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◀ Syntax Grammar of Tovasala:
Words and phrases ▶

(9) Precision is one of Tovasala's main objectives, in that words and expressions (regardless of length) should be as free of ambiguities and semantic baggage as possible.

Filed under Sesquipedalian

p45: Safety not guaranteed

Commonly cited as one of the longest words in English, pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis—defined as "a disease of the lungs caused by inhaling volcanic silica dust"—is actually a coinage devised by the U.S. National Puzzlers' League in 1935. Consisting of 45 letters (hence the code nickname "p45"), it contains the following morphemes:

  • pneumon (Greek for "lung")
  • ultra
  • microscopic
  • silico-
  • volcanic
  • konis (Greek for "dust")
  • -osis

"p45" is an extension of the more concise term pneumoconiosis (14 letters), whose simpler form is just the nine-letter silicosis. Tovasala translates it into the 20-letter silikomẽrgimosivaine, or "illness caused by silicon" (silikom-ẽrgim-osiv-ain-e; silicon-caus-sick-rslt-n), or the more concise 11-lettter maŕsilikome (mal-silikom-e; bad-silicon-n). Lung disease, on the other hand, is peumaunosivaine (peumaun-osiv-ain-e; lung-sick-rslt-n; 15 letters). An attempt to capture the essence of the original word results in


which is 27 letters—more than half the English counterpart's—and six morphemes (silikom-ẽrgim-peumaun-osiv-ain-e) in length.

Still long in the tooth

Through derivational and compounding methods, and on the basis of their original definitions, long words in various languages can receive Tovasala equivalents.

  • A well-known English example, the 28-letter antidisestablishmentarianism, means "a movement opposing the separation of church and state". This becomes the similarly long
which comprises seven morphemes in total (guden-tug-v-uzem-opoam-ogril-e; church-exe-go-state-opp-movement-n).
  • The 29-letter Latin-based coinage, floccinaucinihilipilification (the act of estimating something as worthless), turns into the 14-letter/five-morpheme
which consists of "ver-val-iz-vũrd-e" (rvt-worthy-trsl-consider-n).
  • Honorificabilitudinitatibus, a 27-letter Latin loan meaning "the ability to achieve honours", is found in Love's Labour's Lost by Shakespeare. Its Tovasala equivalent, mujalnänvvanzaiddostabilidé, is of the same length and comprises eight morphemes (mujal-nand-vanz-aid-dost-abil-id-e; in_honour_of-ess-win-pst.ptcp-get-pote-abst-n).
  • Pōkamuṭiyātavarkaḷukkāka (போகமுடியாதவர்களுக்காக), Tamil for "for the sake of those who cannot go", is converted into nemvabilpüertomistu (nem-v-abil-uez-omist-u;
Note Note:
The Tamil example is taken from Wikipedia's article on Tamil grammar, which also provides a morpheme breakdown.

See also World Wide Words for more information on the terms profiled in the preceding two sections:

Which way to say it?

To have...or not to have

Consider the following sentence, taken from Wiktionary's entry for "have":

I have no German.

On the surface, it can be interpreted as one of several things:

  1. The speaker has no one from Germany living in their house.
  2. The speaker has no German heritage.
  3. The speaker cannot converse in the German language (the "have" in this example uses the Irish English sense of "speak a language").

Translated straight into Tovasala, this becomes:

Naŕtenim Alemande.

Since the last word primarily refers to the country (and in some contexts, the language itself), one is led to believe that the speaker is missing the realm of Germany—perhaps as a piece of a map puzzle, or part of a souvenir collection. To clear things up, one can say instead:

Naŕtenim Alemandiènes. (I have no German people.)

Simply put, the speaker is declaring that no German people are at their house, or in their family tree. To be more specific, one can use:

Naŕtenim Alemandiènes aulminimadu/aulmad madé. (I have no Germans at my [own] house.) (The speaker is referring to citizens of Germany. Also, note the indirect/dative pronoun at the end of the second form.)
Naŕtenim Alemandesiles aulminimadu/aulmad madé. (I have no one from Germany at my house.) (The speaker is referring to those who come or hail from Germany, but were not necessarily born there.)

This can also be rendered as:

Alemandiène/Alemanesile naŕaulminimadisat/naŕaulmadisat mié. (No Germans live at my house.)

or the more morphologically complex:


which consists of 9 (or 10) uninterrupted morphemes à la Greenlandic et al. (nal-aulm-inim-ad-Alemand-[esil-]aulm-iēn-e-s), and retains the capital letter denoting a proper noun. Owing to their sheer length, these kinds of one-word sentences are all but infrequent in Tovasala.

