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Glosa is an isolating international auxiliary language (sometimes called an auxlang or an "IAL"). "Isolating" means that there are no inflections - words remain always in their original form, no matter what function they have in the sentence. However, some grammatical functions are taken over by a small number of operator words and by the use of word order (syntax).


Professor Lancelot Hogben devised Interglossa while fire-watching on the roof of Aberdeen University during a war. He was inspired to remove all inflections from Interglossa by the publication of Latino Sine Flexione by Peano in 1905 but thought that the list of vocabulary was too extensive to be of much use as an IAL. For this reason he made Interglossa's vocabulary much more basic. A draft of Interglossa was originally published by Hogben (by the publishing company Pelican Books in London) in 1943 as "Interglossa: A draft of an auxiliary for a democratic world order, being an attempt to apply semantic principles to language design". Hogben listed 880 classical words and roots that he believed would suffice for basic conversation.

After receiving Hogben's permission, Ronald Clark and Wendy Ashby worked to refine Interglossa in order to make it more easily usable in all possible forms of communication (id est: spoken, written, via telegram, etc.). In 1972, the first paper on Glosa was officially published. In this publication, Glosa, based on Interglossa, was intended to be used as a means of communication of and between the global scientific community. Hogben died in 1975. Clark and Ashby then decided to rename the language Glosa (because any changes that they made could not be approved by Hogben) and make the spelling phonetic, including making double vowels and consonants rarely occur.

Until about 1979, Ashby and Clark tested the use of Glosal using local volunteers in the town in which they were living. During this period, the vocabulary and some details of sentence formation were developed and revised. They had moved to another town by the time they had published the first Glosa dictionary.

In Glosa, words always retain their original form, regardless of their function in a sentence. Thus, the same word can function as a verb, noun, adjective or preposition. Grammatical functions are taken over by a limited number of operator words and by the word order (syntax). Subject-Verb-Object order is the standard word order, and "adjectives" usually precede "nouns", and the "verbs" follows the tense particles and the "adverbs". Glosa is written with the Latin alphabet and without special characters; there are no double vowels or consonants.

In order to ease recognition and use, the words of Glosa are taken almost exclusively from Latin and Greek.

Alphabet and phonology

Consonants Vowels Digraphs and Consonant Combinations
IPA spelling IPA spelling IPA spelling IPA spelling
/p/ p /b/ b /a/ or /æ/ a /ks/ x 2
/t/ t /d/ d /i/ or /ɪ/ i /kw/ q(u) 3
/g/ g /k/ k /u/ or /ʌ/ u /ʃ/ sc
/m/ m /n/ 1 n /e/ or /ɛ/ e /tʃ/ c
/f/ f /v/ v /ɔ/ or /o/ o
/s/ s /z/ z /aɪ/ y
/h/ h /j/ j
/r/ r /l/ l
/w/ w
1The practice of pronouncing n before a velar sound (g or k) as /ŋ/ is generally non-preferred and controversial but is used commonly in order to simplify pronunciation.
218 Steps to Fluency in Euro-Glosa notes that x may be pronounced as /s/ at the start of a word but this is non-preferred.
318 Steps to Fluency in Euro-Glosa indicates q (rather than qu) for the spelling of the kw sound combination.
In the vowel-IPA section above, the first pronunciation is the preferred one.

Several diphthongs can occur in Glosa, depending on pronunciation:

IPA spelling
/ɔɪ/ oj/oi/oe
/aʊ/ au/aw
/aɪ/ aj/ai/y
/eɪ/ ej/ei/e
/j/ + vowel i + vowel
/w/ + vowel u + vowel

  • Section Note: Some foreign names may include non-Glosa letters in order to retain original spelling, observe: Spanish = Español
  • Section Note: Unlike several other auxiliary languages, Glosa uses the letters q and x. C makes the 'ch' sound in "church". Glosa lacks a character representing the phone [ʒ]. It also lacks a single letter/symbol for the 'sh' sound in "short", unlike Esperanto. Glosa represents this sound by the letter combination sc. Like Esperanto, German, and Russian, J makes the y sound found in "yell" or "yak" in Glosa. G and S are always "hard" (goat and, respectively, hiss/snake). In Glosa, "R" should be trilled or "tapped" (the tongue lightly taps the pallate of one's mouth), never uvularized.

Accent & Verbal Inflection

The stress/accent should be placed on the ultimate vowel unless if the word ends in a vowel. If this is the case the stress should be placed on the last vowel before the last consonant.

