Seminar 2 in Glosa

(R. Gaskell, 1998-09)


There are three basic rules behind the grammar of Glosa: combined, they tell us 'position determines function'.

  1. S-V-O: Subject, Verb, Object order in a clause.
  2. "A word is modified by its precedent." One word modifies the next, and so on.
  3. A word can function, within reason, as any part of speech. There are no Part-of-Speech markers, but a word's function is indicated by its position in a sentence.

All other rules of Glosa usage follow from these. All sentences contain a 'verb': it is the word that tells us the action occurring in the sentence; it gives the sentence _life_.


In Glosa, the word in the middle of the sentence, describing the action, is the 'verb' ('verb' = word functioning as a verb).

  EG  U kani bibe u hidra.  ...................  bibe  'verb'
   [The dog drinks the water.]

  EG  An fo hedo bibe.  .......................  hedo  'verb'
            ~~~~   ............................  bibe  'gerund' (verb/noun)
   [He very-much enjoys to drink/drinking.]

  EG  Mi don ad un equs id bibe.  .............  don(a)  'verb'
         ~~~        ...........................  bibe  'noun'
   [I give (to) the horse its drink.]

N.B. 'verb' =  word functioning as a verb
     'noun' =  word functioning as a noun
      ' X ' =  word functioning as an  X


This word is used in many different ways in English, but, in Glosa, the "is" concept is conveyed more accurately - using a range of 'verbs'. As an 'action' its original function was to represent an "equals" sign, EG "He is John." Glosa translations for various uses of "is" in English are:-

  es   -  to be, is (has equivalence with), has the essence of
  habe -  has the property (quality) of
  gene -  gets to be, becomes
  eqa  -  equals, measures 

    Fe es u ju-fe.
   [She is a girl.]
    An es u filosofi-pe.
   [He is a philosopher.]

    U meteo habe frigo.
   [The weather is cold/has coldness] [It is cold.]
    Mi habe fo lati.
   [I am very tall/have much tallness.]

    U meteo gene ma termo.
   [The weather is warmer/gets warmer/becomes more hot.]
    U ju-an gene fatiga.
   [The boy is tired/becomes tired.]
    Mi habe fo turba; e fu gene koleri, si tu ne sto dice.
   [I am very upset, and will be angry if you don't stop talking.]

    U temperatura eqa tri-ze grada (30`C).
   [The temperature is thirty degrees (30`C).]
    U preci de ki-in u teatra eqa mo-penta dolara ($15).
   [The price of entry into the theatre is fifteen dollars ($15).]


In Glosa, some words are used almost exclusively as verbs, and these are general-purpose verbs, such as:-

  habe  - to have, have has
  ki    - to go, go, goes, went
  veni  - to come, come, comes, came
  tena  - to hold, grab, take


Some words, in Glosa, are "almost verbs" but are not "full verbs" in their own right: they are not 'stand-alone' verbs, but they add to the meaning of the "full verb", which is usually the final word in the Verb Phrase. These Verboids are half-way between Adverbs and Verbs. Examples:-

  posi   - possibly
  pote   - can, has the ability to
  nece   - needs to, must
  lice   - be allowed, allow to
  debi   - ought to
  hedo   - enjoys, happily
  forti  - strongly
  seqe   - following, subsequently
  vo(lu) - wish to, would
  tanto  - so much, almost
  tosto  - soon

EG  Mi fu posi ki ad u boteka.
   [I will possibly go to the shop.]
    An pote kurso fo celero.
   [He can run very quickly.]
    Kron mi voka, fe tosto veni in u domi.
   [When I call, she soon comes into the house.]
    Mi gina fu hedo kanta pro vi.
   [My wife will happily sing for you.]
    Tu lice habe id.
   [You are allowed to have it.]
    Pa noktu, mi tanto ariva pre u pluvi.  .. (Pastness implied by "Pa" so
   [Last night I almost arrived before the rain.]  'pa tanto ariva' wrong.)