When speaking of one's lineage or heritage, this can be used:

Ondim Alemangaundes./Alemangaundondim. (I am without German lineage/descent. / I have no German ancestors.)

Finally, when referring to fluency, this statement captures the essence of the original Irish usage:

Naŕparŕabilim Alemande/l'Alemanlinge. (I cannot/can't speak German.)

Food from the sky?

In section 19c of his "Ranto" essay, Justin B. Rye posits this conundrum:

"...Does la fiŝoj estas bongustaj sed pluvas mean 'the fish are tasty but it's raining' or 'the fish are tasty but are falling as rain'?"

The same confusion carries over to the Tovasala equivalent, Vuemile joalbaunnyisat, sed pleuvat (whose second half is literally "but it [the fish] is [material of] rain"). To differentiate, one should write Vuemile joalbaunnyisat, sed pleuvlé toambat. (Pleuvat remains acceptable as a one-word weather statement.)

Dogs and cats

Wikipedia's Esperanto grammar page provides the English sentence, The dog chased the cat in the garden, as another example of ambiguity. In Esperanto and Tovasala respectively, this becomes the equally ambiguous

La hundo ĉasis la katon en la ĝardeno. (EO)
Nâylé stauzzurat neklé ńint guertile. (RFM)

It is not easily evident whether the dog or cat resides in the garden, or the dog began chasing the cat somewhere else. Thanks to its case inventory, Tovasala resolves the context problem in one of several ways:

  1. Nâylé guertesili stauzzurat neklé. (The dog comes from the garden itself.)
  2. Nâylé stauzzurat neklé guertesili. (The cat came from the garden.)
  3. Nâylé stauzzurat neklé guerttranzu. (The chase began somewhere else, and the garden is part of the way.)
  4. Guertintadu, nâylé stauzzurat neklé. (The chase is taking place within the garden.)

Cat and mouse

This next example, based on an April 2016 answer by Olivier Faurax to this Quora question, demonstrates the effectiveness of the Tovasala ergative.

While Esperanto uses the accusative to mark objects in sentences, Tovasala only does so with pronouns and leaves nouns unmarked in standard SVO sentences. In certain cases like the one below, the language employs ergative -ieb- for clarity purposes, and always places it after the attached article clitic.

Esperanto Tovasala English
Kato blanco muso manĝas. NekuneO shouliAdj tuebuneS mankat.V
OSV: A mouse eats a white cat. (Adjective describes object)
or A white mouse eats a cat. (Adjective describes subject)
Katon blanka muso manĝas. Nekune shouliebi tuebuniebe mankat. OSV: A white mouse eats a cat.
Katon blankan muso manĝas. Nekune shouli tuebuniebe mankat. OSV: A mouse eats a white cat.
Kato blanka muson manĝas. Nekuniebe shouliebi tuebune mankat. SOV: A white cat eats a mouse.
Kato blankan muson mangâs. Nekuniebe shouli tuebune mankat. SOV: A cat eats a white mouse.

The stage is set

On the surface, the Tovasala coinage belgiesmihustrika (bel-giesm=i-hustrik-a; beautiful-singing-porcupine-fem) immediately means "a beautiful porcupine songstress".

  • If she performs songs that are beautiful, then one must place -oz- before the penultimate root, thus resulting in belgiesmhustrika (beautiful-singing-gen-porcupine-fem).
  • If she sings beautifully, -ant- substitutes it in belgiesmanthustrika (beautiful-singing-cont-porcupine-fem).
Note Note:
With special thanks to "Kloudmutt" at and Inkbunny. This section is inspired by "Ashin", a February 2017 fan work based on Ash the porcupine in Universal/Illumination's Sing (2016).

Not quite Belmont

According to one of my correspondents, who seemed very sure of the point, [Esperanto's] accusative case can only replace je [a stand-in preposition]; [surely] somebody is fibbing somewhere! The confusion between the accusative case and je, which is officially blessed in rule 14 [of Esperanto's grammar], gives rise to a curious ambiguity. A commonly mentioned example of the use of je is veti je chevaloj "to bet on horses", which can also be veti chevalojn. So, since veti monon is correct for "to bet money", veti monon chevalojn is quite reasonably both "to bet money on horses" and "to bet horses on money"!

