I've been curious about how language works for a very long time. This curiosity has lead me down many fascinating rabbit holes, but for a long time I have either been cribbing off of other people's work or studying natural languages that don't have a cohesive plan or core to them. Constructed Languages (or conlangs as I will probably be calling them from here on out) are a simpler model of this. You might be familiar with Klingon from the Star Trek series, the various forms of Elvish as described by J. R. R. Tolkien or Dothraki from Game of Thrones. This series will show an example of how one of those kinds of languages are created.

Recently a challenge came up on /r/conlangs called ReConLangMo and I've decided to take a stab at this and flesh this out into a personal language.

The language I am going to create will be called L'ewa (⁄l.ʔɛ.wa⁄, also romanized lewa for filesystems). This word is identical in English and in L'ewa. It means "is a language". The name came to me in a shower a while ago and I'm not entirely sure where it came from.

This language is being designed as a personal language to help me keep a diary (more on that later) and to act as a testbed for writing a computational knowledge engine, much like IBM's Watson. I do not expect anyone else to use this language. I may pull this language into fiction (if that ever gets off the ground) or into other projects as it makes sense.

Some of the high level things I want to try in this language are ways to make me think differently. I'm following the weak form of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis by this logic. I want to see what would happen if I give myself a tool that I can use to help myself think in different ways. Other features I plan to include are:

  • A seximal number system
  • A predicate-argument system similar to Lojban
  • Nounlessness (only having verbs for content words) like Salishan languages
  • An a-priori (or made up) vocabulary
  • Grammatical markers for the identity of the thinker of a sentence/phrase/word
  • Make each grammatical feature and word logical, or working in one way only
  • Typeable with standard QWERTY en-US keyboards
  • A decorative script that I'll turn into a font

L'wea as A Diary Language

When I was younger, I used to keep a diary/journal file on my computers off and on. I was detailed about what I was feeling and what I was considering and going through. This all ended abruptly after my parents were snooping through my computer in middle school and discovered that I was questioning fundamental aspects of myself like my gender. I have never really felt comfortable keeping a diary file since then. I have made a few attempts at this (including by using a dedicated diary machine, air-gapped TempleOS machines and the like), but they all feel too vulnerable and open for anyone to read them.

This is my logic for using a language that I create for myself. If people really want to go through and take the time to learn the ins and outs of a tool I created for myself to archive my personal thoughts, they probably deserve to be able to read them. Otherwise, this would allow me to write my diary from pretty much anywhere, even in plain sight out in public. People can't shoulder-surf and read what they literally cannot understand.

eBook Edition

The following is the eBook edition of L'ewa: A Personal Language.


All notable changes to this project will be documented in this file.

The format is based on Keep a Changelog, and this project adheres to Semantic Versioning.



  • Initial setup and formatting
  • First Section on introduction stuff
  • Phonology chapter
  • Morphosyntactic typology chapter
  • Fun with Nouns and Verbs chapter
  • Color words section
  • Dictionary appendix
  • Sentence Structure Semantics chapter
  • Lexicon chapter

Phonology and Writing

I am taking inspiration from Lojban, Esperanto, Mandarin Chinese and English to design the phonology of L'ewa. All of the phonology will be defined using the International Phonetic Alphabet. If you want to figure out how to pronounce these sounds, a lazy trick is to google them. Wikipedia will have a perfectly good example to use as a reference. There are two kinds of sounds in L'ewa, consonants and vowels.



Consonant inventory: /d f g h j k l m n p q r s t w ʃ ʒ ʔ ʙ̥/

Stoppt dk gqʔ
Fricativefsʃ ʒh
Lateral approximantl

The weirdest consonant is /ʙ̥/, which is a voiceless bilabial trill, or blowing air through your lips without making sound. This is intended to imitate a noise an orca would make.


