AllNoun is a constructed grammar, created by Tom Breton in 1996 to see if it was possible to create a grammar that consists of only nouns. Tom calls it "grammar with only one part of speech," or "maximally distilled artificial grammar using only nouns and 4 symbols." It isn't considered a constructed or artificial language because it uses the vocabulary of English (and could be easily adapted to use the vocabulary of other languages).

The grammar grew out of a discussion about Glosa which eventually turned to the idea of a language with ony one part of speech. According to the grammar's creator, AllNoun is not similar to Paonese (described in Jack Vance's The Languages of Pao), but instead closer to Xaq (created by Paul Doudna and based on predicate calculus) and Click (created by Jaques Guy).

AllNoun conveys ideas by using relationships between words and prepositional phrases. With these relationships and a few punctuation marks at our disposal, it's possible to say pretty much anything (albeit probably not succinctly) in AllNoun.


The punctuation marks are the colon, both parentheses, and the caret.

The colon, called the associator, signifies that the words on either side of the colon have a relationship. The word on the left is the part; the word on the right is the role that the part plays. The most common role is "whole," which signifies that the part in question is the subject of the thought to be expressed. Another common role is "agent," which signifies that the part is — well, an agent in the expression. (See agent if you don't know what an agent is in this context.) Example time:

"interrobang plays the role of noder"
or "interrobang is a noder"

"you play the role of reader"
or "you are a reader"

AllNoun:whole Tom:creator interrobang:describer
"Tom is AllNoun's creator, and interrobang is AllNoun's describer"
or "Tom creates AllNoun, which interrobang describes"
or "interrobang describes AllNoun, which Tom creates"

The parentheses, called separators, signify that the contents form a complete expression. Either a part or a role may be a parenthesized expression. If the parenthesized expression appears in no context (i.e. it's not part of a larger expression), it is assumed that the expression is within a context that the reader is aware of. If the context needs to be explicitly declared, it can be declared as playing the role of "context."

(AllNoun:whole Tom:creator)
"In some context that the reader is aware of, Tom is the creator of AllNoun."

The caret (^) is called a hoister, and signifies that the part/role pair is significant in the expression outside of whatever expression it's initially in. If an expression in parentheses without any hoisted parts is part of a larger expression, the smaller expression is considered a proposition.

((E2:^whole interrobang:noder) dem_bones:god)
"E2, where interrobang is a noder, has a god named dem_bones."

(act-of-believing:whole interrobang:agent (you:whole something:reader))
"interrobang believes that you are a reader."

Equation of Parts:

If two parts have the same role, the parts are assumed to be the same thing. The same thing happens if two or more parts are hoisted within the same expression — in this case, the second part will be "something" (which is abbreviated to "m").

(interrobang:whole noder:whole)
"...interrobang, who is a noder..."

(E2:^whole m:^website)
"...E2, which is a website, ..."


Okay, but what about verbs? Since AllNoun has no real verbs, the act of doing something is expressed by assigning to the role "whole" a noun form of the verb, i.e. "act-of-[verb]." Normally when verbs are borrowed from English, they follow this pattern; "node" becomes act-of-noding:whole. To express agents of an act, the roles of "agent" (agent that performs the act), "patient" (agent that is affected by the act), and "instrument" (agent used to carry out the act) are used, but they're not required by all verbs.

(act-of-noding:whole interrobang:agent node:patient computer:instrument)
"In the act of noding, interrobang nodes, the node is noded, and interrobang uses the computer to node."
or "interrobang nodes a node with a computer."


That's right, there aren't any adjectives either. To describe another noun, a phrase like "thing-which-is-[adjective]" is the part of a "whole" role.

(node:whole thing-which-is-long:whole)
"There is a node which is a thing which is long."
or "There is a long node."


To express a preposition, the same idea with verbs and adjectives is followed with the structure "thing-something-is-[adverb]." However, these phrases are used as roles with the object of the preposition as the part of the pair.

(E2 computer:thing-something-is-on)
"E2 is a thing which is something that is on a computer."
or "E2 is on a computer."


There are a few notational shortcuts to cut down on the amount of punctuation and redundant expressions. First, if you expect that your reader will infer a particular role (such as "whole," which usually comes first), you can leave it out (as in the example above).

(AllNoun^:whole m^:node interrobang:noder you:reader) becomes (AllNoun^ m^:node interrobang:noder you:reader)

Period notation is useful if a statement has a place where many parentheses either open or close. A period may be used in place of closing all the already-open parentheses, or in the opposite role as opening all the parentheses that will later need to be closed.

(a:b (c:d e:f (g:h (i:j)))) becomes (a:b (c:d e:f (g:h (i:j.

((((a:b (c:d):e f:g) h:i) j:k) l:m) becomes .a:b (c:d):e f:g) h:i) j:k) l:m)


Numbers are a bit hard to wrap your mind around when it comes to AllNoun. First off, obviously, all numbers must be nouns. To say that E2 has 950,000 nodes, you'd say .nodes:whole 950,000:whole. (or, because of the ability to skip over "whole," .nodes 950,000.), which is translated as, "there exist nodes which are things of which there are 950,000." For unknown quantities, use "some" as the part (.nodes some., "there exist nodes of which there are some"), which implies that the quantity of the "whole" is more than one.

