A description of Mondlango (Monda), an Esperanto conlang Spin Off, with grammar examples.
In a previous article I surveyed the leading conlangs (constructed languages) or artificial languages vying to become the world’s auxiliary language. One of the more interesting conlangs discussed is Mondlango, a rich language with lots of potential which has unfortunately been overshadowed by its more successful relative, Esperanto.
Mondlango means world language in mondlango and the construction of its name gives a clue to how the language is formed. Anyone familiar with a Romance language such French or Italian will immediately recognize “Mond” as being related to “mondo” (Italian) or “monde” (French) which mean world. The second part of the language’s name “lang” is not only immediately recognizable as relating to language, it has come into use as a word of its own in the abbreviation “conlang.” So we can see that Mondlango borrows the key words from European languages and then expresses them with a simplified and standardized grammar.
In fact, despite the example above which borrows from French and Italian, most Mondlango words are borrowed from English. This means that Mondlango is extremely easy for any English speaker and the basics can be learned in a weekend.
The Mondlando Concept
Mondlango (also known as Monda) is an artificial constructed language based on Esperanto grammar and English vocabulary. Its name is derived from the Mondlango words for “world” (mondo) and “language” (lango”). Mondlango is indebted to Esperanto for its basic concept of using a standard grammar with built around vocabulary from natural languages.
Like Esperanto, the language has a simple yet robust grammatical structure that allows root words to take on different meanings and forms by adding regular affixes and suffixes. For example, in Esperanto the word “sana” (healthy) can be converted into “malsana” (unhealthy), “sane” (healthily) or “malesane” (unhealthily) simply by adding parts of speech to the beginning or end of the word. Mondlango uses a similar approach (though for example, in Mondlango the affix “dis-” is used instead of “mal-“). The bits that are added to the root word never change, so that it is possible to quickly build a large vocabulary and achieve a complex range of expression by simply learning a relatively small core vocabulary and then building on these root words.
In Esperanto, as in many other constructed languages which aim at universality such as Interlingua or Ido, the vocabulary was drawn from many different languages. The intent was to be inclusive and also to make the language easier to learn. If the constructed language contained some vocabulary from the learner’s native language, the learner would have the advantage of already knowing or at least being able to recognize some of the words in the new constructed language.
The choice of which words to import into the new constructed language has always been a key factor in shaping the constructed language. Esperanto has been criticized for being Eurocentric because it borrows primarily from European languages, such as French and Italian and therefore is not that easy for students whose native language is, for example, Chinese.
Mondlango adopts most of Esperanto’s grammar but rejects Esperanto’s attempt at inclusivity. Rather than borrowing words from various (primarily European) languages, Mondlango’s vocabulary is derived entirely from English. Mondlango has a basic vocabulary of about 5,000 root words which can be then adapted by adding regular suffixes and affixes to form more words.
Is Mondlango Too Close to English?
The advantage of Mondlango’s approach is that it is very easy to learn by anyone who speaks English. They already know the entire vocabulary, and just have to learn some basic grammatical rules.
Mondlango’s reliance on English as its source for vocabulary has been criticized as being incompatible with a universal language. One might also ask why one would need to learn Mondlango as opposed to using English. However, it must be acknowledged that even though the word list is taken from English, these English words are themselves in most cases derived from Latin, French, and Spanish so that there is an element of cross cultural and linguistic inclusiveness despite the emphasis on English. Moreover, Mondlango is not English. It might be regarded as a close relative in the same way that French and Italian resemble each other and share many words, but have completely different grammars. For this reason, even though Mondlango is similar to English in some ways, the use of a standard and very regular grammar instead of the rather complex and irregular English grammar, makes it possible for Mondlango speakers to create a new linguistic heritage. The added advantage is that unlike English, Mondlango is not a national language and therefore can be used by people all over the world without any cultural or nationalistic baggage.
The main problem with Mondlango, as with most other artificial languages, is that it has not yet achieved the critical mass needed to create a vibrant community of speakers who can use it in daily life and create texts and videos in Mondlango. The only conlang that has come close to achieving the needed level of speakers is Esperanto. However I believe that Mondlango has much going for it and deserves to be more widely known.
Mondlango is easy to learn especially if you already know English. Someone who is fluent in English can acquire a basic knowledge of Mondlango in just a few days, and sometimes even less. If you also know Esperanto you can probably understand texts written in Mondlango right away, without any instruction at all.
Mondlango — Basics of The Language
Interested in learning Mondlango? It’s relatively easy and you can learn the basics in a weekend or less.
Mondlanga uses the 26 letters of the English alphabet (A to Z) and there are no special characters. Each letter has one sound and is not modified when used in combination with other letters (for example “ch” in English).
The meaning of the root word is modified by adding prefixes (at the beginning) or suffixes (endings) to root words. As in English, words are either verbs, nouns or adjectives. In Mondlango all words have fixed word endings that determine whether it is an adjective, noun or adverb. For example, all nouns end in “o” while all adjetives end in “a”. Thus the color “blue” would be “bluo” (the actual color) but “blua” if used as an adjective.
Mondlango’s grammar is very simple. There are only 12 grammatical rules. In contrast there are 16 grammatical rules in Esperanto and many many more in standard English.
All root verbs end in -i. This is the infinitive form. Verbs can then be modified (conjugated) to express the future or past tense, etc, by adding different endings to them.
For example, iri (to go) can be conjugated as follows:
|INFINITIVE||PRESENT TENSE||FUTURE TENSE||PAST TENSE|
|Iri (to go)||Ir + An = Iran (go)||Ir + On = Iron (will go)||Ir + In = Irin (went)|
All nouns in the singular end in “o” and all plural nouns end in “s”. Unlike languages such as Italian, all nouns are gender neutral.
For example: a book = libro (as in library) books = libros.
All adjectives end in “a”. For example, guda = good and biga = big.
As in Esperanto most adverbs are created by changing the ending of a word to “e”. For example. “guda” means “good” but “gude” means “well”.
The goal of borrowing from existing languages is to give anyone learning Mondlango a starting inventory of words that they already intuitively understand. In fact, it is possible to begin reading Mondlango immediately if you know English or any other European language. Speaking or writing it takes longer because it is not possible to guess which word will have been borrowed and incorporated into Mondlango’s vocabulary. In other words, Mondlango is much easier to understand than to express oneself in, but once you have learned the vocabulary the grammar is simple enough that you should be able to form basic sentences without too much difficulty.
As someone who knows a little Esperanto, as well as English, I find Mondlango very easy to learn actually superior to Esperanto because it is much easier to learn. However conlangs are just words on paper if they are not adopted and used as a living language. The big advantage that Esperanto has over all other conlangs is that this artificial language has actually been adopted by a sufficiently large number of people that it has moved from being mere theory to being a living language. Unlike Mondlango, Esperanto has its own literature, music and culture. There are actually native speakers of Esperanto and there are enough Esperantists that learning that conlang will be of some use to you.
The problem with Mondlango and all other conlangs is the chicken and the egg dilemma. You need a decent number of people to adopt the language to give it life and make it worth while to learn. Unfortunately this has yet to happen in the case of Mondlango, which makes devoting time to learning it questionable, in spite of how much I like the concept.