Semantics of Pandunia

Multipurpose words

Pandunia's semantics is based on natural meanings of words. Every content word has potentially many possible uses. Content words don't belong permanently into any word classes or part-of-speech categories. For example, the word hogo can mean 'fire', 'fiery', 'burning' and 'to burn'. The actual meaning emerges in the sentence context.

The noun meaning, 'fire', emerges when the word occupies the position of a noun in a sentence.

mi vide la hogo. – I see the fire.

The adjectival meaning, 'fiery', emerges in adjectival position.

mi vide un hogo kar. – I see a fiery chariot.

The verbal meaning, 'to burn', emerges in verbal position.

mi hogo yo moka. – I burn some wood.

Verb, noun and modifier are created independently from the base idea. Therefore their meanings don't depend on each other, for example, the meaning of the noun doesn't depend on the corresponding verb and vice versa. There's no conceptual symmetry that would govern all words. However, words can be grouped into categories by their real-world meanings.

Meaning categories

Words can be categorized by their real-world meanings. Words that belong to the same category are typically used in the same ways.

Tool words

The category of tool words includes words for things that are manufactured to be used as tools, such as hammer, drill, axe, knife, comb and brush.

  1. Noun meaning: the tool.
  2. Modifier meaning: related or belonging to the tool.
  3. Verb meaning: to use the tool.
Word Noun meaning Modifier meaning Verb meaning
brosha 'brush' 'of brush' 'to brush'
katana 'sword' 'of sword' 'to sword-fight, to fence'
defa 'shield' 'to defend, to shield'
daga 'dagger' 'of dagger' 'to stab'
hamar 'hammer' 'hammer's, hammerlike' 'to beat, to hammer'

Object words

The base word is some other type of concrete object.

  1. Noun meaning: the object.
  2. Modifier meaning: related or belonging to the object.
  3. Verb meaning: to equip the syntactic object with the thing.
Word Noun meaning Modifier meaning Verb meaning
dobe 'brick' 'made of brick' 'to build with bricks'
auro 'gold' 'golden' 'to gild, to cover with gold'

Words for people

The base word is a person:

  1. Noun meaning: the person.
  2. Modifier meaning: related or belonging to the person.
  3. Verb meaning: to send the person to do its characteristic thing to the object.
Word Noun meaning Modifier meaning Verb meaning
pa 'father' 'fatherly' 'to father'
brus 'sibling' 'siblinglike' 'to fraternize'

Quality words

The base word is a quality:

  1. Noun meaning: a concrete instance or an abstraction of the quality.
  2. Modifier meaning: the quality as a description.
  3. Verb meaning: to give the quality to the object.
Word Noun meaning Modifier meaning Verb meaning
bon 'goodness' 'good, well' 'do good, make good, improve'
huru 'freedom' 'free' 'to free, to liberate'

Artifact words

The base word refers to a human-made object.

  1. Noun meaning: the process or result of the action.
  2. Modifier meaning: affected by the action.
  3. Verb meaning: to do the action to the object.
Word Noun meaning Modifier meaning Verb meaning
kitabu 'writing' 'written' 'to write'
fikir 'thought' 'of thinking' 'to think'

Transitive construction

A transitive construction includes an agent, a patient and an activity or another thing, which is applied by the agent to the patient.

Transitive construction:
Agent – activity – patient

In principle, any content word can take any of the three roles. The agent and the patient are typically names of people, objects or other things. The activity is typically a word for an action but it can be any other kind of thing too. Examples of different kinds of activity words include futau 'axe', hogo 'fire', yen 'eyes', ama 'love', huru 'freedom', and ma 'mother'.

In the transitive construction the agent applies the activity to the patient.

  • What happens when you apply an axe to a tree?
  • What happens when you apply fire to a tree?
  • What happens when you apply eyes to a tree?
  • What happens when you apply love to a tree or a child?
  • What happens when you apply freedom to a child?
  • What happens when you apply a mother to a child?

Most things have well-known applications. An axe is made for chopping and a hammer is made for hitting. Fire is used for burning. Eyes are used for watching. Love is felt for others. Therefore the semantics of the following sentences are easy to understand.

mi futau yo moka. – I chop some trees.
mi hogo yo moka. – I burn some wood.
mi yen tu. – I eye you. ~ I look at you.
mi ama tu. – I love you.

Freedom is an abstract thing. So how can it be used? If you are in a situation where you can apply freedom to an object, you can probably guess that the object is likely a human object or an animate object, and then you can imagine what freedom does to them.

mi huru yemon. – I free them. ~ I liberate them.

The thing called mother is not any different. If you apply a mother to an object, again probably a human or an animate object, you can imagine what the mother would do typically. However, this time the thing between the subject and the object comes with a condition. You can apply any axe to any tree, but you can't apply any mother to any child, can you? There is a natural relation between the mother and the child. The mother is the child's mother and the child is the mother's child. So there is a natural assumption, that the one who applies a mother (or motherhood) is the mother herself.

mi ma mi su ben. – 'I mother my child.'