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Novial[lower-alpha 1] is a constructed international auxiliary language (IAL) for universal human communication between speakers of different native languages. It was devised by Otto Jespersen, a Danish linguist who had been involved in the Ido movement that evolved from Esperanto at the beginning of the 20th century, and participated later in the development of Interlingua. The name means "new" + "international auxiliary language".

Created byOtto Jespersen
Setting and usageinternational auxiliary language
Constructed language
  • international auxiliary language
    • Novial
SourcesRomance and Germanic languages; also Interlingue and Ido
Language codes
ISO 639-3nov
Linguist List

Its vocabulary is based largely on the Germanic and Romance languages while its grammar is influenced by English.

Novial was introduced in Jespersen's book An International Language in 1928.[1] It was updated in his dictionary Novial Lexike in 1930,[2] and further modifications were proposed in the 1930s, but the language became dormant with Jespersen's death in 1943.[3] In the 1990s, with the revival of interest in constructed languages brought on by the Internet, some people rediscovered Novial.



Labial Coronal Palatal Velar/Glottal
Nasal m n (ŋ)
Voiceless p t k
Voiced b d ɡ
Fricative Voiceless f s ʃ h
Voiced v (ʒ)
Approximant (w) l j
Rhotic r


Front Back
Close i u
Mid e o
Open a


The basic rule is: stress the vowel before the last consonant. However, consonantal flexional endings (ie. -d, -m, -n, -s) do not count for this (eg. "bóni" but "bónim", not "boním"; "apérta" but "apértad", not "apertád") so perhaps it is better to say that the vowel before the final consonant of the stem takes the stress.[4]


Novial alphabet
Lower case abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvxyz
IPA phonemes a b k, s et al.[lower-alpha 2] d e f g h i , ʒ k l m n o p k[lower-alpha 3] r s t u v ks, gz j, ʝ ts, z et al.[lower-alpha 2]

The digraphs ch and sh represent [t͡ʃ] or [ʃ], depending on the speaker. For example, chokolate would be pronounced either /t͡ʃokoˈlate/ or /ʃokoˈlate/.[1]


Like many constructed IALs, Novial has a simple and regular grammar. The main word order is SVO, which removes the need for marking the object of a sentence with accusative case (since the position normally tells what word is the object). There is however a way to mark accusative. There is no grammatical gender (but the sex or gender of referrents can be marked). Verbs are conjugated without agreement (according to person or number), and have a regular conjugation.

Nouns mainly end in e, a, o, u or um in singular. There is definite forms of nouns marked with an article, and singular and plural forms, where plural is marked with the suffix -s after vowels or -es after consonants. There is also a form for indefinite number (like in Mandarin chinese and Japanese, for example), expressed by removing the ending of the noun in singular (leone – lion, leon es kruel – a/the lion is cruel, or lions are cruel).[5]

If a noun refers to a living being, then the form ending in -e is neutral in regards to sex, the one ending in -a female, and the one ending in -o male. If the noun is based on an adjective, nouns referring to living beings can be made with the previously mentioned rule, and furthermore nouns referring to concrete objects with -u, and abstractions with -um. The third person pronouns follows the same rule, together with the definite article.

In the case of a noun that refers to an instrument – a tool or a means – the word that ends in -e is the tool or the means itself, -a the verb describing usage of the tool and so on, and -o the noun describing the act[6] of that using:




(to) roll


(a) rolling

rule – rula – rulo

roll – {(to) roll} – {(a) rolling}


measure (the tool)


(to measure)



mesure – mesura – mesuro

{measure (the tool)} – {(to measure)} – measurement

Personal pronouns, subject and object

Singular Plural
I me we nus
you vu you vus
she, he
le, la, lo they les, las, los
it lu, lum lus

The standard word order in Novial is subject-verb-object, as in English. Therefore, the object need not be marked to distinguish it from the subject, and nominative (I, he, she and so on) and oblique (me, him, her) pronouns are identical:







me observa vu

I observe you







vu observa me

you observe me

The accusative (direct object) is therefore most often identical to the nominative (subject). However, in case of an ambiguity problem, an optional accusative ending, -m (-em after a consonant), is available but is rarely used. The preposition em is equivalent to this ending.[dubious ]

The personal possessive adjectives are formed from the pronouns by adding -n or after a consonant -en. This is in fact the genitive (possessive) of the pronoun so men means both "my" and "mine" ("of me"):





Men hunde

My dog









Li hunde es men

The dog is mine

The possessive pronouns are thus men, vun, len etc., lun and nusen, vusen, lesen etc. and lusen. Possession may also be expressed with the preposition de: de me, de vu, and so on.

The reflexive pronoun is se: lo admira se – he admires himself.[7] The impersonal pronoun one (one/they/you) is on, with the possessive form onen.


