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Makapi is a proposed international auxiliary language. It was mostly made for fun, and for personal use. Makapi is just my take on the international auxiliary language, to see if I can bring anything new. It attempts to straddle the line between international intelligibility and simplicity. Makapi was created with three goals in mind:

  1. To be able to talk about anything with precision. From selling fish at a market to a scientific paper, Makapi should be able to talk about it all. Naturally, then, Makapi will have a large lexicon.
  2. Makapi should be easily pronounceable by everyone. A small inventory and minimal consonant clusters are a must.
  3. Makapi's grammar should also be simple, with minimal conjugation and inflection.

Phonology Edit

Makapi has 15 consonants, 3 vowels and 2 diphthongs. The stress of all words is on the first syllable, but stress can be omitted if the speaker prefers.

Consonants Edit

Labial Coronal Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n
Stop p b t d t͡ʃ k g
Fricative f s h
Approximant w l j

Vowels Edit

Front Back
Close i u
Open a
Diphthongs ai au

Phonotactics Edit

In most basic words, the maximum allowed syllable structure is (C)(A)V(N), where A is one of the approximants and N is one of the nasals. Most syllables can begin with any phoneme and contain any vowel, the two exceptions are /wu/ and /ji/, which can never occur word initially. Regular words can only end in a vowel, but not a diphthong. Finally, only some consonants can pair with each approximant. Rare pairs are put in italics.

with /l/ pl, bl; tl, dl; kl, gl; fl; sl
with /w/ tw, dw; kw, gw; fw; sw; lw
with /j/ my; ny; ly; py, by; ty, dy; ky, gy; fy; sy

In more complex words, such as months, country names and scientific words, syllables can end in a plosive or any other consonant word medially. The syllable structure for these words is more like (C)(A)V(C). In the more complex words, a syllable can end in anything other than /j/, /w/ and /h/. But even in these more complex words, if a syllable ends with a nasal the syllable following it cannot begin with a nasal. Finally, in one syllable particle words, words can end in /l/, /f/ or /s/, in addition to a vowel or nasal.

Allophony Edit

Although anyone speaking Makapi should try to be as precise as possible to aid understandability and avoid alienation based on accent, when speakers of many languages come together there are going to be sounds that some will not be able to pronounce. Below are several lists of consonants that are considered to be allophones of the main consonants.

There are two types of allophones in Makapi. The first are allophones that only occur under certain conditions. Before mentioning the others, there are two of these allophones that are basically a must. The others are optional and slightly discouraged, but these pronunciations are natural for anyone when speaking. /n/ is pronounced as [ŋ] before /k/ or /g/, and /m/ is pronounced as [ɱ] before /f/. Aside from those, here are the allophones that can only occur under certain conditions:

Phoneme Allophone Condition
/a/ [ɑ] in an unstressed syllable
/f/ [v] adjacent to a voiced consonant
/i/ [ɪ] in an unstressed syllable
/l/ [ɾ] after /t/ or /d/
/s/ [z] adjacent to a voiced consonant
/t͡ʃ/ [d͡ʒ] adjacent to a voiced consonant
/u/ [ʊ] in an unstressed syllable

It is especially encouraged, however, that you do not voice /f/, as /f/ and /w/ have five minimal pairs. /w/ and [v] should be more allophonic than /f/ and [v].

The second type of allophone is in free variation with its official counterpart. It is used to help people who cannot easily pronounce one of the less common sounds in Makapi. It is assumed that any variants of the fricatives or affricate can be voiced in the same positions that the standard pronunciation is voiced.

Phoneme Allophone(s)
/a/ [ɑ]
/ai̯/ [a.i] [ayi]
/au̯/ [a.u] [awu]
/t͡ʃ/ [t͡s] [t͡ɕ] [t͡ʂ]
/f/ [ɸ]
/h/ [x]
/l/ [ɾ]
/w/ [v] [ʋ]

As you can see above, the diphthongs do not have to be treated as such, and the two vowels can be pronounced as separate syllables. There are no minimal pairs for /awu/ and /au̯/, or /ayi/ and /ai̯/.

