Vong: A Tonal Language

Like Singing

Inspired by tonal languages like Chinese and Vietnamese, I have created an art language that is tonal. In Vong, there are three tones: the even tone, the rising tone, and the falling tone. The rising tone is indicated by an acute accent (like vóng), and the falling tone is indicated by a grave accent (like vòng). The even (mid-level) tone has no accent (like vong). The tone changes the meaning.


The consonants (C) are: b, ch, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, ng, p, r, s, sh, t, th, v, z. These are close to English sounds; however, see the Phonological Chart, which explains more exactly the pronunciations of letters. The vowels (V) are: a, e, i, o, u. These are pronounced as in English "father, bet, tot, machine, lunar." The diphthongs (D) are: ai, au, ei, oi, ou, ia, ie, io, iu, ua, ue, ui, uo. The nasal consonants (N), which can occur finally in a syllable, are: m, n, ng. A syllable can have the structure: V, D, CV, CD, VN, DN, CVN, or CDN. There are 4536 possible syllables with the three tones.

In Vong, each native morpheme, the smallest meaningful unit of language, is a single syllable.


The Vong sentence is of the SVO type (Subject Verb Object). No words are inflected. Vong has no grammatical tense, but it has a system of aspect markers. Time reference is given by context or by placing adverbials, which are optional, anywhere before the verb: cháim (future), kiò (recent past), guam (far past), mái (yesterday), vèim (tomorrow), ron ruim (last year), and others. Adjectives, like dèm ('yellow', 'to be yellow'), can stand as stative verbs: Sóung dèm. ('The sunflower is yellow.') The particle 'e' ends an imperative phrase: Sóung dèm e! ('Let the sunflower be yellow!') The particle 'a' ends a question phrase: Sóung dèm a? ('Is the sunflower yellow?')

The distinction between plural and singular nouns is not usually made. Placing tín (many) or ting (few) before a noun can indicate the plural. Or reduplication of the word can also show plurality: sóung sóung (sunflowers). There are no words for 'the', 'a', and 'an'.

The pronouns are: nong (I, me), viong (you), fueng (he, she, it, him, her), ting nong (we, us), ting viong (plural you), ting fueng (they, them).

Words may be compounded to form new terms wherein the attributes come before the element being modified: tì shú ('bird cage', birdcage), lèm zò ('guess calculate', estimate), sué ngí ('sword man', swordsman), Suà be ('bright religion', Buddhism).

Borrowings or loanwords, which may be polysyllabic, from other languages like English are possible with the condition that they follow the phonology of Vong: ká-mè-ra ('camera'), bài-ió-lò-ji ('biology').


Poems submitted by Allan Doodes:

Shiong ngài suè duon.
Fueng shiong zuén hòm.
Lè ning lím kìm,
Tín tiom dim tiam.

Seeking the master in the forest.
He is looking for simples.
The mountains are high, the clouds low,
Many questions unanswered.

Ngáin méi vì hió ngí
Shuim ang rong To-kio.
Sué ngí vio tha kèm.
Nèi vì ngàin méi vio.

A merchant has two daughters
Beauties from Tokyo city.
A swordsman kills with his sword.
The two girls slay with their eyes.

Home / Vong

by Viktor Medrano

Phonological Chart

1600-word Vocabulary

Verbal Aspect

My Poetry

Click on the icon beside the poem to hear...

Tín lè sóung nie thá
suè vong, ping, sim díng vì zàin
--tín dèm rìng ù zá.

Tall sunflowers stand funnily
in the big, wide, country field of green
--yellow faces to the sun.

Hè bua min tín kóm
ang chó muon á tín lè tuàng
--sui, hàin zá, hú liang.

Strong wind blows leaves
from the grassy earth between tall pine trees
--cold, but sunny, winter day.


Poem submitted by Joey Hartline:

ngáin sué ngí
kèm ve
rum sué ngí

two swordsmen
blade's edge
one swordsman

Poem submitted by Kevin Bello (in Vong, English, and Esperanto):

Rièm shòu fién lé
Suè nèi vì fùng.
Bua min ié vòm
Jìn rièm fién duom.

The dragon soars so high
In the eyes of the skies.
The wind blows with myst'ry
and the dragon, away it flies!

La drako flugas alte
En la okuloj de l' ĉiel'.
Kun mistero la vento blovas
Kaj la drako flugas en hel'!