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Re: History of constructed languages

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Saturday, April 9, 2005, 6:11
On Friday, April 8, 2005, at 03:53 , BP Jonsson wrote:

> Citerar Sally Caves <scaves@...>: > >> ----- Original Message ----- >> From: "Benct Philip Jonsson" <bpj@...>
>>>> The note is 167, and the "jargon" is: Jartaman exarx 'anapissonnai >>>> satra, >>>> uttered by a certain Pseudartabas, whose name seems to hint at >>>> something >>>> false.
Well, yes - IIRC the guy is supposed to be a mock Persian, so the name fits :)
>>>> What's the rest of it mean? >>>> Not up on me ancient Greek, and too lazy to transcribe the characters >>>> for >>>> the Internet on-line dictionaries.
If you had, you should have found a feminine noun _artabe:_ (αρτάβη), which was, as far as the Greeks were concerned, a Persian measurement of capacity (somewhere about 30 litres or so).
>>>> Sally >>>> >>>> >>> >>> The name Artabas sure looks Persian too; _artavaan_ would >>> be "righteous" in Old Persian. >> >> So, "falsely righteous!"
No, no - see above. Even if Aristophanes actually knew any Old Persian, which is doubtful, practically none of his audience would know it. Aristophanes did want to be funny; the name would have the same sort of effect as if, say, a French writer had some mock cowboy character called faux-gallon (or faux-bushel :)
>> Do you have a sense that the Persian is gibberish?
To the ancient Greeks, not only was Old Persian gibberish per_se, so were all non-Greek langs - hence they termed all non-Greek speakers _barbaroi_ (those who day 'bar-bar' whenever they speak). But in 5th century Athens, the audience had good reasons to dislike the Persians (they had twice tried to conquer them and, indeed, on the second attempt had actually destroyed Athens itself). But if Pseudartabas' words had been Old persian or even nearly similar to Old Persian, I cannot help thinking that it would have been noticed in the past two & a half thousand years. I do not see any good reason to disagree with the footnote in the English version at Perseus "Jargon, no doubt meaningless in all languages."
>> Sally >> > > The endings are real, but I can make no sense of the stems, > nor of the whole. The verb seems to come in the middle, > ('anapissonnai) while both Greek and OP were verb-final...
Only a tendency in Ancient Greek - plenty of variation in practice - but is Aristophanes really going to be bothered about syntax in a bit of gibberish in a comic play!
> It could well be that it is a gibberishification (word?) of > one or more real OP utterances in the original.
Extremely unlikely IMHO. What would have been the point in a _comedy_ of having real Old Persian, or even gibberishifying actual Old Persian, when (almost) none of the audience knew the language? Much better to have pure gibberish mockery of Persian! After all, the play was burlesque. I've heard modern commedians, e.g. utter strings of French sounding syllables which are utterly meaningless - it makes better comedy than just straight French or even somewhat pathetic 'Franglais'. (No offense meant towards any of our francophone members - I'm sure francophone comedians make similar fun of RP English or even 'Merkan English :) Ray =============================================== =============================================== Anything is possible in the fabulous Celtic twilight, which is not so much a twilight of the gods as of the reason." [JRRT, "English and Welsh" ]