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Shahinai fictional language (Neil Gaiman)

From:Eldin Raigmore <eldin_raigmore@...>
Date:Sunday, August 13, 2006, 18:20
In "Keepsakes and Treasures: a Love Story", a short story copyrighted 1999
by Neil Gaiman, written for Al Sarrontonio's collection "999", the
following is said:

"'Legendary' is a good word to use for the Shahinai.  It means I'd never
heard of them and didn't know anyone who had, and once I started looking
for them even the people who had heard of them didn't believe in them.

"'After all, my good friend,' my pet Russian academic said, handing over
his report, 'you're talking about a race of people the sole evidence for
the existence of which is half a dozen lines in Herodotus, a poem in
the "Thousand and One Nights", and a speech in the "Manuscrit Trouvé à
Saragosse".  Not what we call reliable sources.'"


"I phoned MacLeod's room at the Savoy.  Told him to come and meet me on the

"His suit was, if anything, a louder check than the one he'd worn on
Tuesday.  He gave me a buff envelope filled with word-processed pages: a
sort of homemade Shahinai-English phrase book.  'Are you hungry?', 'You
must bathe now.', 'Open your mouth.'; anything Mr. Alice might need to

"I put the envelope in the pocket of my mac.

'Fancy a spot of sightseeing?' I asked, and Professor MacLeod said it was
always good to see a city with a native.

"'This work is a philological oddity and a linguistic delight,' said
MacLeod as we walked along the Embankment.  'The Shahinai speak a language
that has points in common with both the Aramaic and the Finno-Ugric family
of languages.  It's the language that Christ might have spoken if he'd
written the epistle to the primitive Estonians.  Very few loanwords, for
that matter.  I have a theory that they must have been forced to make quite
a few abrupt departures in their time.  Do you have my payment on you?'"


Does anyone have any knowledge of Shahinai, or of any conlang that might be
similar to Shahinai?  As if, perchance, St. Paul had preached the gospel to
the ancient Estonians?  Or any other conlang that is similar to both the
Aramaic language and the Finno-Ugric family?

If not, would anyone like to give it a try?  How would one go about that?