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Re: imagining language(s)

From:Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Sunday, May 7, 2000, 5:50
At 1:18 pm -0400 6/5/00, Jonathan Chang wrote:
>In response to what Ray Brown wrote: > >>>running with pclark's idea: >>> imagine if = >>> 1. - the militantly democratic Greeks defeated the imperialistic >>>Romans >> >>Umm - you'd first have to change Greek history to get your militantly >>democratic Greeks. >> > that is what I was stating - imagine an ancient militantly Greek >democracy. > (I was a little ambigous I guess) =)
Right - that, I guess, means the Athenians came to their senses before sending out the disastrous Syracusan Expedition and speedily won the Peloponnesian War. After that, they pulled the Greeks together under the banner of democracy but also, learning from the defeated Spartans, built up a standing army to defend the new Hellenic Democratic Federation. This, of course, would exclude the rise of Macedon to unite the Greeks in a rather different way; indeed, the Greeks would, one assumes, have eventually brought Macedon into the Federation - thus, no Philip of Macedon & no Alexander the Great. But the question then remains - What happens to the Persian Empire? The militantly Greek Hellenic Democratic Federation would, I assume, aim to bring all Greeks into the Federation. The Greeks of southern Italy and other colonies like Massilia (Marseilles) would come into the Federation either willingly or with 'persuasion'. The Federation would certainly feel it their duty to liberate the Greeks of Asia Minor from the Persians, thus inevitably there'd be war with the Persian Empire. We know that the Empire was much weakened at this period so the Greeks of Asia Minor would be liberated & Persian control in the whole of Asia Minor would, one imagines, have collapsed. Would the Federation have left it at that or gone on into Persia to smash the Empire at its heart?
> >>Now if the Carthaginians had won the 'Punic Wars', things would have _very_ >>different. Latin would have developed no literary form and fallen into >>oblivion together with the Roman alphabet. <SNIP> Would the Phoenicians/ >>Carthaginians have had the same high regard for the Greeks as the Romans >did? >I think it less likely. > > And what if the hearts, minds & military might of Rome had backed Greece >(in another words, after Greece took over Rome, the Romans became "equal >partners" in spreading a Greco-Roman democracy)?
I can't see any way this would happen. When the Romans began their life-and-death struggles with the Carthaginians, they were merely the masters of Italy & still had a Republican government. It was not till they started defeating the Carthaginians that they became an imperial power, by which time they'd probably see the Hellenic Federation as a threat also. But if, as I imagined above, the Hellenic Federation included the Greeks of southern Italy, then Rome would not have become masters of Italy. The small, fledging republic of Rome would've been brought into the Federation & become hellenized; maybe, as a republic, it would join willingly as protection against the Etruscans to the north, whom the Federation would defeat & also hellenize. Thus, Latin never be developed as literary language. The struggle for supremacy in the Med would then be between the Hellenic Federation and the Carthaginians. If the Federation defeated the Carthaginians, then we'd get the Greek language & alphabet spread around the Mediterranean & the Levant. We'd have no Romance languages - but we might have separate languages descended from ancient (Athenian) Greek. Whether the Federation could maintain its democratic polity after becoming the imperial power in the Med, is IMO questionable. Certainly the Roman republic constitution proved woefully inadequate and degenerated into civil war before the system of Emperors with powerful centralized government emerged. But that's another matter. Such a Hellenic Federation, it would seem to me, would be less likely to be interested in northern Gaul or Britain than the Romans were, so Gallic could've survived in northern Gaul (tho I think the English model would suggest that it eventually the Frankish German dialect would've established itself there). <ok, I am making this as
>though Greece was like some weird proto-USA> ;)
> Just imagining...
Why not? That's exactly what Andrew did as he created Brithenig - and many others have done & do the same. It's one way of creating a scenario for a conlang. What language(s), e.g., would be spoken in modern Spain if it had once been part of the Hellenic Democratic Federation? Oh yes, and in this world, there'd have been no Brithenig either ;) Ray. ========================================= A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language. [J.G. Hamann 1760] =========================================