Learn Mini in 20 minutes

Mini is a man-made language designed to be as simple as possible.

With a total of 1,000 words and a core vocabulary of only 120 words, it’s also one of the easiest to learn. This guide will teach you the basics in 20 minutes.

Why learn Mini? Because learning Mini will surprise you by how much you can express when you break things down into their simplest form.

Say it like you mean it

The vowels are pronounced like they are in Spanish, Italian, German, and many other languages:

A — ah — father
E — eh — met
I — ee — eat
O — oh - moment
U — oo — moo

Easy, right?

The only other pronunciation rule you need to know is that words are always stressed or emphasized on their second-to-last syllable:

animale = ah-nee-MAH-leh, not ah-nee-mah-LEH
veji = VEH-jee, not veh-JEE

Some vocab

A small selection of words you already know:

Mini    Englishave     have
go go
kan can
make make
man human / person
mi me
rason reason

If you’ve studied other languages (especially Romance languages or German but also Malay), you may recognize even more words!

The big idea

In a normal sentence, you have a subject (the person or thing doing an action), a verb (the action), and an object (the thing which the subject is acting on). Mini uses one word to mark the verb (i) and another to mark the object (a). Let’s see a few examples.

Note that Mini doesn’t use articles like the or a. It also doesn’t have tenses or plurals or cases. So you end up sounding a little like a caveman: “Me eat. Bob make food.”

[subject] i [verb] a [object]Mi i manja.              
I eat.
Bob i manja a veji.
Bob eats veggies.
Man i bibe a vasa.
A person drinks water.
Bob i make a manja.
Bob makes food.
Mi i vasa a veji.
I water the plants.

Notice that manja is used to mean both eat and food. This is how most words in Mini work: they describe a broad category of things and their precise meaning is only pinned down when you use it in a sentence.

That depends on what the meaning of “is” is

[subject] a [noun]Bob a man.
Bob is a person.
Veji a manja.
Vegetables are food.

This is the same word we used above to introduce the direct object. In Mini, when a subject is followed by a [noun] that means the subject is that noun. No extra “is” is necessary.

You might wonder how you would say something is good. The word “good” after all is not a noun so the above pattern wouldn’t work. What we need is…another special grammatical word.

The word e introduces adjectives and descriptive words, and works analogously to a. To say something is good, you say that thing e bon. Let’s see a few examples:

[subject] e [adjective]Kosa e bon.
The thing is good.
Bob e vasa.
Bob is wet.
Manja e Bob.
The food is Bob's.

Notice that the word vasa, which in the above examples meant water, here means wet, because the word is now being used as an adjective. And similarly the name Bob is now possessive because it’s being used as an adjective.

You might be wondering if there are any more of these weird part-of-speech words. But, rest assured, this is the last one. We’ve now seen all three part-of-speech words in Mini:

Word   Functioni      introduces the verb
a introduces direct object & noun complement
e introduces adjective complement

These words are the glue that keeps the language together and allows Mini to recycle its vocabulary into as many different concepts as possible.

This grammar can take a little bit to get used to, as it’s pretty different from English. But it’s powerful and intuitive to use once you get the hang of it.

All your ducks in a row

mega loke                 big placeno mui kolo               not much colordika feo bebe             fat ugly baby

Adverbs (other than not) come after the verb:

Bob i manja rapi.         Bob eats fast.Bob i no manja mui rapi.  Bob does not eat very fast.

Hi, my pronouns are si/si

mi   first person     I, me
tu second person you
si third person he, she, it, him, her

The pronouns do not change for gender or number. To get explicit plural pronouns (like we), you have to use a compound word:

mi-ale      we (me-all)
si-ale they

When personal pronouns are used as adjectives, they become possessives.

tu kaja        your box
si note his/her/its note
mi-ale name our name

Prep school

de      from, of, about, by, out of, made of
en in, at, on
go to, for, towards
kon with
sama like, as, than, same

Bob e kon Alisa. Bob is with Alice.
Bob e de Amerika. Bob is from America.
Alisa i viva en London. Alice lives in London.
Da e go tu. That’s for you.
Mi i toma go tu a kosa. I take the thing to you.
Mi e sama tu. I am like you.

Remember that in Mini words can be used as any part of speech? Well, Mini prepositions can often be verbs. (This is why go is go.)

Alisa i go a retorante.         Alice goes to the restaurant.Alisa i kon a Bobi.             Alice includes Bob.

They can also be used as adverbs:

Mi i kipa en.                
I stay in.

Conjunction junction, what’s your function?

an    and
pero but
u or, either
Alisa an Bobi i pale mui.
Alice and Bob talk a lot.
Tu i vole a kafe u tea?
Do you want coffee or tea?
Mi i kamina en foreta, pero si i kipa en.
I walk in the forest, but he stays inside.

Mini conjunctions can also be used as other parts of speech:

Mi i vole go an.               I want to go too.
Si a pero kinde. He is but a child.
Tu i no kan go a u jalan. You can’t go either way.

Yes or no

Si i vole resi?         Does he want to sleep?
Si i vole go, u ke? Does he want to go or what?
No, si i no vole go. No, he does not want to go.

You what?

In Mini, unlike English, the word ordering of questions does not change.

Tu i ke?                        You what?
Tu a ke (man)? Who are you?
Tu e ke? How are you?
Tu i go en ke tempo? When (at what time) do you go?
Tu i kipa go ke rason? Why (for what reason) do you stay?
Tu i manja a ke mui? How much do you eat?
Tu i vole uti a ke kosa? Which thing do you want to use?

I’ll have what she’s having

In English, dependent clauses are the little side-comments that people attach to the main part of a sentence. In a sentence like “I feel that it works”, that it works is the dependent clause. Mini works basically the same way, with ke meaning that.

Mi i senti ke si i make.
I feel that it works.
Mi i ave a ke si i ave.
I have what she has.
Tu i vole manja afa ke tu i aroma a pan.
You want to eat after (that) you smell the bread.

Just do it!

I go!                      Go!
I manja a tu veji! Eat your veggies!
I no pale! Don’t talk!

Count von Count

1   uno
2 duo
3 san
4 fo
5 penta
6 sita
7 seven
8 ba
9 nin
10 ten
Man i ave a uno nase, duo oko, an penta diji en kada mano.
A person has one nose, two eyes, and five fingers on each hand.

Greetings, Earthling

Tu name a ke?
What's your name?
Salu, mi name a Bob.
Hello, my name is Bob.
Tu e ke?
How are you?
Ke i pasa?
What's up?
Bon maten!
Good morning!
Sori, toilete e en ke?
Sorry, where is the toilet?
I favo pale lenta.
Please talk slowly.
Danke.
Thanks.
De nulo. / Sama-sama.
You're welcome.
Adio!
Goodbye!

Fini

Nun, tu kan begin pale a Mini! (Now you can start speaking Mini!)

Next lesson: Learn Mini II: Advanced Mini

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