Neo-Oceanic Hebrew

From Linguifex
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Neo-Oceanic Hebrew
rōŋo·ŋo Pāru
Pronunciation[ˈrō.ŋo.ŋo ˈpā.ru]
Created byRobert Marshall Murphy
Settingtesting principles of minimalism, the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis and pidgins
constructed language, combining elements of the subgenres personal language and philosophical language
  • Neo-Oceanic Hebrew
Sourcesa posteriori language, with elements of English, Hebrew, Maori
Language codes
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Neo-Oceanic Hebrew (NOH) is a philosophical artistic constructed language known for its small vocabulary. There is a very niche name for such conlangs: microlangs. It was created by Biblical scholar Robert Marshall Murphy for the purpose of directing thoughts along the lines of Hebrew-Bible typology and archetypes. The minimalism comes from restricting the vocabulary to 116 words, which can be combined in ways similar to isolating language in real-life. It has 15 phonemes, taken almost directly from Māori. The very-fictionalized history of the language comes from imagining ancient Hebrews being taken along to New Zealand in BC times and having a similar linguistic evolution. It was not created to be an international auxiliary language. Despite the small vocabulary, speakers are able to understand and communicate with each other, mainly relying on context and combinations of several words to express more specific meanings. It is also notable for it's balanced-ternary number system.


The endonym for the language is rōŋo·ŋo Pāru, which means "the actual language of the Hebrews". The idea is that native speakers would hold themselves to be the true preserves of original Hebrew, not modern Israelis.



The rōŋo·ŋo Pāru language has 10 consonant sounds, and 5 vowel sounds. Two sounds frequently appear epenthetically, but are not part of the language per se.


Labials Alveolar Velar Glottal
Nasals m n ŋ
Stops p t k (?)
Fricatives f h
Liquids r w
  • f is extremely variable in pronunciations accepted. Anything from [f], to [v], to [φ], to [β], or even [ʍ] are possible. As long as it is distinguished from w, a wide latitude is permissible
  • The glottal stop is not a named letter, but nevertheless required between words which end in a vowel and those that begin with one.
  • The r is an alveolar flap. American r’s are understandable, but undesirable.
  • The more scientific orthography of ŋ is preferred, but in media where this is not available, ng is acceptable.


rōŋo·ŋo Pāru vowels are the standard, five-vowel system of Spanish, Japanese, Arabic, and many, many world languages.

Front Mid Back
High i u
Mid e o
Low a
  • The diphthongs are ae, ai, ei, ao, au, eu, and ou. All other combination (except triphthongs) are actual said across syllables, with vowel hiatus.
  • Across syllable boundaries, between a back vowel (o or u) and a following non-back vowel (a e i), there is an epenthetic [w], which is not written. Between a front vowel (e or i) and a following non-front vowel (a o u), there is an epenthetic [j] (a y sound), which is never written. The exception is eu, which is said as written.
  • Triphthongs are acceptably pronounced as diphthongs followed by a vowel. They are auo, aou, eia, and eio.
  • The grammatical particles with short vowels (a, e, te, i, ki, ŋo, and even the long- voweled ū) are often reduced and/or centralized in rapid speech. This results in [ɐ(ː)], [ə], [tə], [ɪ], [kɪ], [ŋɵ], and [ʊ(ː)]. The pronoun ō does not seem susceptible to this reduction, though the noun fū often is.


Only V, VV, VVV, CV, and CVV syllables are allowed.

