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How do diacronic conlangers work?

From:Benct Philip Jonsson <conlang@...>
Date:Tuesday, May 8, 2007, 10:15
- I have been thinking lately about how 'historical
   conlangers' go about their work, and am thinking of
   eventually turning the thoughts into some kind of essay. I
   would appreciate what others who are into that line of
   conlanging think of what I've come up with so far.

- People usually have one language or dialect which was
   there first in real time, and which often remains central
   to the whole edifice, from which various imaginary
   ancestors, daughters and siblings (what I call "stages" or
   "nodes") radiate.

   - It is notably often *not* the protolanguage (the highest
     node in the linguistic family tree) which was there
     first in real time, but some later form which gets
     labeled "classical" or some variety thereof.

- I make a terminological distinction between 'versions' in
   real time and 'stages' in imaginary time meant to provide
   orientation when exploring the development through real
   time of the imaginary history of imaginary languages,
   where one has to deal with two dimensions of time:

   - Effectively any piece of linguistic creation by an
     historical conlanger has to be placed on a coordinatde
     system where one axis is the conlanger's lifetime and
     the other axis the history of the imaginary universe
     where the stages are spoken.

   - It is not necessarily or usually the case that what I
     call a later version of one language represents a break
     or fresh start relative to any or all earlier versions.
     A new version need not be a rewrite, but probably a
     conscious revision as opposed to a tweak or a bug fix.
     :-) Changes and differences may be gradual, cumulative,
     abrupt or whatever.

   - "Stages" may go through various "versions" or
     "revisions", often without all the stages being
     revised at the same time, although a revision in some
     place in the family tree -- especially a major one --
     may of course have larger or smaller repercussions
     throughout the tree.

     - Some stages are revised more often and/or more
       extensively than others.

     - The "central" stage tends to undergo less revision
       than other stages.

     - Changes to the "central" stage are likely to have more
       and heavier repercussions on other stages.

     - The protolanguage, being primary in imagined time but
       secondary in real time actually tends to get revised
       more, usually with a view to make it more plausible as
       a common ancestor of sibling nodes lower in the tree.

-    Unlike real language history the protolanguage is a
          secondary product made to fit its daughters.

   - Should I use the term "node", as on an imaginary family
     tree, throughout instead of "stage". What do native
     English speakers think of these terms (stage, node,
     version) as I use them?

Thanks in advance for your comments!

/BP 8^)
   B.Philip Jonsson (delete X)
"Truth, Sir, is a cow which will give [skeptics] no more milk,
and so they are gone to milk the bull."
                                     -- Sam. Johnson (no rel. ;)


Joseph Fatula <joefatula@...>
Roger Mills <rfmilly@...>