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Hi script

The Latin transliteration of Mis Hio uses an alphabet of 16 letters: A [ɑ, a] K [k] E [e, ɛ] H [h] I [i, ɪ] L [l] PL [pl, pw] M [m] N [n] O [ɔ, o] P [p] R [r] S [s] T [t] U [u, ʊ], QU [kw, kw]. All letters are generally pronounced the same way regardless of their placement. The letter "i" tends to form diphthongs [aɪ], [eɪ], [oɪ] and [uɪ] when it follows another vowel; other vowels are pronounced separately from each other. "H" is never silent. Overall, the letters sound the way you would expect them to be (standard Latin pronunciation).

Hi uses the folowing original script (click the thumbnail on the right to view). Note that the white space in some letters is the integral part of these letterforms. The spaces between words tend to be 2-3 times as large as the gaps inside the letters.


Hi syllables have one of the following structures: V, CV, DV, CVCend, DVCend. Here V stands for vowel, C for consonant, and D for one of two-consonant clusters pl and qu. Cend denotes one of fivepossible ending consonants: m, n, r, s and t.

Basic Grammar[]

Hi has a very simple and regular grammar. It is guided by several basic principles that make it quite different from other languages.

Root tuples and root chains[]

The basic unit of a Hi sentence is two root-words linked together. The link between the roots expresses their relationship.

For example:

Hi Structure Roots Translation
mumi mu-u-mi

mu: I
mi: go

I go.
teoplun te-o-plun

te: thing
plun: play

a toy
tinsa ti-in-sa

ti: arrive, become
sa: know

to learn

Let us make several observations here:

- when the first root ends with the same vowel as the first vowel of the link, this vowel is not repeated.

- a root combination can express one notion that in other languages is usually expressed with a separate word.

- it is written as one word. As you will see, however, Hi words sometimes grow to be quite long. For readability, long words may be broken into several parts when written down. Breaking a word into parts is indicated by adding an apostrophe to the second part. In such cases, the second part also gets the link. For example, teoplun would be broken as te 'oplun, although this word is obviously not long enough to justify the breaking.

A Hi phrase consists of several root tuples placed one after another. One important case is when the first root of the following two-root phrase is the same as the last root of the preceding one. In this case, this root is not repeated, and the two phrases are joined together in a root-chain.

For example,

Hi Structure Roots Translation
mutinsa mu-u-ti

mu: I
ti: arrive, become
sa: know

I learn.

Putting root chains together[]

Syntactic relationships between Hi root-chains are created by repeating the same root-word in different chains. Such repetition indicates that these root-chains point at the same thing.

To illustrate this, let us take an English sentence: Yesterday my brother saw a black dog. When you translate this into Hi, the structure of your sentence will look like this: brother-saw saw-dog dog-black saw-yesterday brother-mine. You then merge several of the tuples into chains to avoid repetition ("saw saw", "dog dog") and get brother-saw-dog-black saw-yesterday brother-mine.

(Actually in Hi this sentence sounds as monursiahonuslinni honumit sitosun tourtir monomu. There is a difference in structure because the words honuslinni "dog" and tosun tourtir "yesterday" are not single-root words.)

Here are several Hi examples: (the repeating roots that link different root chains together are highlighted in the structure column)

Hi Structure Roots Translation
musiate tumate


mu: I
si: look, see
te: thing
tu: you
ma: eat

I see what you eat.
teuka teoplun teunun te-u-ka
te: thing
ka: this
plun: play
nun: new
This is a new toy.
seupun seuka seunutiro se-u-pun

se: plant

pun: hard
ka: this
nut: old
ro: strongly,very

This tree is very old.

Sentence structure[]

The basic word order in Hi is SVO -- subjects precede verbs and objects follow them. However, Hi does not have any set sentence structure. In fact, a Hi sentence is nothing more than a sequence of root chains. It is quite common to speak in very long "run-away" sentences that would gradually change the subject and seamlessly move from one thought to another.

To turn a sentence into an interrogative one, add the question-word ho in the beginning, e.g. Muquamoulo "I am happy" -- Ho tuquamoulo? "Are you happy?" This ho can be dropped, marking the question by intonation only: Tuquamoulo?

