Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Sino-Romance language (was Re: yet another romance conlang)

From:Tom Wier <artabanos@...>
Date:Saturday, January 15, 2000, 11:52
Padraic Brown wrote:

> Ah, but they weren't lost, and they weren't soldiers. The "Book of a > Myriad Things" of the Sian Empire records for the second century of > this age: "Antun wang Marsch-tac tuule Ackasch Taischanno-tac > (Ambassador of Marcus Antonius, king of the Great Western Country) > came from the Land of the Sunset Plains, offering ivory, rhinoceros > horns, and tortoise shell, and many strange and cunningly wrought > goods. In return were given silks, gold, spices and many precious > gifts." According to Publius Heros Odiosus the eastern Roman > historiographer, anyway.
Looking in _A History of Rome_ (by Cary and Scullard), I found a couple references of import: (1) "A Chinese Historian of the first century A.D. makes reference to a picture illustrating the siege of a town in Turkestan, in which were shown a palisade (as of the Roman type) and a scaling party with interlocked shields over their heads (a Roman 'testudo'). The attackers may have been old soldiers of Crassus who broke loose from their captivity in Parthia and took service under the Chinese Emperor." (p. 620) This closely parallels my earlier comments on the issue. (N.B. the Tarim Basin, more or less modern Xinjiang, was a tributary state of the Han Empire during that time) (2) "Direct commercial relations between the Roman Empire and China were hampered by the kings of Parthia, who succeeded for a time in preventing official contacts between the emperors of the East and of the West. But in 97 [A.D] a Chinese envoy named Kan-Ying collected information (though perhaps not at first hand) concerning a country Ta-tsin, in which we may probably recognize Syria. This or subsequent reports about this area especially noted the multitude of its cities, the milestones on its roads, the low price of gold, the honesty of its merchants, and the high profits with which their probity was rewarded." (p. 457) (3) Speaking of the development of transcontinental trade routes during the reign of the Antonine Emperors: "Finally, in 166 [A.D.], a deputation of Greek merchants who styled themselves 'ambassadors' from the emperor 'An-Tun' (M. Aurelius Antoninus) but were probably private merchants, visited the courtof the emperor Huan-ti at Loyang (on the Hwang-ho, Yellow River) and opened up negotiations for a regular overseas trade between the Mediterranean lands and China." (p. 457) So the answer appears to be: yes, there very well could have developed some Sino-Romance language, almost certainly through the settlement of the Roman soldiers in China and not through trade, since the traders were mostly Greeks anyways. Although it seems to me that this community would also have been of limited scope, and more likely than not would have been assimilated back into mainstream Han culture before long. If it survived, I surmise it would have undergone heavy borrowing of Han cultural and governmental terms, and the original Latin element might be as small as the original Albanian element in modern Albanian (~8%). Adstrate influence of Han Chinese could also contribute to atrophying of the inflectional system that was probably occurring, and maybe the addition of tones (an interesting idea to think about!) and fricative phonemes that did not exist in 1st century BC Latin (the time of Crassus). =========================================== Tom Wier <artabanos@...> AIM: Deuterotom ICQ: 4315704 <> "Cogito ergo sum, sed credo ergo ero." ===========================================