Jayeless.net

Lingua Franca Nova

Lingua Franca Nova (abbreviated LFN, also known as Elefen) is a Romance-based conlang first created by American C. George Boeree in 1965, but not published until 1998. It features a highly simplified Romance grammar influenced by Romance creole languages. It takes its vocabulary from five source languages (French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan) and tries to find a form closer to the original Latin where possible, and the most neu­tral/sim­pli­f­ied where it’s not.

I have seen some criticism of Lingua Franca Nova that it’s just too simple, to the point that it can be hard to decipher one’s own notes written in the language if reread some time later (like, there are too many possible mean­ings). The number of words that double as nouns and verbs, and the lack of distinction between subject and object pronoun forms, are reportedly two contributing factors to this.

On the other hand, LFN has attracted an active if small community around it and there are even two original novels in the language, both penned by Vicente Costalgo. It also has an awesome flag.

I think perhaps I judged Elefen a bit harshly when I first encountered it. It has a few key features that I think are really, really important in an auxlang:

  • It has a gender-neutral animate 3rd person pronoun, el. This pronoun is also used in extreme preference to the gendered ela (she/her) and elo (he/him).
  • It distinguishes between singular tu and plural vos for 2nd person pronouns, and vos is not also used as a formal pronoun (in fact, there is no formal pronoun, for a bonus point).
  • It has a simple phonology, with no difficult consonant clusters, and totally phonetic spelling (1:1 correlation between letters and phonemes). The letter ⟨c⟩ is used always to represent /k/.
  • It has an extremely simple and regular grammar.

Officially, Elefen can be written equally in the Latin alphabet or Cyrillic, but in practice I’ve only ever seen the Latin alphabet used. In either one, Elefen’s core vocabulary is written with just 22 letters. (Some extra letters can be used for not-fully-assimilated borrowings from other languages.) It does not use diacritics.

See Also