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Language

20(ish) Vowels.

Officially English has twenty vowel sounds but only five vowel letters. The other vowel sounds are represented by combinations of two or more letters. Unfortunately most of these vowel sounds can be represented by multiple different combinations with no apparent logic or consistency. For example, the words “boot” and “hook” have quite different pronunciations, both of them closer to “u” sounds than “o”.
If a more phonetic form of English is desired then the vowel sounds seem a very logical place to start.
The five “basic” vowels are:
Sound
Usually written
Examples
/æ/
a
mat, pat, lap
/ɛ/
e
met, pet, let
/ɪ/
i
bin, pit, lip
/ɒ/
o
rot, pot, lot
/ʌ/
u
fun, sun, luck = fun, sun, luhk
 
These are relatively consistent, so we will move on to the other vowel sounds. In the second column I suggest standardized letter combinations to represent these. Further discussion of these is in the section below:
/eɪ/
ay/ ey
wait, day, late = wayt, day, layt.
/ɑ:/
ar/ aa
far, car
/eə/
er/ ayr
air, care, where =ayer, kayr, wayr
/iː/
ii
sheep, meat, fiend, elite = shiip, miit, fiind, ayliit/ eyliit.
/ɪə/
ir
steer, near, here = stir, nir, hir
/ɜ:/
ur
stir, her, word, bird, hurt = stur, hur, wurd, burd, hurt
/aɪ/
ai/ iy
I, sign, fight, dry, ice = ai, sain, fait, drai, ais/ iy, siyn, fiyt, driy, iys.
/u:/
u/ uu
do, doom, through, boot = du/ duu, duum, thru/ thruu, buut
/ɔɪ/
oy
coin, toy = koyn, toy
/əʊ/
oh
boat, note, snow, know = boht, noht, snoh, noh
/ʊə/
or
for, oar, worn, door, more, saw, paw, lore = for, or, worn, dor, mor, sor, por, lor.
/aʊ/
ou
sound, cow, how, now = sound, kou, hou, nou
/ʊ/
u
look, hook = luk, huk
/juː/
yu
few, due, cube = fyu, dyu, kyub.
 
One of the surprises in constructing this table is the variability of how “u” is used. The dictionary insists words like “do” and “through” are a “long u” (/u:/) while I would be inclined to pronounce them “du” and “thru”. Indeed, this would be my inclination to pronounce any word ending in a “u”. “Look” is obviously a short “u” sound, “luk”. Spelling “luck” phonetically in the above system gives us “luk” too although pronunciation is obviously different, hence I used “luhk”. Further examination of the ways “u” is used as a phoneme may be needed.
The “i” in words like “high” or “wire” is represented by “ay” in SaypYu. To my mind this is too likely to be taken as “-ay” as in “may” by English speakers. As far as I know “ay” is always pronounced “/eɪ/” in English. SaypYu’s use of “ay” requires the unnecessary respelling of many perfectly reasonably spelt English words. In the past I have suggested that this should be “ai”, pronounced as in “thai”. A good case can be made for instead using the letter combination “iy”. Thus words such a “fire” become “fiyr”, which is fairly easy to comprehend.
Saypyu uses “ey” to represent the “a” sound in words such as “may” or “same”. If “iy” or “ai” is used to represent the gliding “i” “ay” can be used to represent the gliding “a” and is more easily comprehended by English speakers. There may be a case made for using both “ey” and “ay”. “Ey” would be used for “/eɪ/” sounds not traditionally spelt “ay”. One problem with phonetically spelling English is it increases the number of homographs, something that the language hardly needs!
“er/ ayr” is another case where two different spellings may be used. Words such as “air”, “care” and “where” are more easily comprehended using the “ayr” spelling : “ayr”, “kayr”, “wayr”. The spelling of other words may be clearer using what is effectively a rhotic form of schwa. The distinction between these two may be more pronounced in some accents and dialects.
The long “a” is another phoneme that might be represented two ways. In the above table examples are given of a rhotic form but this may not be applicable for some words. Alternately “ah” may be used instead. Is “father” better spelt “fardher”, “fahdher” or “faadher”?
/ɔː/ as in “saw” or “sore” would usually be represented by “or”. For some uses such as /ɔːl/ or /ɔl/” in “ball” the use of “au” to create “aul” might be clearer.

