More about Lingua Franca Nova

Since I published the article ‘My adventures in 10 languages‘ nearly a week ago, I received quite a few questions about one of the paragraphs. This mysterious paragraph was written in a constructed language called Lingua Franca Nova, which I would like to write about in this article. So around two years ago, while searching for simple conlangs on the internet, I found an article about LFN and – as I expected – it gained my interest in the language. At this point I began to look through everything related to the subject that I could find on the internet (and surprisingly, there was a wide variety of available materials). Despite my great enthusiasm, it was only last week that I decided to have a go at using the language without being able to speak it. And, believe it or not, it seems to have worked.

When thinking of constructed languages, most people have Esperanto on their mind, possibly Volapük or any of Tolkien’s artlangs. But this is clearly not all you can find. Thousands of slightly bored people, including me, have found joy in the building of their own languages (I will soon publish an article about my project, Neo-Ugric). Lingua Franca Nova was first introduced in 1998 by Dr. C. George Boeree, an American psychologist and professor from Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania. Today, it has an incredible number of users, as you may see in its official Yahoo group or on the LFN Wiki. This article would end up being quite lengthy if I went into detail on why LFN is different to most other constructed languages. Therefore, I will only write about the most exciting features of this wonderful creation.

Firstly, anyone who knows at least a bit in one of the Romance languages (such as French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, or even Latin) will find understanding Lingua Franca Nova incredibly simple. It’s vocabulary and grammar are based entirely on those of natural Romance languages, therefore recognising known words should not be a challenge. This characteristic is even more helpful than you would imagine, as LFN is spelt phonetically (using similar rules to Spanish or Romanian). Also, it has a nice melody when pronounced, as opposed to Esperanto.

Secondly, its grammar in unbelievably easy. There’s no such thing as conjugation, so “I go, you go, he go”. Well, for English-speakers this doesn’t mean such a relief, but compare it to “je vais, tu vas, il va, nous allons, vous allez, ils vont” and you will know straight away that LFN is amazing. Oh, and there’s no “he or she” in third person, you only have to remember el for a person and lo for the equivalent of the English ‘it’. One other fact about personal pronouns: there are no subject-object-possessive distinctions, so me (pronounced /mɛ/) could be used for ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘my’, ‘mine’ or ‘to me’ equally. This makes it quite obvious that LFN has a very strict word order, which also implies that there is no need for the annoying accusative suffix. A verb (for instance, ‘to dance’) could be a noun (‘dance’); an adjective (e.g. ‘wise’) could also be a noun (‘the wise one’); and adverbs are indentical to adjectives. We use the suffixes -nte, to make the the active participle of a verb (donante means ‘giving’ or ‘giver’), and -da for the passive participle (donada means ‘given’ or ‘gift’). Placing ia before a verb forms the past tense, va forms the future and ta is often used for conditional. In a nutshell, this is it.

And thirdly, let me tell you a secret. Although my paragraph in the article had quite a few weird mistakes in it due the fact that I was silly enough to write it before I read through the detailed grammar booklet, since then I often have LFN conversations on Facebook and even translate song lyrics into Lingua Franca Nova. I do this without speaking the language, thanks to the searchable dictionary. To show you what I mean, I’ll let you have a look at my translation of the song “La guerra di Piero” by Fabrizio De André – or at least its first two verses:

Su un campo de orzo, enterada, tu resta,
No ave rosa, no violeta,
Ci garda tu per sempre de la ombra,
Ma ave mil papaveras roja.

Longo la riva de la me rieta,
Me vole vide lusios arjento,
Car los nada plu bon a la fondo
Ca soldatas xutada en la testa.

If you speak LFN, please correct my mistakes before I get arrested for publishing fake material on the internet! Or in case you are interested in the Italian and English versions of the song, you’ll find the lyrics here. I’ve just reminded myself that I’ll have to publish a new version of my paragraph in ‘My adventures in 10 languages‘. Anyway, if you are interested in learning the language, I suggest you have a look at the official website or the beginners’ tutorial. Overall, Lingua Franca Nova is – in my view – the simplest stable constructed language. However, this statement is nothing more than my personal opinion. Feel free to prove me wrong if you want to!