The role "count" is designed to take a number as part, and means "the units ticked off in counting the whole."

.nodes 950,000:count.
"There are nodes, and the role of the units ticked off in counting the nodes is played by things of which there are 950,000."
or "There are nodes, and 950,000 things are the units used to count the nodes."
or "There are 950,000 nodes."

The role "ordinal" also takes a number part, and means "the count of units that had been ticked off so far in counting a group which the whole belongs to when the whole was reached." This is zero-based counting, so the first unit is zero:ordinal, not one:ordinal.

.nodes 949,999:ordinal.
"There are nodes, and the count of units ticked off so far in counting the group of nodes are things of which there are 950,000."
or "There are nodes, and there are 950,000 units ticked off so far in counting the nodes."
or "There are 950,000 nodes so far."

Time and Tense:

The time role is a way of expressing tense in this verbless grammar.

.act-of-possessing E2 (nodes^ 1,000,000:count) future:time.
"In the future, E2 will possess nodes of which there are 1,000,000."
or "E2 will have 1,000,000 nodes at some time in the future."


To form an interrogative, use "what" as the part of whatever role you're asking about.

.act-of-possessing E2 nodes what:count.
"What is the count of the units ticked off in counting nodes which are possessed by E2?"
or "How many nodes does E2 have?"

Commands and Need:

Commands are basically the expression that, in some context, something is needed. To express need, "need" is used as the part of the "whole" role, and the need itself is described and asserted as another "whole" role.

.need (act-of-noding^ you.
"There is a need, which is that you do act-of-noding."

or "Node!"

"If" Statements:

In AllNoun, much like a in computer language, the "if" label is written first and then the conditional and resultant statements are declared. To start such a statement, "if" takes the part of role "whole," the conditional phrase takes the part of the role "condition," and the result phrase takes the part of the role "consequence."

.if (interrobang noder):condition (interrobang act-of-noding):consequence.
"If interrobang being a noder is true, interrobang does act-of-noding."
or "If interrobang is a noder, interrobang nodes."

The pattern .if:whole ():condition ():consequence. is followed often enough that the roles can be omitted, making the above example .if (interrobang noder) (interrobang act-of-noding.


To say that "X is more Z than Y" (or "less Z" or "equally Z"), the parts "as," "more" and "less" are used with the role "intensity."

.X (things-that-are-Z (more Y):intensity.
"X has a property of being Z which is more intense than Y's property of being Z."
or "X is more Z than Y."
or "X is Yer than Z."

.interrobang (things-that-are-powerful (less dem_bones):intensity.
"interrobang has a property of being powerful that is less intense than that of dem_bones."
or "interrobang is not as powerful as dem_bones."


There are four types of lists: "sequence" (to specify an order of items), "group" (to denote a group of items with no particular order), "and" (to denote a group of items which are all valid), and "or" (to denote a group of items, one of which is valid). Members of the lists are paired with the role "item."

.noder some (and^ interrobang:item you:item dannye:item dem_bones:item.
"There are noders which number some quantity, which consist of interrobang, you, dannye and dem_bones."
or "interrobang, you, dannye and dem_bones are noders."

.e2god some (or^ interrobang:item you:item dannye:item dem_bones:item.
"There are e2gods which number some quantity, which consist of at least one of the following: interrobang, you, dannye, dem_bones."
or "Either interrobang, you, dannye or dem_bones (and possibly more than one of us) is an e2god."

Sample Text:

"Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil. Amen."

.father us:child heaven:place you. need consecration (you m:^name):patient. need act-of-approaching (you m:^kingdom):agent. need act-of-accomplishing (you m:^will):task earth:place (as (heaven:place)):manner. need donation bread:patient today:time. need forgiveness (us m:^(sin some)):deed (as (us:agent (sin^ us:victim):deed)):manner. need act-of-leading nothing:context us:patient temptation:goal. need act-of-delivering us:patient evil:threat. need this.

Translated literally back into English grammar: "There is a father of us, whose place is heaven and who is you. There is a need which is consecration, and the patient of that consecration is something that is the name of you. There is a need which is the act of approaching, and the one to commit that act is your kingdom. There is a need which is the act of accomplishing, and the task of the accomplishment is your will, the place of it is earth, and the manner of it is parallel to as in heaven. There is a need which is donation, the object to be donated being bread, the time of which is today. There is a need which is forgiveness, the deed of the forgiveness is the sins of us, and the manner is parallel to the forgiveness by us of sins against us. In no context is there a need which is the act of leading of us, the goal of which is temptation. There is a need which is the act of delivering, the threat of which is evil. So let it be."

Want more?

I recommend noogenesis' paper about AllNoun, available at

Tom Breton's pages on AllNoun, now archived at

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