  • Since a syllable may have no consonant onset or coda, it is not unusual to see several vowels next to each other in a word. In that case each vowel is a syllable, poua [pow.a], reia [ɾej.a].
  • Three syllables are impossible: *ti, *wo, and *wu. Even when transcribing foreign words and names, these must be avoided. Instead, use ki, ō, and ū. e.g. Kiāna, Tiana.
  • Every(native)word has one stress accent, which is left-defined. Stress occurs on the first long vowel (or diphthong) from the left. The exceptions are the overlong (combined) pronouns, some of which have two accented (long) syllables.
  • After reduplication, the accent does not shift. This causes some reduplications to be abbreviated or change vowels. rōŋa → rōŋa·ŋa.
  • Long foreign words should be broken up into two and three syllable pieces, each of which has a marked long vowel or diphthong, for stress purposes. Tāruŋīŋu, Tarshish.
A word can be made more intense or used to indicate repeated action by undergoing reduplication. Reduplication is the process of repeating all or part of a word immediately afterwards. Because it is a transformation of a word (the only one possible!), it is not written with a space. Instead, a middle dot is appended to the word, and the part of the word which is repeated is written immediately afterwards. How much of a word gets reduplicated is not directly dependent on it syllable structure, but it morae count. Morae are tabulated upon vowels, where a monophthong counts as one, a diphthong as two, and triphthong as three. Up to two morae are repeated, or just the entire word, whichever comes first.


rōŋo·ŋo Pāru is generally written in all lowercase, with only names and foreign words receiving a capital letter.

  • Direct speech is recorded in quotation marks. This reflects the oral practice of raising the pitch slightly to indicate quotations. These are expected to be introduced in the previous sentence with tepāru used as a main verb.
  • While the English names of the letters of the alphabet are known, they do not obey rōŋo·ŋo Pāru phonotactics, so the names of the older, Hebrew letters are preferred.
p oēre kitāpa pētu man-made written symbol
t oēre kitāpa te direct-object written symbol
k oēre kitāpa kēfa metallic written symbol
m oēre kitāpa mai liquid written symbol
n oēre kitāpa nīpa occasional written symbol
ŋ oēre kitāpa ŋīma joyful written symbol
f oēre kitāpa fū open written symbol
h oēre kitāpa hōhe flat written symbol
r oēre kitāpa rōaŋa initial written symbol
w oēre kitāpa wāre lunar written symbol
  • For example, p clearly comes from beth, the Hebrew letter ב, and k from כ, but other relationships are less clear.
  • Vowels, diphthongs, and triphthongs are named as just themselves.
a oēre kitāpa ā hey written symbol
e oēre kitāpa ē subject written symbol
o oēre kitāpa ō her written symbol
i oēre kitāpa ī verb written symbol
u oēre kitāpa ū and written symbol

  • The boundary of reduplication is marked with a central dot. This makes it extremely easy to see what the original word was.
  • Because rōŋo·ŋo Pāru has such a limited vocabulary, it will often be necessary (but undesirable) to transcribe foreign words. Be careful to remember that all foreign words are adjectives, and must be preceded by the appropriate head noun.
  • No consonant clusters are allowed. No coda consonants exist, of any kind.
  • Epenthetic vowels are not at all consistent, and seem to be conditioned by the place of articulation of the surrounding consonants. Stick closest to the actual pronunciation in the foreign country, not the written orthography or the English name for the place.
  • Substitute the voiceless version of voiced consonants. f stands in for most fricatives. *L becomes r. Use i for *y.

New Symbols

A strong proposal exists for a novel set of symbols to write rōŋo·ŋo Pāru , available in the font, “New Māori” by Ian James. A notable feature is the presence of a glyph for null-onset syllables.


rōŋo·ŋo Pāru almost entirely lacks inflection, so that words have only one grammatical form. Categories such as number (singular or plural) and verb tense are frequently not expressed by any grammatical means, although there are several coverbs1 that serve to express verbal aspect, and some moods.

The basic word order is verb–subject-object (VSO), as in Hebrew and Māori. rōŋo·ŋo Pāru is a head-initial language, meaning that modifiers follow the words they modify. In a noun phrase, for example, the head noun comes first, and all modifiers, including relative clauses, come after it.

Predicate adjectives are normally used without the object marker te and can thus be regarded as a type of stative verb.

Part of Speech

Every word of rōŋo·ŋo Pāru — except grammar particles — can be any part of speech. This is why grammatical particles are so crucial. What is more, the absence of an object may have an effect on the range of meanings of the predicate.


When a word follows another word in a noun phrase, it modifies what comes before, in an adjectival (or genitival) sense.

i pāra e ōtama kūru te pīri. The round man crossed a line.