Verb forms never change with person or number. Most verb tenses, moods and voices are expressed with auxiliary verbs preceding the root form of the main verb. The auxiliaries follow the same word order as the English equivalent. The following phrases give examples of the verb forms:

Grammar English Novial
Infinitive to protect protekte
Present I protect me protekte
Present Perfect I have protected me ha protekte
Simple Past I protected me did protekte or me protekted
Past Perfect I had protected me had protekte
Future I shall protect or I will protect me sal protekte or me ve protekte
Future Perfect I shall have protected or I will have protected me sal ha protekte or me ve ha protekte
Future In The Past I was going to protect me saled protekte
Conditional I would protect me vud protekte
Conditional Perfect I would have protected me vud ha protekte
First Imperative Let me protect! Let me protekte!
Second Imperative protect! protekte!

Novial clearly distinguishes the passive of becoming and the passive of being. In English the forms are often the same, using the auxiliary verb to be followed by the past participle. However, the passive of becoming is also often expressed with the verb to get which is used in the examples below.

The passive voice of becoming is formed with the auxiliary bli followed by the root verb form. It can then be conjugated into the previously mentioned forms, for example:

Grammar English Novial
Infinitive to get protected bli protekte
Present I get protected me bli protekte
Present Perfect I have got protected me ha bli protekte
Simple Past I got protected me blid protekte
Past Perfect I had got protected me had bli protekte
Future I shall get protected or I will get protected me sal bli protekte or me ve bli protekte
Conditional I would get protected me vud bli protekte

The passive voice of being is formed with the auxiliary es followed by the past passive participle (stem + -t). For example:

Grammar English Novial
Infinitive to be protected es protektet
Present I am protected me es protektet
Present Perfect I have been protected me ha es protektet
Simple Past I was protected me did es protektet or me esed protektet
Past Perfect I had been protected me had es protektet
Future I shall be protected or I will be protected me sal es protektet or me ve es protektet
Conditional I would be protected me vud es protektet


The definite article is li which is invariant. It is used as in English.

There is no indefinite article, although un (one) can be used.


The plural noun is formed by adding –s to the singular (-es after a consonant).

The accusative case is generally identical to the nominative but can optionally be marked with the ending -m (-em after a consonant) with the plural being -sem (-esem after a consonant) or with the preposition em.

The genitive is formed with the ending -n (-en after a consonant) with the plural being -sen (-esen after a consonant) or with the preposition de.

Other cases are formed with prepositions.


All adjectives end in -i, but this may be dropped if it is easy enough to pronounce and no confusion will be caused. Adjectives precede the noun qualified. Adjectives do not agree with the noun but may be given noun endings if there is no noun present to receive them.

Comparative adjectives are formed by placing various particles (plu, tam, and min) in front of the adjective receiving the comparison. Likewise, the superlative particles (maxim and minim) precede the adjective. The adjective does not receive an inflection to its ending.


An adjective is converted to a corresponding adverb by adding -m after the -i ending of the adjective.

Comparative and superlative adverbs are formed in the same manner as comparative and superlative adjectives: by placing a specific particle before the adverb receiving the comparison.



See the Table of Prefixes and Table of Suffixes at the Novial Wikibook.

Novial compared to Esperanto and Ido

Jespersen was a professional linguist, unlike Esperanto's creator.[neutrality is disputed] He disliked the arbitrary and artificial character that he found in Esperanto and Ido.[8] Additionally, he objected to those languages' inflectional systems, which he found needlessly complex. He sought to make Novial at once euphonious and regular while also preserving useful structures from natural languages.

In Novial:

A major difference between Novial and Esperanto/Ido concerns noun endings. Jespersen rejected a single vowel to terminate all nouns (-o in Esperanto/Ido), finding it unnatural and potentially confusing. [9] Instead, Novial nouns may end in -o, -a, -e, or -u or -um. These endings may be taken to indicate natural sex according to the custom in Romance languages. Also there is no grammatical gender or requirement for adjectives to agree with nouns.

Language sample for comparison

Here is the Lord's Prayer in Novial and several related languages:

Novial version: Esperanto version: Ido version: Latin version:

Nusen Patre, kel es in siele,
mey vun nome bli sanktifika,
mey vun regno veni;
mey on fa vun volio
kom in siele anke sur tere.
Dona a nus disdi li omnidiali pane,
e pardona a nus nusen ofensos,
kom anke nus pardona a nusen ofensantes,
e non dukte nus en tentatione,
ma liberisa nus fro malu.

Patro nia, kiu estas en la ĉielo,
Via nomo estu sanktigita.
Venu Via regno,
plenumiĝu Via volo,
kiel en la ĉielo, tiel ankaŭ sur la tero.
Nian panon ĉiutagan donu al ni hodiaŭ.
Kaj pardonu al ni niajn ŝuldojn,
kiel ankaŭ ni pardonas al niaj ŝuldantoj.
Kaj ne konduku nin en tenton,
sed liberigu nin de la malbono.

