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New project of mine

From:Pavel Iosad <pavel_iosad@...>
Date:Friday, May 10, 2002, 11:16

Well, exams are coming, so to ease it a bit, I announce a new project of
mine. It has dawned on me (yes, only now!) that con-worlding is not
exactly my cup of tea. So here's a 'fictional diachronic language',
though I haven't thought of the name yet! But still, I suspect it'll
fall into the category of 'North Slavonic', though it's going to be
quite different from the Germanic-influenced ones (hiya Jan and James!

In the con-history, which I am yet to shape (I guess it'll never catch
up with Dirk's, but I'll try anyway), a group of Slavonic tribes from
Pomerania settles on the east coast of the Baltic, around what is now
north-west Lithuania and south-west Latvia. There they encounter a
technologically less advanced group of speakers of a Finno-Baltic
language. They quickly establish themselves as the rulers, but get
quickly asimilated, and so does the language, which in effect becomes a
Slavonic language on a Finno-Baltic substrate.

The principality (I am yet to think out the name and things, you know)
continues until it is conquered by Mindaugas of Lithuania, and it is
subjugated by Lithuania and then Poland for some three centuries. At
that time the language experiences a heavy Lithuanian influence, mainly
in the lexicon, of course. Following the Livonian war between Moscow and
the Livonian Order, a revolt shakes the region free of Lithuanian rule,
and it continues as a small independent community to these days. I would
like to modle first the archaic states and progress to the modern
language then.

Characteristic features I have worked out already:
In phonology, the Finnic substrate did not allow the development of the
palatalization correlation. However, the first palatalization of velars
did take place whie the Slavonic population was still distinct. However,
the Finns cannot cope with [tS] and [dZ], which they do substitute for
[t_j] and [d_j]. Slavic *tj and *dj also yield these.
One important thing is the failure to lose diphthongs (so no second
palatalization of velars, alas - cf. Russian 'cena' and unnamed lanuage
Slavic stressed vowels regularly yield long vowels, while stress is
naturally fixed on the first syllable. Unstressed long vowels only occur
in old Finnic words and Lithuanian loans.
No loss of the reduced vowels (now that's gonna be cool). In fact, the
reduced vowels yielded [o] and [e], while the full *o and *e yeld
respectively [uo] and [ie].
Nasals are consistently realised as [uon]/[uom]/[uoN] and
The declination and conjugation paradigms are evened out, save for the
fact that if the inflexion contains back vowels, it may be subject to
changes depending on the nearest vowel fo the root (the relics of vowel
The Finnic case postpositions are moved to the front and act in the same
role as the Slavic prepositions, with specialization in meaning.

That's it for now. I'm off to think more of the con-history, and start
writing the Babel text in the pre-Lithuanian language.

I'll keep you posted, if you're interested (but then, I'll keep posting

Pavel Iosad     

'I am a philologist, and thus a misunderstood man'
                 --JRR Tolkien, _The Notion Club Papers_


Jan van Steenbergen <ijzeren_jan@...>