Frequently Asked Questions
How many people can speak Pandunia?
Currently speakers of Pandunia are counted in tens. It is still a very new language.
How can I help to spread Pandunia?
Learn Pandunia! 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 your edited files by email to email@example.com
When was Pandunia created?
Creators of Pandunia began to create a language together first in 2005. Since the beginning the basic idea was to create an evenly global auxiliary language. Many different structures and ideas were tried over the years. The name Pandunia was invented already in 2007 but the language got its "final" form in 2017 – but of course languages evolve all the time!
What does the flag of Pandunia represent?
The flag of Pandunia represents global equality. There is a symbol of the blue planet against the background of the dark blue space. The equality sign is laid over the Earth.
Why the mascot of Pandunia is a duck-billed platypus?
Platypus (batokrote in Pandunia) 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 Pandunia, which is also an unusual mix, a mix of words and grammar from East and West, from North and South.
Pandunia 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 Pandunia. 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 Pandunia?
Pandunia has been influenced by both natural and constructed languages.
- Natural languages with isolating grammar were a useful model. For example the pivot structure comes directly from Chinese.
- Works of earlier language makers were inspirational.
- Esperanto, Ido, Novial etc. were closely examined.
- Latino sine Flexione, Lingua Sistemfrater and Interglossa all have well thought-out isolating grammars.
- Natural contact languages gave many ideas. It is an interesting observation that when speakers of different languages come into contact, they tend to create extremely simplified grammar to overcome the language barrier — no matter how complex languages they speak natively.
Who made Pandunia?
The starter of Pandunia is Risto Kupsala (born in Finland in 1979). He is a language hobbyist and an engineer in information technology who wants to help the world communicate better. People from many countries have helped over the years. There is a list of some of the contributors in GitHub.
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 Pandunia differ from other auxiliary languages?
- The vocabulary of Pandunia 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 Pandunia. All the words of Pandunia are known by many nations in some part of the world.
- The grammar of Pandunia is concise but very flexible. Pandunia has only a few grammatical structures, which are re-used over and over again.
- Pandunia 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.
Did Esperanto contribute to the birth of Pandunia?
At first Esperanto was an important source of inspiration. However the influence of Esperanto to the final language is insignificant. Pandunia has very different structure and vocabulary compared to Esperanto.
Are the makers of Pandunia aware of the history of the IAL movement?
Yes. Here are some of the most important lessons to be learned from the history of the international auxiliary language (IAL) movement.
- Over 99% of IALs do not survive in the long term.
- Languages that are created without any pre-existing model (so called a priori languages) have very low chance of survival.
- Languages that imitate and simplify one or more natural languages have some chance of survival.
- Out of a group of many similar languages only one is likely to do well.
- Success can be short-lived. (Remember Volapük and Ido.)
- Rational reasons do not explain success. The "best" language doesn't necessarily win.
- Large international organizations, such as the UN or the EU, pay very little attention to IALs. So it is up to grassroots movements to push an IAL to success.
Should Pandunia replace English?
Pandunia 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 Pandunia is spoken as the universal second language.
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 Pandunia, English and any other language that your heart desires.
Letters and sounds
Why is the letter X pronounced like SH?
Pandunia 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. Pandunia word xampu' is written almost 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/. Pandunia has many words with X from Chinese, for example xim, xin and xuxe.
Why is the letter C pronounced like CH?
Actually there are several languages where C is pronounced like English CH, including Indonesian, Hausa, Oromo and Rwanda. In Italian, when C is followed by E or I, it is pronounced /tʃ/. This pronunciation is present in English loan 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 replaced by K and the soft C by S. So it makes sense to use C instead of CH.
Is Pandunia's alphabet unique?
It is unique but not as odd as you might think. In fact, the majority of letters (19 in total) are pronounced in general in the way in Pandunia and English, 5 are different, and one (q) is missing from Pandunia.
Most letters correspond to approximately similar sounds in Pandunia and in other languages that use the Latin alphabet in their spelling or their standard way of Romanization.