Finally, if any of the consonant clusters are too difficult, they can be pronounced with an epenthetic vowel. Just try to make this vowel as short as possible.

Minimal Pairs Edit

Makapi does, despite all it tries to do, contain minimal pairs that could be difficult to speakers of some languages. There are many minimal pairs between the voiced and voiceless plosives, even word medially or adjacent to nasals, especially between /t/ and /d/. For example, compare: libi (to live) to lipi (to jump), finga (finger) to finka (farm), sinti (to feel) to sindi (to send). Another pair that could cause confusion is the distinction between /f/ and /w/, which both have the acceptable allophone of [v]. Only a few minimal pairs exist, such as sufa (sofa) vs. suwa (sweetness).

Commonality Edit

The following is a list of each phoneme and whether it, or an acceptable equivalent, exists in the UN languages and proposed UN languages. A ✔ means that it is in the phonemic inventory of the language, a ~ means that an acceptable equivalent is in the language, and an x means no equivalent exists.

Phoneme

Arabic Bengali English French Hindi Mandarin Portuguese Russian Spanish Turkish %
/a/ ~ ~ 100%
/ai̯/ x x 80%
/au̯/ x x x x 60%
/b/ x 90%
/d/ x 90%
/f/ 100%
/g/ x x 80%
/h/ x ~ x ~ ~ 80%
/i/ 100%
/j/ 100%
/k/ 100%
/l/ 100%
/m/ 100%
/n/ 100%
/p/ x 90%
/s/ 100%
/t/ 100%
/t͡ʃ/ x x ~ 80%
/u/ 100%
/w/ ~ ~ ~ 100%

These languages are, in total, spoken by about ~40% of the world population natively. Most of these sounds can be pronounced by most of these speakers. The only rare one is /au̯/, at 60%, which can just be broken up into two syllables.

Due to the way that borrowing works, the rarest phonemes internationally are also among the rarest in Makapi's lexicon. The five rarest consonants in the lexicon are as follows, from most to least rare : /t͡ʃ/, /h/, /w/, /j/ and /g/. With the exception of /j/, and /w/ if allophones are counted, the rest are among the rarest Makapi phonemes across the widely spoken languages of the world, and each of the diphthongs occurs less than even /t͡ʃ/.

Orthography Edit

Makapi is almost always written with the Latin alphabet. It can be written in Cyrillic, for example, but it in all official text it should be written in the Latin alphabet. The following are listed in alphabetical order. The diphthongs are not part of the ordinary alphabet

Phoneme

Grapheme English Approximation Makapi Example
/a/ a father aba (tree)
/ai̯/ ai price aisa (ice)
/au̯/ au mouth aula (gold)
/b/ b bit bata (boat)
/t͡ʃ/ c cheap cila (sky)
/d/ d din duba (bear)
/f/ f fat fisa (face)
/g/ g gut gamba (leg)
/h/ h ham hiba (grass)
/i/ i fleece iha (child)
/k/ k king kana (dog)
/l/ l left luka (arm)
/m/ m map mana (hand)
/n/ n no nasa (nose)
/p/ p pit pana (bread)
/s/ s sap siga (goat)
/t/ t tin tasa (cup)
/u/ u goose uha (ear)
/w/ w we wala (wall)
/j/ y yes yana (eye)

Most letters corresponds to their IPA value, with two exceptions. Once is quite obvious, as /t͡ʃ/ would be unnecessarily inconvenient to write with its IPA value. But why ⟨y⟩ for /j/? Well, in three of the most commonly spoken languages in the world English, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish, the symbol y represents /j/ or something close to it. Plus, it's easier to differentiate ⟨y⟩ and ⟨j⟩ than ⟨i⟩ and ⟨j⟩.