The variable order of root chains in a Hi sentence can be used to emphasize different parts of it. E.g.: Monotu monurtatamu tatilarurose! "Your brother hit me with a stick!" can be changed to Tatamu tatilarurose monurtat monotu "I was beaten with a stick by your brother", or Monurtatilarurose tatamu monotu "Your brother used a stick to hit me", and so forth.

Also note that a Hi sentence does not necessarily need to have a verb-like part. A sentence simply states a number of relationships, expressed through linking root words together. E g. one can say Kuomenulo "He is a good man", a phrase that consists of two tuples, ku-o-men "he (is) of men" and men-u-lo "man (is) good".

Linking Roots[]

Below is the list of all root links found in Hi.



-u- Noun -u- Verb / Adjective The basic way to link a noun to an adjective or a verb. Actor is doing something, or being in a state, or is having a quality.
-ur- Noun -ur- Verb Actor has done something.
-un- Noun -un- Verb Actor is going to do something.
-a- Verb -a- Noun The noun is the direct object of the verb.
-o- Noun -o- Noun Genetive: the first noun can be a possession of the second, or be related to it in all sorts of ways. It can also be an object used in the action, the place, time, or the actor.*
-i- Verb / Adjective -i- Adverb Introduces the adverb that describes the main verb.
-it- Verb -it- Verb Introduces two related actions, one referencing the other. The actions can happen in any order. This link is often seen in situations where in English one could use the word "that".
-in- Verb -in- Verb The second action follows the first. The first action causes or prompts the second.
-ir- Verb -ir- Verb The first action follows the second and is its consequence, or the second action is a condition or prerequisite for the first.

* Remember not to use -o- for the object of an action; always use -a- for that. E.g. one says Tarumi ruka taurpot "Writing this letter was difficult", and never Taorumi ruka... "Writing of this letter...".

Here are some examples:

Hi Structure Roots Translation
Mutinsahi mu-u-ti ti-in-sa sa-a-hi mu: you
ti: arrive, become
sa: know
I am learning Hi.
Musaitnut kunut mu-u-sa sa-it-nut ku-u-nut mu: I
sa: know
nut: old
ku: he
I know he is old.

You will see more examples of link usage throughout this text.

Root polymorphism[]

1. As you saw in the previous section, one root-word can change its roles depending on which links connect it to other roots. In fact, most of Hi words have different meanings in each of these roles: Noun (preceding -u*- or following -a-), Adjective/Intransitive Verb (following -u-, -u*-, -i*-, or preceding -i-, -i*-), Transitive Verb (preceding -a-), Modal Verb (preceding -in) or Adverb (following -i-). Many roots also have a special meaning when they are used after -o-, etc. For example:

Meanings of ki
Role Translation
Adjective able
Verb: Modal (kin-) can
Verb: Transitive enable
Adverb likely
Noun ability, power

Meanings of ke
Role Translation
Adjective sole
Adverb only
Noun one
Noun in Genitive (-oke) first

Meanings of ket
Role Translation
Adjective wrong
Verb: Intransitive mistake, err
Verb: Transitive break
Adverb by mistake
Noun error, mistake

Meanings of ple
Role Translation
Adjective high, tall
Verb after -in (-inple) up
Adverb above, over
Noun top

Meanings of ti
Role Translation
Adjective future
Verb: Intransitive come
Verb: Transitive bring

Since a root never appears alone but always linked to another, there is never any ambiguity in how it should be understood in each particular case.

Of course not all roots have the full range of meanings, but it's hard to find a root that does not have at least a few. Some of the meanings are highly idiomatic (e.g. the noun meaning of to: "to wait" is "time") and have to be learned by heart. Most of the time, however, the meaning of any word in this or that role is self-evident.

