class: center, middle # Uninflected Pandunia ## applying an uninflected grammar
to the world language .desen[🌎🌍🌏] --- # Contents - Introduction - Noun phrase - Zero be - What is a verb? - Simulating verbs with nominals - Object fronting - Serial verb - Pivot construction --- ## Introduction Many believe that the world language should be an _uninflected language_. An uninflected language is completely free of inflections. Instead, it uses supplementary words, word order, and context to create meaning. In _Uninflected Pandunia_ words are just references to things of the outside world. They don't carry any information about grammatical properties like part-of-speech. All the grammar happens in the level of word order. A sentence is greater than the sum of the words that comprise it. --- ## Is grammar needed? .desen[👦] Name: John Age: 10 years Occupation: schoolboy Hometown: London Eye color: blue Hair color: brown So much can be told seemingly without any grammar! How is it possible? --- ## Zero be The "zero be" is the absence of the verb "to be". It is a common phenomenon in many languages and also sometimes in English in casual speech. Russian uses famously "zero be". Кошка - животное. (Koška - životnoye.) Cat - animal. Russian needs only two words to say the same that English says in five words: The cat is an animal. Pandunia can be as economical as Russian. **maw - hewan.** --- ## Separating words Two consecutive nouns might sound like a compound word if they are not clearly separated. The words can be separated by a silent pause. **maw - hewan.** --- ## Separating words It's also possible to insert an audible pause. In Pandunia, **e** is a similar gap filler like "uh" is in English. **maw e hewan.** _Cat, uh, animal._ --- ## Separating words One more possibility is to use a demonstrative pronoun. **maw ci hewan.** _Cat this animal._ This method is often used in Russian. Кошка - это животное. (Koška - eto životnoye.) _Cat - this animal._ --- ## NP + NP = zero be A basic "zero be" sentence consists of two noun phrases. **la maw un hewan.** = That cat (is) an animal. **ci hewan un maw.** = This animal (is) a cat. --- ## What is a verb? In English a verb is a word that expresses an action, an occurrence or a state of being. It is a _word class_ that changes form for tense, aspect, mood, and voice. These _inflections_ are associated so closely to verbs that it can even feel odd to imagine verbs without them. In Pandunia all words are unchanging – also verbs! So a verb is simply a word that expresses an action. It is not a separate word class from other content words. **fikre.** = Thought. --- ## Subject and verb The action is usually produced by somebody. A thought is somebody's thought. That somebody is the subject of the action. **maw fikre.** = The cat's thought. But look! This sentence can be translated also in another way – with a verb! **maw fikre.** = The cat thought (or thinks or will think). --- ## Different focus: noun & verb These two sentences, "The cat thought" and "The cat's thought", express the same situation. Drawn as an image, both of them would look the same. .desen[🐈💭] The difference (in English) is in the focus. The first focuses on the thought as an action. The second focuses on the thought as a thing. One is a verb (i.e. an action word) and the other is a noun. This difference in focus is not necessary for describing the situation. It is only a convention of the English language. --- ## Sentence with an object As we learned before, two noun phrases can be combined into one "zero be" sentence. We can use it to simulate a sentence with a subject, a verb and an object. .desen[🐈💭🐁] **maw fikre - mux.** = The cat's thought (is) a mouse. = The cat thought (of) a mouse. Note that the resulting word order is naturally subject–verb–object (SVO). --- ## Filling the silence It would be awkward to pause always before the object. So this is a good place to use an appropriate filler word. **maw fikre ci mux.** = _Cat thought this mouse._ = The cat thought (of) this mouse. Or maybe... **maw fikre un mux.** = _Cat thought some mouse._ = The cat thought (of) a mouse. --- ## Only one rule? Basically there has been only one rule in this grammar so far: A word or phrase modifies the next one. - An adjective modifies the following noun. - A "verb phrase" modifies the object. This is why Uninflected Pandunia can work as a very basic, almost grammarless contact language (like _pidgin English_ and _broken English_). --- ## Verb = Passive participle Sentences like before work only if the action word is seen as a passive participle. Words like "thought" and "eaten" are passive participles, whereas "thinking" and "eating" are active participles. **ci maw fikre un mux.** ✓ This cat's thought (is) a mouse. ✗ This cat's thinking (is) a mouse. **ci maw nyam un mux.** ✓ This cat's eaten (is) a mouse. ✗ This cat's eating (is) a mouse. --- ## Object fronting The word order can be changed from SVO to OSV. Simply move the object to the beginning! .desen[🐁🐈💭] **mux - maw fikre.** = Mouse (is) cat's thought. = (It's) the mouse (that) the cat thought. --- ## Object fronting 2 With object fronting it's easier to understand why verbs must be thought of as passive instead of active. **un mux ci maw fikre.** ✓ A mouse (is) this cat's thought. ✗ A mouse (is) this cat's thinking. **un mux ci maw nyam.** ✓ A mouse (is) this cat's eaten. ✗ A mouse (is) this cat's eating. --- ## Object fronting 3 Thanks to object fronting, questions can begin with a question word. **ke tu wol?** = What (is) your wanted. = What do you want? In addition, object fronting can be used to emphasize the object. **tu mi wol.** = You (are) my wanted. = You, I want. --- ## Serial verb = modifier + noun Thinking of verbs as passive participles makes it possible to chain action words into _serial verbs_. So, in Pandunia, a serial verb is simply an adjective and a noun. **la maw wol fikre un mux.** = That cat's wanted thought (is) a mouse. = That cat wants (to) think (of) a mouse. --- ## Pivot construction In the pivot construction, the object of the first verb functions as the subject of the next verb. The pivot construction is simply three consecutive noun phrases. **un waf wol un maw nyam un mux.** = A dog's wanted (is) a cat's eaten (is) a mouse. = A dog wants (that) a cat eats a mouse. (The last noun phrase is modified by the first two together. Naturally object fronting is impossible with the pivot construction.) --- ## Clearing ambiguity Sometimes a sentence can be interpreted in more than one way because it's unclear where the verb begins. **nas dans dans.** Interpretation 1: A folk dance (is) a dance. Interpretation 2: A folk dances a dance. It can be clarified by adding a simple tense or mood marker. **nas pas dans dans.** = A folk already danced a dance. --- ## Summary Verbs are not necessary as a separate word class. Verb phrases can be simulated by noun phrases. In this system, the natural word order is subject–verb–object. Both the serial verb construction and the pivot construction can be supported by this grammar. Ambiguity can be cleared by adding more words. No need to add more grammatical categories! --- ## Benefits of the uninflected grammar - Extremely simple to learn - No need for part-of-speech marking - No need for _root + suffix_ structure - Words can be of any size and shape - All kinds of words can be borrowed to Pandunia - Can be written in any kind of writing system - alphabetic script like the Latin alphabet - pictographic scripts - Chinese characters - Egyptian hieroglyphics - emoji --- ## How to speak Uninflected Pandunia Use uninflected words. Remove the final vowel that marks the part-of-speech. If the resulting word is too difficult to pronounce, add the neutral vowel -e. Speak in simple and short sentences. Use subject-verb-object word order mostly and object fronting only seldom.