Ideas for African Chamic conlanging

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Zythros Jubi
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Ideas for African Chamic conlanging

Post by Zythros Jubi »

I'm recently considering making a conlang spoken in Reunion, Mauritius and Seychelles (even including Chagos Archipelago as well), supposed to be spoken by descendants of Northern Chams after the fall of Indrapura in 982 (as refugees). Assume that some of them managed to escape through Malaccas onto Sumatra, then discovered Chagos/Mauritius accidentally during an exploration. However, I'm uncertain about whether those islands are suitable for settlement, and what population could sustain in such an isolated environment (Chagos Archipelago, Seychelles, Mauritius and Reunion; especially the former two), and to what degree their society would be degraded (by level of civilization, e.g. the loss of domesticated animals except chicken in Polynesian societies). Will chiefdoms/state emerge in Mauritius and Reunion, and can they still use metals? How many kinds of domesticated animals will they bring there?
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Re: Ideas for African Chamic conlanging

Post by Zythros Jubi »

Despite the small size of these island, they may be accidentally found by passers-by; the explorers may have landed on Madagascar or even mainland East Africa first before moving to Mascarenes. What I intended is a mercantile, seafaring population with Indian-influenced feudal society; however the route of migration is not certain yet, esp. when it comes to Chagos Islands, which I originally considered to be a resting place and melting point of cultures, but they're too small.
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Re: Ideas for African Chamic conlanging

Post by Zythros Jubi »

The Papuan Language of Tambora
Author(s): Mark Donohue
Source: Oceanic Linguistics, Vol. 46, No. 2 (Dec., 2007), pp. 520-537
Published by: University of Hawai'i Press
Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/20172326

Perhaps one can also make a Papuan conlang spoken elsewhere (Africa or Australia), given that Tambora was a seafaring/commercial civilisation. Or even more interestingly, some Papuans taken as slaves by Austronesian sailors to African islands, and the descendant of their language became the lingua franca of a community there, while the language itself became extinct in its homeland (Urheimat); is it possible?

PS: the definition of Papuan is simply non-Austronesian. So I can make it a priori as well?
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Re: Ideas for African Chamic conlanging

Post by Salmoneus »

Regarding small islands, one interesting benchmark are the Pitcairns.

The Pitcairns are slightly smaller than the Chagos Islands, but only very slightly. They were settled by the Polynesians, who lived there for centuries... but that settlement was only viable due to interaction with the larger community on Mangareva. When Mangareva was engulfed in civil war, Pitcairn was cut off, and the remaining population there seems to have either died or fled soon after.

The Pitcairns were then repopulated by a mixed European/Polynesian group. They almost died out immediately due to violence, but through developing a less liberal, more Biblically-obsessed culture they managed to survive for about twenty years in almost total isolation. From that point on, they did have the benefit of occasional visitors, but remained mostly isolated. An overpopulation crisis then developed about fifty years after that - the population had reached 193, everyone had to leave, and only 48 returned. However, the population managed to reach into the 200s in the 20th century.

The Chagos by comparison reached a population around 1,500, and now has a population of up to 5,000 Americans. However, the Chagossians were probably only able to reach those numbers due to their enmeshment in a wider trading network (they were a plantation, able to concentrate on growing a cash crop and able to trade that for other necessities) and the American occupation is of course supported from the homeland. Apparently the Chagos were considered not worth settling by the Maldivians.

The Maldives, on the other hand, are obviously able to support a large population independently.


EDIT: Tahiti apparently had a population in 1760 of around 40,000, across around 1,000sqkm, which would predict a population of around 2,000 for Chagos and Pitcairn - but of course, habitability isn't linear. The Marquesas, with a similar size to Tahiti, apparently had around twice the population. [ironically, they now have around 9,000 people to Tahiti's 140,000]. I don't know about the Marquesas, but Tahiti had apparently relatively recently (and only partially) transitioned to a modern state at that time.
Zythros Jubi
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Re: Ideas for African Chamic conlanging

Post by Zythros Jubi »

Some preliminary sound changes from Proto-Chamic:
Pre-consonants:
*p- > p-
*t- > t-
*c- > c-
*k- > k-
*s- > s-
*h- > 0-
*b- > b-
*d- > d-
*j- > z-
*g- > g-
*m- > m-
*ñ- > n-
*l- > l-
*r- > r-