2. What is also common is having the same root word in different roles when it is used in different root-tuples in the same sentence. The "aggregated" meaning can sometimes be an abstract notion (adjective+noun), proposition, or a gerund (verb+noun). Here are some examples:

Hi Roots Translation Comment
Huka huomasu hu: house
ma: eat, drink
su: water
This is a bar. In hu-o-ma, ma has the role of a noun, while in ma-a-su it is a transitive verb. Thus it is translated as "drinking" (literally: this is a house of drinking).
Murnaruruta nainpleolonota

mu: I
na: put, place
rur: stick
ta: write, draw
ple: above, top
lon: surface

I put the pen on the writing desk. In na-in-ple, "put up", ple is an adverb. In the next tuple, however, it is used as a noun: ple-o-lon "top of the desk". We translate this as "put on the desk".
Silo siunlirinmor korumor korupan si: look, see
lo: good
lir: stop, prevent
mor: die
kor: land
pan: all
Beauty will save the world. The word si is first used as a verb (si-i-lo, "looking well") and then as a noun (si-un-lir, "the look will prevent"). The combination of meanings results in translating it as "beauty".


As you have already seen in the examples, Hi very often uses a root chain (or several root chains) for something that in other languages is commonly expressed with a single word.

When a root chain is used in this way, its meaning may be highly idiomatic, and it has to be learned by heart. E.g. sumin means "milk", and not "white water", although su is "water" and min is "white". One can also say sumin suohon -- "white water from animals".

Oftentimes there are several ways to say the same thing, varying in length and detail. E.g.

Hi Translation Literal translation
rurutailasumit pen "stick that writes with black water (liquid)"
rurutailasu pen "stick that writes with water (liquid)"
ruruta pen or pencil "writing stick"

Hi Translation Literal translation
plasoku plasumipleoko airplane "vessel for people that moves high in the air"
plasumipleoko airplane "vessel that moves high in the air"
plasumiple airplane "vessel that moves high"

Such examples are abundant in the language. When confusion is likely, the longer version would be used whereas it is shortened when the exact meaning can be derived from context.

It is also very common to use the long version of a word the first time you use it and then switch to a shorter one in subsequent uses. E.g. you can refer to a pen as simply ruruta or even rur "stick" if it is obvious from context what stick you refer to.

I would like to stress, however, that one cannot just make up a Hi phrase describing an object and expect that it would match the way Hi speakers say it. If the idiom is not a part of the Hi vocabulary it may not be understood or it may be understood in a wrong way. The idioms need to be learned. Fortunately, the synthetic way in which they are formed facilitates the learning process a great deal.

Negative and Plural prefixes[]

Negation is expressed in Hi by adding the prefix s- to the word. With nouns, s- is often translated as "no" or "not a". For example:

Hi Roots Translation
Kaute smaute ka: this
te: thing (n), it is (v)
ma: food (n), eat (v)
This is not food
Tunsmaka! tu: you
ma: eat
ka: this
Don't eat it!

To indicate the plural form of a noun, one uses the prefix e-. However, it is not used consistently and is often dropped when the meaning is clear. In particular, the plural form is not used when the same object is mentioned repeatedly.

Hi Roots and Idioms Translation
Muluaehonomi honusiloiro! mu: I
lu: love
honomi (honomipleohon): horse
silo: beautiful
ro: much, very
I love horses. They are so beautiful!

Indirect objects and prepositions[]

There are no indirect objects, prepositions or cases in Hi! Phrases that would require an indirect object in other languages are expressed in Hi by using a combination of verbs and adverbs.

Indeed, when we use a preposition in English, it is easy to reconstruct the implied verb. For example, by "This is for you" you usually mean "This is for you to take", but when I say "I am reading for my daughter" I mean "I am reading for my daughter to listen" and when I open a door for a lady, it's not for her to have or listen; I open it for her to go through.

Hi does away with such ambiguities. You explicitly say murtiaka tinqua tuquaka: "This is for you" (literally "I brought this so you'd have it"), and muhiata hinton meruton merumet meromu: "I am reading for my daughter" (literally "I read so that my daughter would listen") and so forth.

Similarly, the English preposition "from" may be translated by using different Hi adverbs, usually linked to the main verb by -ir. E.g. "take from" someone would usually be translated as harirqua: "take from possession", "come from" can be translated as tirna or tirni: "come from being somewhere / being in somewhere". English "with" can be expressed by either using the word lan "to join" or la "to use", and so forth.

