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Re: Hellenic Romance? (was [CONLANG] Re: Babel text in Spanzhol)

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Thursday, April 8, 2004, 17:52
On Thursday, April 8, 2004, at 01:29 AM, Paul Bennett wrote:

> On Wed, 07 Apr 2004 19:51:56 -0400, ROGER MILLS <rfmilly@...> wrote: > >> Ray-- you seem to have assumed (unless I mis-read) that W.Europe would >> still >> have used Latin, but with Graecified sound changes....? My >> interpretation >> of Paul's question was: That the languages of present day W.Eur. would be >> descended from Greek rather than Latin
'fraid you have mis-read me. I was outlining a scenario whereby _Greek_ became the lingua franca of the western Empire as well as the Eastern part.
>> (though maybe some Latin-derived >> vernaculars might have survived in dark corners, like Dacia, Rhaetia).
No - by the time of Trajan's annexation of Dacia the language taken there would've been Greek. In fact, if you re-read my original I said Latin would've become just a central Italian vernacular which would eventually have died out just like Oscan and other native Italian vernaculars. In fact, talking about the script, I wrote: "Indeed, the Roman alphabet would've died with the Latin language." So I'm a bit puzzled why you mis-read the mail as tho I was implying Latin would've still been used. I didn't even allow you 'dark corners'. [snip]
> I think the point Ray was making (and a bloody good point it was, too, and > one which I admittedly had failed to consider) was "What happens in those > cases where Greek has phonemes not present in Latin?"
> Also, some of the sound change rules in Romance require changing phonemes > into slots already occupied by Greek phonemes (AIII), which produces a > whole extra set of challenges.
It does.
> A chain shift such as /g/ > /k/ > /x/ might > end up with an overabundance of /x/'s, or might end up with /x/ > /h/ or > something tacked onto the end of it.
I don't think that'd happen. Intervocalic plosives in Western Romance actually underwent sound changes which are remakably similiar to the 'soft mutation' of the Brittonic languages (but _not_ the soft mutation of the Gaelic langs). So intervocalic /g/ --> /G/, /k/ --> /g/ and possibly /x/ --> /k/, although /x/ --> /G/ has to be considered (those darn Greek aspirates!). ========================================================================= ========== On Thursday, April 8, 2004, at 06:06 AM, ROGER MILLS wrote: [snip]
> Well, OK, I see--- if Greek became the language of the Empire, then it > would be a L2 for the much more numerous Romans, at least for a generation > or two, during time which it would undergo some changes.
As I observed, our evidence is that the Roman upper classes were virtually bilingual (Greek & Latin) in the 1st cent BCE, so the change would be one generation at the most and I suspect that Latin habits would have little or no effect and certainly not Vulgar Latin habits. What would be important for the spread of Greek would be the legionaries & traders. I suspect there was already a variety of language with Latin being dominant; the shift would change with Greek becoming dominant. As I said in earlier mail, the existing Greek settlements in southern Gaul & Spain are likely to have played an important role in this process.
> But all that many?? Mispronunciation of upsilon, probably.
I addressed the question of /y/ in my earlier mail.
> But as I > understand it, the rule "aspirates > fricatives" is somewhat later, and > would simply be a rule common to our New Greek and all its descendants.
There is some evidence, tho admittedly controversial, that the change was happening as early as the 2nd cent. BCE. However, spellings found at Pompeii such as _Dafne_ (= Daphne) and _lasfe_ (= lasthe) are incontrovertible evidence that the change had already taken place by the middle of the 1st cent CE and the fact the Latin grammarians of the 2nd cent CE find it necessary to give rules when to spell with |f| and when with |ph| is further conclusive evidence. The Pompeian spellings are interesting also in showing that the change of /T/ --> /f/, well known in the colloquial English pronunciation of London and now much of southern England as well as thr Russian substitution of /f/ for Byzantine Greek /T/, is clearly attested. Would this have been a provincial peculiarity or would it have become more widespread? And what would've happened to the un-Latin /x/?
> (Latin presumably ceases to be a factor).
Yes. [snip]
> But there might be entirely different sound change rules-- cf. the modern > Grk. merger of all those vowels > /i/; perhaps different regions would > merge > then in different ways.
Oh yes, the vowel system of (colloquial) Greek was different from that of Latin, whether Classical or Vulgar. The modern Romance langs make it abundantly clear IMO that there would certainly be regional differences. They would not have all finished up like modern Greek.
> Given the simpler Grk. 4-case system, maybe the > daughter languages wouldn't mess it up they way they did the Latin system.
Ancient Greek did also have a vocative which was more distinctive than the so-called Latin vocative. Latin had only one more case, the ablative and even in the Classical language it existed as a distinct case _only in the singular_, the ablative & dative plurals being identical. In fact, in CL Latin _all_ neuter nouns, all 5th, 4th and 3rd decl. nouns, whatever their gender, had only three distinct forms and we know that in VL the same applied to 1st dec. nouns, i.e. the majority of Latin plurals had only three distinct case forms (which is simpler than ancient Greek - tho that language was moving in the same direction). As for the ablative singular, it didn't survive in the spoken language as the pronunciation of the accusative and ablative became identical. Inscriptions show confusion between the accusative and ablative at an early date. As far as ordinary Latin was concerned the case system was at least as simple as Greek, if not simpler in some respects. I can see no reason why the retention of separate Nom & Acc in early 'Gallic Hellenic' and its disappearance in Iberian & Italian 'Hellenic' should be any different from what it was in actual Romance *here*. The only question mark, as I see it, is whether a distinct genitive would've survived as it does in Modern Greek. One area where there would unquestionably be a difference are the verbs. The verb structure of ancient Greek differs quite a lot from Latin. ========================================================================= On Wednesday, April 7, 2004, at 08:04 PM, Benct Philip Jonsson wrote: [snip]
> Actually Italiote Greek did go through much the same > sound changes as the Romance dialects of southern Italy > and Sicily, including the rather odd change [ll] > [d`d`]!
But this was a greek speaking enclave which became isolated from the main Greek-speaking areas and thus became more and more affected by the speech habits of its southern Italian neighbors. We must imagine a scenario where the Greek speaking area was dominant and where, as in Romance *here*, there was contact with other similar Hellenic (= Romance *here*) speaking areas and the Church would be using Greek in its liturgy. (Another important difference between *here* and *there* - no Latin Church there. A common Greek Church at first. I don't think a Constantinople ~ Rome division could be entirely avoided, but some sort of unity might have been easier to maintain if there'd been a common language & liturgy.) Our own English language would also be very different *there* since all the very many borrowings from Old French would be from a Greek derived and not a Latin derived language; and the whole host of Latin based words which our language has adopted since the Renaissance would not exist - they'd all be Greek based. Ray. Ray =============================================== (home) (work) =============================================== "A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language." J.G. Hamann, 1760