Vowel inventory: /a ɛ i o u/

Diphthongs: au, oi, ua, ue, uo, ai, ɛi



L'ewa's romanization is intentionally simple. Most of the IPA letters keep their letters, but the ones that do not match to Latin letters are listed below:


This is designed to make every letter typeable on a standard US keyboard, as well as mapping as many letters as possible on the home row of a QWERTY keyboard.


I plan to have two main kinds of words in L'ewa. I plan to have content and particle words. The content words will refer to things, properties, or actions (such as tool, red, run) and the particle words will change how the grammar of a sentence works (such as the or prepositions).

The main kind of content word is a root word, and they will be in the following forms:

  • CVCCV (/ʒa.sko/)
  • CCVCV (/lʔ.ɛwa/)

Particles will mostly fall into the following forms:

  • V (/a/)
  • VV (/ai/)
  • CV (/ba/)
  • CVV (/bai/)

Proper names should end with consonants, but there is no hard requirement.

L'ewa is a stressed language, with stress on the second-to-last (penultimate) syllable. For example, the word "zasko" would be pronounced "ZAsko".

Syllables end on stop consonants if one is present in a consonant cluster. Two stop consonants cannot follow eachother in a row.


I haven't completely fleshed this part out yet, but I want the writing system of L'ewa to be an abugida. This is a kind of written script that has the consonants make the larger shapes but the vowels are small diacritics over the consonants. If the word creation process is done right, you can actually omit the vowels entirely if they are not relevant.

I plan to have this script be written by hand with pencils/pen and typed into computers, just like English. This script will also be a left-to-right script like English.

Morphosyntactic Typology

Word Order

L'ewa is normally a Subject-Verb-Object (SVO) language like English. However, the word order of a sentence can be changed if it is important to specify some part of the sentence in particular.

I haven't completely finalized the particles for this, but I'd like to use ka to denote the subject, ke to denote the verb and ku to denote the object. For example if the input sentence is something like:

/mi/ / /lo/ /spa.lo/
mi   madsa    lo   spalo
 I   eat      an   apple

You could emphasize the eating with:

/kɛ/ / /ka/ /mi/ /lo/ /spa.lo/
[ke] madsa    ka   mi   lo   spalo
V    eat      S    I    an   apple

(the ke is in square brackets here because it is technically not required, but it can make more sense to be explicit in some cases)

or the apple with:

/ku/ /lo/ /spalo/ /kɛ/ / /mi
ku   lo   spalo   ke   madsa    mi
O    an   apple   V    eat      I

L'ewa doesn't really have adjectives or adverbs in the normal indo-european sense, but it does have a way to analytically combine meanings together. For example if qa'te is the word for is fast/quick/rapid in rate, then saying you are quickly eating (or wolfing food down) would be something like:

/qaʔ.tɛ/          /
qa'te             madsa
is fast [kind of] eat

These are assumed to be metaphorical by default. It's not always clear what someone would mean by a fast kind of language (would they be referencing Speedtalk?)

L'ewa doesn't always require a subject or object if it can be figured out from context. You can just say "rain" instead of "it's raining". By default, the first word in a sentence without an article is the verb. The ka/ke/ku series needs to be used if the word order deviates from Subject-Verb-Object (it functions a lot like the selma'o FA from Lojban).

Morphological Typology

L'ewa is a analytic language. Every single word has only one form and particles are used to modify the meaning or significance of words. There are only two word classes: content and particles.


L'ewa is a nominative-accusative language. Other particles may be introduced in the future to help denote the relations that exist in other alignments, but I don't need them yet.

Word Classes

As said before, L'ewa only has two word classes, content (or verbs) and particles to modify the significance or relations between content. There is also a hard limit of two arguments per verb, which should help avoid the problems that Lojban has with its inconsistent usage of the x3, x4 and x5 places.

As the content words are all technically verbs, there is no real need for a copula. The ka/ke/ku series can also help to break out of other things that modify "noun-phrases" (when those things exist). There are also no nouns, adjectives or adverbs, because analytically combining words completely replaces the need for them.

Nouns and verbs do not inflect for numbers. If numbers are needed they can be provided, otherwise the default is to assume "one or more".