Vocal inflection in Glosa is generally comparable to that of English- there usually is a rising inflection before a comma, semicolon, or terminal if interrogative (that is, if it is a question, the voice tends to "go upward" towards the end).A falling inflection is to occur before a full stop.


Full-stops end sentences. They can be the normal full stop (.), the interrogative point (?), exclamational marker (!), and, theoretically, the interrobang.
Semi-colon separates clauses, principal and subordinate.
Colon precedes items of a catalogue. If three or more items occur in a row, they should be separated with a comma and, prior to the final item, the word "e" or "plus" (and, plus).
Fe stude: biologi, kemi, e/plus Français.
Comma separates items from each other.

Personal Pronouns

Personal Pronouns
English Glosa
I; me mi
You (singular) tu
you (plural) vi
He; him an
She; her fe
It id
He/She/One pe
We; us na
They; them mu(-an/-fe)
oneself (reflexive) se

Grammar and Word Formation

Glosa contains two major groups of words:

Primitives: the small number of basic function words present in most languages - these allow us to describe the relationships between the major concepts we convey. These are basically prepositions and conjunctions, such as: de [of], e [and], pre [before], supra [above], sub [under; below; lower; beneath; lesser; somewhat].

Substantives: the list of words representing the more complex things, actions and descriptions (sometimes usable for all three) present in a language, such as: via [road], kurso [run], hedo [happy], vide [see], celera [swift], tako [fast; quick; swift; brisk; hasty; prompt; hurry; nimble; rapid; rapidity; rate; speed; haste; sprint; quick; speedy; velocity]; oku [eye]. Please note that many of these words have multiple meanings, based on how they are used in a sentence (verb, adjective, etc.)- exempli gratia: "oku" can mean "eye", "optical", "to notice with the eyes", "see (look)", "perceive (with the eyes)", or "to peep".

In order to form a composite word in Glosa, one just combines existing words. For example:

pe - person who does/person (short form of persona)
an - male (from andros)
fe - female
do - place of/place (from domo meaning house)
lo - location, place of

  • Therefore a student is stude-pe (one who studies), a male student is stude-an, a female student is stude-fe and a place of students (school, library, etc.) is a stude-do. Likewise a hospital is pato-do (from the word pathology but meaning sickness), literally meaning a house/place of disease.

tegu - cover; ceiling; (to)shutter; deck; lid (cover); eclipse; (to) shelter; casing
oku-tegu - eyelid
agri - field, countryside
agri-lo - farm
a-celera - accelerate (to [move, change] to[ward] swiftness)

Meals can also be formed by noun-compounding:

evening = vespera
to eat, to devour = vora
dinner, supper = vespera-vora

Phrases, the basic unit of recognizable meaning in Glosa, follow a "Subject+Verb+(Object)" order but are also "Substantive Final", which means that they start with the least important word, and are followed by additional words combining progressively to extend the meaning of the substantive, which comes last.

Word Derivation

Generally, the following derivation rules apply when forming new words in Glosa. Some basic words (often that act as specificational prefixes) are shortened (such as "an", "fe", or "pe").

Indefinite words remain as they are (ad, de, si, kata).

Derivational Rules (from Latin origin)
Latin Ending Glosa Ending Example
-a, -ae (from ablative) -a silva (forest)
-us, -us -u manu (hand)
-is, -is -i turi (tower, turret)
adjectives: -us/-a/-um -o karo (dear)
verbs: -ere -e face (to make, build, commit)
verbs: -are -a lauda (to praise, esteem, applause)
verbs: -ire -i veni (to arrive)

  • Latin o-declination-words become the nominative plural. Therefore:

-us, -i ending are adapted to -i ending (rami, soni, tubi)
-er, -ri become -ri (libri)
-um, -i are -a ending in Glosa (exempla)

  • Words built from the perfect-tense-radix become -i (cepti, fluxi, komposi)
  • Latin -io, -ionis are not changed to the ablative-ending (-ione) but keep the nominatives -io (natio, okasio, petitio, religio, tensio).
  • The same occurs when deriving from Greek (however, Greek lacks an ablative so the dative is used instead):

-os, -u become -o (fobo, orto).

  • Occasionally the Greek aorist-root is taken instead of present-tense-root (gene).
  • Greek verbs become -o (1st person singular) such as: skizo.
  • Species names keep nominative (equs, ursus).

Any time Greek CH, Y, TH and PH occur they become K, I, T and F respectively in Glosa.