The alphabet of Pandunia is compared to alphabets and Romanizations used in other languages in the table below.
- Letters that correspond normally to approximately similar sounds in Pandunia and in the compared language are listed under SIMILAR. For example English g is considered similar to Pandunia g although there is the 'soft' g (as in gel) besides the more common 'hard' g (as in get) in English.
- Letters that Pandunia has but the compared language doesn't have are listed under MISSING.
- Letters that correspond usually to different sounds in Pandunia and in the compared language are listed under DIFFERENT.
|Pandunia||a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p r s t u v x y z|
|Indian Romaniz.||a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p r s t u v y z||x|
|Malay/Indonesian||a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p r s t u w y z||v x|
|Hausa||a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p r s t u w y z||v x|
|Chinese Pinyin||a b c d f g h i j k l m n o p r s t u w x y||v||e z|
|Swahili||a b d e f g h i j k l m n o p r s t u v w y z||c x|
|Japanese Romaji||a b d e g h i j k l m n o p s t u w y z||v c x||f r|
|Portuguese||a b d e f g i k l m n o p r s t u v x z||y||c h j|
|English||b d f g h i j k l m n o p r s t v w y z||a c e u x|
|French||a b d e f g i k l m n o p s t u v w y z||c h j r x|
|Spanish||a b d e f g i k l m n o p r s t u v y||c h j x z|
|German||a b d e f g h i k l m n o p r s t u v||c j x y z|
|Vietnamese||a b e g h i k l m n o p r t u v y||f j z||c d s x|
Is Pandunia a pidgin or a creole?
Pidgins and creoles are natural contact languages. Pandunia is a constructed contact language. So the answer is no, Pandunia is not a real pidgin or a creole. However, it is characterized by many of the same features as pidgins and creoles.
The following is a list of characteristic features of pidgins and creoles that apply for Pandunia too.
- Lack of grammatical complexity
- No definite or indefinite article
- Omission of the copula 'be'
- Tense, aspect, modality and negation are not part of the verb.
- Passive structures are not used.
- Lack of morphological complexity
- Nouns and pronouns are not inflected
- Verbs are not inflected and tense is marked by separate words
- Semantic transparency
- Meaning of a word can be determined from the meanings of the parts of which the word is built.
- Reduced vocabulary
- Multifunctional words
- All-purpose prepositions
- Simple phonology
- Avoid difficult sounds.
- Use mostly simple syllable structures.
- Prefer short words.
- Tone is not used to distinguish words.
How word forms change in Pandunia?
In general, word forms can change in four ways.
- Total change: go ⇒ went
- Change in the stem: write ⇒ wrote
- Change of an affix: electric ⇒ electron
- Addition of an affix: man ⇒ manhood
In Pandunia, only 3. and 4. are used. We can change the ending of a word, so for example loge (speech) can be changed to loga (to speak). We can also add suffixes, so for example insania (humanity) can be created from insan (human being).
Why word forms change in Pandunia?
Pandunia uses different word forms to indicate different word classes. There are many good sides:
- Learning the grammar is very easy because the essentials of the grammar are encoded visibly and audibly in words.
- You can understand the structure of a sentence without knowing the meaning of all words.
- You don't have to memorize the word class with each word separately – words include that information in the last vowel!
- Word derivation is symmetric because word stems are neutral in Pandunia.
- A word stem becomes a verb, a noun or a modifier only when the corresponding vowel ending is added.
- Even transitive and intransitive verbs are symmetric in Pandunia, so we always know is the subject the agent or the recipient of the action.
Word class marking is a very efficient method to realize a functional grammar. It is done in Pandunia with a minimal set of only four endings. (In comparison, Esperanto employs 10 basic and 7 combined endings.)
Why agglutinating structure was chosen for Pandunia?
Different structures were considered and tested during the development of Pandunia. The main choice was between an agglutinating and an isolating structure.