Careful readers will have realised that the above options give this system more than twenty vowel sounds. They may also have noted that the two tables only have nineteen rows! The missing vowel sound is schwa, which is not represented by a letter in English. Unlike Saypyu I have attempted to create a vowel system that for the most part uses existing English constructions. This system should be comprehendible to native English speakers as well as easy for non-native speakers to learn. Schwa will usually be represented by “e” although in some words it may be clearer if another vowel is used.
The above vowel system is relatively easy to remember. Firstly, you have the digraphs that end in “-r” : ar, er, ir, or, and ur, to which we might add “ayr”.
Then come the doubled letters : ii, uu, au and possibly aa.
Next come the digraphs with a “y” in : yu, ay, ey, iy, oy.
And last, the other “o”s : oh, ou.
This gives seventeen vowels, which with schwa and the single letter vowels is twenty-three in total. Some of these vowels represent the same or similar phonemes. ah, eh, ih and uh might also be considered to be digraph vowels.  This gives us a much more logical and intuitive system than traditional English.
An example:
“Aul hyumen biingz ar born frii and iikwel in digniti and riytz. Dhey ar endoud widh riizen and konshens and shud akt tewordz wun enodher in ey spirit ov brodherhud.”
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Language

Superlatives and Comparatives.

English has two ways to form comparatives and superlatives. The first is by preceding the item being described by the adverb “more” or “most”. This is the system used in many European languages and also in Mandarin. Some languages, such as Portuguese use one word, “mais” meaning “more” and “ o mais” meaning “the most”. The word “most” in English is somewhat ambivalent. “most red” means nothing discussed is more red. “Most people” means the majority, not the entirety.

The second commonly used system uses the suffixes -er and -est. “-er” is also used to create agent nouns in English. It is also used for words that are neither comparatives nor agent nouns. Its actual pronunciation in RP English is “-ə”.

Both systems are widely used in English, the choice being determined by the syllable number of the word being modified. The system used in Diinlang needs to be simpler to learn but remain versatile.

The first draft of Diinlang used the suffixes “-ha” and “-ho” for the comparative and superlative. Observing that the “h” sound could sometimes be problematic for my Portuguese-speaking friends I then changed this to “-tah” and “-toh”. Latest idea is to instead convert these to prefixes. This is easier to learn for speakers of the many languages that form comparatives and superlatives with a word before the word of interest. It also maintains a convenient single word form for when the comparative or superlative word is uses as an adjective.
Many quantities in English are described by a number of words. Temperature, for example is described by “hot”, “cold”, “warm”, “cool”, “tepid” etc. For Diinlang we want a logical system that is easier to learn. It should be easy and logical to deduce the word for a smaller or larger quantity of a property. The system I propose for Diinlang uses the prefixes “et/mes/tai”. “tai” comes from Chinese and is used in terms such as “tai chi” which means “great ultimate”. It also means “the highest part of a roof”. “et” is a diminutive used in some English words such as “bomblet”. “et” therefore means a small amount of something, “tai” a large amount.
To illustrate how this works, let us assume that the word for temperature is “hii”. This is adapted from the Dutton speedword for heat, “he”. Cold is “he-x”, meaning “opposite of heat” and temperature is actually “gre-he” where “gre” means “grade, degree or stage.
taihii” would mean hot or high temperature.
ethii” would mean cold.
meshii” would mean medium heat. This can be taken as a temperature comfortable for human beings.
etmeshii” and “mestaihii” represent cool and warm temperatures.
With the comparative prefix added “tataihii” means hotter and thus “totaihii” is “hottest”.
With this basic system you only need to know the core word for weight, number, mass, height etc to form the derived words for large or small quantities, comparatives or superlatives.
A superlative or comparative usually needs to be compared with something. In English this is often introduced by the word “than”. “Your porridge is hotter than mine!” One option in Diinlang is to use “di” as the comparative conjunction. In many languages the equivalent to di (of/from) is used in this way.
In English comparisons are also made using the word “as”, particularly when the two things are regarded as similar. “You are nearly as tall as me!” Note the “as…as…” format, although the first “as” is sometimes omitted. “as” is a nice, compact word but with a definition that is hard to pin down. Possibly in Diinlang “as” can be used as a more general purpose conjunction and used instead of “than” even when there is a considerable difference between the items.
Ti bi tataihii as mi” = “You are hotter than me”
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Language

Plurals, Gender and Possession.

