a grammar of bako bako, a constructed personal language (draft)


bako bako is a personal artlang used to describe and develop my personal philosophy. it is inspired chiefly by tok pisin and chinese, two languages i find fascinating. the script is inspired by mongolian and mayan scripts.

- aspect
- verb-like adjectives
- most verbs need an object



      front  mid  back
close  i
   mid   e    ə    o
   open    a


            labial  alveolar  palatal  velar
       stop      b       d t               k
  fricative              s ʃ
      nasal      m         n               ŋ
     liquid                l        j      w


always on the penultimate syllable, unless the third-to-last syllable is long and the second-to-last syllable is not.


  i     e     o     a    ong   ang   el    al
 bi    be    bo    ba   bong  bang  bel   bal
 di    de    do    da   dong  dang  del   dal
 ti    te    to    ta   tong  tang  tel   tal
 ki    ke    ko    ka   kong  kang  kel   kal
 si    se    so    sa   song  sang  sel   sal
shi   she   sho   sha  shong shang shel  shal
 mi    me    mo    ma   mong  mang  mel   mal
 ni    ne    no    na   nong  nang  nel   nal
 li          lo    la   long  lang        lal
 ji    je    jo    ja   jong  jang  jel   jal
 wi    we    wo    wa   wong  wang  wel   wal

in multiple syllable


no indefinite articles.

articles and verbs are inflected to match noun and pronoun class.

there are six mass noun phrases which must be used for any noun if a more specific one is not provided. all nouns are mass nouns. sacred, animal, vegetable, mineral, positive, negative




the number system uses base six.

derivational morphology

doubling up a verb makes it a noun.

bako "to speak" -> bako bako "language"

doubling up a noun makes a multiple version

ma "one who supports" -> ma ma "community"

repeating the last syllable of a noun makes it a verb


TODO parameter order

basic word order is verb subject object

saka jang dong.
see person animal
'a person saw an animal.'

TODO noun phrase order

articles, numerals, demonstratives, adjectives, quantifiers, prepositional phrases, relative clauses, noun

the simplest noun phrases are nouns.



a noun can be made definite by postfixing an article, which must agree with the noun class.

dong ba.
'the animal.'

jang ba.
'the person.'

babā bā.
'the rock.'

sō el.
'the water.'

adjectives are like nouns, and follow the noun.

dong wō.
animal big
'a big animal.'

jang kel ba.
person bad the
'the bad person.'

saka jang kel ba dong wō.
'the bad person saw a big animal.'



polar questions do not change their word order. the sentence is prefixed with the question particle.

wh-questions are formed using pronouns where there would usually be a subject, verb, or object respectively. 'i love you' can become

- who loves you?
- i what you?
- i love who?

respectively. unlike english, the subject and object take a different pronoun. this kind of question also takes the question particle, just like polar questions.

semantic fields and pragmatics

TODO writing system

the writing system is a vertical abugida. the base vowel sound is /a/. text is writing from bottom left to top right, and letter forms are reminiscient of plants.

there are few punctuation marks. it is standard for each new sentence to be a new column, and words are not separated. a blank column is left to separate trains of thought.


the romanization system uses the same letters as english for all consonants, except for /j/ which is written as 'j', and /ŋ/ which is written as 'ng'. long vowels are written with macrons: īēāō.



ang adj right, true, correct
ba (o) n fish
bako v to speak
bako bako (o) n language
bo (da) n rock, stone
bobo v dead. from bo "stone"
da mw the mineral measure word
dedi mw the vegetable measureword
dodo (ka) n heart, life. from sound of heartbeat
ja pr third-person pronoun (he, she, him, her, it, they, them). possibly from jal "person"
jal (sha) n person
jo pr first-person pronoun (i, me)
ka mw the positive measure word. similar to kang "fire"
kang (ka) n fire. onomatopoeic (?)
ke negation word
kel (so) n badness. contraction from french quelle horreur 'what horror'
ki (da) n thing
kiki (sha) nw two. pair. repetition of ki "thing"
lamo v to laugh, giggle
lamo lamo (ka) n a laugh
ma (sha) n parent, carer, person who supports
ma ma (ka) n community
no pr second-person pronoun (you)
o mw the sacred measure word
sha mw the animal measure word
she pr placeholder, question word (who, what, which, etc)
sho (so) n water. onomatopoeic
so mw the negative measure word. similar to sho "water"
wa v to shine, to be bright
wawa (ka) n the sun. that which is bright
wo (da) n big thing. derived from exclamation