Alashian is an artificially constructed language, an experiment in language development and evolution set against an alternative historical timeline. In working on it, I sought to create something realistic, a language that could conceivably be seen as a modern-day sibling to the other Semitic languages found throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Alashian is the second such language I have worked on that is based so heavily on the real world, the first being Novegradian, a Slavic language spoken in northwestern Russia. Unlike Novegradian, however, Alashian is not based on any historically-attested Semitic language once spoken on Cyprus; no such language is known, at least none that was present long enough to be considered indigenous. Thus, I had much more leeway to develop the language along any course I wanted. Given the historical roles of the Northwest Semitic languages in the region, with Phoenician and Aramaic in particular once being dominant trade languages, I decided to make Alashian a Northwest Semitic language as well. It thus shares in common with these languages the various linguistic developments between Proto-Semitic and Proto-Northwest-Semitic, but thereafter the course of its development is much different.
I chose Cyprus as the homeland for Alashian due to its proximity to the Semitic world as well as its historical ties to the Hellenistic world. I wanted Alashian to be an experiment in language contact in a much more extensive way than Novegradian was. In the scenario surrounding Novegradian's supposed historical development, the language quickly rose to dominance in its territory, and thus the effects of extensive bilingualism and language contact became increasingly unidirectional, with Novegradian having far more impact on minority languages than vice versa. Alashian, on the other hand, is a minority language, coexisting with Greek, yet nevertheless having a long written tradition. Alashian has therefore been extensively influenced by Greek throughout its history and into the present day. In some ways I modelled the situation on Maltese, once an Arabic dialect that has had extensive contact with Italian for centuries, and consequently has a large stratum of Italian vocabulary and has evolved a means of incorporating European roots into its verbal system. Unlike Maltese, however, Greek and Alashian contact spans over two millennia, and thus has had a significantly deeper impact on the structure of the language.
The creation of Alashian required extensive research on both the Greek and Semitic sides. I am not a native speaker of Greek or any Semitic language, though I do have a fair experience with both Modern and Biblical Hebrew and to a lesser extent Arabic. Consequently I am much more dependent on seeing actual examples of the languages in use to understand what exactly "feels right", at least as far as syntax, word choice, and idioms are concerned. One source I found invaluable for understanding the historical development of the Semitic language was Edward Lipiński, whose Semitic Languages: Outline of a Comparative Grammar 1 gives a thorough historically-focused look at the Semitic family. From a more modern perspective, Routledge's The Semitic Languages 2 provides an excellent overview of the current state of the Semitic-speaking world. On the Greek side, I relied heavily on Routledge's Greek grammar 3 and a variety of papers describing aspects of the Cypriot Greek dialect. Another work that helped inspire the dual-natured Semitic/European conjugation system in Alashian was Hoberman & Aronoff's description of The Verbal Morphology of Maltese 4 .
1) Lipiński, E. Semitic Languages: Outline of a Comparative Grammar. Leuven, Belgium: Uitgeverij Peeters en Departement Oosterse Studies, 1997. ↑
2) Hetzron, R. ed. The Semitic Languages. New York: Routledge, 1997. ↑
3) Holton, D., P. Mackridge, & I. Philippaki-Warburton. Greek: An Essential Grammar of the Modern Language. New York: Routledge, 2004. ↑
4) Hoberman, R., & M. Aronoff. "The Verbal Morphology of Maltese: From Semitic to Romance". (2003): 61-78. ↑