Friday, July 27, 2012

Learning Solresol, Lesson 3: Nouns

This is part of a series of lessons for learning Solresol. To start at lesson 1, click here.

In this lesson, we will learn how nouns are formed in Solresol, in addition to some new vocabulary.

First, to review, try to translate these sentences into English. Try to do it completely from memory, but if you can't remember a word, check your own notes or the previous lesson - check the answers when you're completely done. I encourage you to actually write down your responses; it will really help you learn.

Sidosi    -    To learn

Domi milasi dore.
Dofa do domilado Solresol.
Domi re dore fasifa sidosi Solresol.
Dofa do milasi domi.
Dore faremi.
Dofa sidosi domilado Solresol.


You love me.
He does not speak Solresol.
You and I want to learn Solresol.
He doesn't love you.
I am.
He learns to speak Solresol.

How did you do? If you had to go back and look up some words, that's okay - but memorization is very important to learning Solresol, so keep working on the vocabulary. There will be new vocabulary every lesson, so you'll want to keep up.

In Solresol, the same word is used for the verb, noun, adjective, and adverb - the various forms are distinguished by emphasizing specific syllables.

To form nouns, you accent the first syllable:

To speak
To be, exist
Existence, being
To love (a person)
Love (n) (for a person)

The accent over the letter indicates that you should emphasize that syllable - Sudre uses the term rinforzando, which is a sudden increase of emphasis, or another word for the musical term sforzando.

The notation for said accents isn't really set in stone - I like to use the accents I used above because they resemble an accent in music, but using 'normal' accents is also a popular choice (dó, ré, mí, fá, sól, lá, sí). You will occasionally see the accented syllable written in all caps (DOmilado), but try to only use that if there is no other option, because, frankly, it looks terrible.

In order to further the cause of this lesson, you will need some new vocabulary. I suggest you focus on each word carefully, and write them all down.

Redo    -    My, mine
Remi    -    Your, yours
Refa    -    His, its
Fare    -    That, that one
Fami    -    This, this one

These first five words are usually used to label nouns - they always come before the noun they label (redo mîlasi - my love). All these words, however, can also be used as nouns themselves (fare faremi redo - that is mine).

Note that the possessive pronouns are related to the corresponding subject pronouns:

Dore - I, me
Redo - My, mine
Domi - you
Remi - your, yours
Dofa - he, it
Refa - his, its

Also note that fare and fami are next to each other alphabetically, because they are related words.

Famisol    -    Have, possess, own
Milasol    -    Love (for things)
Solsisol    -    Smile, grin
Ladofa    -    Read
Remila    -    Give
Dosido    -    Help, aid, assist
Solmila    -    Remember, recollect
Resolsido    -    Need, require

These seven words are all verbs - but they can become nouns by accenting the first syllable: Solsisol - to smile; La sôlsisol - the smile. In the same way: la fâmisol - the possession, the thing owned; la mîlasol - the love (for a thing); la lâdofa - the reading, the read; la rêmila - the gift or present; la dôsido - the assistance, help, or aid; la sôlmila - the memory, the recollection; la rêsolsido - the need, the necessity.

Note the difference between milasi and milasol. Milasi is used to say you love a person; Milasol is used to talk of loving objects, animals, and activities. One may use milasi with poetic license in other contexts, but on a literal level it should only be used for people (or other sentient lifeforms, or fictional anthropomorphized creatures of some other nature).

Ladosol    -    Book (n.)
Fadofasol    -    Tree

These last two words, ladosol and fadofasol, are implicitly nouns - so they don't need the initial accent to be used that way.

Notice that ladofa - to read, and ladosol - book, are next to each other alphabetically, because they are related words.

The best way to learn is through examples and practice (citation needed). So, some examples:

Fare faremi redo ladosol.    -    That is my book.
Dore remila la rêmila fa domi.    -    I give the gift to you.
Dore milasol remi sôlsisol.    -    I love your smile.
Dofa fasifa ladofa fami ladosol.    -    He wants to read this book.
Fami faremi remi.    -    This is yours.