While preposition use and case use is often illogical and differs from language to language, the Hi system is quite straightforward. It may require some getting used to, but with little time you will find it to be very natural and easy to use.

The collection of adverbs worth special mention are the adverbs for spatial and temporal relations. The word ni means "the inside" as a noun or "being inside" as an adverb, allowing to you to say, for example, emuplunini 'olanoseore "we play in the garden" (literally "we play inside, inside of the garden"). To means "time" as a noun, and "happening at a specific time" when used as an adverb. The words nir "outside", ple "on", "above", pler "under", so "in front", sor "behind", pli "start", plir "end" and a few others have the same pattern of use. Here are a few more examples:

Hi Translation Notes
Murtinniohuomu tirniohuotinsa I came home from school. tinni -- to come somewhere; tirni -- to come from somewhere.
Kinamu kinihi 'aJohn. My name is John. kinihi -- "call (by) saying"
Murmaitotinniohu kuti kuquen kuomu I was eating when my friend entered the house. maitoti -- literally "eat at time of coming". The word to is first used as an adverb "at that time" or "when", and then as a noun, meaning "time".
Robin Hood 'urtatinhairqua kuquaman e kurharalaokas harinqua kuqua kuquamat Robin Hood robbed the rich and gave the money to the poor.

tatinhairqua -- literally "attacked to take from possession"

harinqua -- "gave to have"


Below is the list of Hi numerals from 1 to 16. When looking at it, keep in mind that, for example, while quu means "two", -uquu means "double". and so forth. After studying this table you should be able to easily understand how numerals are constructed.

one ke nine quuquueplis
two quu ten tun
three kequu eleven ketun
four quuquu twelve quuetun
five plis thirteen kequuetun
six keplis fourteen quuquuetun
seven quueplis fifteen plisetun
eight kequueplis sixteen keplisetun

When put into genitive, the same words indicate ordinal numbers. -oquu also means "the other" and is often used in this sense.

Personal pronouns[]

Hi has the following personal pronouns:

I mu we emu
you tu you etu
he ku, men they (m) eku, emen
she ku, met they (f) eku, emet
it te they ete

Ku means "person" and can be used both in place of "he" or "she". When you have to underscore that you are talking about a man or a woman, you would use men and met.

Te (literally "thing") can be used to translate "it" but it is not that frequently used. Instead, you would repeat the main root of the word you reference. For example: Murtinsanaoruruta e murtintailarur: "I found a pen and started writing with it". "It" in this case is translated as -rur since it is the pen (ruruta) we are talking about.

Translating interrogative and demonstrative pronouns[]

Sentences with interrogative pronouns are usually translated to Hi using the question-root ho. Ho may be used as any part of speach; depending on its use ho can express all sorts of questions. For example

Hi Translation
Turpaiho pakar? How did you do that?
Turnitouho niukar? When have you been there?
Turniuho? Where have you been?
Tutirniuho? Where do you come from?
Hourlinmi tuminkar? Why did you go there?
Hourtirmi tuminkar? What did you go there for?

and so forth. Note that "why" was translated as hourlin- (literally "what lead to...?") and "what for" as hourtir- (literally "what came out of...").

Changing ho into ka "this" or kar "that" turns interrogative pronouns into demonstrative ones: -itouho: "when?" --> -itouka: "now", -itoukar: "then" and so forth. The words pan "all", pat "some", ne "none" and ner "any" can be used in the same fashion, e.g. -itoupan "always", -iniuner "anywhere" etc.

Similarly, when English uses a conjunction derived from an interrrogative pronoun, e.g. "why" or "where", it is usually translated into Hi using the root ka. For example:

Hi Translation
Musaka turniuka I know where you have been.
Mussakaulinmi turminkar I don't know why you went there.

The verb "to be"[]

There are two verbs in Hi that can be translated as "to be". One is ku: when used as a verb, this root means "to be someone". The other, te, means "to be somehting".

Both ku and te are intransitive in this meaning. Here are some examples illustrating how they are used:

Hi Translation
Kaute punute punokor punuplo This is a large stone.
Murkuito menuku menunun menuplor murluito luamaukon When I was a little boy I liked candy.

