I need help again, this time with a Romlang

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GoshDiggityDangit
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I need help again, this time with a Romlang

Post by GoshDiggityDangit »

Hi. I presume that you read the title. My main issue is that I don't know where to find sound changes or a Proto-Romance dictionary (assuming Proto-Romance isn't Vulgar Latin, because if it is, then the first issue applies.) I'm aware that Romlangs have a reputation for being something beginners do, but I really like them and want to make one. If you have any advice or resources, I'd be happy to hear.
Sincerely, GoshDiggityDangit
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Re: I need help again, this time with a Romlang

Post by Salmoneus »

You have to make up your own sound changes - otherwise it would just be the same as an existing language.

You can take inspiration in this regard from the sound changes undergone by other languages, which are easy enough to find - I suggest starting with Wikipedia. There's only a relatively small cluster of sound changes common to all Romance languages (from Latin) - after that they diverge. If you want to do a romlang particularly close to a less prominent existing romance language - eg if you want to do something based on Dalmatian, or Romansh - then you may have to resort to Google (and Google Scholar, obviously).

I'm not aware of a Proto-Romance dictionary (though I'm sure there is one somewhere), so vocabulary can indeed be tricky. I would suggest using Wiktionary - if most Romance languages agree on a certain vocabulary item, then there's a good chance it's from Proto-Romance (unless it's an obvious recent French loan). Sometimes Wiktionary even has the PR word as an entry.
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Re: I need help again, this time with a Romlang

Post by Creyeditor »

Just to clarify: Are you asking about the sound changes from classical Latin to Proto-Romance?
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Re: I need help again, this time with a Romlang

Post by elemtilas »

GoshDiggityDangit wrote: 28 Oct 2020 08:25 Hi. I presume that you read the title. My main issue is that I don't know where to find sound changes or a Proto-Romance dictionary (assuming Proto-Romance isn't Vulgar Latin, because if it is, then the first issue applies.) I'm aware that Romlangs have a reputation for being something beginners do, but I really like them and want to make one. If you have any advice or resources, I'd be happy to hear.
Sincerely, GoshDiggityDangit
It's a very incorrect presumption (not on your part, but on the part of the, shall we say, more stuck up kind of conlanger), as making a Romance language presents all the same challenges and rewards as making any other kind of Earth language family based language. Quite a lot of expertise and scholarship can go into such a project, to the point that I'd say they're no more for beginners than a Native American invented language.

Anyway, Romance sound changes are easy enough to find. Get yourself a copy of From Latin to Romance in Sound Charts by Boyd-Bowman. Nice handy little resource that has proven to be of use to Romance language inventors for more than 20 years.
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Re: I need help again, this time with a Romlang

Post by Salmoneus »

If so, to save time, you can start with:

/m/ lost in final position*
/n/ lost before /s/
/h/ lost everywhere
short /i/ is added before words begining in sC clusters
loss of intertonic vowels between a velar and a liquid (eg -cula > -cla, etc)
/e/ and/i/ become /j/ before a vowel
vowel length becomes a quality contrast, with short vowels laxer and lower; it may be that long and short /a/ merge at this time
new vowel length is gained by lengthening vowels in open syllables
/t d/ palatalise before /j/

There are no doubt a few others - eg mergers of some unstressed vowels - but I think that's the core of it. Note that the first change is a bit odd: final /m/ was presumably actually nasalisation of the final vowel since... well, very early on, centuries BC... but its loss, though universal, wasn't initially a complete nasal/oral merger. Instead, -um acts like a long /u:/ early on in some ways, particularly in triggering metaphony. But I don't remember offhand if anywhere actually maintains this -u, o if it's merged with -o in all dialects.

-----------

Then, for non-Sardinian, you can add:

/k g n l/ palatalise and geminate before /j/, and /k g/ also palatalise before /i/ (old long /i:/)
/I/ (old short /i/) merges with /e/ (old long /e:/)

For non-Eastern you can then add:

/U/ (old short /u/) merges with /o/ (old long /o:/)
/k g/ palatalise before /e/

And then for "Western" (i.e. Gallic-influenced dialects, not including Southern, Eastern, Italian, Pyreneean, or possibly/probably Mozarabic):

/k/ becomes /j/ in clusters
intervocalic lenition: voiced stops become fricatives, voiceless stops become voiced, geminates degeminate
/tS/ (palatalised /k/) > /ts/



No doubt others will correct me.
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Re: I need help again, this time with a Romlang

Post by Khemehekis »

GoshDiggityDangit: Creating a romlang is only newbish if:

a. You coin Romance-root-sounding words ad hoc, without a regular derivation from Vulgar Latin and other Romance protolangs. Like a lot of Euroclone auxlangs. Or Talossan. You have to give Talossan credit for being the biggest micronational language ever, but its lack of a regular derivation is unforgivable!

or:

b. All you have is a list of sound changes. A truly good conlang isn't just a phonology and a bunch of conjugation and declension charts, plus a few words of lexicon. It has syntax. It has decisions about the semantic space of its lexicon. It has rules about exactly when to use this noun case or that verbal mood. It has pragmatics. And most of all, conlangs are for writing and speaking in! Write example sentences in your grammar. Write a folktale or other story from or about your conculture! Write a song in your conlang! Make inscriptions, money, graffiti!