Onsets:
*p > f
*t > t
*c > ts
*k > x
*ʔ > 0
*s > s
*h > h
*b > v
*d > r
*j > z
*g > x
*m > m
*n > n
*ñ > ɲ
*ŋ > ŋ
*l > l
*r > r
*w > w
*y > j
*ph > p
*th > t
*ch > s
*kh > k
*bh > b
*dh > d
*gh > g
*ɓ > b
*ɗ > d
*ʔj > j

*pl > ʧ
*kl > ʧ
*bl > ʤ
*gl > ʤ
*pr > ʈ
*tr > ʈ
*kr > ʈ
*br > ɖ
*dr > ɖ

Final:
*-p > pu
*-t > ti/tu
*-k > ti/tu
*-ʔ > 0
*-c > tsi
*-h > hu
*-s > si/su
*-m > mu
*-n > -ni
*-ŋ > -nu
*-l > -li/-lu
*-r > -ri/-ru

As you can see, many changes are influenced by Malagasy.
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Zythros Jubi
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Re: Ideas for African Chamic conlanging

Post by Zythros Jubi »

Vowel changes:
*-i- > -e-
*-u- > -o-
*-əy > -ai
*-əw > -au
*-a- > -a-
*-a > -a
*-aː- > *-uə- > -u-
*-ay > -e
*-aw > -o
*-uy > -oi
*-ar, -aːr > *-uə > -ua
*-as > ai
*-aːs > ui
*-us > oi

*ia > ia
*-i > -i
*ua > ua
*-iəw > -iu
*-iaw > -io
*-uəy > -ui
*-uay > -ue
*ɛ > ia
*ə > *ɨ > i
*ɔ -ɔː- > ua

some examples:
*ular 'snake' > olua
*ughaːr 'root' > oxua
*kapaːs 'cotton' > kapui
*uraːŋ 'person' > oruna/oruã
Last edited by Zythros Jubi on 03 Sep 2020 09:13, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Ideas for African Chamic conlanging

Post by Zythros Jubi »

Stress usually lies in penultimate syllable; when the main syllable is open or used to end with a glottal stop, the accent lies in the last syllable, and is marked by an acute accent in Romanization.
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dva_arla
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Re: Ideas for African Chamic conlanging

Post by dva_arla »

Some suggestions:

-h is more likely to be elided than be augmented by a vowel.
-m > -w and -n -ŋ triggers nasalisation?
And perhaps -r > -j or lengthening?
*p > f
*ph > p
Wouldn't *p ph > p f be more likely to happen?

However, I'm uncertain about whether those islands are suitable for settlement, and what population could sustain in such an isolated environment (Chagos Archipelago, Seychelles, Mauritius and Reunion; especially the former two), and to what degree their society would be degraded (by level of civilization, e.g. the loss of domesticated animals except chicken in Polynesian societies).
A continuous stream of colonisers would be necessary in order to "Chamise" the islands; therefore, its civilisation wouldn't be "degraded" that much as the Chams import their technology and their culture etc. from the motherland, which will perhaps in turn influence those societies on the African mainland (Swahilis etc.)?

Your conlang would need to include (older) Sanskrit loanwords and (newer) Bantu and Arabic ones.

I'm sorry I couldn't be of much help here, as I'm not familiar with the Chams or their language... By the way, have you obtained a Chamic lexicon?
Zythros Jubi
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Re: Ideas for African Chamic conlanging

Post by Zythros Jubi »

By the way, have you obtained a Chamic lexicon?
Just a wordlisit and reconstruction by Graham Thurgood.

Actually p>f k,g>x d>r kh,gh>k are inspired by Malagasy (the last rule apply to Sanskrit loanwords). For details, see
Malay and Javanese Loanwords in Malagasy, Tagalog and Siraya (Formosa)
by K. A. Adelaar.

Proto-Austronesian *-p > Malagasy -ka/tra, *-k > -ka, *-t, -d, -j > -tra, *-m, -n, -ŋ, -l > -na (My changes are more or less inspired by Japanese, Sino-Japanese and modern loanwords in particular), *ŋɡ *ŋk > k, *nd *nj > ndr.
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Zythros Jubi
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Re: Ideas for African Chamic conlanging

Post by Zythros Jubi »

How plausible is it for the Austronesian family to spread in another direction, i.e. to the north(east) into Ryukyu islands?
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Re: Ideas for African Chamic conlanging

Post by Salmoneus »

Can you think of any reason it would be implausible?