Fun with Nouns and Verbs

Other Noun Things

At a high level, noun-phrases can be marked for direct ownership or number. The general pattern is like this:

<article> [pronoun] [negation] [number] <verb>


Here's some of the pronouns:

me, Imi
My system and Imi'a
we (all-inclusive)mi'o
your system and youro'a
This (near me)ti
That (near you)ta
That (far away)tu


Numbers are in base six. Here are a few numerals:


Here are few non-numerals-but-technically-still-numbers-I-guess:



As L'ewa is more of a logical language, it has several forms of negation. Here are a few:

total scalar negationna'o
particle negationnai

na can be placed before the sentence's verb too:

ti na spalo
This is something other than an apple

Verb Forms

Verbs have one form in L'ewa. Aspects like tense or the perfective aspect are marked with particles. Here's a table of the common ones:

past tensequ
present tenseqa
future tenseqo
perfective aspectqe


Modality is going to be expressed with emotion words. These words have not been assigned yet, but their grammar will be a lot looser than the normal L'ewa particle grammar. They will allow any two vowels in any combination that might otherwise make them not "legal" for particles.

  • VV (ii)
  • V'V (i'i)

Explicitly Ending Noun Phrases

In case it is otherwise confusing, ko can be used to end noun phrases grammatically.

Color Words

L'ewa uses a RGB color system like computers. The basic colors are red, green and blue, with some other basic ones for convenience:

50% grayflego

Colors will be mixed by creating compound words between base colors. Compound words still need to be fleshed out, but generally all CVCCV words will have wordparts made out of the first, second and fifth letter, unless the vowel pair is illegal and all CCVCV words are the first, second and fifth letter unless this otherwise violates the morphology rules. Like I said though, this really needs to be fleshed out and this is only a preview for now.

For example a light green would be puoqa'o (pu'lo qalno, white-green).


Connectives exist to link noun phrases and verbs together into larger noun phrases and verbs. They can also be used to link together sentences. There are four simple connectives: fa (OR), fe (AND), fi (connective question), fo (if-and-only-if) and fu (whether-or-not).


ro au madsa lo spalo fa lo hafto?
Do you want to eat an apple or an egg?


ro au madsa lo spalo fe lo hafto?
Do you want to eat an apple and an egg?

If and Only If

ro 'amwo mi fo mi madsa hafto?
Do you love me if I eat eggs?

Whether or Not

mi 'amwo ro. fu ro madsa hafto.
I love you, whether or not you eat eggs.

Connective Question

ro au madsa lo spalo fi lo hafto?
Do you want to eat apples and/or eggs?

Sentence Structure Semantics

Independent Clause Structure

Most of the time L'ewa sentences have only one clause. This can be anything from a single verb to a subject, verb and object. However, sometimes more information is needed. Consider this sentence:

The dog which is blue is large.

This kind of a relative clause would be denoted using hoi, which would make the sentence roughly the following in L'ewa:

le wufra hoi blanu xi brado.

The particle xi is needed here in order to make it explicit that the subject noun-phrase has ended.

Similarly, an incidental relative clause is done with with joi:

le  wufra  joi              blanu    ke brado
the dog,   which by the way is blue,    is big.


There are a few ways to ask questions in L'ewa. They correlate to the different kinds of things that the speaker could want to know.


ma is the particle used to fill in a missing/unknown noun phrase. Consider these sentences:

ma   blanu?
what is blue?
ro  qa madsa   ma?
you are eating what?


no is the particle used to fill in a missing/unknown verb. Consider these sentences:

ro no?
How are you doing?
le wufra xi no?
The dog did what?


so is the particle used to ask questions about numbers, similar to the "how many" construct in English.

ro madsa so spalo?
You ate how many apples?
le so zasko xi qa'te glowa
How many plants grow quickly?


