Wika: a mini universal language

by David Hartsough (2018-09-08)

Definition

Wika /ˌwiːka/ can be classified as a pidgin language or a universal auxiliary language / international auxiliary language (IAL) meant for very basic communication between people from different nations who do not share a common first language. Wika is not a complete language and is not intended for long sentences or long conversations. Wika is only intended for helping people communicate basic needs — a minimal set of words and phrases essential for exchanges of goods, services, and information.

Principles

  1. Wika only covers the very basics of language and vocabulary.
  2. Wika is easy to learn, memorize, teach, read, write, and speak. (Anyone should be able to learn Wika in less than a week.)
  3. Wika vocabulary never exceeds more than 60 words.
  4. Wika is a phonetic language, where each letter of the alphabet is always pronounced exactly the same in all contexts.
  5. Wika only uses the most universally common phonetic sounds. (Anyone should be able to pronounce the phonetics of Wika, as the phonemes are universally shared.)
  6. Wika only uses 3 vowels: a ⟨a⟩ (open/front/unrounded), i ⟨i⟩ (close/front/unrounded), and o ⟨o⟩ (close-mid/back/rounded).
  7. Wika only uses 8 consonants: t, k, m, n, b, d, w, y.
  8. Wika is written with the ISO Basic Latin alphabet.
  9. Wika words are only ever one or two syllables in length.
  10. Wika words are based on easily-recognizable patterns of letters (structures).

Also, Wika is often used in conjunction with the basic physical gestures of a complementary one-handed sign language, called Wiko.

Draft 2

pronouns *i
Me / I mi
You / you all ti
We / us wi
They / them ki
This / these di
That / those bi
questions ka*a
How kawa
Where (what location) kaba
When (what time) kata
How [long / many / much] (what quantity) kana
verbs to*o
Use toto
Walk todo
Go / Run toko
Talk / Speak tomo
Know / Understand tono
Recommend toyo
Want tobo
Enjoy towo
basics *^
Yes ya
No no
Hello yo
Goodbye ta-ta
Good wo
Bad no-wo
Please po
Thank pa
Welcome wa
Sorry do
Excuse bo
Okay da
Help ko
Open ma
Close no-ma
Here you go bo
Name na
Very / Much / Many mo
(not very) / (not a lot) / Little / a few / less / small / (not much) no-mo
Place -ba
Use to-
things o*a
Food oka
Drink oba
Water owa
Bathroom oda
Bed oya
Money ona
People ota
Check oma
Map opa
vehicles a*o
Car amo
Bus ano
Train ato
Plane apo
Bike ako
time *^ta
Time ata
Hours yita
Minutes nita
directions ba*i
Left babi
Right badi
Forward bati
Backward baki
Up bami
Down bani
Here bayi
There bawi
numbers i*o
1 ino
2 ito
3 ibo
4 ido
5 iko
6 iso
7 iwo
8 iyo
9 ipo
0 imo

Conversations

Wika needs to be able to handle the following conversations…

Inspired by wikivoyage phrasebooks

  • Hello
  • Goodbye
  • Please
  • Thank you
  • You're welcome
  • Yes
  • No
  • Excuse me / I'm sorry
  • Do you speak/know [language]?
  • Help
  • I don't understand/know
  • Where is the bathroom?
  • Numbers 0–9
  • One of this/these, please.
  • Where does this [train/bus/transportation] go?
  • Does this [train/bus/transportation] go to ____?
  • How much (money) is this? How much does this/it cost?
  • How do I get to ____? / Where is ____?

    • [train/bus/transportation] station / (airport)
    • Bathroom
    • Hostel / hotel / place to sleep
    • Restaurant / bar / place to eat and/or drink
  • (Giving directions)

    • Street
    • Left
    • Right
    • Straight / ahead / forward
    • Backward / behind
    • That way / there
    • Map
  • I want / would like
  • I want to go to ____
  • How many ____?

