Draft Linguistics Families

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jhcampbell
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Draft Linguistics Families

Post by jhcampbell »

I've been a lurker in the conlang space for a while and now taking my Xmas vacation to dip into actually creating something.

Here is the map of the world that I've worked on/generated so far with the paths for my proto-languages to spread. This considers terrain/natural boundaries, pre-industrial technology, and without political power dynamics. Green is forest/jungle in tropical areas, brown = mountains, yellow = flat plains (think Central Asia steppes --- because Mongols.), and red = desert.

The circles would be the Urheimat of each linguistic family. I will probably put in some language isolates here and there, in remote areas and islands perhaps.

Image

I'd appreciate feedback from long-term world builders. My goal is to make somewhat of a naturalistic and logical terrestrial world. (I do want to put in some mythical/magical stuff, but still thinking how to "evolve" them.)

P.S.: Still have no idea how I can embed images in a post thus the link instead.
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Dormouse559
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Re: Draft Linguistics Families

Post by Dormouse559 »

jhcampbell wrote: 22 Dec 2020 22:53P.S.: Still have no idea how I can embed images in a post thus the link instead.
Hey there! I am not able to comment on your language movements, but I can help with the image. The img tags require a URL pointing directly to an image file; what you have put between the tags links to a OneDrive interface with the image embedded in it. To get the image URL on OneDrive, click "View Original". This will open up the actual image file, and you can copy-paste the URL from your address bar. If you use a Mac, a more broadly applicable method is to right-click on the image and select "Copy Image Address".
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qwed117
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Re: Draft Linguistics Families

Post by qwed117 »

Generally speaking the movement of languages is not unidirectional, so there's generally a lot of intermixing between the areas of the languages, moreso than what I can see on the map. For example, the "Indo-European peoples" were first present in the steppes of west Kazakhstan and south Russia. One group moved east and south to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and "became" the "Indo-Iranian people". These people would proceed to move in *every* direction radiating out of that area, meaning that Indo-Iranic languages were spoken in a vast area from Eastern Anatolia, to the Indian subcontinent, to North Kazakhstan, *but also* through the origin of the "Indo-European peoples"- that is that at least one group of the people went from South Russia to South Turkmenistan, and back to South Russia (and these people would eventually become the modern Ossetians). Similar movements happened within Europe- the Celtic people originally dominated most of continental northern Europe, but were pushed out by the Germanic peoples and by Romanized Celtic peoples. But *later* a group of Celtic peoples would repopulate an area of North France- now Bretagne. Strictly said, the Celtic people were never pushed out of Bretagne/Armorica-but from my understanding the Roman/pre-Roman Celtic language that originally was spoken in the area was not spoken by the time the new Breton Celtic people came over. (A similar occurrence happened in Scotland, from my understanding, which was not originally Goidelic speaking areas, but actually Brittonic.

Another thing I see in your map is a lot of movement around the torrid and subtropical zones, which, while it does happen (cf. the Austronesian family; some Amerindian families iirc), is not particularly common without some factor mitigating the difficult of transport (ie reduced desert area along islands, the Sahara pluvial). This of course, however assumes that your planet is like Earth. If the tropics are different (ie the axial tilt of the planet is different) the climate could be more conducive to movement, and it wouldn't be too difficult to imagine this large movement.
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sangi39
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Re: Draft Linguistics Families

Post by sangi39 »

The big thing for me would probably be what sort of time period we're looking at, and I think technological innovation, and, as qwed117, what effects geography might have on diversity.

Like, I wouldn't imagine that these are the only four language families on the planet, but I could see them being, say, the most widely distributed four on the basis of something like the development of agriculture or some technological innovation that helps them spread out and displace other languages. But you'd still have smaller families dotting around the place as well, which are just sort of beyond the reach this sort of displacement, so places like heavily mountainous areas, some coastal areas (and islands especially), or areas of significantly different climate (such that, for example, the type of agriculture they practice just isn't feasible, or beyond the reach of their ability to feed a "colonising" population).

As qwed117 said as well, the spread can happen in multiple directions, but I think that's one of those details that you'll likely fill out the more you work on your history. And you might get bits of families cut off from each other as other languages from another family (or sub-family) spread into the area.

Oh, and then there's things like social factors as well, but that's probably another "sort it out when you work out the history" thing again.
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Re: Draft Linguistics Families

Post by Salmoneus »

On topic: one small thing I'd say is that big journeys by sea are rare before the modern era; only a small fraction of societies seem to be comfortable doing this. So, for example, your westermost family, why do two separate branches expand into the southern islands? It's certainly not impossible... but I'd expect it to be more likely for one group to expand into the islands, and then, having become seagoing, to expand into the other islands as well, rather than two branches independenly becoming seagoing. Or else, if the shift to a seagoing society occured on the mainland, for those people to have also expanded up and down the coast, as well as hopping to the islands.

You'd find it useful to do multiple maps showing family distribution over time, allowing a better sense of branch locations. And remember: although we think of 'families' as blocks, they're really just the limit of our reconstructive ability. These 'family trees' are only the visible buds of a much larger plant. And they're probably not equivalent to one another: a 'language family' may have expanded 500 years ago, or 20,000 years ago, or anywhere in between...

