Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Uropi - English - a simple language (2)

What is a simple language ? 

What makes a language simple and easy to learn is, first of all a simple pronunciation, a simple vocabulary, but above all a simple grammar. The old Indo-European languages like Sanskrit, Greek or Latin have very complicated grammars with many different declensions and conjugations. Natural evolution has considerably simplified those languages, giving birth to the modern Indo-European languages : for example Hindi is much simpler than Sanskrit; all romance languages have got rid of the Latin declensions, with the exception of Rumanian which has only kept a genitive.

An International Auxiliary Language (IAL) should be as simple as possible. For example, an invariable participle as in English is simpler than the four different forms of the French participle (masculine, feminine, singular and plural) : for ex. ouvert, ouverte, ouverts, ouvertes, whereas in English, there is only open, and in Uropi opren. In Esperanto there are 3 passive participles* : malfermita, malfermata, malfermota = open, which can be used in the singular and plural, in the nominative and the accusative, that is 12 different forms for each participle.

* To which should be added 12 forms of active participles. See

A simplified English grammar

For these reasons, Uropi grammar is very similar to English grammar, though simpler and more regular.

- In Uropi as in English all adjectives and participles are invariable and are placed before the noun.

Eng. a big car,    a young woman,   small houses,   the old cats,   a tall man
Ur.   u gren vag, u jun ʒina,             miki hase,        de seni kate,   un alti man

- Uropi like English, and also Asian languages like Chinese or Thai, has short words which are easy to learn. Those short words enable you to build compounds which are not too long, which is sometimes the case in Hungarian, for instance (könyvszekrény = Ur. bibikàb = bookcase, közremüködés = kovàrk = collaboration, kutyakölyök = kunit = puppy, megismerkedik = akono = to get acquainted), or in Esperanto (fulmotondro = Ur. tormad = thunderstorm, malvarmakva = frijvodi = cold-water-, malantaûeniri = ito ru = to go back, malsanulistino = cera = nurse, etc…

For ex.
Eng. working hours,  waterfall,  surnburn,  snowball,  foresee
Ur.    varkihore,          vodifàl,    solibrèn,    snevibàl,   forvizo

-Verbs and conjugation

Most European languages, i.e Slavic, Romance, Baltic, Celtic languages as well as Greek and some Germanic languages have verbal forms which agree with the person. In French, for instance, there are 6 personal forms for each tense, that is at least 36 verbal forms for each verb, not to mention irregular verbs. In Italian or Spanish or modern Greek there are even more verbal forms.

In Uropi, the verbal form never changes with the person, which is also the case in English (apart from the –s in the present) and above all in Scandivian languages. This is also true for Esperanto with the endings –as, -is, -os for the present, the past and the future.

For example :
Eng. I work,  you work,  he, she, it works,  we work,  you (pl) work,  they work
Ur.   I vark,    tu vark,      he, ce, je vark,      nu vark,    vu vark,           lu vark

Eng. I speak,    you speak,  he, she, it speaks,   we speak,  you (pl) speak,  they speak
dan. Jeg taler,   du taler,      han, hun, det taler,  vi taler,     I taler,                de taler
Ur.   I vok,        tu vok,        he, ce, je vok,         nu vok,     vu vok,              lu vok
Esp. Mi parlas, ci parlas,     li, s’i, g’i parlas,     ni parlas,   vi parlas,           ili parlas

There are no irregular verbs.

- In the past, the ending –ì (stressed)* is added to the verb root, as –ed is in English.
For ex.
ang. I worked,  you spoke,  he, she, it did,  we made,  you saw,  they gave
Ur.   I varkì,      tu vokì,       he, ce, detì,      nu makì,   vu vizì,    lu davì

* This ending corresponds to that of the first person of the Spanish preterite (for ex : comí = i jedì = I ate) and of the third person of the Italian passato remoto (for ex : finì = he fendì = he finished) for verbs in –ir (Sp.) and –ire (It.).

- Yet, Uropi differs from English in the negative and interrogative. To form them, English uses the auxiliary do in the present and did in the past before the subject, which is not particularly simple. Uropi, like the other Germanic languages and French simply puts the verb before the subject to form the interrogative,

For ex.
Ge : Liest du ?   Du : Spreek je ?  Da : Har De ?   Swe: Kommer du ?
Ur.   Lis tu ?              Vok tu ?               Av vu ?              Ven tu ?
Eng. Do you read ?   Do you speak ?    Have you got ?  Do you come ?

To form the negative, ne (= PIE, Baltic and Slavic ne) is added after the verb like German nicht, Dutch niet, Danish ikke, Swedish inte.
For ex.
Ge : Du liest nicht,  Du : Je spreek niet,  Da : De har ikke,  Swe : Du kommer inte
Ur.   Tu lis ne,                 Tu vok ne,                Vu av ne,                Tu ven ne
Eng. You don't read,       You don't speak,       You haven't got,     You don't come

- The future is formed with the particle ve placed before the infinitive, like will in English.