    • People
    • Rooms
    • Beds
    • Nights/days
  • Okay
  • What do you recommend (for ____)? / What is your recommendation?
  • I recommend ____.
  • What time is ____?
  • Check please / check out please
  • Money
  • Water
  • That was / this is ____
  • Good
  • Bad
  • (One) more please
  • Cheers
  • Stop

Inspired by others

  • A place for ____

    • Sleep / bed (= bedroom / hotel)
    • Bathroom (= bathroom)
    • Eating / drinking (= restaurant / bar)
    • Car (= lot)
    • Bus (= stop)
    • Train (= station)
    • Plane (= airport)
  • How long? (Duration) [how many]

    • Minutes
    • Hours
  • How far?
  • Is working / running (is not)
  • No thank you / I'm not interested
  • Open
  • Close
  • When do you ____? When does it/this ____?

Essential vocabulary

  • Hello
  • Goodbye
  • Yes
  • No
  • Good
  • Please
  • Thanks (thank you)
  • (no) thank you
  • (You’re) Welcome
  • (I’m) Sorry
  • Excuse (me)
  • (It’s / I’m / We’re / You’re) Okay
  • (I don’t) understand / know
  • Help
  • Food
  • Beverage
  • Water
  • Eat
  • Drink
  • Cheers
  • Bathroom
  • (use / go to) bathroom
  • Bed
  • Sleep
  • Place (for something) [room/station/airport/restaurant/hotel]
  • (I) want / would like
  • (I don’t) want / (I would not) like
  • Go (to) / Run
  • Stop
  • Time
  • Money
  • People
  • Check / check (out)
  • Recommendation
  • Recommend
  • Car
  • Bus
  • Train
  • Plane
  • Bike
  • Walk
  • Left
  • Right
  • Forward
  • Backward
  • Here
  • There
  • Map
  • Open
  • Close
  • Very / a lot / many / so / big / much
  • (not very) / (not a lot) / Little / a few / less / small / (not much)
  • Numbers 0–9
  • Hours
  • Minutes
  • Kilometers
  • Me / I
  • You / you all
  • We / us
  • They / them
  • This / these
  • That / those
  • How
  • Where (what location)
  • When (what time)
  • How [long / many / much / far] (what quantity)

    • Quantity of time/duration, items, money, /distance/kilometers

Examples

Transportation

  • When does the train/bus/transportation go/leave/run? (Time [4:15])

    • When train go?
  • What time does the train/bus go/leave/run? (Time [15:00])

    • When train go?
  • How long until the train/bus is here? (number) minutes/hours.

    • How-long time train go here?
  • How much does this/that cost? How much money is this/that? (Number) money.

    • How-much money this?
  • Where does the train/bus go to / stop? (Name)

    • Where train go?
  • Does the train/bus go to / stop at (name) / here pointing at map? Yes. No.

    • Train go [here], yes?
  • Where is the airport?

    • Where plane place?
  • Where is the train station?
  • Where is the bus stop?
  • Where would you like to go to? I would like to go to ____, please.

    • Where you want go? I want go [here], please.

Eating / Drinking

  • Is this water good to drink? Yes. No.

    • Good drink water, yes?
  • Where can I find good water?

    • Where good drink water?
  • What time do you open? (Time) … or … in (number) minutes/hours

    • When [you/place] open?
  • When do you close? (Time) … or … in (number) minutes/hours

    • When [here/this] close?
  • How long until I can go? How long of a wait? (Number) minutes and/or hours

    • How-long time here?
  • How do I eat this? (Demonstration)

    • How eat this?
  • I would like one of this/these, please.(?) Okay.

    • I want 1 this please.
  • How much does this/it cost? How much money is this/it? (Number) money.
  • Where is the bathroom?
  • Where is the restaurant?

    • Where food place?
  • Where is the bar?
  • How many people? (Number) people, please.
  • I would like ____. What do you recommend? I recommend this.

    • I want ____. You recommendation? I recommend this.
  • Thank you for the ____.

    • Thank you good ____.
  • I would like to check out please. I would like the check please.

    • I want check (out) please.
  • I would like one more please.

    • I want 1 /more/? please.
  • Would you like 2 more?

    • You want 2, yes?