Continuing the introduction of some of the basic framework of Diinlang.
Plurals.
As may have been deduced by the previous posts plurals are formed by the addition of -z at the end. Phonetically this is the same as an -s ending is usually pronounced in English. The -z ending is used on nouns and also used to make the plural pronouns. “we”, “they”, “us”, “them”, “these” and “those” are all created by adding a -z to the equivalent singular pronoun. Hence we have miz, ziz, saz and siz. The z can also be added to the one letter words to form their plural. If a word ends in “-s” or some other construction that does not euphonically mesh with “-z” then “-iz”,  can be used instead. 
The -z can be dropped if the sentence has an obvious indicator of plurality. “Three coffee” is an acceptable construction since it contains a plural number.
Ideally in Diinlang the only words ending in -z will be plurals. In an older draft I had “plu” for amount/much and “pluz” for number/ many. This will probably be changed.
Gender.
Most words in Diinlang are of neutral gender. One way to indicate gender of a individual is to compound their designation with the relevant singular third person pronoun. This is the same as is sometimes done in English with constructions such as “she-wolf”. Another way to indicate gender is to add an -o suffix for a male or a -a suffix for a female. Since it is planned that most words in Diinlang end in -m, -n, -ng, -i or -u then -o or -a endings can be added without needing to substitute letters. Obviously we want to avoid ungendered words that end in o or a. A work around may be to spell such words more phonetically with an -oh or -ah but this is not entirely satisfactory. Neither is that only nouns are likely to be gendered in this way.
Some pronouns take their gender using the same convention. The third person neuter singular pronoun “zi” can become “zio” or “zia” to mean “he” or “she”. In single letter form this becomes “zo” and “za”. Plural gendered constructions are also possible. A body of males could be referred to as “zoz”. “Ze” will most probably be used instead of “zi”. 
A number of non-noun words end in -o or -a. These include “ya”, “no”, “sa” and “so”, meaning “yes”, “no”, “this/here” and “that yonder”.

A simpler approach may be to gender nouns with -zoand-zawhich agrees with the system proposed for gendered agent nouns and maintains the option for neutral words ending in -o or -a. Non-agent nouns can be gendered by using “zo” and “za” as prefixes.
Possession.
The use of the apostrophe, particularly for possession, is something that seems to baffle many native English speakers. A basic guideline is that if a word is both plural and ending in -s put an apostrophe at the end. If it is not both plural and ending in -s then add -’s. Children is plural but does not end in -s so becomes “children’s”. Not that difficult! Of course, English being the eccentric language it is there are oddities. Possessive pronouns such as “mine”, “yours”, “his”, “hers” and “whose” don’t take apostrophes, but “one’s” does.  
There is no possessive apostrophe in Diinlang. In Diinlang there are several ways to indicate possession. One is the “_ of xxx” construction used in many European languages. The Diinlang word for “of” or “from” is “di” which can be represented by the single letter “d”. Incidentally, rather than saying “a play by Shakespeare” in Diinlang the construction would translate as “ a play from Shakespeare” so use “d” or “di”.
Possession can also be indicated by using the noun or pronoun as an adjective. “John’s book” and “his book” translates as “John book” and “he book”. Since this is a noun phrase this construction will often have an article before the noun or pronoun, for example “the John book” or “those John books”.
Sometimes there is a need to emphasise possession. In English you might say “Dean and myself got beers. I held his”. To an English speaker it is obvious that it is Dean’s beer that I was holding. In Diinlang “his” is usually replaced by “zio”. Such a sentence could be translated as “I held him”. When the possessive nature of a noun or pronoun needs emphasis the marker “vo” is placed after it. “I held his” would be correctly written “mi held zio vo” or “m held zo vo”.
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Language

Verb System Part One.

