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Lilipu is a conlang or "constructed language." Like the miniature Japanese bonsai tree, Lilipu exemplifies "Small is beautiful." It is designed as a language in which to create haiku, a Japanese poetic style, usually about nature, which generally has three lines with 5 syllables on the first, 7 on the second, and 5 on the last. Lilipu is a "tropicalistic" language.

In Papua New Guinea, there is a natural language called Rotokas spoken by about 4000 people. It has only 11 phonemes (sounds), consisting of 5 vowels and 6 consonants. This is the smallest known phonemic inventory in the world.

In Lilipu, my ambition was to beat Rotokas in being even smaller. I wanted only 9 phonemes: 3 vowels, 6 consonants. The whole Lilipu alphabet is: a, i, k, l, m, p, u, v, '. (The names of these letters in Lilipu are: 'a, 'i, ka, la, ma, pa, 'u, va, 'iki.)

The three vowels are:

a as in father

i as in machine

u as in lunar

The six consonants are:

k as in skin

l as in love

m as in moo

p as in spin

v as in victory

' is a glottal stop, which is like the catch in the throat between the two o's in "co-ordinate."

The stress in Lilipu is always the last syllable of a polysyllabic word like vuluLU or mimaVU. The syllable structure is always consonant+vowel. There are no consonant clusters or diphthongs.

vima vululu

valuki va mimavu

vu pi'ili la

in a volcano

the dragon hides

the ring

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