Directions

  • Over there. That way. In this direction. Down the street. Straight ahead. Behind you. Go to (name) street. On the left/right.
  • Map. I would like a map. Can I show you on the map? Will you show me on the map? Do you have a map? Here. There.
  • How far is it? How far of a walk/drive/ride is it? (Number) minutes/hours.

Hotels / Hostels

  • How many people? (Number) people, please.
  • How many rooms?
  • How many beds?
  • How can I help you?
  • How many beds are in a room?
  • Do you have any rooms?

    • How-many bed place open here?
    • I want 1 bed place please. 1 bed place open yes?
  • I would like 2 rooms, please.
  • I would like 2 rooms for 2 nights, please.
  • I would like to check out please. I would like the check please.
  • Thank you for the ____.
  • The ____ is good.
  • This ____ was bad.

General

  • Do you speak / know (language)?

    • You know/understand (language), yes?
  • Help please. Excuse me.
  • How can I help you?

    • How I help you?
  • I would like to go to a place for (trains/eating/drinking/bathroom). Where is it?

    • I want go train place. Where that?
  • This is not working.

    • This no go good.
  • How do I get this to work? (Demonstration)

    • How I go this good?
  • How do I do this? (Demonstration)

    • How I (eat) this?
  • No thank you. I'm not interested.
  • Thank you for the ____.

Vocabulary

Questions

Structure :: ka*a :: where * is a consonant

  1. What? :: Kata?
  2. When? :: Kawa?
  3. How? :: Kaba?
  4. How much? How many? How long? :: Kada?
  5. Who? :: Kana?
  6. Where? :: Kaya?

Pronouns

Structure :: _i :: where _ is a consonant

  1. Me. I. :: Mi.
  2. You. :: Ti.
  3. Us. We. :: Wi.
  4. They. Them. :: Ki.
  5. This. (These.) :: Di.
  6. That. (Those.) :: Bi.

Simple words

Structure :: _^ :: where _ is a consonant and ^ is a vowel of either a or o

(These single syllable words can be repeated and written as ^-^ for emphasis or clarity.)

  1. Yes. :: Ya. Ya-ya.
  2. No. :: No. No-no.
  3. Hello. :: Yo. Yo-yo.
  4. Goodbye. :: Ta. Ta-ta.
  5. Good. :: Wo. Wo-wo.
  6. Bad. :: Na. Na-na.
  7. Thank you. :: To. To-to. (To ti.)
  8. You're welcome. :: Wa. Wa-wa. (Ti wa.)
  9. Sorry. Excuse me. Do. Do-do. (Mi do. Do mi.)
  10. It's okay. Da. Da-da. (Ti da. Mi da. Wi da. Di da. Bi da.)
  11. Please. :: Bo. Bo-bo.
  12. Help. :: Ko. Ko-ko.
  13. More. Much. Big. :: Mo. Mo-mo.
  14. Less. Little. Small. :: Ba. Ba-ba.

Nouns

Structure :: a*a :: where * is a consonant

  1. Food. :: Aya.
  2. Drink. :: Aba.
  3. Bathroom. :: Ata.
  4. Bed. :: Ada.
  5. Money. :: Ana.
  6. Recommendation. :: Awa.
  7. Knowledge. Information. :: Aka.
  8. Time. :: Ama.

Verbs

Structure :: o*a :: where * is a consonant

  1. Eat. :: Oya.
  2. Drink. :: Oba.
  3. Bathroom. :: Ota.
  4. Sleep. :: Oda.
  5. Buy. Sell. :: Ona.
  6. Recommend. :: Owa.
  7. Know. :: Oka.
  8. Go. :: Oma.

Numbers

Structure :: i*o :: where * is a consonant :: exceptions are 1 (one) and 0 (zero)

  1. One. :: In.
  2. Two. :: Ido.
  3. Three. :: Ito.
  4. Four. :: Ibo.
  5. Five. :: Iko.
  6. Six. :: Imo.
  7. Seven. :: Iyo.
  8. Eight. :: Iwo.
  9. Nine. :: Ino.
  10. Zero. :: Io.

Examples

Looking for a bathroom

Person 1: Ti oka Wika?

Person 2: Ya! Mi ko ti?