These words 'help' the verb to do its job. But they usually follow the "main verb" as separate words, though they contribute to the formation of a "compound verb." Examples are:-

  ana    - up               EG  ki ana       [ascend] 
  kata   - down             EG  ki kata      [descend] 
  retro  - back             EG  kurso retro  [run back] 
  itera  - again            EG  akti itera   [do (it) again; repeat] 
  ab     - away             EG  greso ab     [walk away] 
  versi  - back to start    EG  viagia versi [travel home] 
  avanti - forward          EG  ki avanti    [advance] 

EG  An pa ki kata un orto-lo; sed an nece skende itera ana id, te
   [He fell down the cliff, but (he) must climb again up it, in order to

    gene an kefa-ve; qi veni ab an kefa pre an pa kade.
    get his hat, which came off his head before he fell.]


In Glosa, the word functioning as the verb can be modified by placing short words, called particles, before it. These particles might alter the time of the event, negate it, turn it back on the Subject, or make it conditional on some other event. As well as that, the action might act upon - or not act upon - an Object; and then, for a change, the positioning Subject and Object is sometimes switched around.


Dealt with, in detail - in the Tense Table - these short words, which come at the start of a Verb Phrase, usually singly but sometimes in a group, tell us WHEN an action occurs.

     -  No particle before the 'verb' suggest a present tense (but can mean
          that an earlier time indication logically applies).
 pa  -  Simple Past Tense  (pa  [did])
 fu  -  Future Tense  (fu  [will])
 nu  -  An immediate Present Tense  (nu  [just now])
 du  -  Continuous Tense   (du X  [is X-ing, continues to X])
 pra -  Past Perfect Tense: fully completed.   (pra  [had])

  EG  Un andra nu pa veni in u domi.
     [The man just now came into the house.]


When an action happens only if something else occurs before it, then we say that the second event is conditional on the first: in English, this is usually shown by the use of "would", "should" or "could".

 sio      - would
 sio debi - would ought, should
 sio posi - would possibly, could

  EG  Si mu gene pluvi, plu-ci sperma sio posi kresce in alti fito.
     [If they get rain, these plants could grow into tall bushes.]


When an action does NOT happen, we indicate this using a negative word before the verb. This happens in English, and something very similar occurs in Glosa.

 ne        -  does not
 no        -  un-
 nuli      -  never  (also used with 'nouns':  nuli ra  [no thing])
 ni X ni Y -  neither X nor Y

  EG  U gina ne ki a plu boteka; ka fe vagona ne ergo.
     [The woman did not go to the shops, because her car did not work.]


When an action affects the person or thing that caused it, we say that the action is a "reflexive" action. In Glosa there are two particles that are used after the 'verb' to indicate that the action is received by the Subject of the sentence: one if the Subject is human, the other for non-human Subjects:-

 -se  -  to itself, itself
 auto -  to himself/herself, himself/herself, themselves

  EG  Jon vagona frakto-se, tem an du age ad an ergo-lo.
     [Jon's car broke itself while he was driving to work (his work-place).]

      Kron fe skende kata plu grada; fe pa kade, e noku auto.
     [When she descended the stairs, she fell and hurt herself.]


While the standard English sentence, has two Noun Phrases separated by a Verb Phrase, some sentences have no real Object - receiver of the action: these are called "intransitive" sentences. Glosa also follows this pattern:-

  Transitive  S-V-O       EG  U kani fago u karni.  [The dog eats the meat.]
  Intransitive  S-V       EG  U kani voka.    [the dog barks.]
  Intransitive  S-V(-IO)  EG  U kani voka ad u posta-pe.
   IO --> Indirect Object     [The dog barks at the post-man.]


While most of English and Glosa has the normal structure where the thing doing the action comes first, and whatever receives the action comes last (called Active Voice), both languages allow the reciever of the action to get a mention at the start of the sentence (called Passive Voice). It can be thought of as an (O-) V (-S) sentence:-

 X V Y  -  X does action V to Y   EG  U kani morda un andra.
  .................................  [The dog bites the man.]

 Y gets V-ed by X  -  Y has action V done to it by X
  EG  Un andra gene ge-morda ex u kani.
     [The man gets bitten by the dog.]