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qwed117 wrote: 26 Dec 2020 04:11 Generally speaking the movement of languages is not unidirectional, so there's generally a lot of intermixing between the areas of the languages, moreso than what I can see on the map. For example, the "Indo-European peoples" were first present in the steppes of west Kazakhstan and south Russia. One group moved east and south to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and "became" the "Indo-Iranian people".
A brief tangent: this probably isn't true.

First, there's debate about the exact homeland of Late Proto-Indo-European, but it was probably in Ukraine, possibly even western Ukraine, rather than Kazakhstan. [the homeland of Proto-Indo-Hittite is even more unknown, and it might have been in Anatolia, or even the Balkans. However, it seems most likely to have been Ukraine as well].

More importantly: it's now known that the Indo-Iranians did NOT move east and south from an urheimat on the steppe. Instead, there was first a movement from the steppe into the northeast european forests (the Corded Ware Culture) - THEN there was a movement from the forests BACK onto the steppe (the Sintashta Culture), and thence southward. Genetically, there's a strong European-farmer element in Indo-Iranian that wasn't present on the steppe originally.

The connexion to language families is a little debatable. Sintashta is clearly Indo-Iranian - not only is this genetically clear, but it's also clear that the warlike, chariot-riding, fire-worshipping Sintashta people are a very good match for the people described in Vedic and Zoroastrian sources.

I think it's most likely that Corded Ware is the ancestor of everything except Tocharian, Anatolian and Greek (and maybe Armenian?). [the use of the augment in Greco-Armenian and Indo-Iranian would then be an areal sprachbund on the steppe, or perhaps a shared retention lost in the west].

Another thing I see in your map is a lot of movement around the torrid and subtropical zones, which, while it does happen (cf. the Austronesian family; some Amerindian families iirc), is not particularly common without some factor mitigating the difficult of transport
Citation needed? I don't see why this would be a particular issue. Rapid expansion has happened in Africa, and repeatedly in South America (all of which was populated from zero within centuries).
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Re: Draft Linguistics Families

Post by qwed117 »

Salmoneus wrote: 26 Dec 2020 22:47 A brief tangent: this probably isn't true.

First, there's debate about the exact homeland of Late Proto-Indo-European, but it was probably in Ukraine, possibly even western Ukraine, rather than Kazakhstan. [the homeland of Proto-Indo-Hittite is even more unknown, and it might have been in Anatolia, or even the Balkans. However, it seems most likely to have been Ukraine as well].

More importantly: it's now known that the Indo-Iranians did NOT move east and south from an urheimat on the steppe. Instead, there was first a movement from the steppe into the northeast european forests (the Corded Ware Culture) - THEN there was a movement from the forests BACK onto the steppe (the Sintashta Culture), and thence southward. Genetically, there's a strong European-farmer element in Indo-Iranian that wasn't present on the steppe originally.

The connexion to language families is a little debatable. Sintashta is clearly Indo-Iranian - not only is this genetically clear, but it's also clear that the warlike, chariot-riding, fire-worshipping Sintashta people are a very good match for the people described in Vedic and Zoroastrian sources.

I think it's most likely that Corded Ware is the ancestor of everything except Tocharian, Anatolian and Greek (and maybe Armenian?). [the use of the augment in Greco-Armenian and Indo-Iranian would then be an areal sprachbund on the steppe, or perhaps a shared retention lost in the west].
I don't see how this is anything more than a minor quibble, because even in that scenario, the Indo-European/Indo-Iranian peoples are still moving in a more or less non-unidirectional path, west from the Yamnaya culture to the Corded Ware culture, then back east to the steppes of Kazakhstan, and then in the case of the Scythians, back west to the Pontic Steppe. I'd also imagine it's difficult to completely argue that there wasn't non-unidirectional movement in the movement of Indo-Iranian peoples through the Iranian Plateau given the affinities of the Mitanni and the Indo-Aryans. Honestly, I think this is more just me being excessively simplifying and writing this almost entirely off of my memory.
Salmoneus wrote: 26 Dec 2020 22:47
Another thing I see in your map is a lot of movement around the torrid and subtropical zones, which, while it does happen (cf. the Austronesian family; some Amerindian families iirc), is not particularly common without some factor mitigating the difficult of transport
Citation needed? I don't see why this would be a particular issue. Rapid expansion has happened in Africa, and repeatedly in South America (all of which was populated from zero within centuries).
Just looking at a glance, I think this is just a misunderstanding of what I precisely meant when I said around which I meant as movement across the tropics (that is between the desert subtropicals and the rainy tropics. The Niger-Congo family is largely confined south of the Sahel and north of the Namib Desert. It looks to me like the only family that really does cross that Sahara-Sahel boundary is the Nilo-Saharan and Semitic families, which are related to the fact that Nilo-Saharan is pretty tentative outside of the core families, and the presence of the Sahara Pluvial limiting the large climactic differential allowing more easy migration. It doesn't look like there was much large movement between Uto-Aztecan stronghold in the Mexican Plateau and the area south of that. From my understanding the Atacama Desert forms a hard border between Aymaran areas and the Mapuchean areas. The border between BSk and Cfa climates in Argentina is the boundary between Chonan areas and Tupi-Guarani areas.

NB: This doesn't exclude all contact, but rather large and sustained transfer of people or languages between the regions. This is not saying that there's no contact between Semitic peoples in the Maghreb and Niger-Congo peoples over the Sahara. Nor is this saying that peoplehood defines language families-just merely the low amount of communication prevents the adoption of one language over the local language
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