       Version 2.2
 [Page updated to use new definite article and third person pronouns]
        As might be expected from a conlang, the verbs in Diinlang are regular. Some conlangs use totally uninflected verbs, others are highly inflected. Diinlang generally uses a bare infinitive but also uses regularly derived perfect and progressive forms.
        A word used as a verb in Diinlang may have three possible forms. These are the bare infinitive form, the continuous/progressive form and the perfect form. The two latter forms are regularly constructed by the addition of the prefixes “is-” and “dun-”. This replaces the older version which used bi-” and “av-”. Some later pages may still use these prefixes. The use of a prefix allows these forms to be used as nouns or adjectives/adverbs when required. This gives us greater potential for information and flexibility. Consider the English phrases:

        The open door.

        The opened door.

        The opening door.

        For convenience the continuous/progressive form in English is hereafter called the “-ing form”.
        Verb tense is indicated with the markers “gon” and “pre” for future or past.
        If a full infinitive is needed “du” prefixes the verb. Therefore “to go” is “
du go
”.
        The Diinlang verbs for “to be”, “to have” and “to do” are “
bi”, “av” and “du
”.
        This section details how the verb forms are constructed. How they are actually used will probably evolve over time. For example, the simple present is seldom used for dynamic verbs in English, the continuous form being used instead. In Dutch, the simple present sees more use and is often used in meanings that might not be regarded as present tense in other languages.

Simple Present, Past and Future.
        These are formed with the bare infinitive and a tense marker if necessary. When a verb in future or past tense is being used as a copula the infinitive may be dropped if the meaning remains clear.

Mi du I do
Zo du He does
Zo pre du He did
Zo gon du He will do/ He is going to do.
Za zou du She would do


Transitive and Intransitive Verbs
        Transitivity is flexible. If an object is added after an intransitive verb, the verb becomes transitive. This may alter the meaning of the verb so that it has a meaning similar to “causes (the object) to …”

        Compare the English “”I burn”. with “”I burn it”.”

Progressive/Continuous Aspect.
        The progressive/continuous aspect is formed using the “is-” prefix. In English this verb aspect is accompanied by some form of the auxiliary/copular verb “to be”. In Diinlang the addition of the auxiliary is not necessary.

Mi isdu I am doing
Zo isdu He is doing
Zo pre isdu He was doing
Zo gon isdu He will be doing/ He is going to be doing.
Za zou isdu She would be doing


Perfect Aspect.
        The perfect aspect is formed using the “av-
” prefix. (This has been updated to “dun“) In English this verb aspect is accompanied by some form of the auxiliary verb “to have”. In Diinlang the addition of the auxiliary is not necessary. Perfect aspect in regular English verbs takes an –ed ending. Many irregular verbs take –en as an ending (eaten, riden, beaten etc).

Mi dundu I have done
Zo dundu He has done
Zo pre dundu He had done
Zo gon dundu He will have done/ He going to have done.
Za zou dundu She would have done


Perfect Progressive.
        The perfect and progressive (continuous) aspects can be combined, usually in referring to the completed portion of a continuing action or temporary state: ““I have been doing…” it” is formed in Diinlang by combination of the verb “to have” (“av”) before a continuous form of the main verb.

Mi av isdu I have been doing
Zo av isdu He has been doing
Zo pre av isdu He had been doing
Zo gon av isdu He will have been doing/ He going to have been doing
Za zou av isdu She would have been doing.


Passive Voice.
        To form the passive voice (where the subject denotes the undergoer, or patient, of the action) the auxiliary verb “ge” is used, often with the perfect form. In English passive voice is formed either with the verb “”to be”” or ““to get”” and a past participle verb form. “”get”” is used in the meaning of “becoming” or “becomes”. (Remember perfect tense uses ““have”” with the past participle form in English) If “to be” can be replaced with “”to get”” or “”to become”” without a loss of meaning the sentence is passive voice and requires the “ge
” verb in Diinlang. Note that the auxillary can be modified for tense and aspect. Some perfect construction clauses are inherently passive. “It ge du” and “It dundu” have the same meaning.
        In many languages the passive voice is formed by a combination of the perfect form of the verb used with the verb for “”to be””. This construction can also be used in Diinlang. Often in Diinlang there will be more than one correct way to do something!

