Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

OT: Proto-languages as national/international languages

From:Danny Wier <dawier@...>
Date:Tuesday, January 21, 2003, 12:02
Okay, this idea is probably way too unrealistic and impractical for the real
world. But I had this "vision" of the not-so-distant future, where many of
the world's large, multicultural/multiethnic nations, in the spirit of
democracy and diversity, adopt proto-languages (or proto-language
vocabularies using the grammar of extant languages).

There has been a Sanskrit movement in India (or at least North India) since
India became a state, if I'm not mistaken. I'm sure the EU (except maybe for
Greece) has those who want Latin as a common tongue.

So, I was thinking... China could use a reconstructed Old Chinese (or at
least a known Middle Chinese, like that of the Tang dynasty). Or better yet,
Proto-Sino-Tibetan, bringing Tibetans and Burmans into the fold. South India
could use a common Dravidian language, which would be better than Classical
Tamil (now that Telugu, not Tamil, is the leading Dravidian language). Iran,
Afghanistan, parts of Pakistan (Baluchistan in particular), Tajikistan, and
the Kurdish communities of Iraq and Turkey could use Proto-Iranian. Grabar,
or Classical Armenian, would unite the scattered Armenian communities in
Istanbul to Jerusalem with the Republic of Armenia. And imagine what a
Proto-Austronesian could do -- bring together Malaysia, Indonesia,
Madagascar, Philippines and various islands of the Pacific from New Zealand
to Hawaii.

And I can't wait to see a worthy reconstruction of Proto-Amerind. Even
though Na-Dene and Eskimo-Aleut won't be involved. A politically sensitive
issue of course would be a common North Caucasian unity, linking Chechnya
and Daghestan (in Russia) and Abkhazia (in Georgia); that might create a
difficulty since 1) North Caucasian may be two or three families, not one,
and 2) North Caucasians may be Muslim or Christian, and religion plays a
major part in cultural identity for these Republics.

The United States, very certainly the most linguistically diverse nation on
the planet, could be served with a Proto-World, but of course that may never
be discovered; it's not as easy as charting the progress of the species of
Earth, since languages don't leave fossils. Nostratic would be easier, but
that would leave out Chinese, Tagalog and Vietnamese while including Arabic,
Greek, Hungarian and probably Korean and Japanese. Can't always get what you
want, as the Stones song goes....

Europe? Latin would be the easiest, but Proto-Indo-European would cover the
whole EU except the Basque Country, but what if Finland, Hungary and/or
Estonia joins....

This would go completely against the IAL movement, since the intent is not
to produce a modern, simplified common language, and this would likely be
aimed much more towards the "educated" rather than the masses. Unless, you
take the vocabulary of a proto-language and build a simple, regular and
practical IAL from that. It's been tried with I-E. I'd love to see an
Afro-Asiatic IAL; that would link Hausa in Nigeria and Dahalo in Tanzania
with Arabic and Neo-Assyrian in Iraq -- and in the dimension of time,
ancient Egyptian.

Just some crazy thoughts at 6:00 AM from an insomniac who's been fighting
the flu and other stuff for a couple weeks now, so there's a good chance for
delirium.... ~Danny~


Joe <joe@...>