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YACL: Thylean (alternate-history)

From:Oskar Gudlaugsson <hr_oskar@...>
Date:Monday, November 6, 2000, 2:38
Here I come delurking, only to prudently blather on about my own new
projects :) Anyway, hope some of you will like it...

Genre: alternate Earth
Family: Romance
Time: 500 AD
Location: present day Iceland
  Rome 44 BC; following the assassination of Caesar, the republican faction
led by Brutus realizes the futility of its cause and decides to abandon
their homeland to found a new Roman republic, inspired by the popular myth
of Aenas' exodus from Troy (to subsequently found Rome, supposedly). Brutus
gathers his supporters, Cicero among them, and organizes a great expedition
westwards. He intends to take his followers to Britannia in the north.
After a long voyage, including many stops in Spain to gather support and
more settlers (mostly, of course, among the poor and desperate), they reach
Britannia. There they find themselves constrained and under attack by the
numerous Gallic barbarians inhabiting the island. Brutus then takes his
expedition north along the British coast, but nowhere does he find a
suitable place for the new republic. In the end they make landfall in
southern Scotland, close to the ferocious Picts. During the few years that
they stay there, Brutus sends the captains out to explore the region,
looking for more vacant land. Remembering Pliny's account of Thyle, a land
in the far north, Brutus sends three ships to the north. Only one of them
return with reports of a large island completely void of people, though
somewhat frigid, indeed the Thyle that Pliny spoke of. The battered, but
well seasoned, remaining settlers make out for Thyle, abandoning their
Scottish settlement. Many of the ships are lost on the way, but eventually
a total of roughly 20000 people arrive to Thyle/Iceland, in 35 BC. After a
hard time adapting their society to the new habitat, the Thyleans managed
to prosper and spread around the island. In a few generations they become
much more technologically backwards, as they don't have the materials, the
slaves, or the need, for Roman technology. But they remain advanced
culturally and develop a great tradition for poetry and verbal arts. In 500
AD, the Thylean nation numbers 100000 people, having also been reinforced a
bit by expeditions to Caledonia/Scotland to take slaves. Thylean-speakers
have also settled the Faroe islands, where they number 2000. But that
colony is new and has not developed a significantly different dialect.

(quite silly actually, I just needed some excuse for Classical Latin
speakers settling somewhere remote, like in Iceland; consider though the
extraordinary migrations of Germanic tribes 600 years later, covering a
similar difference with a similar amount of people (though of course that
was over land, not sea))

Anyway, here are the details:


- Vowels

/i/       /u/
 /e/    /O/

/ei/ /ai/ /Ou/ /au/

Changes CL > Th(generally a shift of quantity to quality):

/i:/ > /i/
/e:/ > /ei/, sometimes /i/ (e.g. in endings)
/i e/ > /e/
/a:/ > /æ/
/a/ > /a/
/u:/ > /u/
/o:/ > /Ou/, sometimes /u/ (e.g. in endings)
/u o/ > /O/
/ai oi/ > /ai/
/au/ > /au/

Atonic vowels also generally disappear, as in VL

- Consonants

/p t k/
/B D G/
/l m n N r/
/s S f/
/w j/

Note the phonemic status of /N/ (through CL [Nn] in 'gn')


/n/ is [N] before velars /k G/
/G/ is [j] before front vowels /i e/
/k/ is [hj] (unvoiced semivowel) before /i e/
/s/ intervocalic or word final is voiced [z]
/B/ before /s/ is [p], as in 'absum' [apsum]

Changes CL > Th:

/b d g/ > /B D G/ fricativization
/pp tt kk/ > /f T x/ (were affricates /pf tT kx/ in mid-stage)
/bb dd gg/ > /B D G/ (first affricates /bB dD gG/, then merged with /B D G/)
/ll rr nn/ > /Dl Dr Dn/, was [dl, dr, dn] in mid-stage, and remains so in
             some dialects
/pt/ > [ft]
/ct/ > [xt]
/ps/ > [fs]
/x/ > [xs]
/gn/ > /N/
/mn/ > /Bn/ (with atonic vowel deletion, 'nomine' becomes [nOBne]
/v/ + /o: u:/ (stressed syll. only) > 0 (e.g. 'vos' is [Ouz])
/j/ + /e:/ (stressed syll. only) > 0
/sk/ + front vowels > /S/ (as in VL)
/gl/ > /l/ (was first /Gl/)

(will do for now...)


The major change I have in mind is the merging of the genitive, dative, and
ablative into one case (don't know what to call it). Dative wasn't really
that much used in CL, compared to the ablative, so they'd be obvious
targets for merging (especially because they very often were the same in
form); genitive fits into it because it's extremely little, if at all, used
after prepositions and verbs, while its primary function, marking of
ownership or relation, could also be covered by dative in CL (and in
classical grammar in general), e.g. 'filius mihi est' = 'the boys is to me'
= 'the boy's mine'.

A concern of mine is that I'm not entirely sure when the final m dropped
out in Latin. I thought I saw 1st century AD somewhere, but I could be
wrong. I'm keeping it in Thylean, for now, until I find out if Brutus & co.
would actually have pronounced it or not.

Thylean declensions have had their doze of analogy. The 2nd decl. nom.
sing. -os was rejected in favor of the vocative -e, because of the former's
similarity to the established plural endings. This further led to acc.
sing. -om becoming -em, by analogy. 3rd decl. pl. dat/abl -ibus becomes -
ios, not -ebos, through the elimination of the b, which was unconventional
and outnumbered in the noun declension system.

A sketch (using "Thylean spelling", reflecting vowel changes)

                singular                plural
1st decl.

nom             serva                   servae
acc             servam                  servas
g/d/a           servae                  servis

2nd decl.

nom             serve                   servi
acc             servem                  servus
g/d/a           servu                   servis

3rd decl.

nom             rex                     regis
acc             regem                   regis
g/d/a           rege                    regios

4th decl. merges with 2nd.
5th decl. merges with 3rd.


I'm just getting started, but here is an outline:

The CL suffix '-que' lives a good life in Thylean and is further expanded.
It generally reinforces words here and there. An example of this is a
change to the pronominal system:

CL 'nos':

nom    nousque
acc    nous
g/d/a  noubis

CL 'vos':

nom    ousque
acc    ous
g/d/a  oubis

Where the -que suffix is used to add a nom-acc distinction which was not
present (as Spanish did by having nominative 'nos' > 'nosotros')

Sample semantic shifts:

CL iam 'already' > Th iam 'now'
CL nihil 'nothing' > Th nil 'not'
                        nilquam 'never'
                        nilque 'none, nothing'
CL ipse 'him/her/itself' > Th epse 'the' (the Thylean article, though not
                           used nearly as much as in other Romance langs)

I think this is by now enough of an introduction. As always, I'd love
comments; especially if any of you Latin-buffs out there could tell me
when -m fell out of declensions, and thus if I should retain it in Thylean
or not :)