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Re: Old European-contact conlang

From:Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...>
Date:Wednesday, October 8, 2008, 19:42

On Wed, 8 Oct 2008 08:39:28 +0200, Benct Philip Jonsson wrote:

> On 2008-10-07 Jörg Rhiemeier wrote: > > Of course, we as conlangers may play with these hypotheses. > > My Albic conlang family is meant to represent a surviving > > offshot of the "peri-IE" language of my hypothesis. > > Which means you can borrow from IE when you feel > like that, and roll your own when you feel like that! :-)
Indeed. The lexicon of Old Albic contains a few IE cognates, a few items from Germanic without good IE etymologies, and many a priori words. And because the sound correspondences between IE and Albic, as I use them, are reminiscent of Grimm's Law (i.e., PIE *p corresponds to PA *ph, PIE *b to PA *p, and PIE *bh to PA *b; accordingly for dentals and velars), I even can use Germanic words with uncertain IE etymologies without having to decide whether they are IE or "Old European", as both options yield the same Albic form!
> I've never tried an a-posteriori histlang with such a > long timeframe, mostly because I'm deeply sceptical > about such 'deep' reconstructions -- essentially > secondary reconstructions from already reconstructed > languages -- and hence am concerned about realism.
Yes: reconstructions are always shaky, thus a reconstruction based on reconstructions is doubly shaky. Our model of PIE probably contains elements that never existed at the same time, and with internal reconstruction, this problem is aggravated. As a conlanger, however, you can use such a reconstruction, as long as it makes sense and looks like a plausible language, to develop a conlang from it.
> WRT Krahe he apparently was a highly gifted scholar > who ruined his reputation with what my professor > called "his Illyromania and that Old European > business". IMO they are probable -- much more > probable than Vennemann's -- but unprovable > hypotheses; choice meat for conlanging that is!
Right. Krahe produced, among other valuable contributions to IE historical linguistics, a widely used handbook of PIE, but later jeopardized his reputation with his speculations on "Old European". As I pointed out earlier in this thread, while his etymologies seem to make sense, the names do not show the expected sound correspondences (especially the vowels are very odd) and must therefore be borrowed from an unknown language rather than inherited from PIE (and Krahe's conclusion that PIE was spoken in western Europe is groundless). It is a similar story as with Greenberg, who won a great reputation with his brilliant typological work, and lost it again with his speculations on "Eurasiatic" and "Amerind". Yet, Vennemann's hypothesis only makes things worse. The semantics are problematic: you get names meaning "Wet River" and all that. There is not a shred of evidence that "Vasconic" was ever that widespread, and as I already said, the Old European hydronymy shows a gap in the precise area where Basque is historically attested. Vennemann also tends to re-etymologize names which are perfectly transparent, such as the place names _Ebersberg_ 'boar's hill' and _Bischofsheim_ 'bishop's homestead'. And perhaps, the whole "Old European hydronymy" business is really just coincidence and pure crap. But as long as we don't know, we as conlangers can play with such speculations with impunity. ... brought to you by the Weeping Elf


Daniel Prohaska <daniel@...>
Lars Finsen <lars.finsen@...>