Word Distinctions

L'ewa is intended to be a logical language. One of the side effects of L'ewa being a logical language is that each word should have as minimal and exact of a meaning/function as possible. English has lots of words that cover large semantic spaces (like go, set, run, take, get, turn, good, etc.) without much of a pattern to it. I don't want this in L'ewa.

Let's take the word "good" as an example. Off the top of my head, good can mean any of the following things:

  • beneficial
  • aesthetically pleasing
  • favorful taste
  • saintly (coincidentally this is the source of the idiom "God is good")
  • healthy

I'm fairly sure there are more "senses" of the word good, but let's break these into their own words:

firguis beneficial/nice to
n'ixuis aesthetically pleasing to
flawois tasty/has a pleasant flavor to
spirois saintly/holy/morally good to
qanrois healthy/fit/well/in good health

Each of these words has a very distinct and fine-grained meaning, even though the range is a bit larger than it would be in English. These words also differ from a lot of the other words in the L'ewa dictionary so far because they can take an object. Most of the words so far are adjective-like because it doesn't make sense for there to be an object attached to the color blue.

By default, if a word that can take an object doesn't have one, it's assumed to be obvious from context. For example, consider the following set of sentences:

mi qa madsa lo spalo. ti flawo!

I am eating an apple. It's delicious!

I am working at creating more words using a Swaedish list.

Family Words

Family words are a huge part of a language because it encodes a lot about the culture behind that language. L'ewa isn't really intended to have much of a culture behind it, but the one place I want to take a cultural stance is here. The major kinship word is kirta, or "is an infinite slice of an even greater infinite". This is one of the few literal words in L'ewa that is defined using a metaphor, as there is really no good analog for this in English.

L'ewa has a fairly custom kinship system. Here is a high level of conversion between English and L'ewa:

EnglishL'ewa termL'ewa word

These terms can also be applied to anyone, not just your immediate genetic family.


L'ewa strives to have as few idioms as possible. If something is meant non-literally (or as a conceptual metaphor), the particle ke'a can be used:

ti firgu
This is beneificial

ti ke'a firgu
This is metaphorically/non-literally beneficial


This chapter will cover basic conversation making in L'ewa. TODO(Mai): more filler text here.

Greetings and Farewell

"Hello" in L'ewa is said using xoi. It can also be used as a reply to hello similar to «ça va» in French. It is possible to have an entire conversation with just xoi:

<Mai> xoi
<Cadey> xoi
<Mai> xoi

The other implications of xoi are "how are you?" "I am good, you?", "I am good", etc. If more detail is needed beyond this, then it can be supplied instead of replying with xoi.

"Goodbye" is said using xei. Like xoi it can be used as a reply to another goodbye and can form a mini-conversation:

<Cadey> xei
<Mai> xei
<Cadey> xei


Feelings in L'ewa are marked with a family of particles called "WI". These can also be modified with other particles. Here are the emotional markers:


If an emotion is unknown in a conversation, you can ask with kei:

<Mai> xoi, so kei?
      hi,  what-verb what-feeling?

<Cadey> madsa ui
        eating :D

Information Structure

L'ewa doesn't have any particular structure for marking previously known information, as normal sentences should suffice in most cases. Consider this paragraph:

I saw you eat an apple. Was it tasty?

Since an apple was the last thing mentioned in the paragraph, the vague "it" pronoun in the second sentence can be interpreted as "the apple".

L'ewa doesn't have a way to mark the topic of a sentence, that should be obvious from context (additional clauses to describe things will help here). In most cases the subject should be equivalent to the topic of a sentence.

L'ewa doesn't directly offer ways to emphasize parts of sentences with phonemic stress like English does (eg: "I THOUGHT you ate an apple" vs "I thought you ATE an apple"), but emotion words can be used to help indicate feelings about things, which should suffice as far as emphasis goes.

