Sen:esepera -- A Reform Of Esperanto
The newsletter discussing newly imagined words for newly imagined worlds
Volume I, Issue 5 -- September, 1995
This month's issue looks at an actual model language that I have been
developing, Sen:esepera. This issue is more technical than most issues of
_Model Languages_ but it is hopefully not too difficult to follow.
I designed Sen:esepera as a dramatic reform of Esperanto, which I felt was
difficult for speakers
of non-European languages (especially Asian languages such as Japanese and
* The primary design goal was to reduce the complexity of Esperanto's
phonology, which -- due
to a plethora of consonants and consonant clusters -- is difficult for many native
speakers of non-
European languages to master.
* Secondary design goals were to further simplify Esperanto's grammar and
words were phonetically simplified to meet the primary design goal, it became
harder to recognize them from their roots, necessitating changes to keep the
vocabulary easily learnable.
Note that I explicitly am not interested in proposing that Sen:esepera should be
adopted as an
international language; the creation of this language is purely an intellectual
pursuit. It is also not yet complete, with the vocabulary still being simplified.
Sen:esepera contains five vowels: /a/ /e/ /i/ /o/ /u/.
The language has 14 consonants: /p/ /t/ /k/ /b/ /d/ /g/ /f/ /s/ /h/ /m/ /n/ /l/ /r/ /j/.
Where Esperanto has 23 consonants, Sen:esepera has only the 14 most-
based on Rick Morneau's analysis of a sample of 25 world languages (for further
details, refer to
ftp.eskimo.com/u/r/ram/conlang). Of the languages he surveyed, 76% contain
every sound in
Sen:esepera; their speakers will not need to master any new sounds, while
speakers of the other
24% of the languages will have to master a few new sounds.
Because Sen:esepera makes comparatively few distinctions between
consonants have allophones, of which only the principal ones will be mentioned
here. An allophone is one of at least two alternate pronunciations for a
phoneme /f/ has allophones [f] and [v], and /s/ has allophones [s] and [z] (similar
to Old English).
The phoneme /r/ includes any retroflex or any alveolar flap or trill. The phoneme
allophones [h] and [x].
As with Esperanto, the accent is always on the penultimate syllable.
Every word is spelled phonemically.
The letter 'c' represents the phoneme /k/. The letter 'i' represents either the
vowel /i/ or the
semivowel /j/; if 'i' follows a vowel, then it represents /j/, otherwise it represents
/i/. Thus, 'amica'
("friend") represents /amika/ and 'caim' ("where") represents /kajm/.
Separate morphemes used in a word (aside from the grammatical marker,
covered below) are
delimited by use of the colon (e.g., _im:amica_, "opposite-friend, enemy").
Every syllable in the language follows this pattern:
[C] V [S] [N]
[C] - is an optional ordinary consonant: /p/ /t/ /k/ /b/ /d/ /g/ /f/ /s/ /h/ /l/ /r/
V - is a mandatory vowel: /a/ /e/ /i/ /o/ /u/
[S] - is an optional semivowel 'i' /j/
[N] - is an optional nasal /n/ or /m/
This provides for a comparatively small range of syllables, with just 360 (12 x 5 x
2 x 3) possible
syllables, where Esperanto theoretically has over ten thousand possible
syllables. (The exact
number is impossible to determine, since Esperanto's vocabulary is not closed
morphology has not been explicitly defined.)
Sen:esepera's morphology is designed to eliminate complex consonant clusters
(e.g., /str/, /bl/,
/pr/, /sp/), which are difficult for many speakers of Asian and African languages
See Rick Morneau's essay on morphology (at ftp.eskimo.com/u/r/ram/conlang)
for a full
description of optimizing morphology for maximum ease of pronunciation.
Every word ends in a class suffix, indicating part of speech (see GRAMMAR
When a word is borrowed into Sen:esepera, it should conform to its phonology,
class suffixes. Thus _Esperanto_ is borrowed as _Eseperanta_. Sample
Sen:esepera < Esperanto
_pasinatan_ < _pasinta_, "past"
_linegefa_ < _lingvo_, "language"
_secienca_ < _scienco_, "science" (note that Esperanto 'c' /ts/ is borrowed as
_seterata_ < _strato_, "street"
Esperanto words are nativized according to standard rules, which are too
involved to detail here.
For simplicity, the grammar has been designed to eliminate most features that
are not universal
to fusional (synthetic) languages and even a few features that are not always
used in analytic
languages. Sen:esepera lacks number, articles, declensions, inflections, and
Every word ends in a class suffix, indicating its part of speech:
Pronouns -u, -un
Adjectives -an, -en, -in, -m
Correlatives -o, -on
1. The language has neither a definite article (_the_, Esperanto _la_) or an
2. Nouns end in _-a_. They are not inflected for plural, gender or case. The
relationship of case
is expressed by prepositions. What Esperanto would express with the
Sen:esepera expresses with the preposition _ano_.
Pronouns: -u, -un
5. Personal pronouns end in /u/ and are not inflected for number, gender or
case. The first
person pronoun ("I, me, we, us") is _imu_; second person ("you") is _tu_; and
third person ("he,
him, she, her, they, them, it") is _hu_. All possessive pronouns (e.g., _mine_,
are formed by appending /n/; possessive pronouns are treated as adjectives.
Adjectives: -an, -en, -in or -m
3. Adjectives typically end in /-an/ and typically precede the noun they describe.
comparative is made by using the word _pelo_, the superlative by _supelo_.
comparative, the conjunction _olo_ is used.
