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Languages in fiction: The Triune Monarchy

From:Thomas Leigh <thomas@...>
Date:Saturday, February 22, 2003, 3:53

I re-read Avram Davidson's "The Enquiries of Doctor Eszterhazy" this
week; as those familiar with the work know, the tales take place in the
early 20th century in the fictional nation (which has become one of my
all-time favorites!) of the Triune Monarchy of

References are occasionally made to the various languages spoken in the
Triune Monarchy, and I was thinking about what sort of languages these
were. The following passage appears in the first story, "Polly Charms,
the Sleeping Woman":

"Where the posters would have been were bills in Gothic, Avar,
Glagolitic (Slovatchko), Romanou, and even — despite the old proverb,
'There are a hundred ways of wasting paint, and the first way is to
paint a sign in Vlox' — Vlox. The percentage of literacy among the
Vloxfolk may not have been high, but someone was taking no chances."

Gothic: would this be an East Germanic language descended from Wulfila's

Avar: would this be the North Caucasian language we know as Avar? Or
could it refer to something else? Were there, historically, any other
people also referred to by the name Avar, whose language (or one related
to it) this could mean?

Glagolitic, Slovatchko: Presumably a Slavic language, still written in
the Glagolitic alphabet? What branch of Slavic, though?

Romanou: Some variety of Balkan Romance? Romania also exists in this
world — Romania is the Triune Monarchy's eastern neighbor — so it's not
another name for Romanian. A sister language? Or, given that modern
Greek used to be known as R(h)omaic, could it be something related to Greek?

Vlox: Romany/Gypsy? (Given the contempt in which it was obviously held.)

Also, there are two countries in this world which do/did not exist in
ours: a nation on the Black Sea coast called Ruritania (capital:
Strelsau), and a tiny nation sandwiched between the Triune Monarchy,
Serbia, and Bulgaria called Graustark (capital: Grauheim). What
languages would be spoken there?

Any ideas, conjectures, etc. will be heartily entertained. :)

Regards to all,



Danny Wier <dawier@...>
John Cowan <cowan@...>