Most words can act as verbs, depending on their places in the sentence (usually in the medial position).

Example of Verb Tenses
Tense Prior Word1 Glosa Text English Translation
Infinitive -/Klavi- U (klavi-)lektu To read
Pluperfect Pra Mi pra lektu u bibli... I (had) read the book...
Simple Past/Perfect Pa Mi pa lektu u bibli. I (did) read the book.
Imperfect Pa du Mi pa du lektu u bibli. I read the book.
Past Participle Ge Mi ge-lektu u bibli. I read the book
Simple Present -/nu-klavi- Mi (nu-klavi-)lektu u bibli. I (do) read the book.
Continuous/Present Participle Du Mi du lektu u bibli. I am reading the book.
Present Perfect Nu pa Mi nu pa lektu u bibli. I have read the book.
Future-in-Present Nu fu Mi nu fu lektu u bibli. I presently/soon will read the book.
Simple Future Fu Mi fu lektu u bibli. I shall/will read the book.
Future Perfect Fu pa Mi fu pa lektu u bibli. I will have read the book (by tomorrow).
Conditional Sio Mi sio lektu u bibli... If I read the book...
Imperative -! Lektu! Read!
Negative Ne Mi ne lektu u bibli. I do not read the book/I am not reading the book.
Interrogative [Qe] Mi qe lektu u bibli?/Qe mi lektu u bibli? Am I reading the book?
Accusative/Passive Verbial Gene- U bibli gene-lektu (ab/per) mi. The book is/gets read by/from me.
Gerund -/Nomin(a)- (U) (nomin(a)-)lektu. (The) Reading (of the book...)

  • 1What is meant by "Prior Word" is the word used immediately prior to the verb of the sentence or clause in order to demonstrate or affect its tense. For example:

To show that a verb is in the past tense, add "pa" before the verb.
To indicate the future tense, add "fu" before the verb.
To indicate the conditional, add "sio" before the verb.

  • 1The coding of this column is as follows:

If there is an unmarked word (n) present in a box it must be used immediately prior to the verb in order to show the tense of that row
If there is a hyphen, slash, then a word (-/n) then the word (n) is useful but not necessary
If there is a word then a hyphen (n-) then the word is necessary and must be adjacent (connected to) the verb
If there is a hyphen and then a symbol or word (-s) then the verb cannot be followed by another noun (and usually will either be the clause/sentence terminator or followed by the word "please")
If a word is surrounded by square brackets ([n]) then its placing in the sentence or clause can be in multiple places
If a word part (letter, syllable) is surrounded by parenthesis (n(a) ) then it is optional but the rest may or may not be.

Adjectives & Adverbs


Adjectives, like the rest of the language, lack inflections. They do not change to fit the tense, number, gender, formality, or etc. of the nouns that they modify. They generally precede the word that they modify. Sometimes, if an adjective's place does determine its meaning:

  • Mi fu lektu mo bibli = I will read one book
  • Mi fu lektu bibli mo = I will read the first book

To negate or make an adjective the opposite, one just places "no-" as a prefix to the adjective. This usage is similar to that of the prefix "mal-" in Esperanto.

kali = beautiful
no-kali = ugly

u-la = that
plu-la = those
u-ci = this
plu-ci = these


po-kron = late
pre-kron = early
pa-di = yesterday
nu-di = today
fu-di = tomorrow
imedia = immediately


akorda-co = accordingly
alelo = each()other
alo = or
alo...alo = either...or
alora = in that case...
anti-co = however
e = and
fini-co = finally
hetero-co = otherwise
ja = already
kaso = case...
ko-co = also
klu = even... = neither...nor
pene = almost
po-co = after that
posi = perhaps
plus-co = moreover
qasi = as if...
sed = but
si ne... = unless
ne si = if...not
vice = instead of...


A correlative is a word used to ask or answer a question of who, where, what, when, why, how or how much. Correlatives in Glosa are set in a semi-systematic manner with a particle of the compund indicating abstract quantity (what person or thing, what place, what time, for what reason, in what manner, what is the amount) and the prefix/other particle indicating the specific function of the word (exactly which, all, some, negating, etc.). There are other ways to say the following correlatives, the table just shows the most basic and systematic of these:

