The world we live in

Many people are used to seeing this kind of world map. It is the famous Mercator projection map. Unfortunately it distorts the land area terribly.

Why is that? The world is a 3-dimensional globe and drawing it into a flat, 2-dimensional map is not easy. Equal-area projections, such as Peter's projection below, show land areas correctly. Compare the sizes of Greenland and Africa in these two maps. In the Mercator projection Greenland appears bigger, but the Peters projection shows correctly that in reality Africa is 14 times bigger than Greenland.

That is the natural world. We live also in a human world, which is divided by borders between nations. In a normal map of world countries, sizes of the countries are defined by their geographic area.

However the map projection below is based on the population of countries, not their geographic area.

In our opinion the world language should represent the human world. Every part of the world, every culture, should be treated fairly and democratically. The grammar should be easy for all. Areal language characteristics such as Standard Average European are not suitable guidelines for the world language. Rather the grammar should be built from things that are universally known and/or universally considered easy.

The vocabulary should be evenly global. Over a half of the words should be known in Asia. We identify five major pools of words:

  1. East Asian words (China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, etc.)
  2. South Asian words (India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, etc)
  3. Western words (Europe, the Americas, etc)
  4. Afro-Asian words (the Arab countries, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, etc)
  5. African words (African countries south of Sahara)

A global language

There is no doubt that English is the most important international language today. However, China's huge population and fast-growing economy have made Standard Chinese an increasingly important world language as well.

The 15 most widely spoken languages in the world are listed in the table below. The table is ordered by the number of native speakers. The numbers are educated estimates.

Ranking Language Native speakers Non-native speakers
1 Mandarin Chinese 899 million 178 million
2 English 500 million 510 million
3 Spanish 500 million 70 million
4 Hindi-Urdu 438 million 214 million
5 Arabic 290 million 132 million
6 Portuguese 230 million 32 million
7 Bengali 226 million 19 million
8 Russian 160 million 115 million
9 Punjabi 146 million 1 million
10 Japanese 130 million 1 million
11 German 95 million 15 million
12 Hausa 85 million 65 million
13 French 80 million 192 million
14 Telugu 80 million 12 million
15 Malay/Indonesian 77 million 204 million

The numbers make it clear that Mandarin Chinese is by far the largest language in the world counted by native speakers, while English is the language with the greatest number of second language speakers. Both of their number of speakers reaches one billion. However they are followed by languages, whose speakers are also counted in hundreds of millions. There is not a common language for all.

The current problems in global communication are solved by Pandunia. Pandunia is a constructed world language that is carefully designed to serve in international communication everywhere in the world.

At its core, Pandunia is a mixture of English and Chinese, the two most important languages of the world today. Pandunia's grammatical structure is in many ways similar with them. However, Pandunia also adopts words from many other languages, including Spanish, Hindi, Urdu, Arabic, Portuguese, Bengali, Russian, French, Indonesian, and Swahili.

Pandunia owes a lot to these great national languages. However, compared to them, Pandunia is simple, easy and global. In fact, it is one of the simplest and most international languages ever spoken. It is so simple that all of its grammar can be explained on a single short page.

A pidgin language

Pandunia is so simple because it is modeled after pidgins. A pidgin is a simplified version of a language that develops when people need to communicate but they do not speak a common language. So they create a new common language on the spot. They pick up words from the dominant language and use them in a new way to communicate with each other. The only goal is to communicate, so pidgins typically leave behind unnecessary grammatical features from the source language, including inflection, gender marking, number marking, verb conjugation, definite and indefinite articles and so on.

All pidgins resemble each other in their simplicity. That's why it can be said that they have a universal minimal grammar. That kind of grammar is ideal for the world language – the world pidgin!

The best-known alphabet

English is written in the Roman alphabet, which is also used by many languages on every continent of the world. Standard Chinese is written in Chinese characters, which form a system so complex that school children learn the Roman alphabet first. This system of romanization is known as Pīnyīn. Therefore it is logical that Pandunia be also written in the Roman alphabet.

Only five vowels

Both English and Chinese have rich vowel inventories. English has 14-20 vowels, depending on the dialect, and Standard Chinese has 9 vowels (and many more vowel qualities). These are comparatively high numbers considering that globally the average vowel inventory size is only 5-6 vowels.

Pandunia has only 5 pure vowels: a, e, i, o, u. In this respect, it is close to languages such as Spanish, Swahili, Japanese and Indonesian, which have simple vowel inventories.

Common consonants

Pandunia's consonant inventory is smaller than that of English and Mandarin. Majority of the consonant letters are pronounced in the same way in all three languages. The table below shows how consonant sounds are mapped from Pandunia to English and Mandarin. Sounds that are in English or Mandarin but not in Pandunia are enclosed in parenthesis.