—Geoff Eddy, "Why Esperanto is not my favourite language" (ca. 1998; June 2002 update)

With its well-stocked inventory of adpositions, Tovasala resolves this problem with the straightforward gealar aup ekuindes/gealar dinère ńaup ekuindes, or literally "bet (money) towards horses". It can also be written as gealar ekuindaupu/gealar dinère ńekuindaupu, or ekuindäuggealar/ekuindäuddinergealar.

A friend in need...

Another ambiguous English sentence, I helped the boy with a spoon, is an audience-friendly version of an example discussed in this Linguistics Stack Exchange question from August 2015. Did the speaker help just the boy, or did they help him with the utensil? Instead of

Auxillurim l'edo ńaseb spoungune.

Tovasala clears things up with:

  1. Auxillurim l'edo spounzoli. (The boy is holding the spoon; proprietive intrafix.)
  2. Auxillurim l'edo spounemeku. (The speaker is feeding the boy, presumably a toddler; instrumental intrafix.)

An antonymous variation, I helped the boy without a spoon, is immediately translated as Auxillurim l'edo ńond spoungune. It can be further interpreted in one of two ways (with -ond as a case suffix), depending on the termison:

  1. Auxillurim l'edo spoungondi. (The boy, and not the speaker, lacks a spoon. If the speaker is without one, then Spoungonde ńauxillurim... is used instead.)
  2. Auxillurim l'edo spoungondu. (The speaker is doing the job without any spoons.)

All the king's horses...

In the same Stack Exchange question, a demonstration of Czech cases provides several forms of this statement:

Král Uher daroval koně. (The King of Hungary donated horses.)

In both Czech and Tovasala, the context can change depending on the case in question; the focus here is on Uhry/Magyạre/Hungary.

Case Czech Tovasala English
Ergative (SOV) + Dative Král Uhry daroval koňům. Kimliebo Magyạre ńobruldat ekuindades. The King [of some other country] gave Hungary to the horses.
Genitive Král Uher daroval koně. Kimlo Magyạrozi ńobruldat ekuindes. The King of Hungary donated horses.
Dative Král Uhrám daroval koně. Kimlo Magyạrade ńobruldat ekuindes. The King donated horses to Hungary.
Instrumental Král Uhrami daroval koně. Kimlo Magyạremeku ńobruldat ekuindes. The King used Hungary's assistance to donate horses.
Case Tovasala English
Comitative Kimlo Magyạrasebu ńobruldat ekuindes. The King teamed up with Hungary to donate horses.
Causal Kimlo Magyạrgẽrgimu ńobruldat ekuindes. The King donated horses thanks to Hungary.
Utilitive Kimlo Magyạrgaurdu ńobruldat ekuindes. The King donated horses so that Hungary could use them.
Benefactive Kimlo Magyạromistu ńobruldat ekuindes. The horses were the King's gift to Hungary.
Antessive Kimlo Magyạrprevu ńobruldat ekuindes. Before Hungary pitched in, the King donated his share of horses.
Postcursive Kimlo Magyạraprevu ńobruldat ekuindes. After Hungary pitched in, the King donated his share of horses.
Egressive Kimlo Magyạräppremu ńobruldat ekuindes. The King donated horses across Central Europe, starting with a supply to Hungary.
Apudessive Kimlo Magyạrproximu ńobruldat ekuindes. The King donated horses near the Hungarian border.
Inessive Kimlo Magyạrintu ńobruldat ekuindes. The King donated horses while in Hungary.
Exessive Kimlo Magyạrtugu ńobruldat ekuindes. The King donated the horses outside Hungarian territory.
Adessive Kimlo Magyạrondu ńobruldat ekuindes. With no help from Hungary, the King donated the horses himself.
Exceptive Kimlo Magyạrmoinu ńobruldat ekuindes. The King donated the horses when Hungary wouldn't.
Inclusive Kimlo Magyạrnendu ńobruldat ekuindes. The King donated horses, as did Hungary.
Immediate Kimlo Magyạränsüottemu ńobruldat ekuindes. The King donated the horses to Hungary first.
Exclusive Kimlo Magyạrseulu ńobruldat ekuindes. Only Hungary received the herd of horses the King donated.
Aversive/Evitative Kimlo Magyạrevuiru ńobruldat ekuindes. The King donated horses, but couldn't cross the Hungarian border while carrying them.
Contrastive Kimlo Magyạrpotalu ńobruldat ekuindes. Since Hungary couldn't care less, the King donated the horses himself.
Concessive Kimlo Magyạrmolenu ńobruldat ekuindes. Hungary or no Hungary, the King went ahead with donating the horses.
Postulative Kimlo Magyạrsifu ńobruldat ekuindes. The King donated the horses as long as Hungary agreed to help.
Considerative Kimlo Magyạromilu ńobruldat ekuindes. Officials in Hungary said the King donated horses.

