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Bahasa Vijaya (was Re: Workshops Review #4)

From:Eamon Graham <robertg@...>
Date:Sunday, January 12, 2003, 13:21
Roger Mills wrote:

> Do you follow Conculture and the recent expansion of Ill Bethisad? I seem > by default to have charge of the Indonesian area, and one of my assumptions > is that the Chinese did NOT take that decision. They didn't expand, in this > view, but they kept control and influence, and kept the round-eye barbarians > away. Srivijaya and Majapahit still survive, the Dutch never got control of > Indonesia etc. etc. Look like I need to see what Eamon is up to with > Bahasa Vijaya.......
Well, here's a few comments about my project. First, it's important to point out that Bahasa Vijaya is a working name - it seems to be sticking with me, but I still haven't made any final choice (I wish Sinhala wasn't already a real language, I love the way it sounds.... Bahasa Sinhala...) Secondly, the language came first. The conculture and conhistory arose as adjuncts to the project. Although the conculture is contributing to some of my artistic uses I have planned for BV, the conhistory is arising merely as a way to explain everything. The thing is this: I know what I want my language to be, so in my imagination I'm just manipulating history in a way to make it possible. For the sake of my own convenience, I'll rehash what I've already written on East Asian Conlangs: <begin slightly re-worked quote> Keep in mind the following: 1) I'm definately not a professional historian 2) This represents _what I want_ and not necessarily what is the most likely outcome of history (or what anyone would want history to have been); my con-history will have to bend, stretch and downright butcher certain historical facts in order to make it work, but I'm perfectly willing to accept this. Having given the disclaimer, here's my idea. For a couple years now I had been interested in the Indian influence in Malaysia and Indonesia (including Singapore). The number of Indian loans in Malaysian/Indonesian always gave me wonderful ideas for a vague "simplified Indian" mixed language. The wonderful Indian mixture on Bali and the Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms of Majapahit and Sri Vijaya gave some historical context for the idea. (If you haven't guessed, I love mixtures and eclecticism) Following what Victor had said earlier about Sri Vijaya, and needing to take a break from Bauhinese, I decided to go ahead and do it. The linguistic idea is this: I want to create an Indian-Malay mixed language with a Chinese adstrate and traces of Arabic, Persian, Tamil, etc. For design ideas, I've dusted off all my notes and information about the Portuguese Malay creoles and Phillipine Creole Spanish for ideas about what should be Austronesian and what should be Indian. So far, the design is like this: 1) Phonology: Malay 2) Grammar: mostly Malay 3) Vocabulary: approximately 77% Indian, 16% Malay/Java/Bali, 5% Chinese (mostly southern Chinese languages, Hokkien, etc.) and traces of Arabic, Persian, Tamil - Arabic and Persian especially in the realms of trade. Because I've always been fascinated with Singapore, I decided late in the plan to set my language on a terribly-alternative reality Singapore. Now for the con-history: My idea presupposes that an Indian kingdom was established on Singapore, commanding a view of the trade between Arabia and India to the west and China, Indonesia and the Philippines to the East. Being a stopping point for such trade, and because of monsoon season you might have to stay for several months, the Indian ruling and middle class and the Malay natives were joined by many Chinese, Arabs, Persians, some Philippinos perhaps and some Thai (seeing as how there are 30,000 Thais on real Singapore and damn it I just love Thailand). This is all bound up in a Buddhist state, though religion also sees some admixtures from Hinduism, Jainism, native Malaysian tradition, etc. By some miracle, *my* Singapore managed to avoid the various shifting political winds and, like Bali, did not convert to Islam (perhaps remianed Buddhist with the assistance of Chinese and Thai families?) and remained a basically Indian city-state - probably as a vassal to Sri Vijaya or some other state. So there it is. I know it needs a lot of refining and I have quite a bit of history to read, but that's what I'm going for, and I shall butcher, bend and twist as need be. <end re-worked quote> So that's the basic idea. It's evolving the more I work on it. Again, it doesn't fit in at all with real history, and probably very poorly with other alternative histories, but as I said earlier, to me the point is the language and the con-history is mainly to provide a historical context that would allow such a thing. Roger, I just read your essay on South East Asia in IB - any comments on my own humble attempt at alternative history? Oh, now would also be a good time to post a question about Singapore: Have elephants ever existed in Singapore except in the zoological gardens? I wanted to put a Thai-style elephant on the flag, but didn't know if they've ever been there. Lions are supposed to be non-native to Singapore as well, but that didn't stop them from naming it "Lion City." What the prince thought was a lion is supposed to really have been a tiger. Cheers, Eamon