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created in: 1995
by: Claudio Gnoli

Liva is a highly regular and schematic logical language created by Claudio T. Gnoli in 1995 and last publicly updated in 2002.


Liva is a loglang whose description was once hosted on Geocities, during the Internet's early years.


Liva is the creation of Claudio T. Gnoli, an Italian information scientist. Gnoli is also known for a constructed language classification scheme called the Gnoli Triangle.


Liva was created mainly for fun, but also as an experiment in combining logic and aesthetics, and as a means to learn about the structure of language.


The name "Liva" has no meaning; it was chosen on phonaesthetic grounds.


A number of people contributed to the development of the language through discussion and feedback with the author. Other logical languages, especially Loglan and Lojban, were influences.


Liva retains some ideas from the author's earlier constructed language, called Aarbane and later Aarbad. The first version of Liva was developed in 1995 and published in 1996. The most recent published version is numbered 4.2 and dated February 2002.


In this section, we look at version 4.2 of Liva.


Liva is written using the basic Latin alphabet and six extra letters:

grapheme a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z ð þ ñ £ î ø
phoneme ä b c d ɛ f ɡ ʁ i ɟ k l m n ɔ p ŋ ʟ ç t u v χ y ʝ ð θ ɲ ʎ ə œ

The correspondence between letters and phonemes, though unusual in some respects, is exactly one-to-one. For convenience, the six extra letters, which are not in the ASCII set, may be replaced with ASCII characters:

grapheme ð þ ñ £ î ø
alternate 6 5 4 2 @ or 1 & or 0

It is conventional to write Liva in all lowercase characters, though all uppercase is allowed. Spaces are used between written words as a visual aid, though not required for segregation.


Liva has thirty-two phonemes, divided into twenty-four consonants and eight vowels. The IPA symbols used in this article were selected to indicate the preferred allophone of each phoneme (at least at a fair guess).

In Liva's defining document, the phonemes are arranged conceptually in an 8-high, 4-wide grid, with each row assigned a symbol. The rows and columns of this original grid are closely reflected in the tables of consonants and vowels presented below, except that the original grid has the voiceless and voiced obstruents placed on separate rows. On the other hand, because the row symbols and other labels employed in Liva's document seem somewhat peculiar and not very intuitive, we've opted not to use them in this article; for example, instead of "Os" we will simply write "voiceless plosive".


labial dental or alveolar palatal velar or uvular
nasal m n ɲ ŋ
plosive p b t d c ɟ k g
fricative f v θ ð ç ʝ χ ʁ
lateral l ʎ ʟ

Some alternate realizations are sanctioned: /θ ð/ as sibilants [s z]; /ç ʝ/ also as sibilants, either alveolo-palatals [ɕ ʑ] or palato-alveolars [ʃ ʒ]; /χ ʁ/ as velars [x ɣ].

Notably, there are four laterals. One of these, the "labial lateral" (spelled with ⟨w⟩), appears to be virtually unattested in the world's languages. For the purpose of representing this phoneme, we've adopted the unusual linguolabial lateral symbol, which is formed by placing the "seagull" diacritic below the standard alveolar IPA letter. For reference, the actual description given for this sound is quoted as follows:

"[T]he easiest way to realize it seems to be by the tongue's tip between lips, either in the middle or at one side: in this position imagine to pronounce a common [l]; a more rigorous alternative, as it does not involve the tongue and is hence truely "labial", would be to put lips near only in their central part and leaving two spaces on the sides, though it seems a difficult position, or to put them near on a side and leave a space on the other side."


front central back
rounded unrounded
close y i ə u
open œ ɛ ä ɔ

The schwa, i.e. /ə/, is close-mid, or perhaps closer, and unrounded. The back vowels are allowed to be rounded.


A syllable is composed simply of a required consonantal onset followed by a required vocalic nucleus.