If a combination of two vowels is not a diphthong, the two vowels are written with the semivowel that corresponds to the first vowel between the two. For example, /ia/ is written as iya, /ua/ is written as uwa etc.

Capitalization Edit

Like English, the beginning of a Makapi sentence and proper names are capitalized. This includes the names of people, languages and countries. However, the names of the days and months are written in lowercase, unlike in English.

Vocabulary Edit

The vocabulary of Makapi is derived from the following languages, in order from most words taken to least: Common Romance, English, Latin, Esperanto, German, French, Italian, Russian, Greek, Arabic, Hindi, Mandarin Chinese, Turkish, Japanese and Lojban. When borrowing from source languages, the following phonological changes are commonly made:

Source Language Phone

Makapi Sound(s)
[d͡ʒ] c
[e] i
[ɛ]
[ŋ] n, ng
[ɲ] n, ny
[o] u
[ɔ]
[y]
[r] l, Ø
[ɾ]
[ʃ] s
[t͡s]
[v] f, w
[x] h

Looking at the source languages, it is clear that Makapi's vocabulary is largely eurocentric. But why does it have to be that way? There are several reasons.

  1. There is a large speaker pool of people who speak Romance languages, with 670 million people being able to speak them.
  2. The phonotactics and phonology of the Romance languages are often simple and easier to convert to Makapi. In fact, the only sounds that Latin has that Makapi lacks are /r/ and /z/ (kʷ and ɡʷ if you want to get really technical), making it especially easy. The only other source language that fits this criteria is Japanese, and much fewer people are familiar with Japanese than Romance roots.
  3. The consonants of Romance languages have simpler analogues. This was the biggest roadblock to Mandarin, the most spoken language in the world. Using pinyin for a second, ⟨zh⟩, ⟨ch⟩, ⟨j⟩ and ⟨q⟩ all become ⟨c⟩ in Makapi, and ⟨c⟩, ⟨z⟩, ⟨s⟩, ⟨sh⟩ and ⟨x⟩ all become ⟨s⟩. This is all in addition to that fact that Makapi is not tonal, so it is likely that dozens or possibly hundreds of distinct words in Mandarin would become homophones when converted to Makapi, making it impossible for any Mandarin speaker to guess the meaning just by looking.

Grammar Edit

Basic Grammar Edit

Makapi is a highly analytic and isolating language, meaning that it has no word inflection at all. All nouns have one form, and all verbs have one form, although some new words are derived from existing words. Basic word order is SVO, and all adjectives follow the nouns and verbs they modify. There are no articles and there is no copula.

Parts of Speech Edit

Like Esperanto, the way a Makapi word ends indicates its part of speech. As a general rule, nouns end in -a and verbs and adjectives end in -i, because adjectives behave much like intransitive verbs. Other parts of speech, such as pronouns and particles can end in anything but a plosive and h, w and y. This includes a and i.

When adding -i to a noun-based word, the only way to know whether it will become a verb or adjective is to memorize it. When changing an adjective or verb into a noun form, usually replacing -i with -a is enough.

There are seven parts of speech in Makapi: Nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, prepositions, conjunctions and particles. Adjectives also act as adverbs do in English without changing form. A few particles can also take the role of adverbs. And finally, some words can fulfill both the role of preposition and conjunction.

Nouns Edit

As stated above, nouns in Makapi always end in -a. They do not inflect for number or case. There are only two nouns which have an inherent gender, mama and papa, meaning "mother" and "father" respectively. All other nouns have no inherent gender, and if you want to specify the gender you need to use a suffix. As there is no copula, to say that a noun is another noun, simply stick them together. The sentence papa umana, for example, means "father is a person." The conventional way to make a noun plural is to use the adjective muci, meaning "many".

Pronouns Edit

The basic personal pronouns are the only thing in Makapi that are distinguish between singular and plural. They are as follows:

singular plural
first person mi ni
second person ti

third person

li di
indefinite wi
reflexive si

Unlike English, the third person pronoun does not change for animacy or gender. Living or not, and no matter the gender, the third person pronoun is li in the singular and di in the plural.