When "to be" means "to be one of ...", Hi usually employs the Genetive link -o-, with or without te/ku, e.g. Kuomenuple "He is a tall man", or Kaunteolanoruota lanuloiplo lanotu panuloiplor! "This is going to be your best book!"


Hi has only few conjunctions, the most frequently used of them being

e and
ai or
oi but

Conjunctions are placed by themselves between root chains. E can also be used inside chains in some steady locutions, e.g. tosun-e-sut: "day and night" (instead of tosun e tosut).

Degrees of adjectives and adverbs[]

Degrees of adjectvies and adverbs are formed by using the roots plo (adverbial meaning: "more") and plor (adverbial meaning: "less"). To compare two qualities, decorate one with plo and the other with plor; e.g. Mupleiplo tupleiplor -- "I am taller than you". To form the superlative degree, compare with pan "all"; e.g. Mupleiplo panupleiplor -- "I am the tallest".



Hi root words tends to come in pairs of roots with opposite meaning. Roots in the same pair differ in the ending consonant, with -n and -m interchanging with -t, and -r interchanging with [Ø](no consonant). For example, if pen means "to push" or "press", then pet naturally means "to pull"; ple means "high" and pler means "low", and so forth.

Roots ending with -s do not form such pairs

Root words of Hi


Example text[]

The North Wind and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger, when a traveler came along wrapped in a warm cloak.

They agreed that the one who first succeeded in making the traveler take his cloak off should be considered stronger than the other.

Then the North Wind blew as hard as he could, but the more he blew the more closely did the traveler fold his cloak around him;

and at last the North Wind gave up the attempt. Then the Sun shone out warmly, and immediately the traveler took off his cloak.

And so the North Wind was obliged to confess that the Sun was the stronger of the two.

Kopinuplu e tenosun ekurhiquet hitroiplo kuro kuho hitotinkar menuti menomisuquo menuquaheuplur heuquo quainiroran.

Ekurhisan hitsiakupainher paiplir menuheraheuplur menomis siniopla sitroiplo quuroiplor.

Kopinuplu kourmiako miroisanaro kokiro oi kourmiroiplo menurpeniroiplo menomis penaheuplur peninhearanomen

e kourtirirniopla tiritoplir tiraleinpa. Tenursuniplur sunitoukar tenosun e menurheraheuplur menomis heritouquo.

E kourquinhirsa kopinuplu hitroiplo tenuro tenosun kouroiplor

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act toward one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Ekupan kutinmoiquir e ekusanipun linpasan e siple sisan. Linqua ekuquamiopla e quasalo-e-lor e ekuquinpa 'ilanokuoquu paikatomon.

1. Now the whole earth had one language and the same words.

Kuquaitouka kuokorupan quahiuke e elatohi latusan.

2. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.

Ekuminhuirni 'opinopleotenosun kutinsalonokor 'oShinar e kutinhuinauka.

3. And they said to one another, "Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly." And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar.

E ekuhinton kuoke kuhi kuoquu kuton: Emunpa 'epunopoupin e mulinpluapun pluiro. E kulapunopoupin laisanapunokor e lasumir suokor sulinlan punulan.

4. Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth."

Ekuhitoukar: Emunpainlot palanohu e pahuple, pleohuka pleuniolonuple. E emunpakinuplo mukin painslat mulatinnaokorupan.

5. And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built.

E Kuplapan kutinpler tinsialanohu e siahuple merurpahu painlot emeromen.

6. And the Lord said, "Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.

E Kuplapan kuhi: Siaekuka, ekulan kuke e ekuquahiuke, e hute pliute pliopa kupa pliuke. E ekunkirinpaste kuhitpate.

7. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another's speech."

Muntinpler tinkar e munhitahioeku hitinsar kusar kuoke sarahi kuhi kuoquu.

8. So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.

E Kuplapan kulataeku latirnaukar latinnaokorupan e ekumirinpainlot palanohu.

9. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

Kaulinkinalanohu kinihi 'aBabel kinirhitahiokorupan kuhitinnaukar Kuplapan. E kulataeku latirnaukar latinnaokorupan.


I would love to hear opinions and suggestions regarding Hi. You can contact me at Email andrei


Andrei Burago (adagio_burner)