Just going by wikipedia, which I'm sure you've read, there's been speculation about settlement of the islands both from ISEA and from China, both of which would have been via Taiwan.

And just going by the map, you can see as well as I can that Batanes and the Yaeyamas are similar distances from Taiwan.

So what particular concerns would you like addressed?
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Re: Ideas for African Chamic conlanging

Post by Zythros Jubi »

I'm recently attempting on a Sino-Austronesian conlang (and perhaps Sino-Altaic as well), but I'm not sure which branch to choose. Considering the Ryukyu Trench, North Formosan/Kavalanic seems more plausible (instead of languages on the east coast of Taiwan); but I wonder why cultural exchange between Taiwan and Ryukyu is insignificant, and whether Austronesians had landed on Ryukyus.
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Re: Ideas for African Chamic conlanging

Post by Zythros Jubi »

As for the Mascarenes idea, I estimate that the upper bound of population in 1700s on Mauritius proper (1864.8 km2), Reunion (2511 km2, but more mountainous) and Rodrigues (108km2) to be ca. 150,000, 100,000 and 5,000 respectively, presumably speaking the dialect of the same language or intelligible languages; the pre-colonization situation might be like Comoros, with two kingdoms centered on Mauritius and Reunion. I'm not sure what to do with Seychelles; Chagos and Agalega were unsettled, to be more realistic.
Spoiler:
In the 8th to 13th centuries AD they were followed by an influx of Austronesian sailors from Southeast Asia, who had earlier settled nearby Madagascar. They are the source for the earliest archeological evidence of farming in the islands. Crops from archeological sites in Sima are predominantly rice strains of both indica and japonica varieties from Southeast Asia, as well as various other Asian crops like mung bean and cotton. Only a minority of the examined crops were African-derived, like finger millet, African sorghum, and cowpea. The Comoros are believed to be the first site of contact and subsequent admixture between African and Asian populations (earlier than Madagascar). Comorians today still display at most 20% Austronesian admixture.[2][3][4]
...
Apart from a visit by the French Parmentier brothers in 1529, for much of the 16th century the only Europeans to visit the islands were Portuguese. British and Dutch ships began arriving around the start of the 17th century and the island of Ndzwani soon became a major supply point on the route to the East Indies. Ndzwani was generally ruled by a single sultan, who occasionally attempted to extend his authority to Mayotte and Mwali; Ngazidja was more fragmented, on occasion being divided into as many as 12 small kingdoms.
However, with earlier (first-millennium) settlement the environment of these islands must have degraded faster than OTL and the relative isolation after Islam influence (1000-1600), the population upper bound is limited compared to densely distributed islands of Polynesia. (Perhaps due to its indigenous regimes, these islands were colonized later than OTL, like Comoros?)
Spoiler:
Much of the Mascarenes' native fauna has become endangered or extinct since the human settlement of the islands in the 17th century. Settlers cleared most of the forests for agriculture and grazing, and introduced many exotic species, including pigs, rats, cats, monkeys, and mongooses.
...
Today Mauritius has one of the highest population densities in the world and on all of the islands, there has been a great loss of habitat and many of the surviving endemic species are still threatened with extinction with little protection. Less than 40 percent of Réunion is covered with natural vegetation, only about 5 percent of Mauritius, and almost none of Rodrigues. On Réunion, forest has been cleared for agriculture and then overtaken by introduced plants. Mauritius was largely converted to sugar cane, tea, and conifer plantations. On Rodrigues the damage has been done by shifting cultivation.
Above all, the main difference between Mascarenes and Comoros is the latter was settled as early as 1000BC by Bantu peoples, while the former was probably never bypassed by Austronesians (see https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... 011%29.png).