Pandunia English Mandarin
Nasals m n ng m n ng m n ng
Stops p b t d k g p b t d k g p b t d k g
Liquids l r y w l r y w l r y w (yü)
Sibilants s z x s z sh (zh) s z* sh
Fricatives f v h f v h (th dh) f h
Affricates c j ch j ch zh (q j c)

Regular spelling

English spelling is notoriously irregular. Pīnyīn was created more recently, in the 1950s, but unfortunately it also has some irregularities, simply because there are more sounds in spoken Chinese than there are letters in the Roman alphabet. Still, in comparison to English, Pinyin is very regular. For example the English rhymes my, sigh, lie, and rye would be written in Pīnyīn mai, sai, lai, rai. It is as simple as that!

Pandunia can be spelled regularly because it has fewer speech sounds (25) than there are letters in the basic Roman alphabet (26). The alphabet of Pandunia is: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p r s t u v w x y z

Pandunia has perfect letter-to-sound correspondence. One letter stands for one sound only. One sound is represented by exactly one letter. Every word is pronounced as it is written.

Easy accent

Texts in Pīnyīn are loaded with accent marks, as in "Wǒmen yě huì shuō zhōngguòhuá." They mark tones. In Standard Chinese each syllable is pronounced in one of the four tones or in the unmarked neutral tone.

English doesn't have word tones but it has word stress. Word stress is variable in English, so the position of stress is unpredictable. In a written expression like "totally fantastic personnel", nothing shows that each word has the stress on a different syllable. If the stress was marked with an accent, it might look something like this: "tótally fantástic personnél".

Tones are hard to learn for people who are not used to them. Variable stress is hard to learn for people who are used to fixed stress. Neither word tone nor variable word stress are necessary in the world language.

Pandunia has fixed stress. The stress falls on the syllable that is before the last consonant. Like this: mi vól lóga supér dúnia báca.

Pandunia doesn't have word tone.

Simple word structure

Mandarin has only a few final consonants: -n, -ng and -r. Other final consonants are foreign and more or less difficult for native Mandarin speakers.

Besides the nasal finals -m, -n and -ng, the liquid finals -l and -r, Pandunia allows voiceless stop finals -p, -t and -k and also -s.

International words

Pandunia borrows words heavily from English and Chinese as well as from other languages. Of course, the words are adapted to Pandunia's sounds and spelling.

The basic personal pronouns of Pandunia are: mi = I, tu = you, ye = he, she. The first person pronoun mi is borrowed from English "me" and other languages, where a similar word is used. The second person pronoun tu is from Spanish and other Indo-European languages. The third person pronoun ye is from Bantu languages of Africa and also Hindi and Urdu of India. It refers to both male and female persons as well as inanimate objects. The plural marker men is from Standard Chinese.

The plural pronouns follow the pattern of Standard Chinese.

English Pandunia Chinese
I mi
you tu
he/she ye
we mimen wǒmen
you tumen nǐmen
they yemen tāmen

Easy sentences

The normal sentence word order is subject-verb-object, following the pattern of both English and Chinese.

English:   I love you, and you love me.
Pandunia:  mi romansa tu, tu romansa mi.
Chinese:   Wǒ ài nǐ, nǐ ài wǒ. (我爱你,你爱我。)

The verb bei is used when the object of an action comes first in the sentence. (This is the so called passive sentence.)

English:   The apples were eaten.
Pandunia:  pingo bei yem.
Chinese:   Píngguǒ bèi chī le. (苹果被吃了。)

Bei is a loan word from Standard Chinese, but it is also close to some uses of English "to be".

English:   It can not be eaten.
Pandunia:  ye no ken bei yem.
Chinese:   Tā bù néng bèi chī. (它不能被吃。)

Like Chinese, Pandunia doesn't mark verbs with a word like "to".

English:   I invite him to drink coffee.
Pandunia:  mi cing ye yem kafe.
Chinese:   Wǒ qǐng tā hē kāfēi. (我请他喝咖啡。)

In Pandunia and Chinese, nouns can be singular or plural depending on surrounding words. There's no plural ending like -s in English. Also verbs are not conjugated. One word, si, is used instead of am, is, are, was, were...

English:   It is an apple.
Pandunia:  ye si pingo.
Chinese:   Tā shì píngguǒ. (他是苹果。)

English:   They are apples.
Pandunia:  yemen si pingo.
Chinese:   Tāmen shì píngguǒ. (他们是苹果。)

Pandunia - a global language