Now that you see how these words work in sentences, try to translate some on your own. As always, try to do as much as you can without checking, and do actually write down what you come up with. This is as much a test of vocabulary as it is of grammar, so be familiar with the new words from this lesson before doing the exercises (It's not really a test, though, don't worry).

Translate these into English:

Dofa milasol fare ladosol.
Domi famisol redo mîlasi.
Fare do faremi Solresol.
Dore resolsido dôsido!
Dofa famisol remi sôlsisol.
Domi resolsido solsisol.

And these into Solresol:

He has a tree. [Solresol doesn't have a word for 'a' or 'an' - just leave it out.]
You have my book!
That is mine.
This book is yours.
I don't remember his smile.
He has your gift.
You remember his love.


English Translations:

He loves that book.
You have my love.
That is not Solresol.
I need help!
He has your smile.
You need to smile.

Solresol Translations:

Dofa famisol fadofasol.
Domi famisol redo ladosol!
Fare faremi redo.
Fami ladosol faremi remi.
Dore do solmila refa sôlsisol.
Dofa famisol remi rêmila.
Domi solmila refa mîlasi. [Using mîlasol here wouldn't necessarily be wrong, but it would imply that his love is for something else, such as an activity or object.]

That's all for this lesson! Be sure you have all the vocab so far memorized, and that you understand everything from this lesson. If anything is unclear to you, feel free to leave a comment with your question.

To go on to the next segment of this series, click here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lesson 2: Basic Words and Grammar

(For Lesson 1: An Introduction, click here.)

Words in Solresol are formed, as you might expect, by creating combinations of syllables from its alphabet. Because of its limited size, almost every combination from 1 to 4 syllables in length has unique meaning, and synonyms are avoided. In total, there are 2260 words of four syllables or fewer - which is sufficient for almost all communication.

In general, the smallest words in Solresol have the most basic meaning, and the longer words are more specific. This fact aids learning, because one can start with shorter and easier to remember words. The first seven words to familiarize yourself with, for example, are:

One-Syllable Words

Do    -   No, not, neither, nor, etc.
Re    -     And
Mi    -     Or
Fa    -     To, at
Sol    -     If
La    -     The
Si    -     Yes

Most of these words are not immediately useful, but knowing them from the beginning will help you create sentences as you learn the necessary vocabulary. The most immediately useful and necessary words from this set are do, re, la, and si, but I will, in the future, assume you know them all.

Solresol words often come in groups of related terms - François Sudre did this intentionally to aid learning.
For instance, look at your first pronouns:

Dore    -    I, me
Domi    -    You
Dofa    -    He, it

These words occur in a sequential order alphabetically (-re, -mi, -fa), because they all hold a similar function.

In order to make a sentence, though, you need a verb.

Faremi    -    to be, exist

This verb is certainly one of the most important words in any language. Familiarize yourself with it, memorize it, and never forget it.

Solresol does not conjugate verbs for different subjects, as many languages do.

Dore faremi. - I am.
Domi faremi. - You are.
Dofa faremi. - He (it) is. 

In order to explain a few more ideas, we need a bit more vocabulary:

Domilado    -    To speak, talk, utter
Solresol    -    Solresol specifically, but also language in general 
Milasi    -    To love (a person); cherish
Fasifa    -    To want to do something, to intend to do

Solresol sentences (usually) take the structure subject-verb-object (SVO), as English usually is. For example:

Dofa milasi domi.    -    He loves you.
Domi milasi dofa.    -    You love him.

An unaltered verb (as seen in the sentence "Dore faremi") is always in either the present tense (e.g. "I am") or the infinitive (e.g. "to be"), depending on the context. For example:

Dore domilado Solresol.    -    I speak Solresol.
Dore fasifa domilado Solresol.    -    I want to speak Solresol.

