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Adapting international words to Pandunia

Western words

Majority of international Western words are from Greek and Latin. Pronunciation of several letters have changed since the Antiquity. Pandunia uses modern pronunciation and phonemic spelling. Therefore, for example the soft c is witten with an s and the hard c is written with a k.

Latinate Pandunia Notes and examples
c (hard) k café > kafe, copy > kopi, cup > kupa
c (soft) s city > site
g (soft) g (hard) geography > geografia
s s / z sol > sol, massage > masaje, rose > roze
ch (Greek) h chaos > haos, cholera > holera
ch (French) x chic > shike
th t theme > tem
ph f philosophy > filsofia
qu k mosquito > moskite
x x galaxy > galaxia
-tion -tion nation > nation, function > funtion

The t in -tion sounds like the normal t. It doesn't sound like sh as in English or like s as in French. Therefore the t's sound identical, for example, in the derivation series ate 'act', ative 'active' and ation 'action'.

Sinitic words

Sinitic words are borrowed from East Asian languages. Sinitic languages include different varieties of Chinese, such as Mandarin, Cantonese and Wu. Sino-Xenic languages include Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese, which have been heavily influenced by Chinese. Nearby languages like Thai, Malay, Filipino and Mongolian have many Sino-Xenic words but overall they have been influenced by Chinese to a lesser extent than Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese. The common ancestor of Sinitic and Sino-Xenic words is Middle Chinese, which was spoken in ancient China.

Table of sound correspondences

Initial consonants

Middle Chinese had a big inventory of initial consonants. Most modern Sinitic languages have less initial consonants. In the table below, we present the most typical consonant correspondences between Middle Chinese, modern Sinitic and Sino-Xenic languages and Pandunia.

Middle Chinese Mandarin
Vietnamese Pandunia
pʰ- p p h p ph p
p- b b h b p b
b- b b b, h b b b
m- m m m m m m
f- f f h p ph f
v- w w b v v
tʰ- t t t th t
t- d d t d t d
d- d d d, t d d d
n- n n, l n n n n
tsʰ- c, q c s ch th ch
ts- z, j z s j s z
dz- z, j z z j d z
s- s, x s s s s, t s
tšʰ- ch c s ch tr ch
tš- zh z s j th j
dž- zh z z j th j
š- sh s s s th, s sh
ɳ- r y n, j - nh j
kʰ- k, q k k k kh k
k- g, j g k g k, c, q g
g- g, j g k, g g g g
ŋ- - ng g - ng n
h- h, x h k h h h
l- l l r r l l

Final consonants

Middle Chinese had three nasal finals, -n, -m and -ng, and three unreleased stop finals, -p, -t and -k. All of them are preserved by Cantonese, Vietnamese and Korean in some form. Mandarin has lost all final stops and it has merged -m to -n. Japanese has kept only one final nasal and it has added a vowel after the final stops.

Middle Chinese Mandarin
Vietnamese Pandunia
-m -n -m -n -m -m -m
-p* - -p* - -p* -p* -bV, -pV
-n -n -n -n -n -n -n
-t* - -t* -chi, -tsu -l -t* -dV, -tV
-ng -ng -n -ng -ng -ng
-k* - -k* -ki, -ku -k* -c*, -ch -gV, -kV

(*) The final consonants in Middle Chinese, Cantonese, Korean and Vietnamese have no audible release. They are neither voiced nor aspirated.


Middle Chinese was a tonal language like the modern varieties of Chinese and Vietnamese. The tone of a syllable is very important because it can differentiate one word from others. For example, the syllable ma means 'mother' in the first tone and 'horse' in the third tone in Mandarin. Mandarin has four tones, which are numbered from 1 to 4. The tone is often marked with a number after the syllable.

Pandunia is not a tonal language. Therefore the tones of Chinese can't be transferred into Pandunia directly.

Pandunia has some tendencies to transform tones to vowels and consonants.

Adaptation to Pandunia

Every Sinitic word is borrowed to Pandunia in a form that is a compromise between the Sinitic and Sino-Xenic languages. The recipe for building a Sinitic word for Pandunia is the following:

  1. Select the common initial consonant from Mandarin, Cantonese and Korean. Typically at least 2/3 of them agree. Japanese and Vietnamese have frequently changed it.
  2. Select the medial vowel(s) firstly from Mandarin then Japanese. Japanese is the only Sinitic language that uses a five-vowel system that is compatible with Pandunia's vowel system.
  3. Select the final nasal or stop consonant firstly from Cantonese then from Korean, Japanese and/or Vietnamese. Typically at least three of them all agree.
  4. Add -e if the stem ends in a stop consonant.

Some examples of this word adoption process are shown in the table below.

Mandarin Cantonese Japanese Korean Vietnamese Pandunia
罚 fa2 罰 fat6 罰 batsu 벌 beol phạt fate
板 ban3 板 baan2 板 ban 판 pan bản ban
术 shu4 術 seot6 術 jutsu 술 sul thuật shute