Discourse Structure

Conversationally, a lot of things in L'ewa grammar get dropped unless it's ambiguous. The I/yous that get tacked on in English are completely unneeded. A completely valid conversation could look something like this:

<Mai> xoi
<Cadey> xoi
<Mai> xoi madsa?
<Cadey> lo spalo

And it would roughly equate to:

<Mai> Hi
<Cadey> Hi, you doing okay?
<Mai> Yes, have you eaten?
<Cadey> Yes, I ate an apple

People know when they can speak after a sufficient pause between utterances. Interrupting is not common but not a social faux-pas, and can be used to stop a false assumption from being said.


An utterance in L'ewa is anything from a single content word all the way up to an entire paragraph of sentences. An emotion particle can be a complete utterance. A question particle can be a complete utterance, anything can be an utterance. A speaker may want to choose more succinct options when the other detail is already contextually known or simply not relevant to the listener.

L'ewa has a few discourse particles, here are a few of the more significant ones:

xisignals that the verb of the sentence is coming next
koends a noun phrase
kamarks something as the subject of the sentence
kemarks something as the verb of the sentence
kumarks something as the object of the sentence


The informal dialect of L'ewa drops everything it can. The formal dialect retains everything it can, to the point where it includes noun phrase endings, the verb signaler, ka/ke/ku and every single optional particle in the language. The formal dialect will end up sounding rather wordy compared to informal slangy speech. Consider the differences between informal and formal versions of "I eat an apple":

mi madsa lo spalo.
ka mi ko xi ke madsa ku lo spalo ko.

Nearly all of those particles are not required in informal speech (you could even get away with madsa lo spalo depending on context), but are required in formal speech to ensure there is as little contextual confusion as possible. Things like laws or legal rulings would be written out in the formal register.


This chapter of the book will hold a list of all of the words in L'ewa as the time of this book being rendered. This may not be the most up-to-date list of words. See (TODO(Mai): ko finti le vlaste kibystu) for more words.

Root Words

blanublueis blue (color)
blodolongis long
bradobigis big/large/great in size
danmaanimalis an animal
deljaredis red (color)
dextumeatis meat/flesh
fawzoskinis skin/bark
fergothickis thick in dimension
firgubeneficialis beneficial/nice to
fi'xefishis a fish (kind of animal)
flawotastyis tasty/has a pleasant flavor to
flegograyis 50% gray (color)
futjotailis a tail
genzarootis a root (body part of a plant)
glowagrowto grow/get larger/increase in size
gra'ugrandparentis a/the grandparent of
haftoeggis an egg
helboheavyis heavy/has a lot of weight
hetlopinkis pink (color)
hu'tefruitis a fruit
jaflobirdis a bird/avian
jandigrassis grass
jexlotreeis a tree
jiftofatis fat
kligoropeis a rope/cord
kirtaCreatoris an infinite slice of an even greater infinite/our Creator/a Creator
kwarowideis wide/broad
l'ewalanguageis a language
liftaleafis a leaf
li'lismallis small/tiny/little
lornehornis a horn
luftafeatheris a feather
madsaeateats/consumes/is eating/to eat
mlatocatis a cat/feline
modlothinis thin in dimension
n'ixupleasantis aesthetically pleasing to
ni'hebloodis blood
nlaronarrowis narrow
pa'maparentis the/a parent of
pu'rowhiteis white (color)
qalnogreenis green (color)
qanrohealthyis healthy/fit/well/in good health
qa'tefastis fast/rapid in rate
qonmunon-binaryis non-binary/not defined by commonly used binary systems of classification
renmapersonis a person (not always implied to be human)
retnasnakeis a snake
ristunetworkis a network/graph/transportation system/distribution system
rosgifloweris a flower (plant body part)
spaloappleis an apple
spiroholyis saintly/holy/morally good to
sposuspouseis a/the spouse of
stugistickis a stick
te'ratealis teal (color)
ti'kochildis a child
tulpaconstructto build/construct
txananodeis a station/node of/in/on a network/graph/transportation system/distribution system
wognoboneis bone
womjowormis a worm/earthworm
wufradogis a dog
xekriblackis black (color)
xingasiblingis a/the sibling of
xitsashortis short/of little length
xu'zoseedis a seed
yeployellowis yellow (color)
zaskoplantis a plant/is vegetation
zloselouseis a louse/flea
'amwoloveto love