Person 1: Ya. Kaya ata?

Person 2: Bi ata. pointing in direction

Person 1: To ti!

Ordering at a restaurant

Person 1: Ti oka Wika?

Person 2: Ya! Ti oka ti oba?

Person 1: Ya, in di bo. pointing at drink on menu

Person 2: Da. Kata ti oya?

Person 1: Mi no oka. Kata ti owa?

Person 2: Mi owa in iko.

Person 1: Da, to ti. Ido bi bo.

Person 2: Wo. To-to. Bi iyo io io ana.

Wiko

Definition

Wiko /ˌwiːko/ is a single handed sign language intended to supplement Wika.

Dictionary

Most all gestures are derived from the American Sign Language dictionary.

Questions

All questions should begin with the shoulder raised

  1. What? :: Kata? :: open hand, palm up, fingers splayed
  2. When? :: Kawa? :: closed fist, vertical, index finger out, draw circle from outwards, downwards, inwards, upwards, outwards
  3. How? :: Kaba? :: open hand, cupped, thumb up with fingers, twist forearm from elbow back and forth
  4. How much? How many? How long? :: Kada? :: palm up, fingertips together, then splay fingers outwards
  5. Who? :: Kana? :: closed fist, bring thumb closed to chin, index finger out, bend index finger in and out twice
  6. Where? :: Kaya? :: closed fist, palm outward, index finger and middle finger together and pointed upward, wrist moves hand side to side

Pronouns

Use open hand, finger tips pointed at reference(s) (panning or circular gestures for pointing at several references)

Simple words

  1. Yes. :: Ya. :: open hand, vertical, wrist moves hand up and down
  2. No. :: No. :: open hand, horizontal, palm down, wrist moves hand side to side
  3. Hello. :: Yo. :: open hand, hand up, palm away, elbow moves forearm side to side
  4. Goodbye. :: Ta. :: open hand, hand up, palm away, wrist moves hand side to side
  5. Good. :: Wo. :: closed fist, vertical, thumb up
  6. Bad. :: Na. :: closed fist, vertical, thumb down
  7. Thank you. :: To. :: open hand, palm inwards, elbow moves forearm forward backward
  8. You're welcome. :: Wa. :: closed fist, palm inwards, elbow moves forearm forward backward
  9. Sorry. Excuse me. Do. :: open hand, hand up, palm outwards or just slightly upwards
  10. It's okay. Da. :: open hand, hand up, palm outwards, index finger curled to touch thumb
  11. Please. :: Bo. :: open hand, hand out, palm upwards
  12. Help. :: Ko. :: closed fist, hand up, palm away, elbow moves forearm side to side
  13. More. Much. Big. :: Mo. :: hand vertical, open, and slightly cupped, palm upwards, slight emphasis on the largest possible distance between the tip of the thumb and the tip of the middle finger
  14. Less. Little. Small. :: Ba. :: closed fist, vertical, thumb and index finger out and very close to touching but leaving small, visible gap

Nouns and/or verbs

  1. Food. :: Aya. :: Eat. :: Oya. :: fingers as straight as possible, finger tips together and brought to mouth
  2. Drink. :: Aba. :: Drink. :: Oba. :: hand cupped (C-shaped), fingers together, thumb brought to mouth
  3. Bathroom. :: Ata. :: Bathroom. :: Ota. :: open hand, palm inward, fingers pointed down, hand brought down to just above waistline
  4. Bed. :: Ada. :: Sleep. :: Oda. :: open hand, palm brought to side of head
  5. Money. :: Ana. :: Buy. Sell. :: Ona. :: open hand, palm upward, thumb outward, bring straightened fingers in toward thumb
  6. Recommendation. :: Awa. :: open hand, point fingers at brain, bring fingers to touch side of head
  7. Knowledge. Information. :: Aka. :: Know. :: Oka. :: closed fist, point index finger at brain, bring finger to touch side of head
  8. Time. :: Ama. :: closed fist, point index finger at the top of other hand’s wrist

Numbers

Each number is represented by the total number of fingers raised from a closed fist, starting with the thumb or index finger.