Even though the word 'domilado' did not change, its function changed in the sentence from a conjugated verb to an infinitive.

By using the word 'do' (no, not, etc.), negation in Solresol is very simple. Just add 'do' before the relevant word (usually the verb).

Dore domilado Solresol.    -    I speak Solresol.
Dore do domilado Solresol.    -    I do not speak Solresol.
Dofa do milasi domi.    -    He doesn't love you.
Domi do faremi dore.    -    You are not me.

That's all for lesson two! Stay tuned for lesson 3, and have fun learning Solresol!

For next time, you need to know all the vocabulary from this lesson and understand this material. If anything doesn't make sense, leave a comment with your question, and I'm sure I'll be able to help.


Do    -   No, not, neither, nor, etc. (negation)
Re    -     And
Mi    -     Or
Fa    -     To, at
Sol    -     If
La    -     The
Si    -     Yes
Dore    -    I, me
Domi    -    You
Dofa    -    He, it
Faremi    -    to be, exist
Domilado    -    To speak, talk, utter
Solresol    -    Solresol specifically, but also language in general 
Milasi    -    To love (a person); cherish
Fasifa    -    To want to do something, to intend to do

When you're ready to go on to Lesson 3, click here.

Learning Solresol, Lesson 1: An introduction

So, you're interested in learning Solresol? Start here.

Solresol has a fascinating history, and I would definitely recommend you research it individually at your leisure to get a fuller understanding (for advice on where to look, see the bottom of this post), but here's a brief introduction:

Solresol is a constructed language, created by François Sudre in 1827. His goal was to create an international language - everyone would learn Solresol as a second language, and the language barrier would effectively be broken, because everyone would share a common tongue. This idea, of an international auxiliary language, is no longer unheard of, but Solresol was the first such language to become fully developed and gain widespread attention. While other languages (Such as Esperanto in theory, or English in practice) seem to be more viable alternatives for this purpose now, Solresol remains a remarkably unique language, deserving of attention - and maybe even a revival. With a dictionary available in English, a  (, and the passion of individuals able to connect via the internet, a revival is indeed in the making - but for that to happen, learning the language must be feasible. I'm not an expert by any means - but nobody is. My hope is that I can share my journey of learning Solresol by teaching you, and we can discover the language together.

Solresol's alphabet is based on the solfège syllables of the Western musical scale: Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Si. This sets it apart in two fundamental ways: first, it probably has the smallest alphabet in existence; and second, communication can (and should) occur in an incredibly diverse range of mediums. One can communicate in Solresol by singing, playing a musical instrument, speaking the syllables, writing musical notation, painting colors (namely, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet), naming the notes of a scale (e.g. C, D, E, F, G, A, B), writing numbers, tapping numbers morse code style, using the official shorthand (Figure 1), using hand signals (Figure 2), using alternate sign language (Figure 3), or virtually any system that makes use of seven elements.

(Don't be overwhelmed by that list! You don't need to be have perfect pitch, or even be familiar with music at all to learn Solresol. The seven spoken or written syllables are always the most basic form used for learning and almost all communication. Once you understand the language, the variety of possible expression can add versatility and creativity for those who are so inclined.)

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3
Solresol can embed meaning into almost anything, making it a fascinatingly versatile language. If you're intrigued and want to learn more, go on to lesson two.

If you want to read more about Solresol's history, I would recommend this PDF:

If you want to read even more, you should browse Dan Parson's compilation of pretty much every useful piece of information on Solresol on the internet - he's done a great job with it:

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Back to Blogging

Dosolfasi -

This blog has been quiet for a while, but I'm working on creating some lessons for learning Solresol.  I'd like to actually learn Solresol to the extent of being able to use it to write down thoughts and communicate with others, and I'm sure other people feel the same way.  So expect some actual valuable material in the near future.