Seminar 1 in Glosa

(R. Gaskell, September 1995)


Words in Glosa represent concepts, and are really `concept/words.' They represent ideas, but, depending on their position in the sentence, and their relationships to other words, they may represent that idea in its solid form (noun), active form (verb), or as a modifier of another idea (adjective, adverb).

The words do not change for reasons of grammar (system for getting understanding from words): this means that words can be used, within reason, as any part of speech, but have no letters added to indicate this useage (no Part-of-Speech markers); also, the words which act as verbs, `verbs', have no endings added to them (no inflections) to give added understanding of how, or when, the action is taken.

The order of the words (syntax) gives us the meaning in Glosa; the language can be described as having `syntax-based grammar.'


The phrase (small group of words) is the basic unit of sentence construction in Glosa. A small group of words might include a thing and some description of it (noun phrase), or the group might include an action and some modifications to this action (verb phrase). A small group of words at the start of a Glosa sentence might qualify the action of the sentence (adverbial phrase).

Within each phrase, each word is modified by the one before it, and there is a gradual increase in importance of the words, with the main concept/word (`noun' or `verb') as the last word of the phrase.

                e.g.  the three fast, loud red cars                  NP
                      plu tri celero fo-sono rubi vagona

                e.g.  were quickly end excitedly talking loudly      VP
                      pa du celero e excita fo-sono dice

                e.g.  while running     (relates to  --->  verb)     AdvP
                      tem kursi

In speech, phrases are said as one group, often with a raising then lowering of intonation (pitch), from start to finish; in written form, if it seems necessary for the understanding of meaning, the start and finish of phrases, is indicated using punctuation (commas).

[A comment by Syd Pidd, posted to glosalist, 2002-04-14:
... The confusion starts with the pre modifiers "tri celere fo-sono rubi".
Both Robin and Marcel have given the impression the a pre modifier modifies the following word. "rubi (Mods) vagona" OK.
"fo-sono (Mods) rubi" I suppose bright red could be described as loud ......
"celere (Mods) fo-sono" a quick sound ??
"tri (Mods) celere)" ?????
A "very long haired man" could be OK: very long + long hairs + hairy man
Sorry Robin, I think you need "plu tri e celere e fo-sono e rubi vagona". tri, celere, fo-sono e rubi all have equal status and all modify "vagona".
"a tall and very long haired man" ........
"u alti e fo longi triki andro"
It might be a matter of style whether you use "e" repeatedly or use the English comma "a, b, c, and d", but spaces will signal a chain of modifiers modifying each other.]


A clause is a larger group of words containing two (NP + VP) or more phrases, and such a simple two or three phrase clause can make up the whole sentence (major clause). However, a clause - which always includes at least one verb phrase - might add meaning to the action of the sentence (Adverbial Clause), might give more description to one of the things in a sentence (Adjectival Clause), or it could be a group of words, including a `verb,' used in the place that you would normally find a noun phrase (Noun Clause).

      e.g.  The boy arrived.              U ju-an pa ariva.            MC

      e.g.  The girl went home.           U ju-fe pa ki a fe domi.     MC

      e.g.  The man will eat the meal.    Un andra fu vora u vora.     MC

      e.g.  She spoke so loudly that she was heard.
            Fe pa ta sono dice ke fe pa gene ge-audi.                AdvC
                          ~~~~ <-- ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      e.g.  The girl went home after she had eaten a good meal.
            U ju-fe pa ki a fe domi, po fe pra vora u boni vora.     AdvC
                       ~~   <---     ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      e.g.  The boy, who was fat and badly dressed, arrived.
            U ju-an; qi pa es paki e mali ge-vesti, pa ariva.        AdjC
              ~~~~~ <-- ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      e.g.  I like to get away from the house.
            Mi amo gene ab u domi.                                     NC
      e.g.  The farmer hoped that it would rain.
            Un agri-pe pa spera: ke id sio pluvi.                      NC
                       ~~~(V)~~  ~~~~(O)~~~~~~~~


The normal sequence in Glosa is the same as in English:-
 Main Clause =   noun phrase    -    verb phrase     -    noun phrase
                  (SUBJECT)            (VERB)              (OBJECT)
            Doer of the action    Action being done    Thing acted upon
           e.g.     He                 posts               a letter.
                    An                 posta               u grama.

There are three main variations to this: clauses with no object (intransitive verb); clauses where, for reasons of style, the speaker, or writer, wishes to emphasise the object by placing it first (Passive Voice); and Noun Clauses which have no subject (infinitive verb).
           e.g.    She (NP)    sang. (VP)                 Fe pa kanta.
                 (SUBJECT)    (VERB)

           e.g.   The letter       was posted        by the man.
                   U grama      pa gene ge-posta     ex un andra.
                               (did get got-post)
                   (OBJECT)         (VERB)                (SUBJECT)

           e.g.                  - running (=to run)     on wet grass
                                    kursi              epi ge-hidra gra
                                    (VERB)                 (OBJECT)

Because its grammar depends on the word order, Glosa works best if we keep to the normal (S-V-O) structure in clauses. In poetry and fiction, however, the stylistic variations are necessary.


These are the small words that are not concept/words, but which join these words together (conjunctions), lead us into a phrase or clause (prepositions), create negatives, introduce questions, or modify the timing of an action when placed before a `verb' (tense particles). There are also the small words placed before `nouns' to tell us that they are things, and how many, or how much, of them there are (determinants).

        Joining words:  e, sed, pluso, alo, ni

        Prepositions: tem, a, ex, de, anti, seqe, po, pre, vice, krom ....

        Negatives: ne, nuli, no-, ni ... ni, nuli-

        Questions: Qe, qestio, qod, qo-

        Tense particles: pa, fu, du, nu, pra, sio, ge-, gene

        Before `nouns': u, plu, plura, uno, vario, poli, oligo, u mero de


Putting all the above together, in Glosa, as in English, sentences can be made up of various combinations of phrases and clauses - as long as the Subject-Verb-Object rule is observed. In Glosa, also, there is the added requirement that words in phrases follow the rule of increasing importance, with the main concept/word last.

If the sentence is made up of phrases only, there is a single `verb', and the sentence is described as a Major Clause. If there are two or more `verbs', then the `verb' describing the main action forms the Main Clause, and the other clauses (NC, AdvC, AdjC) are called Subordinate Clauses. The whole sentence can, however, still be called the Major Clause.

The secret of good sentence formation is in using well-formed phrases to make up the sentences and their constituent clauses.


In a phrase, a word is modified by the word in front of it (its precedent.)

In a normal sentence (Major Clause), there is a tendency for the first noun phrase (SUBJECT) to modify the verb phrase (VERB), and then, for the verb phrase to modify the second noun phrase (OBJECT).

A modifying clause (Adjectival or Adverbial) follows directly after the concept/word that it modifies; this structure is indicated by the placing of a semi-colon (;) or possibly a colon (:) before the new clause.

In a noun phrase, the sequence is:-
           determinant  -  number  -  quantity  -  modifier(s)  -  noun

        e.g. plu tri no-ge-numera, fo sono, no-puri ju-an
             the three uncounted, shouting, dirty boys

Note. The concept/word used as a noun is the only element of a noun phrase that is essential.

In a verb phrase, the sequence is:-
                                                    |   verb
  negative - tense - modifier(s) - auxiliary verb - |      or
  particle                                          | verboid + amplifier

                     e.g. ne pa hedo, no-soni tenta | kursi
                                                    | ki ana

                       did not happily, quietly try | to run
                                                    | to go up

Note, again. The concept/word used as a verb is the only element of a verb phrase that is essential.

To Seminar 2.