Patro nia, qua esas en la cielo,
tua nomo santigesez;
tua regno advenez;
tua volo facesez
quale en la cielo tale anke sur la tero.
Donez a ni cadie l'omnadia pano,
e pardonez a ni nia ofensi,
quale anke ni pardonas a nia ofensanti,
e ne duktez ni aden la tento,
ma liberigez ni del malajo.

Pater noster, qui es in caelis:
sanctificetur Nomen Tuum;
adveniat Regnum Tuum;
fiat voluntas Tua,
sicut in caelo, et in terra.
Panem nostrum cotidianum da nobis hodie;
et dimitte nobis debita nostra,
Sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris;
et ne nos inducas in tentationem;
sed libera nos a Malo.


As Jespersen relates in his autobiography, in 1934 he proposed an orthographic reform to Novial, which displeased a part of the users. Jespersen abandoned the essential principle of one sound, one letter :[10]

I proposed some not inconsiderable amendments, especially by introducing an "orthographic" Novial alongside the original phonetically written language. (...) Thus the sound [k], besides being represented by the letters k and q and the first part of x, also acquired the new sign c (before a, o, u and consonants), a practice with which nearly all Europeans, Americans, and Australians are familiar from childhood. (...) I know that this orthographic form has displeased several of Novial's old and faithful friends, but it is my impression that many others have applauded it.

Otto Jespersen (1995 [1938], pp. 227–8)

Some of Jespersen's colleagues among philologists jokingly referred to Novial as Jesperanto, combining his surname with Esperanto, the prototypical auxiliary language.

See also


  1. blend of novi (new) + IAL
  2. Only used on proper names and international symbols.
  3. Only used on the qu digraph.


  1. "An International Language - Otto Jespersen". Archived from the original on 2018-08-21. Retrieved 2020-04-03.
  2. "Novial Lexike". Retrieved 2020-04-03.
  3. "Novial language, alphabet and pronunciation". Retrieved 2020-04-03.
  4. "Novial Pronunciation and Spelling systems". Retrieved 2020-05-19.
  5. Jespersen, O: An International Language (p. 89)
  6. Jespersen, O: An International Language (pp. 124, p. 126)
  7. Jespersen, O: An International Language (p. 90, 109)
  8. Jespersen, Otto (1929). An International Language (2007 ed.). London: Routledge. pp. 21–27. ISBN 0-415-40246-8. Retrieved 18 May 2022.
  9. "The Project Gutenberg EBook of International Language and Science".
  10. Jespersen, Otto (1995 [1938]). A linguist’s life: an English translation of Otto Jerpersen’s autobiography [En Sprogmands Levned] with notes, photos and a bibliography. Edited by Arne Juul, Hans F. Nielsen, Jørgen Erik Nielsen. Odense: Odense University Press. ISBN 87-7838-132-0.

На других языках

[de] Novial

Novial ist ein naturalistisches, aposteriorisches Plansprachenprojekt, das vom dänischen Linguisten Otto Jespersen 1928 vorgestellt wurde. Nach dem Tod Jespersens 1943 geriet das Projekt in Vergessenheit; Beachtung hatte es vor allem wegen des prominenten Sprachgründers erhalten.
- [en] Novial

[es] Novial

El novial es un Idioma artificial creado por el destacado lingüista danés Otto Jespersen con el fin de facilitar la comunicación entre los pueblos. La palabra novial proviene de la combinación del prefijo nov (nuevo) y las iniciales del término international auxiliary language (en español: lengua auxiliar internacional; por consiguiente, novial significa nueva lengua auxiliar internacional). Jespersen, quien previamente había participado en el diseño del idioma ido como sustitución del esperanto, diseñó el novial a partir de vocablos de lenguas romances y germánicas y una gramática muy cercana a la del idioma inglés y las lenguas germánicas.

[fr] Novial

Le novial [nov-, « nouveau » et IAL, « international auxiliary language »] est une langue construite créée par Otto Jespersen (1860–1943), un linguiste danois qui avait précédemment soutenu le mouvement pour la langue ido. Le novial a été conçu comme langue auxiliaire internationale, destinée à faciliter la communication et l'amitié entre les divers peuples du monde sans remplacer leurs langues maternelles.

[it] Novial

Il novial (un acronimo formato da nov + IAL = «nuova lingua ausiliaria internazionale») è una lingua artificiale creata dal linguista danese Otto Jespersen —in precedenza sostenitore del movimento per la lingua ido— e pubblicata inizialmente nel 1928.

[ru] Новиаль

Новиаль (новиал) — проект международного искусственного языка, предложенный в 1928 году датским лингвистом Отто Есперсеном.

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