When words are used as intransitive verbs, they are like predicate adjectives or stative verbs. The meaning may be subtly different from the adjective (with the added sense of is now) or may be entirely the same.

i kūru. (It) is round.


The transitive meaning necessarily involves somechange, as now it is an action, being applied by the agent to the patient.

i kūru ōu te ō. They surrounded it.


When following 'ki, a word becomes part of an adverb phrase. The meaning is typically similar to the adjectival meaning, though it is often ambiguous as to whether any given adverb phrase is temporal or physical.

'i tarī e ō rai mīka aumu ki kūru. She went periodically to the shop. or She went to the shop in an arc.


Many words have highly idiomatic meanings when following ki. The words that seem to modify them (because they are in adjectival position) are modifying an adverb, and hence specify something like English prepositional phrases.

iāwe kā ki peane aita nū. You are in my power.


When following an e, a word is a noun.

i ŋarōmu tarī e kūru. The cycle had finished.


All words apart from grammar particles can undergo reduplication to intensify or reiterate their basic meaning. For example, i ŋemōŋa means to shine, to glow, to emit light. Under reduplication i ŋemōŋa·ŋa means to sparkle, to twinkle, to pulse light.

In the case of noun usages, the meaning may change to something like the quintessence of X, which may be rather culturally specific. For example, mēreke is a king, or a ruler. But mēreke·reke is his/her crown, scepter or other symbol of leadership.

Especially for adjectives, the reduplicated form is the superlative, as in ūteŋa·teŋa holiest.


rōŋo·roŋo Pāru pronouns are the only words marked for number. They also differ from nouns by not requiring (though it is optional) the head-marker e to identify them as the subject or topic.

Clusivity is important. The first person plural pronoun is exclusive, while the forms with second person attached are inclusive.

Pronouns mark plurality through reduplication. The third person plural dissimilates to maintain contrast.

Singular Plural
First nūnu
Second kāka
Third ō ōu

Pronouns cannot be joined with the conjunction ū (though they can be with auo). Instead, they combine by fusing.

-kā -kāka -ōu
nū- nūka nūkaka nuo nuou
nūnu- nūnuka nūnukaka nunuo nūnuou
kā- - - kao kāou
kāka- - - kākao kākao

In extreme cases, all three pronouns may be fused to make “you-me-and- them” kinds of referents. These are extremely rare. The following is an exhaustive reference.

-kao -kakao -kaou -kakaou
nū- nūkao nūkakao nūkaōu nūkakaōu
nūnu nūnukao nūnukākao nūnukaōu nūnukakaōu

Noun Phrases

Noun phrases in rōŋo·ŋo Pāru lack gender, number, or state. In some sense, one could say "case" is marked with e, rai, te, ki or a. However, it would be better to call them grammatical particles.


A noun (phrase) which is the subject of the sentence must be marked with e. Pronouns may neglect an e if the sentence is clear without it.

i ākiri nū ta peane. I eat some meat.
i opui e pēmo iŋoa. This animal is good.

Subjects may be assumed to be definite, however, as with any language, there is considerably leeway.

i nokau haera e auma ŋo okīmi ki nāŋei ŋo parei. The school was struck by lightning.


A subject may precede the verb, in which case it is setting the topic. Topics must be definite.

nūka i ŋarōmu. As for you and I, we are at peace.
e ŋamau i pētu te nūnukaka, ū e nūnukaka nēfe rou īni. It is Heaven (i.e. God) who made us, and we ourselves did not do it.

Information must be introduced (i.e. made definite) before it can be used as the topic in discourse. The particle īni is sometimes translated as behold in older texts. It draws attention to indefinite, or sometimes even definite, noun phrases. It always appears first in any sentence in which it is used. It may also form a complete sentence.

īni nū. It is I.
īni pēmo rekāra eipā wāre i ainu nū. Behold! I saw a pale horse.
  • A topic introduced with īni can be the subject, object, or indirect object of its immediate sentence (see previous example).


Vocative clauses must be introduced with an a, unless it is the only clause in the utterance. It is typically at the very beginning, but possibly at the very end.