Tense Subject Auxiliary Past Participle/ Infinitive.
Present passive It

It
is/ gets/becomes

ge
done

du
Past passive It

It
were/ got/ became

pre ge
done

du
Future passive It

It
will be/ get/ become

gon ge
done

du
Present perfect passive It

It
has been/ has got/ has become

dunge
done

du
Past perfect passive It

It
had been/ had got/ had became

pre dunge
done

du
Future perfect passive It

It
will have been/ will have got/ will have became

gon dunge
done

du.
Present progressive passive It

It
is being/ is getting/ is becoming

isge
done

du
Past progressive passive It

It
was being/ was getting/ was becoming

pre isge
done

du


        Alternately, the prefixes is- and dun- might be added to the main verb, so “It was being done” would be written as “it pre ge isdu“, literally “it was get doing”.

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Language

Personal, Reflexive, Relative, Dummy and Determiner Pronouns.

Personal Pronouns
               Diinlang has fewer personal pronouns than English and is simpler, yet still meets all needs. Note that the same word is used for “I” or “me” or for “he” or “him”.. The pronouns are:
First person : mi.                                        Plural miz
Second person : ti/tu                                        Optional plural tiz/tuz
Third person : zio/zo, zia/za, zi/ze, it.                      Plural ziz/zez.
Reflexive : ip
Relative : si/ki
                Zi” is a singular third person epicene pronouns for when the gender of the subject is unknown or not relevant. zio is masculine, zia is feminine and ziz is third person plural, made like other plurals by adding -z . Zio would rhyme with Leo, zia would be pronounced “zi-ah”. “Zi” and “ze” are phonetically identical so the use of “ze” may be preferable to distinguish agent nouns from words ending naturally in “-zi”. derived pronouns thus become zo, za, zez, zoz, zaz.
               It” is also used as a proper noun to designate and inanimate or indeterminate object and can be thought of as being similar to the word “thing” or “object” in English. “It” is also used to form agent nouns for inanimate objects and as a referential pronoun.
               As in English, “ti” can be singular or plural. It can also be spelt and pronounced as “tu” and this may be preferable for euphonic contrast. The construction “tiz/ tuz” can be used if there is a necessity to emphasise that more than one person is being addressed or instructed. The structure of this system means that zioz/zoz, ziaz/zaz, and itz are theoretically possible constructions. Ziz could denote a collection of people or animals while itz a grouping of inanimate objects such as a traffic jam. Ziaz could designate an all-female group such as a hen party or superfluity of nuns.
               For an indefinite pronoun either the “generic tu/ti”, “jhen” or “ziz” can be used.
               In the rare occasions that the objective use of a pronoun needs emphasis for greater clarity the forms mim, tum, ziom/zom, ziam/zam and zim/zem might be adopted. The use of the objective form are likely to see more use in written communications than verbal. “vo” is an optional marker that is added to a pronoun or noun when possession needs to be emphasised.
               Mi, ti/tu and zi/ze can all be represented as the single letter words m, t and z. I prefer “tu” for “you” but it is inevitable that if it is represented as “t” is going to be pronounced as “ti”. Thus “ti” and “tu” are interchangeable. Use of “tu” in sentences may create some euphonic contrasts. Constructions such as mz, zo, za and zz are inevitable too.
Reflexive Pronoun(s).
               Reflexive terms such as “myself”, “itself”, “themselves” etc are replaced by the single reflexive pronoun “ip”, pronounced like the first syllable of “self”. In several languages the word “se” is used but this is phonetically similar to “si”. “Ip” may just be a placeholder and a better word used instead. “He loves himself” is thus “Zio/zo filu ip”. Ip is therefore the only dedicated objective pronoun in Diinlang. Alternately the first pronoun can be repeated “Mi ami mi” = “I like myself”. “Ip” is preferred where ambiguity might occur such as with third person use. “Zio pre du zio” could mean “He did himself” or “He did to him (someone else)” so “Zio pre du se” would be preferable for the first meaning.
Relative Pronouns.
               Relative pronouns in English include “who, whom, whose, what, which and that”. All of these are replaced by “si” in Diinlang. When it is necessary to indicate the ownership of an object the construction “di/ze si” or “si vo” is used instead of “whose” or “of whom” in English. It is possible that “ki” may also be used as a relative pronoun. Si and ki are in this usage interchangeable. Si and ki may be written as the single letter words “s” and “k”. As in English, the relative pronoun can sometimes be omitted.
Dummy Pronouns.
               Germanic languages often make use of dummy or expletive pronouns, for example the use of “it” in “it is raining”. Romance languages tend to form the same constructions by dropping the pronoun. There may be constructions in Diinlang where a dummy pronoun will be required. For statements about subjects such as the weather pronoun-dropping is the preferred construction. Hence:-
“It rained that day” = “Pre avpotsu si dia” not “It pre avpotsu si dia
Determiner Pronouns/ Determiners.
               Just as an adjective can be converted to a noun, so most determiners can be converted to pronouns. “Si” means “there” but can also be used for “that”. It can also be written as just “s”. It is part of the progression sa/ si/ so which means here/ there/ yonder.

