Ayola A Constructed Language Linking the Global Community
History and the ARG

History and the ARG


The Ayola Research Project originated in the fall of 1995 when Professor Richard W. Stimets of the Department of Physics at the University of Massachusetts Lowell organized a group of students with diverse language backgrounds to develop a new international language. However, he and his fellow workers felt that none of the existing international languages, including traditional ones such as Esperanto and Interlingua as well as more recent ones such as Loglan and Lojban, measured up to a desirable standard. They still contained many of the ambiguities and inconsistencies present in natural languages. Although some ambiguity in language is probably necessary for ease and speed of communication, all the members of the group felt that a new language could be created whose precision of meaning far exceeded that of any existing ones and so, Ayola was born.


The work on the Ayola language project since its inception in 1995 has steadily evolved with respect to the guidelines and procedure used to select new vocabulary words.  However, for simplicity, the work may be grouped into three periods: the Early Period (1995-2000), the Middle Period (2001-2004) and the Recent Period (2005-present).




Early Period (1995-2000)


In the early period many of the basic features of Ayola were established, including the system of spelling and pronunciation, the system for marking the parts of speech, and the distinction between descriptive and relational adjectives.  There was universal agreement among the group members on these features.  Spelling should be completely phonetic, should use a subset of the Roman alphabet (q and x excluded), and should not use accented letters except to indicate irregular stress in foreign names.


The basic parts of speech, such as nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs, should be clearly marked as such marking helps students recognize the sentence structure and greatly facilitates leaning of the language.  Additional parts of speech such as prepositions, conjunctions, and derived nouns should be marked as well.  The important distinction between descriptive and relational adjectives (‘woman student’ = ‘student who is a woman’ vs. ‘woman student’ = ‘student of women’) should be clearly indicated.


By the end of the early period, after much discussion and testing, these basic features were stabilized.  The accentless phonetic spelling was similar to what was introduced by Loglan.  The marking of the parts of speech somewhat resembled that of Esperanto, albeit with some very important differences and additions.  The distinction between descriptive adjectives (ending in –a) and relational adjectives (ending in –ay) was entirely new to Ayola.  This last feature was universally appreciated and everyone in the group quickly learned how to use it and resolve ambiguities such as that posed by ‘woman student’ given above.





Middle Period (2001-2004)


At the beginning of the middle period the name ‘Ayola’, from the Italian word aiola meaning ‘flower garden’ was chosen for the language and the Ayola Research Group was formally established.  The language had progressed to the point where it was felt that it would be worthwhile to try it with some students.  Summer programs were run in 2002, with two students, and in 2003, with seven students.  The summer sessions lasted for ten weeks. With three-hour classes four days per week, and a textbook, students were able to learn the language to the point where they could engage in basic conversation and write simple compositions.  At the end of the 2003 summer session the students preformed a simplified version of the play Alice in Wonderland in Ayola for the staffAfter both sessions, the students also filled out a detailed questionnaire in which they were encouraged to offer criticism of the language and suggestions for improvement.


At the end of the middle period in the fall of 2004, the ARG preformed a comprehensive review of the language and concluded that it needed a number of significant improvements. The main features were as follows:


A. Grammar

  1. The number of elementary words, i.e. those not composed of a root and endings, which had crept up to nearly 200, should be reduced and kept to a minimum.
  2. The ending –u should be universally used to mark all prepositions, even those which were elementary words.
  3. The system of marking relational adjectives, which was very much liked and easily learned by the students, still contained some ambiguities, e.g. ‘mercury pollution’ in which mercury is the polluter, vs. ‘water pollution’ in which water is the polluted.  An improved system was needed.
  4. A comprehensive system for treating verbs such as ‘change,’ ‘melt,’ ‘move,’ etc. which can function both intransitively and transitively had to be developed.

B. Vocabulary

  1. In order to get the vocabulary to the point where Ayola was usable as a means of communication, words were sometimes borrowed from existing international languages such as Esperanto and Interlingua.  We really wanted to choose our own vocabulary from original sources, i.e. the natural languages, principally European languages.  In order to do this for thousands of words, a more efficient system of vocabulary construction had to be found.
  2. It was always the intention that the technical vocabulary of Ayola, including combining forms, mathematical, physical and chemical terminology and Linnaean terms would be closely related to the international usage. However, the details of these systems remained to be worked out.




Recent Period (2005-Present)


In the recent period, the ARG has devoted considerable time and energy to the task of implementing the improvements mandated by the review in the fall of 2004.  It has required a number of years, much discussion, and testing to get the grammatical improvements and the method of vocabulary construction to the point where we are satisfied with them.


Reduction of the number of elementary words was achieved by late 2006 and that number is now stable at about 80.


The universal –u ending on prepositions was instituted quickly.  More recent improvements to the preposition system have included some changes to the preposition roots so that prepositions within a semantically related group are also related phonetically, as well as an infix system for prepositional compounds to distinguish the case where the compound word is in the same category as the noun e.g. ‘undergarment’ from the case where it isn’t, e.g. ‘underground.’


A second relational adjective ending, i.e. –way, was instituted in 2005 to denote an object/part/contents relation, e.g. ‘water pollution,’ ‘art museum, in contrast with ‘-ay’ which denotes a subject/whole/container relation, e.g. ‘mercury pollution,’ ‘store window,’ ‘city museum.’ It took considerably longer to develop a compact way of preserving this distinction in adjective strings but that task was completed in 2012.


The development of a comprehensive system for treating intransitive/transitive and becomeative/causative verb pairs was the most difficult of the grammatical tasks.  The current compact and elegant system, which uses the suffix –y- for intransitive/becomeative verbs and the suffix –w- for transitive/causative verbs, was also completed in 2012.


Beginning in 2005, we instituted a computerized system for choosing vocabulary words which has been extended and improved over the years.  It was the creation of online word reference sites such as Wiktionary and later, the Google Translator, which made such a system feasible. The current system makes use of three types of vocabulary lists and involves three steps:


  1. The number of distinct meanings of a word which we want to represent in Ayola is agreed upon.
  2. For each distinct meaning, a list of the words used in a number of major languages is created. The languages are organized by language group, i.e. Slavic, Germanic, Romance, etc. so that it is easy to spot identical or similar words used in several languages.  The lists provided by Wiktionary are often incomplete and are filled in where necessary from Google Translate and other sources.
  3. Using a combination of criteria including widespread usage, brevity, and ease of pronunciation, a tentative Ayola word is chosen and checked against the Root Forms Lists to make sure that the root form is free.  If it is, the word is assigned to the root form and also entered in the Basic Word List.


We have learned that it is very important to keep both lists up to date and in agreement with each other.  The Basic Word List is organized alphabetically in English and the Root Forms Lists are organized by phonetic form in Ayola. It is very important to have both avenues of reference.


At present, the basic vocabulary of Ayola contains over 9,800 entries in the Basic Word List and the number is increasing rapidly, now that we have an efficient computerized system for choosing and recording vocabulary entries. We hope to increase this number to over 20,000 in the next two years.


Although the basic rules for the technical vocabularies such as mathematical, physical and chemical terminology have been established, these vocabularies need to be checked in detail to make sure that they are consistent and unambiguous. Eventually, we will present these vocabularies as several individual lists on the Ayola website.




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