indonesian bahasa bahasa
Javanese basa basa
Sundanese basa basa

As you can see, the same word is written and pronounced differently in different languages. This is typical of international words. They get adapted. Likewise it is necessary to adapt this word to the spelling and pronunciation rules of Pandunia. So the Pandunia word for language becomes bax.

Examples of global words

bir (beer)

Language Spoken word Written word
German bi:ɐ Bier
English biəɹ beer
French biɛʁ bière
Italian birra birra
Turkish bira bira
Arabic bi:ra بيرَه
Amharic bira ቢራ
Rwanda bjere byere
Swahili bia bia
Hindi bijər बियर
Indonesian bir bir
Japanese bi:ru ビール
Wu bi 啤(酒)
Mandarin pʰi 啤(酒)

cay (tea)

Language Spoken word Written word
Mandarin tʂʰa
Japanese tʃa
Korean tʃʰa
Vietnamese tʂa trà
Bangla tʃa চা
Hindi tʃai चाय
Russian tʃai чай
Turkish tʃai çay
Swahili tʃai chai
Arabic ʃai شاي
Portuguese ʃa chá

moter (motor)

Language Spoken word Written word
Spanish motor motor
English moʊtəɹ motor
French motœʁ moteur
Russian motor мотор
Turkish motor motor
Persian motor موتور
Arabic mutu:r موتور
Hindi motər मोटर
Japanese mo:ta: モーター
Mandarin muotuo 摩托

Examples of semiglobal words

bandir (flag)

Language Spoken word Written word
Portuguese bɐndeiɾa bandeira
Spanish bandieɾa bandiera
English bænəɹ banner
French baniɛʁ bannière
Indonesian bəndera bendera
Amharic bandera ባንዴራ
Swahili bandera bandera
Kongo bande:la bandêla

kamis (shirt)

Language Spoken word Written word
Italian kamitʃa camicia
Spanish kamisa camisa
Portuguese kɐmiza camisa
French ʃəmiz chemise
Arabic qami:s قميص
Amharic ʃəmiz ሸሚዝ
Urdu qami:z قمیض
Hindi qami:z क़मीज़
Indonesian kəmedʒa kemeja
Filipino kamisa kamisa

Examples of South Asian words

pal (fruit)

Language Spoken word Written word
Hindi phal फल
Bangla phal ফল
Telugu phalamu
Tamil palam பழம்
Thai phon(la) ผน(ละ)

Examples of East Asian words

ren (person)

Language Spoken word Written word
Mandarin ʐən 人 (rén)
Wu ɲiŋ, zəŋ
Cantonese jɐn
Vietnamese ɲɜn nhân
Korean in
Japanese niŋ, dʒiŋ

laya (come)

Language Spoken word Written word
Mandarin lai 来 (lái)
Cantonese loi
Vietnamese la:i lại
Japanese rai

Examples of words from Arabic

duwe (prayer)

Language Spoken form Written word
Arabic duʿa: دعاء
Persian doʕa دعاء
Turkish dua dua
Kazakh duɣa дұға
Indonesian doa doa
Hausa adduʕa addu'a
Yoruba adura àdúrà

kitabe (writing)

This word means book in many languages. The original Arabic word means all kinds of writing.

Language Spoken form Written word
Arabic kita:b كتاب
Persian keta:b کتاب
Urdu kitab کتاب
Hindi kitab किताब
Indonesian kitab kitab
Turkish kitap kitap
Oromo kita:ba kitaaba
Swahili kitabu kitabu

Examples of scattered words

kamar (room, chamber)

Language Spoken word Written word
Italian kamera camera
Portuguese kɐmaɾa câmara
Spanish kamaɾa cámara
German kamɐ Kammer
Hindi kəmra कमरा
Urdu kəmra کمرا
Indonesian kamar kamar

kata (to cut)

Language Spoken word Written word
English kʌt cut
Hindi kətna काटना
Bangla kata কাটা
Swahili kata kata
Wu Chinese kɐʔ
Vietnamese kɐʔt cắt