Ti, unlike the the first and third person pronouns, does not change form to become plural. Much like English, ti can mean either "thou" or "you all." If "you all" must be expressed unambiguously, the form ti muci is used, simply using the regular plural marker.

The possessive version of these pronouns can be made in one of two ways. Both are equally valid, though the first is more ambiguous. They can simply act as adjectives and follow the noun, or the possessive preposition da can be used.

The indefinite pronoun, wi, although sometimes translated as "one" or "they," is used more often than either of those constructions are in English. Since Makapi lacks a passive voice, wi does not imply a person, but a completely unknown agent. For example, the phrase "the bread is being eaten" would be translated as wi iti pana, or "one eats the bread." The bread could be being eaten by a person, animal, whatever. This sentence acts like the English passive voice in the fact that it emphasizes the object of the sentence.

The reflexive pronoun is used wherever a -self word would be used in English. For example, the sentence pana iti si would be translated as "the bread is eating itself." All pronouns use the reflexive pronoun, including the first and second person pronouns.

There are three demonstratives in Makapi, and they can act as either adjectives or nouns. hi which means "that," ci which means "this," and ki which means "which." They can come before a noun and act like adjectives, or they can act like nouns themselves. The sentence hi iti pana hi means "that thing is eating that bread."

Finally, there is the relative pronoun ku. It translates as "which," "that" or "who" in English, and is used to separate the noun and verb in a relative clause. For example, the phrase papa ku iti pana means "the father who eats bread." It can not be used in a passive sense like in the phrase, "the bread which I ate."

Prepositions Edit

Prepositional phrases can be placed anywhere in the sentence, but generally they are placed after the verb but before the object. Several cases are expressed with prepositions instead of inflectional morphology. Many of these also function as conjunctions. Here is a list of common Makapi prepositions and their English equivalents. Unlike many natural languages, prepositions in Makapi can precede a verb.

Makapi Preposition

English Meaning(s)
a to, towards, until
antu before
apu beside, next to
aus out of, from
ca on account of
da of, 's
dum during, while
fu outside of
in in, within
intu between, among
klum except
kun with
nahu after
pal for, in order to
plu about, concerning
pu by means of, with
sigun according to
sin without
su at, on
subu below, under
suplu above
tam like

Unlike English, there are only two prepositions that indicate physical location, in and sul. Sul is used only when one object is on another's surface, and in is used for all other purposes. Neither is used for expressions of time, where dum is used instead.

Verbs Edit

Verbs, like nouns, only have one form. They do not inflect for tense, number, gender, mood or aspect. These functions can be replicated by the use of particles. The main tense particles used are ha and la, which indicate the past tense and the future tense, respectively. They go in the same place that adverbs go, and they always come after all adverbs. In the case of the zero copula, ha and la go where the copula would for nouns, but they treat adjectives like verbs. So for example, papa ha ihula means "father was a boy", but papa gudi ha means "father was good".

A verb can be either transitive or intransitive. Whether a specific verb is transitive or intransitive has to be memorized, though it is usually obvious. The verb igi is used to mean cause, and is how intransitive verbs can be used in their transitive sense. The sentence pana insindi, for example, means "the bread is burning." The sentence papa igi pana insindi means "father is burning the bread." Notice that in this type of sentence, the second verb comes after the object.

There is no conditional mood, the mood expressed with English "would." In conditional statements, made with the conjunction if, the conditional mood is implied. The sentence if papa afami, li iti pana, means "if father were hungry, he would eat bread." It can also be translated as "if father is hungry, he eats bread" but this causes little ambiguity.

A mood similar to a subjunctive mood can be expressed with the auxiliary verb ibli, which means "may" "please" or "let." papa ibli iti means "may father eat" or "please eat father."

Adjectives/Adverbs Edit

Adjectives, like verbs, end in -i. They always come after the thing they describe. The place of an adjective is especially significant, as its placement determines whether it acts as an adjective or adverb. The difference between the sentences papa gudi iti and papa iti gudi is very significant, with the former meaning "the good father eats" and the latter meaning "the father eats well."