This seems to be more complicated than in Esperanto where the future is formed by adding –os to the verb root. However, one should point out that this form of future is very common in European languages, and thus very international :

English (will talk, will come, will sleep), German (werde sprechen, wirdst kommen, wird schlafen), Dutch (zal spreken, zal komen, zullen slapen), Danish (vil have, vil give, vil skrive), Swedish (ska(ll) vara, ska läsa, skall ha), Rumanian (voi vorbi, vei face, va da), modern Greek (θα ειμαι, θα μαθαινω, θα μιλησω), « tha eimai, tha mathainô, tha milîsô »), Russian буду читать, будешь говорить, (budu tcitat’, budec’ govorit’…), Czech (budu psát, bude brát, budeme pít), Serbo-Croatian (ja ću imati, on će biti, mi ćemo videti), Armenian (bidi dam, bidi kam, bidi esém)

+ immediate future in French (vais manger, vas chanter, va dormir) and in Spanish (voy a hablar, vas a venir, va a comer)

Not to mention Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai… (for ex. Thai uses the particle ja before the verb : « Phom ja pay » = I ve ito = I’ll go)

Besides, we could say that the esperanto endings –as, -is, -os (unstressed) are not sufficiently different from each other to avoid confusion in the spoken language.

- Finally Uropi has a genitive like English and the majority of other European languages, i.e Slavic, Baltic languages, Greek, Rumanian, Armenian and all Germanic languages except Dutch. The genitive is formed by adding the endings i or u (for nouns ending in a) in the singular, and is/us (in the plural).
For ex :
De kamar Paul = Eng. Robert’s bedroom  = Da. Roberts værelse
De kamar Silviu = Eng. Silvia’s bedroom   = Da. Silvias værelse

Contrary to English, there cannot be a confusion between singular and plural because Uropi uses different forms : i/is and u/us
For ex :
Eng. The worker’s factory = Ur De fabrik de varkori and
        The workers’ factory  =      De fabrik de varkoris

Using a genitive is not more complicated than using a preposition as in French or Dutch for instance.
For ex:
De vag mi patri = fr. La voiture de mon père = Du. De auto van mijn vader = my father’s car

On the other hand, the genitive is very convenient, especially to build compounds : the first element of the compound is always in the genitive, which enables you to distinguish the two elements easily, as with the hyphen in English when there is one :
for ex :
vapibàt, sopivado, vimusporte = steamboat, to sleepwalk, winter sports.

In comparison, Esperanto has an accusative, which is perfectly useless and makes things much more complex. In French, we say « simple comme bonjour », an expression which cannot be used in Esperanto where you need two accusatives to say « good morning » (good day) : « Bonan tagon ». German uses only one in « Guten tag » and the other European languages which have an accusative don’t use it when they say « good morning », for ex : Greek καλημερα «kaliméra », Serbo-Croatian « dobar dan », Polish « dzień dobry », Czech « dobrý den», Slovene « dober dan », Lithuanian « laba diena », and so on… just like Uropi "bun dia".

Another example will show you how complicated the use of these accusatives for nouns and adjectives may be :

Esp. Mi vidas belajn rozojn = 5 different grammatical endings instead of one in Uropi
Ur.   I viz bel roze = I (can) see beautiful roses.
To see this article in its context, in 3 languages (Uropi, French, English): 

The last article (Ur-Fr-Eng) on the Uropi Blog: Andersen's Fairy Tales, The Little Mermaid: 


  1. Just one very minor remark : In Esperanto 'i vok' is 'mi parolas', not 'mi parlas'.

    Moreover, IMHO, accusative is useless indeed, while genetive may be an advantage, when we regard it less as a grammatical case than as a possessive phrase nearly like the adjective... Both have a same nature with slight differences however.

  2. Thanks a lot for your remarks; I'm not a proficient Esperantist myself.

    Anyway the Esperanto word "parolo" (= Italian "parola", French "parole") comes from the Greek "parabolê" meaning comparison, allegorical story, in the same way as Spanish "hablar" and Portuguese "falar" come from Latin "fabula" = fable.

    The common Indo-European root *wekw- (speak) which gave Uropi "voko" = speak, means voice utterance, as in Sanskrit "vakti" to speak, "vacas"= voice, spoken word, Latin "vox" = voice, "voco" = to call, Italian "voce", Spanish "voz", French "voix", English "voice" …

  3. Concerning the accusative and the genitive, I totally agree with you:

    the accusative is useless, and the proof of this is that most languages which used to have an accusative, i-e Indo-European languages have got rid of it or are gradually getting rid of it:

    This is the case for all Romance and Germanic languages except German, for Armenian (which has 6 cases, including the genitive, but has no accusative: it has a direct case for subject and object / nominative and accusative).

    Other languages have considerably reduced their accusatives which are gradually disappearing: this is the case for Albanian (the accusative remains only for determinate masculine and feminine nouns in the singular: miku/mikun = friend, vájza/vájzan = girl)

    for modern Greek, where the accusative remains only for masculine nouns: sg: o anthropos/ton anthropo = man(human); pl. i anthropi/tous anthropous = men.

    On the other hand, the same languages have all kept the genitive for all types of nouns: Albanian, Armenian, Greek, Romanian and all Germanic languages except Dutch (cf the English possessive phrase: My father's car, which is a genitive.)… from which we can conclude that, contrary to the accusative the genitive IS useful.