15 thoughts on “More about Lingua Franca Nova

  1. I think it’s an interesting concept… but I’d also be the first to say that I think the “musicality” of a language is entirely subjective, and often depends on who is speaking it. 🙂

    Not quite sure if I’d add LFN to the list of languages in which I’m dabbling, but it’s not a bad candidate…

    • I understand what you mean! Since LFN – just like most other conlangs – has no native speakers, everybody who pronounces it is likely to have some kind of accent. However, its phonology (including both phonemes and tone) allows the language to be theoretically “musical”, in a way in which Italian would be considered the same. In general, it shall not be a bad candidate at all. In my case, it took nothing more than reading through ten bullet-points of grammar and opening up the online dictionary, and voilà. Although the only proof I have for the fact that I am using it correctly is that people understand me, I still think that LFN needs much less practice and attention than a more sophisticated conlang, such as Esperanto. Thank you for your comment!

  2. I am obviously not objective, because I like and practise LFN. However LFN has real musical qualities, I’m myself musician and I’m sensitive to that. I think, that LFN has a great future in the sphere of international languages.

    Me no es evidente empirical, per ce me gusta e pratica LFN. An tal LFN ave cualias musical vera, me mesma es musiciste e me es sensosa sur esta tema. Me pensa, ce LFN va ave un futur grande en sfera de linguas internasional.

    • I am obsessed with reading pieces of writing in languages such as LFN and Italian out loud, as it makes me feel like I am singing and yet my mum doesn’t tell me to stop making those noises! So I totally agree with you. Concerning the future of LFN, I believe that the community will experience a continuous growth for a long period of time, thus increasing its popularity. But this is the main thing: a community of regular users. Without such thing it would be hard to achieve any significant goal. Fortunately, Lingua Franca Nova has an incredibly active group of users. Thank you for your comment!

  3. It is a nice article about LFN, thanks for that. I have been learning it as well. I think that it is an interesting language. At this juncture though I have been concentrating more into improving my knowledge of Esperanto, I do hope to restart learning LFN later on although I’m considering to deviate from it for a bit longer and spend some time learning Haitian Creole, in part due to LFN. You see, LFN borrows a lot from Creole (I am not sure if from the Haitian variety tough). For example, it is uncanny the similarities between Haitian Creole and LFN in the way they conjugate verbs. They both use “ta” for conditional.

    I wish I could correct your translation, probably mine is no better anyway, and I invite you to try the aspell dictionary that I made for LFN at


    • Thank you for this insightful comment! I made no mention of the impact that Creole has had on Lingua Franca Nova because I was afraid of writing something false, but you have provided us with this information, so thanks a lot. I love the way ‘ia’, ‘va’ and ‘ta’ are used. It would be great if more natural languages followed this basic system. I have looked at your aspell dictionary, but unfortunately I cannot figure out how to use it (my fault!). Despite this, I’m sure that you have put a great effort into its creation, so congratulations!

  4. Balint, me tota acorda con tu. Tra me vive, me ia studia multe linguas artifisial (Esperanto, Neo, Ido, Volapük, Uropi, Occidental, Unilingua, Interglossa, Glosa, Sona, Kah, etc.).
    Final, la me conclui es ce LFN es la plu perfeta.

  5. Me ia coreti la tu tradui:
    Su un campo de orzo, tu resta enterada,
    On ave no rosa, no violeta,
    Cual garda tu per sempre de la ombra,
    Ma on ave mil papaveras roja.

    Longo la riva de me rieta,
    Me vole vide lusios arjento,
    Car los nada plu bon a la fondo
    Ca soldatos xutada en la testa.

    • Grasias! En la linia prima, me ia scrive “Su un campo de orzo, enterada, tu resta” car me ia vole reteni la rima. Me sabe ce la ordina de parolas es fisa, ma esce me no pote cambia los si me usa virgulas? Esta es confusante! Ance, ‘Grammar of Lingua Franca Nova’ dise a 8.6 ce ave sin sujeto indica la presentia o esiste de alga cosa, pe “Ave un serprente en la rua” o “Ave multe persones asi oji”. Me ta es grasiosa si tu clari lo.

      • Nos ia deside ce “ave” sin sujeto coresponde sola a “havu” en esperanto. Donce per tradui “there is” = “il y a”, nos ia deside usa “on ave”.
        En poesia tu pote cambia la loca la predicativa, ma no en la lingua normal.

  6. LFN es la plu fasil entre la linguas aidante, ma on debe respeta sever la ordina de la parolas afin la lingua resta clar, ca lo es un lingua con un gramatica creol.

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