An onset consists of any of the single consonants, or any of the four nasals followed by one of two (voiceless or voiced) homorganic plosives (but not fricatives or laterals): /mp mb nt .../. (Although the author presents these nasal-plosive pairs as the onsets of morphemic elements rather than of syllables, it will simplify our current analysis to view these pairs as syllable onsets.) Since these clusters seem to occur in syllables that usually follow other syllables, it is presumable that the nasals in these clusters are allowed or preferred to be realized as the coda of the preceding syllable. No other onset is allowed.

A nucleus consists of any single vowel, or any vowel pair consisting of one open vowel and one close vowel but not two of the same (in either order, so either a rising or a falling diphthong). No other nucleus is allowed.

There are thus 32 possible onsets; with the eight single-vowel nuclei, 256 syllables are possible and with the 32 possible diphthongs, 1024 syllables are possible.


The only clusters that occur in Liva are nasals followed by homorganic plosives, as already seen. On the other hand, Liva is exceptionally rich in diphthongs.

The only complication to this otherwise simple phonotactic picture is that syllables composed of a fricative or a lateral followed by /ə/ (i.e. ⟨î⟩) are allowed to drop the /ə/ "where this does not make pronunciation and perception too difficult". It is allowed but not required to replace the elided ⟨î⟩ with an apostrophe in writing.


Stress, tone and quantity are not contrastive. As a convention it is suggested to place stress on the first syllable of a word or phrase.


Liva is a morphologically isolating language; every morpheme is a word, and every word is a single morpheme.

Word shapes

Words consist of one or more syllables. The onset of the first syllable of a word may not contain a voiced obstruent. Specifically, a word may start with a voiceless plosive, a voiceless fricative, a nasal, a lateral, or a nasal followed by a voiceless plosive; a word may not start with a voiced plosive, a voiced fricative, or a nasal followed by a voiced plosive.

There are thus 160 possible monosyllabic words containing monophthongs (20 onsets × 8 vowels), and 640 possible monosyllabic words containing diphthongs (20 onsets × 32 diphthongs).

Polysyllabic words are formed by combining two or more monosyllabic words. The non-initial monosyllabic words must be those that contain voiceless obstruents as independent words; these obstruents are replaced with their voiced counterparts to obtain compounding forms; for example, ⟨qou⟩ plus ⟨pa⟩ yields ⟨qouba⟩ and ⟨pa⟩ plus ⟨ntou⟩ yields ⟨pandou⟩. Since this compounding process does not result in predictable meanings, these polysyllabic words are regarded as single morphemes, with an exact meaning to be defined in the dictionary.

Word Classes

The initial onset of a word indicates its class as follows.

  • Deictics begin with a nasal ⟨m, n, ñ, q⟩.
  • Nouns begin with a voiceless plosive ⟨p, t, c, k⟩.
  • Relators begin with a voiceless fricative:
    • symmetric relators begin with ⟨f⟩;
    • diadic relators begin with ⟨þ, s⟩;
    • triadic relators begin with ⟨x⟩.
  • Quantifiers begin with a non-labial nasal plus voiceless plosive ⟨nt, ñc, qk⟩.
  • Intensionals begin with ⟨mp⟩.
  • Markers begin with a lateral:
    • word markers begin with ⟨w⟩;
    • predication markers begin with ⟨l⟩;
    • relation markers begin with ⟨£⟩;
    • quantification markers begin with ⟨r⟩.


Explain the origin of words and morphemes (apriori, aposteriori, etc.). How are proper names handled?


Analysis(?) Critical assessment(?) Impact(?)

  • Novel ideas?
  • The impact this language has had on the LL world?


Language Descriptions
Logical Languages

Loglan (1955)[stub]Lojban (1987)[stub]Voksigid (1991)[stub]Gua\spi (1991)[stub]Liva (1995)[stub]Lojsk (2002)[stub]X-1 (2005)[stub]Trari (2009)[stub]Xorban (2012)[stub]Toaq (2013)[stub]Tanbau (2014)[stub]Eberban (2020)[stub]

Other Languages

Ceqli (1996)[stub]Latejami (1995)[stub]Ithkuil (?)[stub]CycL (?)[stub]IKL (?)[stub]