Languages and Linguistics
There is perhaps nothing else that has had as great an impact on the development of humankind as language. While many animal species possess communication, human speech has developed an effectively infinite productivity. This means that there is no concept that any given language is incapable of conveying, as each language is capable of freely expanding its vocabulary when needed. Similarly, human speech is no longer restricted to the immediate environment—we can tell others with great precision about things that happened long ago, far away, or even things that are entirely imaginary.
Nevertheless, although there are some universal traits of language, there is a great diversity in the way different languages construct the same ideas. Linguistics goes far beyond the formulation of rigid grammatical rules; it is the study of language as a continually-evolving medium.
The evolution of language has long fascinated me. The process is simultaneously very chaotic and random, yet governed by and large by well-understood patterns and tendencies. Over the span of a thousand years, a language can change to the point of being unrecognizable.
This section includes a few articles I've written on various topics in historical linguistics, as well as a number of experiments in constructed languages. These constructed languages are attempts to realistically derive new modern-day languages from real ancient languages using known linguistic principles. While fanciful to some extent, they also entail a great deal of research into the language family in question, neighboring languages, and the history of the region.
The Novegradian Language
Novegradian (новеградескей лизике novegrádeskei lizíke) is a fictional language ("conlang"), designed to be as realistic as possible. It is a Slavic language, derived from the reconstructed language known as Proto-Slavic, the ancestor of all of the other Slavic languages, including Russian, Polish, Serbian, and Bulgarian. It was inspired by and is partially based on the fragmentary documents surviving from the 11th–15th centuries containing what is now known as the Old Novgorodian Dialect, a highly divergent Slavic vernacular.
- Grammar of the Novegradian Language — the main index page to the online version of the grammar
- — a direct link to the current version of the grammar, a 3MB pdf e-book
- Novegradian Lexicon — a searchable online dictionary of Novegradian, including declension charts and word etymologies
- The Republic of Novegrad — the homepage of the government of the fictional Republic of Novegrad, where Novegradian is spoken (note: this page is very old and unlikely to be updated; it is left for historical purposes)
- Old Novgorod dialect (Wikipedia) — for some background on the real language spoken in medieval Novgorod
- Birchbark Letter Photographs (University of Chicago) — photographs of some of the real birchbark letters written in the Old Novgorodian dialect, as well as some other artifacts from the region
The Alashian Language
Alashian (Αλλασούν Ναλασκιώ Hallasūn Nalaskyā) is a fictional language ("conlang") in the Semitic language family, closely related to such languages as Arabic and Hebrew. It is supposed to be spoken on part of the island of Cyprus, where over the centuries it has been significantly influenced by (in turn) Aramaic, Greek, Arabic, and Turkish.
- Grammar of the Alashian Language — the main index page to the online version of the grammar
- — a direct link to the current version of the grammar, a 4MB pdf e-book
- Alashian Lexicon — a searchable online dictionary of Alashian, including listings by root and word etymologies
The Očets Language
Očets (һочец сеие hočets seie) is a fictional language ("conlang") related to the Yeniseian language family, a nearly-extinct group of languages spoken in central Siberia that have recently gained some widespread attention in the linguistics community as possibly being the first demonstrated link between Old and New World languages, with strong evidence of a relationship with the Tlingit-Eyak-Athabaskan (or Na-Dené) family of western North America. Očets itself is intended to be a cousin of the Yeniseian languages, sharing a common ancestor but many centuries removed.
Očets exists in the same alternative timeline as Novegradian, and has been undergone extensive influence from the Novegradian language, as well as a number of Uralic, Turkic, and Iranian languages spoken or once spoken in the Ob River valley. It is an exercise in language contact and to some extent language death as well as general historical linguistics.
At present Očets is still undergoing development, and information will be added as it becomes available.
- Grammar of the Očets Language — the main index page to the online version of the grammar
- Yeniseian Languages (Wikipedia) — for some background on the Yeniseian family
The Tunisian Language
Tunisian (ls tenèsiais) is a fictional language ("conlang") in the Romance language family, closely related to such languages as French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Romanian. It attempts to imagine what an African Romance language, descended from the Latin spoken in the African provinces of the Roman Empire, might have looked like. In actuality we have only very scarce examples of African Latin, yet tantalizingly there exist a number of references to the existence of a Romance language in North Africa as late as the 12th century.
At present Tunisian is still undergoing development, and information will be added as it becomes available.
- Grammar of the Tunisian Language — the main index page to the online version of th egrammar
This section contains various articles and other information related to real-world linguistics written by myself. For the most part my primary interests lie in the Slavic and Semitic languages, but I may at times write about other groups as well.