              These can be used in both singular and plural phrases: “Si Kanis” = “That dog”, “Siz Kanisiz” = “Those Dogs”.  “These” and “Those” are plurals of the above and hence “Saz/Siz” is equivalent. This may be regarded as optional and only really required when plurality needs emphasis. “Not this, these!” = “No sa, saz!”. When used in this fashion sa/si/so can be gendered ie sio, saya.
               Si can be represented by the single letter “s”. Sa and so must be written as two letters.

 

 

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Language

Single Letter Words.

Single letter words are a recent addition to Diinlang and were inspired by the Dutton Speedwords system. The actual uses and the phonology of the letters differs from Dutton’s system.

Diinlang uses a number of words that are written with just one letter. These are very commonly used words so this feature makes writing Diinlang quicker and a little more compact.

Where a single letter is used as a word it should be pronounced as if followed by a schwa (?) or a short “e” or “i” sound. Hence m and bare pronounced as they are in English “me” and “be” although phonetically they are “mi” and “bi”. All of the schwa ending words are consonants.

m
mi
I, me
t
 
ti or tu
you
z
 
zi  derives into zio, zia, ziz, zo, za and zz
neuter third person. Gendered to mean “he”, “she” and plural means “they, them”
b
 
bi
be and other forms of verb “to be”
d
 
di
of, from
j
 
ji
a, an, some. (Indefinite Article)
k
 
ki
What? Question.
s
si
that
v
vi
the (Definite Article)

There are four groups of exceptions to the assumed schwa ending.

The vowels “o” and “a” are pronounced “oh” and “ah” when used as words. “a” means “to” or “at”. “e” is pronounced as just “?”, rhyming with the French “que”. “e” means “and”. “r” is pronounced “or” and means “or”. “u” is not currently used but would be pronounced “uh”. “u” may possibly be used for the “uh” sound!

i” and “x” are pronounced as “in” and “eks” meaning “in” and “out”.

y” and “n” are pronounced “yah” and “noh” and mean “yes” and “no” in Diinlang.

p” and “g” stand for the verbal tense markers “pri/pre” and “gon”.

Like all Diinlang this is a work in progress and assignments are likely to change. It was only last night I thought of switching ofor r and restoring “or” as a word. I had not come up with a good alternative for “nor” so this solves the problem and also lets nor be abbreviated “nr”. “o” is currently unassigned and may be left as an exclamation. It would be nice to have a single letter for “it” but none of the free letters are suitable. May have to use an unshifted symbol instead.

 
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Language

Diinlang Introduction.

This blog will be about Diinlang. The original idea of a constructed language (conlang) came from my friend Dean, hence the name.
Language is something that interests me. I have a number of friends who speak English as a second language and this has often provided insight into how byzantine my native tongue can be. Sometimes they use English in ingenious ways. While these improvisations may not be “proper” English they are often fully comprehensible and logical.
One of Dean’s concepts was that Diinlang would have a phonology that most nationalities could cope with. His idea was that most words or syllables would have the format “CVN” where C is a consonant, V is a vowel and N is “m”, “n” or “ng”.
My personal contribution has been in trying to create a structure within which these words are used. I have been designing a regular and easily learnt verb structure. I have also been designing pronouns, determiners, comparatives, superlatives and, less successfully, an adjective and adverb system. For brevity most of these “structure” words are CV or VC in format. Recent influence of the Dutton Speedwords systemhas caused many of these words to be redesigned so they can be written as single characters.
I have decided to put some of my experiments on a blog so that others interested in this field may benefit from them.