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Re: Natlangs in Fantasy Worlds

From:Herman Miller <hmiller@...>
Date:Sunday, November 11, 2007, 4:10
Alex Bicksler wrote:
> I've always noticed that in fantasy worlds such as Tolkien's Middle Earth, English is often > used alongside conlangs. This seems like it would be highly unlikely. > > I recently had the idea of "devolving" English (or any other natlang) in a different direction > than OTL history. Imagine making English actually evolve alongside conlangs in a conworld > to the point that it is actually identical to modern English, but with a different history. > (Sorry if this isn't clear--i'll make any clarifications necessary) What do you think? Would > this be possible?
I imagine you'd run into all sorts of historical complications. I haven't tried anything like this, but one thing I did try is to create a writing system for English based on an alternative Latin writing system that uses Chinese and Japanese characters instead of the Latin alphabet. Matching Latin morphemes to Chinese characters doesn't always work out very well, and even when it does, the phonetic components of characters which make sense in Middle Chinese end up being purely arbitrary in Latin. Certainly it seems possible that a different set of historical changes could have produced any specific English word. Coming up with a set of changes that works with a whole group of English words (including some that might not have been historically English in this world) should also be possible. Borrowed words could be traced back to languages that are quite different from their sources in this world -- e.g. you could have similar sounding words like "honcho" and "poncho" derived from the same language (instead of two: Japanese and Spanish). But it sounds like a big project (even more so than the usual conlanging projects).