Pretty Little Girls' School

This section's title, taken from section 5.16 of John Woldemar Cowan's The Complete Lojban Language (CLL), has several different interpretations in English. Is it a school where pretty little girls attend; a pretty-looking school for dwarfettes; or a small and beautiful school for girls? While Lojban offers 40 ways to translate it (using melbi cmalu nixli ckule), Tovasala gets by with 17; the tenth variant in the following table carries the most sensible connotation.

The first letters of each word in the phrase, PLGS, form the base of the code in the table; bolded letters signify the focus of the translated variants. As grammatically valid long words, they demonstrate how agglutinative Tovasala can get, although most of them are unlikely to see general use. (Simplified alternatives are given in parentheses.)

# Tovasala term(s) English meaning Code
1 eduasembomisteskoletöbbelide
(= belide der eskolète ńomisoṛzol edas)
the beauty of the small school for girls PLGS
2 eduasembomissbeŕeskolozaubimide
(= aubimide der beŕeskole ńomisoṛzol edas)
the smallness of the beautiful school for girls PLGS
3 beŕeskoletozedas the pretty little school's girls PLGS
4A belaubimedüarroteskole
(= belaubimeduarroz'eskole)
the school of the small, beautiful girls PLGS
4B belaubimeduasembomisteskole
(= eskole ńomist belaubimedas)
school for girls who are beautiful and small PLGS
5 eduasembomisteskolöbbeletide
(= beletide der eskole ńomisoṛzol edas)
the slight beauty of the girls' school PLGS
6 eskoletöbbeledas the pretty girls of the little school PLGS
7A aubimedüarrobbeŕeskole
(= aubimedozas beŕeskole)
the little girls' pretty school PLGS
7B aubimeduasembomissbeŕeskole
(= beŕeskole ńomist aubimedas)
pretty school for small girls PLGS
8 beŕeskolozaubimedas the pretty school's little girls PLGS
9A beledüarroteskolète
(= eskolète der beledas)
the pretty girls' little school PLGS
9B beleduasembomisteskolète
(= eskolète ńomist beledas)
small school for pretty girls PLGS
10 eduasembomissbeŕeskolète
(= beŕeskolète ńomist edas)
small, beautiful school for girls PLGS
11 eskolöbbelaubimedas
(= eskoloze belaubimedas)
the school's pretty little girls PLGS
12 aubimozeduasembomissbeŕeskolète
(= eskolète der beledas)
the small one's beautiful school for girls PLGS
13 edüarrobbeŕeskolète
(= eduarrozi beŕeskolète)
the girls' pretty little school PLGS
14A belaubimeduasembomisteskole
(= eskole ńomist belaubimedas)
school for girls who are beautiful and small PLGS
14B belaubimedüarroteskole
(= belaubimeduarroz'eskole)
the school of the pretty little girls PLGS

Wind speeds

The augmentative -eg- and its opposite -et- reduce many possible degrees of size to just three. Thus the triplet vento, vent-eto, vent-ego "wind, breeze, gale" replaces the entire Beaufort Scale...

[Also:] Can you use -et-eg-a and -eg-et-a to make finer distinctions of size?

—Geoff Eddy, "Why Esperanto is not my favourite language" (ca. 1998; June 2002 update)

With its size suffixes and -(b)uit among other morphemes, Tovasala can form words corresponding to that scale's various levels as shown below:

BF# Description RFM term Affixes Notes
0 Calm nauŕsuflé naul-
1 Light air sufletuite -et-uit
2 Light breeze suflète -et
3 Gentle breeze sufleteade -et-ead
4 Moderate breeze sufletarde -et-ard
5 Fresh breeze sufleadète -ead-et
6 Strong breeze sufleade -ead
7 High wind, moderate/near gale sufleadarde -ead-ard
8 (Fresh) gale sufleaduite -ead-uit
9 Strong/severe gale suflardète -ard-et
10 Storm/whole gale suflardeade -ard-ead Also kamège
11 Violent storm suflarde -ard Also kamegarde
12 Hurricane force suflarduite -ard-uit Also sîgloane
◀ Syntax Grammar of Tovasala:
Words and phrases ▶