Table of
(This, that)
(Each, every)
qo– uno– ali– panto– nuli–
Thing –ra qo-ra/qod
(this, that)
Individual –pe qo-pe
(who, which one; which [horse])
(that one; that [horse])
(someone; some [horse])
(everyone; each [horse], all [horses])
(no one; no [horse])
Place –lo qo-lo/ubi
Manner –mode qo-mode
(how, as)
(thus, as)
(in every way)
(no-how, in no way)
Reason (pro) –ka qo-ka
(therefore, that reason)
(for some reason)
(for all reasons)
(for no reason)
Time –kron/tem qo-kron/qo-tem
(sometime, whenever)
Amount –qanto (qo-)qanto
(how much)
(that much)
(some, a bit)
(all of it)
Quality –qali (qo-)qali
(how much)
(that good)
(some quality)
(all qualities)
(no good)

What is the time? = Qo horo?
Which (of) = de qi

  • To indicate that a statement is really an interrogative, one places "qe" at the beginning of the sentence.

Sample and Useful Words

Hello, greetings, saltutations = Saluta! Ave!
Welcome = Bene-veni
Please! = Place!
Sorry! = Pardo! Penite!
What is your name? = Qo-mode nomina/nima vi? (literally: How are you named?)
My name is... = Mi nomina/nima es...
Where am I = Qo-lo es mi?
How much? = Qanta?
Do you speak Glosa = (Qe) Dice vi Glosa? / Qe vi dice Glosa?
I don't understand you = Mi ne logi/kompreni vi.
Thank you = Gratia
You're welcome = De nuli. (literally: Of nothing)
Here's to your health = A vi eu-sani.
Bless you!/Gesundheit! = Eu-sani (de vi)!
It is a nice day = Es u bene di.
I love you = Mi amo vi.
Goodbye = Vale.
What is that? = Qo(-id) es u-la?
That is...? = U-la es...?
How are you? = Qo-mode iti vi? (literally: In what way are you going?)
Good morning! = Boni matina!
Good evening! = Boni po meso-di! (literally: Good after mid-day)
Good night! = Boni noktu!
Good night, sweet dreams = Boni kli/Boni (plu) sonia.
I can't find an error = Ne pote detekti u defekti.

Well/be well = Vale
Good/well = Boni/bene/eu
Well (healthy) = Sani

Ki = movement, to go, to move

A cat, the cat = U feli(s)
Cats = Plu feli(s)

Dog = Kanis
Pig = Sui
Bovine (cow/bull) = Bovi
Horse = Equs
Frog = Rana
Bird = Avi
Bee = Bombus
Spider = Aranea
Fish = Piski

A/an/the (generally) = U (before all consonants but h); un (before vowels and h)
The (only used when precise specification is necessary) = Les/plu


Prepositions: Glosa-English Comparison
Glosa Word English Word English Example Words
Ab Away from Abduct
Ad To / Towards Advance
Ana Up Anabolic / Ana
Anti Against Antibiotic
De Of / About / Pertaining to (N/A)
Dextro (On the) Right Ambidextrous
Dia Through Diagonal
Epi On Epicentre
Ex Out (of) / by (agent) Exterior
Infra Below / Under /Lesser Infrared / Inferior
Intra Inside Intracloud
Kata Down Catastrophe
Ko With Coöperate
Kontra Counter / Opposite Counter / Contrast
Laevo Left Levorotation
Meso Middle Mesopotamia
Minus Without / Losing Minus
Margina Edge / Side Margin
Meso Middle Mesopotamia
Nu Now (N/A)
Para Beside Parallel
Per By (instrumental) (N/A)
Peri Around Pericarp
Po After Post (scriptum)
Pre Before Previous
Pro For Pro (or con)
Proxi Near Proximity
sine instead of (N/A)
Supra Over / Above Superior
Te In order to... (N/A)
Tem At the same time (N/A)
Tele Far Telephone
To At place (N/A)
Trans Across Transition
Ultra Beyond Ultrasophisticated


The following table uses a period (.) to represent groups of three zeros (0).

Arabic Numeral English Name Glosa Name Exact Glosa-English Translation
0 zero nuli/ze/zero null; nullify; nothing; abolish; cancel;
eliminate; naught; nil; no; repeal; zero
1 one mo one; single
2 two bi two; double
3 three tri three; triple
4 four tet(ra) four
5 five pen(ta) five
6 six six(a) six
7 seven se(p)t(i) seven
8 eight ok(to) eight
9 nine nona nine
10 ten dek(a) ten
11 eleven mo-mo one-one
12 twelve mo-bi one-two
20 twenty bi-dek(a) two-ten(s)
22 twenty-two bi-dek(a)-bi two-ten(s)-two
100 one hundred (mo-)centi (one) hundred
101 one hundred and one (mo-)centi-mo (one) hundred-one
1.000 one thousand (mo-)kilo (one) thousand
1.000.000 one million (mo-)miliona (one) million

  • Note: Some use "hekto" for "hundred" instead of "centi". "Centi" is then used as "hundredth".
  • Note: Some use "bi-ze" for 20 and, likewise, "pen-ze" for 50. Also, some use "dek(a)-mo", "dek(a)-bi", etc. for 11, 12, etc.