However the population of Comoros was insignificant 50 years ago, compared to around a million today (with Mayotte):

Pop. of Comoros, including Mayotte: 183,133 (1958-09-07), 2,235 km2
Pop. of Mayotte: 23,364 (1958), 374 km2

One of the reasons of depopulation is that Comoros used to be raided by Malagasys in the 19th century and locals taken as slaves (earlier also by Europeans), and were repopulated by slaves from the mainland.
By the time Europeans showed interest in the Comoros, the islanders were well placed to take advantage of their needs, initially supplying ships of the route to India, particularly the English and, later, slaves to the plantation islands in the Mascarenes.
Thus in this timeline the local subsistence farming would continue, and it was a source of slaves rather than destination.
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Re: Ideas for African Chamic conlanging

Post by Zythros Jubi »

Some preliminary sound changes from Proto-Chamic: (two dialects' reflexes are separated by a semicolon)
Pre-consonants:
*p- > p-
*t- > t-
*c- > ts-
*k- > k-
*s- > s-
*h- > 0-
*b- > b-; v-
*d- > d-; r-
*j- > z-
*g- > g-; x-
*m- > m-
*ñ- > j-
*l- > l-
*r- > r-

Onsets:
*p > p
*t > t
*c > ts
*k > k
*ʔ > 0
*s > s
*h > h
*b > b
*d > d
*j > z
*g > g
*m > m
*n > n
*ñ > ɲ
*ŋ > ŋ
*l > l
*r > r
*w > w
*y > j
*ph > f
*th > h
*ch > s
*kh > x
*bh > v
*dh > r
*gh > x
*ɓ > b
*ɗ > d
*ʔj > j

*pl > ʧ
*kl > ʧ
*bl > ʤ
*gl > ʤ
*pr > ʈ
*tr > ʈ
*kr > ʈ
*br > ɖ
*dr > ɖ

Final:
*-p > pu; pa
*-t > ti/tu; ta
*-k > ki/ku; ka
*-ʔ > ʔ (or lengthening?);
*-c > ti/tu; ta
*-h > ʔ (or lengthening?); ha
*-s > iʔ; hi
*-m > u+nasalization; ma
*-n > nazalization; na
*-ŋ > nazalization; na
*-l > lu; la
*-r > 0 (plus lengthening)
Last edited by Zythros Jubi on 03 Sep 2020 09:08, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Ideas for African Chamic conlanging

Post by Zythros Jubi »

Perhaps I can consider Sama-Bajaw languages instead?

Recently I came across The linguistic background to SE Asian sea nomadism and found that SE Asian sea nomadism coincided with the spread Malayic in 6-7c., due to the expansion of Srivijaya, and the ethnogenesis of Malagasy is no exception to this. The Vezo tribe in southern Madagascar points to a different origin from earlier Barito emigration, with a "nomadic" tradition unseen elsewhere in the country.
Dahl (1988) argued for a link between the Vezo and the Sama-Bajaw languages, indeed that the name ‘Vezo’ was a phonological transformation of Bajaw. There is no direct linguistic evidence in basic vocabulary for a connection between Vezo and Bajaw. However, it is very striking that Vezo marine fish names are very different from other Malagasy names, although they resemble those of their neighbours, the Antanosy (Bauchot & Bianchi 1984 ; Poirot 2011). Given that Vezo is generally close linguistically to Merina, this is quite surprising and may point to a distinct origin for their fishing culture.
[...]
It certainly would not be unreasonable to imagine the Bajaw, following the route pioneered by the Malay
ships, reaching Madagascar independently. However, this hypothesis needs more positive linguistic
evidence before it can be accepted uncritically.
Another group is the Orang Laut, whose name is cognate to Urak Lawoi' (i.e. people of the sea) in Phuket and it is close to the geographic center of Malayic languages (and conlanging would be somewhat boring); the Moken, whose language is close to Malayo-Chamic but a bit hard to find reconstructions.
All the languages are part of mainstream subgroups of Austronesian, Malayic or Greater Barito. [...] We know that Malayic spreads out from Borneo, and that trading networks developed rapidly. It has been suggested above that the Samalic languages reflect an expansion from the same area, probably using the same type of boats and feeding local trade items into the Malay network. [...] Later groups such as the Buginese and Makassarese of Sulawesi (who probably originate as a distinct identity in the 16th century) also serviced the commercial networks although they remained more obviously land-based.
Larish (1999):
‘Various lines of evidence support the possibility that the Moken/Moklen represent a remnant population of a once larger and more widely distributed - possibly trans-Isthmian - PMM ancestral population. The PMM may have established on the early Peninsular politico-cultural zones… or were possibly vassals to one of the ethnolinguistic groups that dominated these areas. Most importantly, present-day speakers of Moken and Moklen are found distributed at the coastal endpoints of four separate trans-isthmian routeways.’
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