6. The verb undergoes no change with regard to person or number or tense,
which is instead
conveyed as necessary through context. The passive is rendered by preceding
a verb with
7. Adverbs end in _-e_; comparison is as for adjectives.
All prepositions end in _-o_. Each preposition has a definite and constant
meaning, but if the
direct sense does not indicate what it should be (e.g., if the preposition is used
preposition _lo_ (corresponding to Esperanto _je_), is used instead.
4. The first 10 ordinal numerals are, when used as adjectives, _unin_, _duin_,
_fifin_, _sesin_, _sepin_, _ocin_, _enin_, _decin_. Tens and hundreds are
formed by joining the
numerals. The suffix _-en_ indicates fractional numbers.
Correlatives: -o, -on
Correlatives end in /-o/ or /-on/. Esperanto's correlatives are concise but hard to
Sen:esepera instead uses compound words, which provide greater clues for
Esperanto _kiu_ [< _ki-_, "which" + _u_, "one"] equals Sen:esepera's
correlatives are _tin:obico_, "this thing"; _dem:sepeco_, "that kind of";
"somewhere"; _an:emodo_, "nohow"; and _omin:cuso_, "for every reason".
A correlative consists of a modifier followed by a context. The six possible
_caim_ "which, what"
_omin_ "each, every, all"
The 9 possible contexts are:
Correlatives total 54 different words.
The contexts can be inflected like other words in most instances.
Like Esperanto, Sen:esepera has no fixed word order.
0C. BASIC ENGLISH
1C. And all the earth had one language and one tongue.
2Ca. And it came about that in their wandering from the east, they came to
2Cb. a stretch of flat country in the land of Shinar, and there they made
2Cc. their living-place.
3Ca. And they said one to another, Come, let us make bricks, burning them
3Cb. well. And they had bricks for stone, putting them together with
3Cc. sticky earth.
4Ca. And they said, Come, let us make a town, and a tower whose top will
4Cb. go up as high as heaven; and let us make a great name for ourselves,
4Cc. so that we may not be wanderers over the face of the earth.
5Ca. And the Lord came down to see the town and the tower which the
5Cb. children of men were building.
6Ca. And the Lord said, See, they are all one people and have all one
6Cb. language; and this is only the start of what they may do; and now
6Cc. it will not be possible to keep them from any purpose of theirs.
7Ca. Come, let us go down and take away the sense of their language, so
7Cb. that they will not be able to make themselves clear to one another.
8Ca. So the Lord God sent them away into every part of the earth; and
8Cb. they gave up building their town.
9Ca. So it was named Babel, because there the Lord took away the sense of
9Cb. all languages; and from there the Lord sent them away over all the
9Cc. face of the earth.
:Ca. From _The Bible In Basic English_, first published by the Syndics of
:Cb. the Cambridge University Press (London and New York) in 1949.
1S. O tutan tera eseti codo unin lingifa, o codo unin parola.
2S. O tina ocasi, caim:tempo hu foiagi delo orienta, demo hu terofi pelatan loca
eno loca codo Sinara [Shinar]; o hu domi dem:loca.
3S. O hu paroli unin alo omin:una, "Feni, imu posete cusi berica, o pele beruli
hu." O hu hafi berica contero setona, o cota hafi hu contero unigi berica.
4S. O hu paroli, "Feni, imu posete conseteri imu ureba, o tura, caim:unon
supera ebele atingi alo paradisa; o imu posete cusi imu enoma, ro imu ebele
pere:emeti foran supero:eno fisaga codo tutan tera."
5S. O Dia feni im:supere o fidi ureba o tura, caimo dimin:homa codo homa
6S. O Dia paroli, "Fidi, homa eseti unin, o hu hafi tutan unin lingifa; o tino hu
comenci o fari: o ene hu ebele inhibici delo an:obica, caimo hu ebele emagi o
7S. Feni, imu posete iri im:supere, o dem:loca sangi hun lingifa, demo hu
im:ebele compereni unin omin:unan parola."
8S. Dia posete pere:emeti hu foron pano fisaga codo tutan tera: o hu cesige
9S. Hun enoma eseti Babela [Babel]; cuso Dia dem:loca sangi lingifa codo
tutan tera: o delo dem:loca Dia pere:emeti hu foran supero:eno fisaga codo
:S. Translated by Jeffrey Henning, 9/24/95, author of Sen:esepera. For more
details on Sen:esepera, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sen:esepera is almost entirely derived from Esperanto and has approximately
derived from around 1200 basic morphemes. The final version of the vocabulary
will attempt to
reduce the number of basic morphemes to 600. As part of this effort, all
homonyms will be removed from the vocabulary: e.g., _aga_ [from Esp. ag^o.],
"age", and _aga_ [Esp. ago.], "act".
Sen:esepera words are typically longer than Esperanto words, due both to
morphology and to its use of mnemonic affixes in place of Esperanto's esoteric
affixes. As the vocabulary is reformed, Sen:esepera words will grow even
(This is a subtle contribution towards Esperanto's goal of encouraging world
peace by offering an easy-to-learn language. Sen:esepera, by offering a long-
winded language, hopes to discourage people from talking too much, which will
increase the likelihood of world peace...)
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Contents copyright 1995 Jeffrey Henning. All rights reserved.
Sen:esepera-English Dictionary (??K)