Example Text

  • Glosa text (From: Prof. Hogben's Language Planning. )

A prima vista posi id feno u no-spe ergo de face u verba-lista; qi fu sati panto nece volu de interkomunika; sed inklude ne ma de, posi, u kilo basi verba. U nova-papira uti minimo 20,000 verba; e in English mero de mikro English - French lexiko proxi 10,000 gene lista. Pe ne nece studi id mega tem te detekti u mega mero de lista es ne-nece.

U logika ge-face verba-lista sio apo multi sinonima alo proxi-sinonima, de qi Anglo-Amerika lingua es ple. Ex. little-small, big-large, begin-commence. Id ne nece tolera funktio imbrika homo band - ribbon - strip. Plus, id sio evita excesi specializa per face mo verba akti qod in Plu Palaeo Lingua gene face per tri alo ma. Exempla, u France demo nima un extra tegu de homi soma la peau, u-la de cepa la pelure; e u-la de botuli la cotte. Anti na es mei precise de France demo, na auto supra-kargo u lexiko per ko-responde seri skin - rind - jacket - peel. Kron na vide u difere inter thread - twine - cord - string - rope - tow na solo kumu nima epi nima pro qo es, a fini u metri-difere.

  • English Translation:

At first sight it may seem a hopeless task to construct a vocabulary that would cover all the essential words of intercommunication, yet contain not more than, say, a thousand basic words. A newspaper uses at least 20,000, and in the English section of a small English-French pocket dictionary some 10,000 are listed. It requires no lengthy scrutiny to discover that a large portion of the material is not essential.

A rationally constructed word-list would discard many synonyms or near-synonyms, of which the Anglo-American language is full. For example, little - small, big - large, begin - commence. It need not tolerate functional overlap as with band - ribbon - strip. Also, it would avoid over-specialization by making one word do what in natural languages is often done by three or more. For example, the French call the outer cover of the human body la peau, that of the onion la pelure, and that of the sausage la cotte. Though less precise than the French, we ourselves overburden the dictionary with the corresponding series skin - rind - jacket - peel. When we distinguish between thread - twine - cord - string - rope - tow we are merely heaping name upon name for what is ultimately a difference in size.

Language Sample for Comparison

The following is the Lord's Prayer in Glosa and other languages:

Glosa version: Esperanto version: Greek version: Latin version: English (ELLC - 1988)
Na parenta in Urani; na volu;
tu nima gene revero.
Tu krati veni; tu tende gene akti
epi Geo homo in Urani Place;
don a na nu-di na di-pane;
e Tu pardo na plu mali akti.
Metro na pardo mu; qui akti mali de na.
E ne dirige na a plu moli ofere;
sed libe na ab mali.
Ka Tu tena u krati, u dina
e un eufamo pan tem.
Patro nia, kiu estas en la ĉielo,
Via nomo estu sanktigita.
Venu Via regno, plenumiĝu Via volo,
kiel en la ĉielo,
tiel ankaŭ sur la tero.
Nian panon ĉiutagan donu al ni hodiaŭ.
Kaj pardonu al ni niajn ŝuldojn,
kiel ankaŭ ni pardonas al niaj ŝuldantoj.
Kaj ne konduku nin en tenton,
sed liberigu nin de la malbono.
Πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς·
ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου·
ἐλθέτω ἡ βασιλεία σου·
γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου, ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς·
τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον·
καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν,
ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφίεμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν·
καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν,
ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ.
[Ὅτι σοῦ ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία καὶ ἡ δύναμις καὶ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας. ἀμήν.]
Pater noster, qui es in caelis:
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum;
fiat voluntas tua, sicut in caelo, et in terra.
Panem nostrum cotidianum da nobis hodie;
et dimitte nobis debita nostra,
Sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris;
et ne nos inducas in tentationem;
sed libera nos a malo.
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.

notice that in Glosa the word "sky" is derived from Greek (Ουρανός (God of the sky) -> Urani (sky)) while the other language samples used a Latin derived word (caelum-caeli)


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