To negate an adjective or verb, the particle na is used. It is placed after both adjectives and verbs, but before any tense particles. papa gudi na, means "the father is not good." Also, see the sentences papa iti na pana and papa iti na ha pana, which means "father does not eat bread" and "father did not eat bread."

Any adjective can be made into a transitive verb with the suffix -isi. For example, gudisi means "to make good." There is no intransitive version of this, with the verb cangwi meaning "become" used in this situation.

Conjunctions and Comparisons Edit

The following are the common conjunctions, and they should be placed exactly between the words, phrases or clauses they modify, or at the start of a sentence.

Makapi Conjunction

English Meaning(s)
au or
i and
if if
minus minus
plus plus
nu but, however

Number System Edit

The cardinal numbers usually act as adjectives, though they do not end in -i.

Makapi Number

English Meaning Cardinal Number
nul zero 0
un one 1
du two 2
twa three 3
kwal four 4
kwin five 5
sis six 6
sif seven 7
utu eight 8
nin nine 9
dis ten 10
kintu hundred 100
mil thousand 1000

The number system is base 10, and the number system is written with spaces in between all the numbers. The number eleven, for example, is written dis un, twenty one is written as du dis un etc.

Beyond these basic numbers, the number miliyun is used, followed by -liyun/-iliyun with numerical values.

Makapi Number

(American) English Meaning Exponent
miliyun million 106
mil miliyun billion 109
duliyun trillion 1012
mil duliyun quadrillion 1015
twaliyun quintillion 1018
mil twaliyun sextillion 1021

To create ordinal numbers, the adjectival ending -i is added to the numbers, and -yi added to the ones that end in vowels. uni means "first," duyi means "second," etc. This is put only on the last part of a larger number, so du dis uni means "twenty first."

To talk about fractions, the suffix is -aila is added to a number. If the number ends in an -a, the whole ending is replaced with -aila. For example, duwaila is a half, kwalaila is a quarter.

Questions Edit

The word ki, meaning "what" or "which," is used to form most questions. It also comes at the very beginning of a sentence to form a yes or no question. The interrogative words, like "who," "what" or "how," are ussually formed with ki and a preposition in Makapi. Here are some common question words formed by ki:

English

Interrogative

Makapi Phrase Literal Translation
what (thing) ki which, what
who umana ki which person
whose da umana ki of which person
when dum ki during what
where in ki at which place
why ca ki because of what
how pu ki by means of what
how much da kwanta ki of which amount

Word Formation Edit

In Makapi, there are a number of suffixes that can form new words from old ones. Here is the complete list:

Suffix

Meaning Example
-ada person tici = to teach

ticada = teacher

-aila fraction kwa = four

kwaila = one quarter

-ana person from a place Duwica = Germany

Duwicana = A German

-ila tool that does kumbi = to comb

kumbila = comb

-iplini full of (noun) nuba = cloud

nubiplini = cloudy

-isi to cause to be like (adjective only) haisi = hot

haisisi = to heat up

-ita female iha = child

ihita = girl

-itasa denotes a condition or state (noun only) papa = father

papitasa = fatherhood

-itasi denotes a quality

(noun only, main -i ending functions as a verb)

nasa = nose

nasitasi = nasal

-iya place aplindi = to learn

aplindiya = school

-upli multiplicative twa = three

twawupli = threefold

-ula male iha = child

ihula = boy

Exonyms Edit

All exonyms are attempted to be derived from endonyms. Although this may be slightly less international, it is for the comfort of the people who must address their own country or people. The names can have a more complex syllable structure than basic words, with the word Ispanya, for example, meaning Spain. Some country names, specifically those ending in -i or -ia, are changed to -iha instead of -iya to avoid associating the country with an existing Makapi word. Mali, for example, would become Maliya, meaning "bad place," so it is changed to Maliha. Some country names are left with -iya if the -iya-less form doesn't mean anything, like Indunisiya, meaning "Indonesia." Indunisi is not a word in Makapi, so the -iya form is fine.