- In an agglutinating language every word can be clearly divided into component parts. For example Esperanto word "niaj" (our) is made out of three parts: ni- (we), -a- (adjective marker) and -j (plural marker).
- 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.
Pandunia 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 Pandunia. Parts of word are separated with the vertical bar sign.
Esperanto: Mi vol|as vid|i vi|a|j|n du bel|a|j|n okul|o|j|n nun. Pandunia: me vol|a vid|a t|i dul|i sundar|i kan|e zay|o. I want to see your two beautiful eyes now.
Are the word class markers unnatural?
Pandunia uses final vowels as word class markers. It is not an unnatural thing to do because there are comparable morphemes in natural languages that are used for marking various word classes and their subclasses.
For example, the Bantu languages use a system of prefixes for marking nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. Here are some Swahili words together with the same words in Pandunia.
|kitab-||-and-||the root related to writing|
|kitabu||ku-and-ik-w-a||to be written|
|kitabi||-a ma-and-ish-i||written, textual|
Another example, Arabic uses a system of vowel infixes to convert consonant roots into different word classes and their subclasses. Here are some Arabic words together with the same words in Pandunia.
|kitab-||k-t-b||the root related to writing|
|kitabu||kutiba||to be written|
|kitabe||kitāb||writing, text, book|
Pandunia's system is a very simple one – it includes only the bare minimum! – but otherwise it's nothing new. Various natural languages have comparable morphemes for marking words in different word classes. The morpheme type doesn't matter: prefixes, infixes, circumfixes and suffixes can do the same task. Single-vowel suffixes are the most minimal and therefore the simplest type!
Looking at the examples above, it's obvious that the system of Pandunia is simpler than those of Swahili and Arabic. English is the least systematic as it uses sometimes independent words (to, to be) and sometimes suffixes (-en, -ing, -al) as markers.
In conclusion, using the vowel suffixes for word class markers is unnatural only for its simplicity, nothing else.
Where Pandunia's words come from?
Pandunia's words come from all parts of the world.
In our opinion the world language should be a mix of all languages in the world. That's why Pandunia has at least a few words in common with almost all languages of the world.
A lot of words are in common to international and important regional languages.
Figure. Bar chart showing the percentage of words similar in the source languages and Pandunia.
Figure. Pie chart showing distribution of influence from the main source languages to Pandunia.
Why Pandunia borrows words mainly from widely spoken languages?
About 6500 languages are spoken in the world today. It would be possible to borrow one and only one word from every language. But it wouldn't be very useful, if you knew only one or two words in the world language beforehand, would it?
It's smarter to borrow words that are in common to many languages. Then most people will know many words in Pandunia.
There are common words in every region of the world. For example, in Europe there are European international words, which often come from important ancient languages like Latin and Greek. In the Indian peninsula there are ancient words from Sanskrit that are in common to every language of that region.
That's why it is enough that we select some languages from every part of the world. They represent also the other languages of that region.
Why the last vowel of words is sometimes different in Pandunia than in language X?
In Pandunia, words consist of a stem and one or more suffixes. A suffix is a part of word that belongs to the end. The final vowel of a word has a grammatical meaning in Pandunia. That's the basic reason why the final vowels are sometimes different in Pandunia than in other languages.
The second reason is that Pandunia borrows words from many languages, and often those languages don't agree about the final vowel. For example the word supe (soup) ends in -a in Spanish sopa, in -u in Japanese スープ or sūpu, in -e in German Suppe, and not in any vowel in English soup. So it's not one and the same word but rather an international family of similar words, and Pandunia's supe fits perfectly into that family.
The third reason is that endings of words change already in many source languages. For example, Pandunia word novi is borrowed, among others, from Portuguese. In Portuguese, this word has many forms and only the stem nov- remains the same: nov|o, nov|a, nov|os, nov|as, nov|idade, re|nov|ar... So it makes sense to take only the stem and attach our regular Pandunia suffixes to it.
Shouldn't "salam" mean "peace"?
In many languages, expressions of greeting have something to do with peace, health or well-being. The origins of Pandunia'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!