miMIme, Ithe current speaker
mi'aMIwe (system)the system of the current speaker, inclusive
mi'oMIwe (all)any speaker, any listener and any others
roMIyouthe listener
ro'aMIyou (+ system)the system of the listener
tiTIthisthe currently referenced object near the speaker
taTIthatthat (near listener)
tuTIthatthat (far away)
kaKAsubject markerexplicitly marks noun-phrase as the subject of the verb
keKAverb markerexplicitly marks following phrase as a verb
kuKAobject markerexplicitly marks following phrase as the object of the verb
loLOa/anindefinite article
leLOthedefinite article
laLOproper nounproper name article
gauJAnifnif (dec 36)
ra'oJAsomesome amount of/a few
soJAhow many?how many/number question
naNAtotal negationsomething other than, total negation
na'oNAscalar negationthe opposite of
naiNAparticle negationnegation of a particular particle
quQApast tensemarks noun phrase / verb as past tense
qaQApresent tensemarks noun phrase / verb as present tense
qoQAfuture tensemarks noun phrase / verb as future tense
qeQAperfective aspectmarks noun phrase / verb as perfective, or completed
koKOend of noun phraseexplicitly ends a noun phrase when the grammar is otherwise ambiguous
faFAorlogical or
feFAandlogical and
fiFAconnective questionwhich connective?
foFAif-and-only-ifconnects two units with the if-and-only-if connotation
fuFAwhether-or-notlogical connective of two units with the wehther or not connotation
xiXIsubject-verb separatorthe optional separator between the subject and the verb, sometimes needed when it is otherwise grammatically vague
hoiHOIrelative clausecreates a relative/descriptive clause giving more context to a given noun phrase, arguments should be verbs
joiHOIincidental relative clausecreates a relative/descriptive clause giving more incidental context to a given noun phrase, arguments should be verbs
maMAwhat/whichused to fill a missing noun-phrase
noNOverb questionverb question, used to fill a missing/unknown verb
xoiXOIhellohello, etc
xeiXOIgoodbyegoodbye, etc
a'aUIattentiveattentive emotional indicator
a'eUIalertnessalertness emotional indicator
aiUIintentintent emotional indicator
a'oUIhopehope emotional indicator
auUIdesiredesire emotional indicator
a'uUIinterestinterest emotional indicator
e'aUIpermissionpermission emotional indicator
e'eUIcompetencecompetence emotional indicator
eiUIobligationobligation emotional indicator
e'iUIconstraintconstraint emotional indicator
e'oUIrequestrequest emotional indicator
e'uUIsuggestionsuggestion emotional indicator
iaUIbeliefbelief emotional indicator
i'aUIacceptanceacceptance emotional indicator
ieUIagreementagreement emotional indicator
i'eUIapprovalapproval emotional indicator
iiUIfearfear emotional indicator
i'iUItogethernesstogetherness emotional indicator
ioUIrespectrespect emotional indicator
i'oUIappreciationappreciation emotional indicator
iuUIlovelove emotional indicator
i'uUIfamiliarityfamiliarity emotional indicator
o'aUIpridepride emotional indicator
o'eUIclosenesscloseness emotional indicator
oiUIcomplaintcomplaint emotional indicator
o'iUIcautioncaution emotional indicator
o'oUIpatiencepatience emotional indicator
o'uUIrelaxationrelaxation emotional indicator
uaUIdiscoverydiscovery emotional indicator
u'aUIgaingain emotional indicator
ueUIsurprisesurprise emotional indicator
u'eUIwonderwonder emotional indicator
uiUIhappinesshappiness emotional indicator
u'iUIamusementamusement emotional indicator
uoUIcompletioncompletion emotional indicator
u'oUIcouragecourage emotional indicator
uuUIpitypity emotional indicator
keiKEIemotion questionquestion about what emotion the other side of the conversation is feeling