  • Imperative and vocative clauses may be combined in an utterance, which is difficult because they are both introduced with a .It is not always clear which is which. The first example could also mean Rule! O always life, though of course, that is extremely unlikely!
a mēreke, a āwa ki aoru kōri! O King, live forever!
i āwa te nēfe ū pēmo, a katōra Iāwe! Man and beast (you) preserve, O Yahweh God!

Direct Object

Patients of a transitive verb are marked with the particle te.

kā i ŋarōma te kitāpa. It is you who finished the writing.
i kafū ō te fāre. She covered the flower.


The “dative case” particle serves a variety of functions, but generally corresponds with the English idea of the indirect object.

i tarī wakō nūkaka rai auma fōra! We’ve got to get to the hospital!


With verb like hūro, rai marks the beneficiary of the giving.

ū i hūro pētu e kā rai nū te ō. And you gave me it.


In a ditransitive sentence, rai is used to mark the original subject.

kāka i pētu i nokau rai ō te nū. It is you-all who made her injure me.


Place names (often indicated with auma') after rai — with no intervening preposition — fill in the expected argument of where for verbs of motion, namely fāni turn to face, farīe ascend to, poua come from, tarī go to. It may also be used with places indicated without auma.

i farīe rai rōaŋa ŋo nīpa iŋoi. (They) went up to the top of the hill.
i poua nu rai auma Amērika. I come from America.

Adnominals =

There are no substantive adjective in rōŋo·ŋo Pāru ; whatever comes immediately ofter the e is the subject. Words which follow the head noun are automatically adjectival in nature. Hence we see e ōafu katōra the big bird.

e pētu hāre a sound tool, an instrument
e pētu ŋīma a recreational tool
e hāre pētu a man-made sound
e ŋīma pētu an artificial joy
e ŋīma hāre a music joy, music appreciation
e hāre ŋīma recreational music, a pop song
  • Adjectives modify the entire set of what preceded them.
e pētu ŋīma hāre a musical-recreational-tool, an instrument
e hāre pētu ŋīma a fun, man-made sound

= Relative Clause

Without ŋo', e pētu hāre katōra means a big instrument. To achieve, a loud tool, the adjectives must be broken up and regrouped into big sound and tool.

e pētu ŋo hāre katōra a loud tool (lit. “a big-sound tool”)
e pētu hāre ŋo hāre katōra a loud instrument
  • ŋo can also be used to take away some of the adjectival force of a modifier, and to make sure it is regarded as a noun.
e rōŋo kēfa the metallic taste
e rōŋo ŋo kēfa the taste of metal

Verb Phrase

On the whole, most sentences begin with i. It is the marker for the start of the verb phrase, and most sentences start with the verb.

iāwe is the main verb for being + location, like the English to be or to be at.

The grammar particle a is used for anything like a command or exhortation. When there is no subject, context must be followed, and one should not assume it is always the second person singular. When used in these imperatival ways, it replaces i as the “start of verb phrase” marker.

As in ordinary clauses, subjects or topics are optional in imperative clauses. In other words, rōŋo·roŋo Pāru is pro-drop.

  1. kā a tarī rai ma mīka! You! Go to the store!
  2. kā i tarī rai ma mīka! You yourself went to the store.
  3. nūka a tarī rai ma mīka! Let’s go to the store!
  4. nūka i tarī rai ma mīka. We ourselves went to the store.
  5. ōu a tarī rai ma mīka! Let them go to the store!
  6. i tarī rai ma mīka. They went to the store.

In these examples, English-speakers are likely to leave off the pronoun in the first sentence, and regard it as less salient in the third and fifth. However, they would regard it as central in the second, fourth, and sixth. Given the right context, they could all be left out of all of these sentences in rōŋo·roŋo Pāru.

  • In negative commands, the rou comes between the a and the main verb.


kōri entirely, completely - resultative or completative

i tarī kōri rai auma e ō. He went all the way to the place.
i tarī tarī e ō. She did go. She has gone.
i tarī aita e ō. She can go.
i tarī poua e ō. It will go.