Most language names are derived from country names, usually where the language came from originally. The word for languages are represented by adjective forms, as the word "language" is implied, much like what English does. Here is an example chart, using the word Ispanya as an example:

Makapi Word

Meaning
Ispanya Spain
Ispanyi Spanish (language or other)
Ispanyana Spaniard, Spanish Person

Languages that don't have a specific country or place associated with them, such as Ulduwi (Urdu) still act as adjectives. If an ethnic group is associated with the language, then the language is treated as a country and -ana is added. Using the word Alabi (Arabic Language) as an example:

Makapi Word

Meaning
Alabi Arabic
Alabana An Arab

Proper Names Edit

Most countries have Makapi names, and eventually some cities will have official names. Also, there will be official translations of many common names. But what about other places or people? There are two possibilities. One, just use the name's official spelling in the Latin alphabet. Diacritical marks can be used or not, depending on preference.

Mi laiki San Fransisco = I like San Fransisco

Mi diki a Micheal = I am talking to Micheal

Mi andi a Moskva = I am going to Moscow

Two, you can use phonetic transcriptions to Makapi, adding either noun endings or not. You can end a masculine name in -u, and it still counts as a noun. These words, like country names, can have more complex phonotactics than basic vocabulary.

Mi laiki Sanflansiska = I like San Fransisco

Mi diki a Maikal/Maikala/Maikalu = I am talking to Micheal

Mi andi a Maska/Maskwa = I am going to Moscow

Lexicon Edit

The full lexicon can be found here.

A condensed lexicon of common words can be found here.

The Swadesh List for Makapi can be found on the Wikia here.

A list of all country names can be found here.

And finally, a list for some language names can be found here.

Common Phrases Edit

English

Makapi
How are you? Ki ti gudi?
Good morning Matina gudi
Good afternoon Diya gudi
Good night Naita gudi
Hello Saluta
Goodbye Lifa gudi
Thank you Danka
You're welcome Li tina nai
Please Ibli
I'm sorry Bidaula
I am __ years old Mi habi ana __
I speak Makapi Mi diki Makapi
I speak English Mi diki Ingli
One beer, please Mi ibli habi bila un

Sample Texts Edit

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Edit

Umana tuti naki tam libili i igali an dinita i plafa. Wi dali ha a di lisuna i kunsinsa i di ibli dibi agi a si pu mituda abli.

English translation
All people are born as free and equal concerning dignity and right. One has given to them reason and conscience and may they have to act towards themselves in a siblingly manner.
Gloss
person all be-born as free and equal about dignity and right. one give PST towards they reason and conscience and they may must act towards REFL by-means-of way sibling-ADJ.

Lord's Prayer/Our Father Edit

Papa ni in cila, wi ibli santisi nama ti. Kingiya ti ibli andi, wi ibli agi fula ti. Ti ibli dali a ni pana tutidiyi ni dum diya ci. I ti ibli paduni ni ca pika ni, tam ni paduni pikada ni a ni. I ti ibli na kunduki ni a tinta, nu ti ibli libilisi ni aus mala. Kas tina ti kingiya, fima i glula, itini. Amin.

English translation
Our father in heaven, may one make your name holy. May your kingdom go, may one do your will. May you give us our everyday bread on this day. And may you forgive us on account of our sins, as we forgive our sinner to us. And may you not lead us towards temptation, however may you free us from badness. Because your thing is your kingdom, strength and glory, forever. Amen.
Gloss
father we in sky, one may holy-make name you. king-place you may go, one may do will you. you may give to we bread all-day we during day this. and you may pardon us on-account-of sin we, as we forgive sin-person we to we. and you may-NEG lead we to temptation, however you may free-make we from badness. because thing you king-place, strength and glory, eternally. amen.

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