Dormouse's Silvish is a romlang, but it's so developed, with so many loveable quirks and tidbits about the Silvish culture that it seems like a real language! I'm always happy to see what Dormouse has to say about her conlang when she does translations or posts in the Snowball Game. Also check out this post -- wow!
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Re: I need help again, this time with a Romlang

Post by elemtilas »

Khemehekis wrote: 29 Oct 2020 04:29 b. All you have is a list of sound changes. A truly good conlang isn't just a phonology and a bunch of conjugation and declension charts, plus a few words of lexicon. It has syntax. It has decisions about the semantic space of its lexicon. It has rules about exactly when to use this noun case or that verbal mood. It has pragmatics. And most of all, conlangs are for writing and speaking in! Write example sentences in your grammar. Write a folktale or other story from or about your conculture! Write a song in your conlang! Make inscriptions, money, graffiti!
[+1] [+1] [+1] [+1] [+1] [+1] [+1] [+1] [+1] [+1] [+1]

This. Of course, this is good advice for any invented language, though it's certainly understood that not everyone even wants their languages to get further than phonological puttering.

I know I'm fairly backwards in doing it this way, but my invented languages tend to begin with some kind of text -- a snippet of song or story element -- and then it's a matter of sorting out what just happened. It's one way of getting to the aesthetic heart of a language real fast.
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Re: I need help again, this time with a Romlang

Post by GoshDiggityDangit »

Thank you all for your help. As per usual you are all very knowledgeable and have a lot of resources. I should give a bit of context, though I am happy with all of the resources I have been given. I think the context would help narrow stuff down.
Remember the old British Romance Language thread? I decided that it was cool enough of an idea to do myself. I decided that it would be most realistic for a British Romance language to survive into the modern-day without changing history all too much by setting it on the Isle of Wight. I thought it would be most interesting to make the language a highly divergent member of the Gallo-Romance languages.
The language, which I'll call Wightish, would have strong influences from both English and Norman French, and influences to a lesser degree from Insular Celtic languages. Its lineage is found in the Anglo-Romance languages, an offshoot from the larger Gallo-Romance. Its closest relative would have been Verulamic, which went extinct in the 600s. Wightish would be, because of its distance from other related languages, be one of the most innovative Romance languages, if not the most innovative.
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Re: I need help again, this time with a Romlang

Post by elemtilas »

GoshDiggityDangit wrote: 29 Oct 2020 13:12 Thank you all for your help. As per usual you are all very knowledgeable and have a lot of resources. I should give a bit of context, though I am happy with all of the resources I have been given. I think the context would help narrow stuff down.
Remember the old British Romance Language thread? I decided that it was cool enough of an idea to do myself. I decided that it would be most realistic for a British Romance language to survive into the modern-day without changing history all too much by setting it on the Isle of Wight. I thought it would be most interesting to make the language a highly divergent member of the Gallo-Romance languages.
The language, which I'll call Wightish, would have strong influences from both English and Norman French, and influences to a lesser degree from Insular Celtic languages. Its lineage is found in the Anglo-Romance languages, an offshoot from the larger Gallo-Romance. Its closest relative would have been Verulamic, which went extinct in the 600s. Wightish would be, because of its distance from other related languages, be one of the most innovative Romance languages, if not the most innovative.
Cool! The idea of a British Romance language is one that you can have a lot of fun with! It can be uber scholarly or silly and in good fun. Check out what Ray Brown is doing along those lines with his uber scholarly Britainese. One of my older languages was, in fact, a British Romance, though along sillier lines.

For historical influences, you might also consider looking into Anglo-Norman and also perhaps Jerriais.
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Re: I need help again, this time with a Romlang

Post by Salmoneus »

GoshDiggityDangit wrote: 29 Oct 2020 13:12 Thank you all for your help. As per usual you are all very knowledgeable and have a lot of resources. I should give a bit of context, though I am happy with all of the resources I have been given. I think the context would help narrow stuff down.
Remember the old British Romance Language thread? I decided that it was cool enough of an idea to do myself. I decided that it would be most realistic for a British Romance language to survive into the modern-day without changing history all too much by setting it on the Isle of Wight. I thought it would be most interesting to make the language a highly divergent member of the Gallo-Romance languages.
This is indeed a perennially interesting idea. I've had a couple of goes myself, but never really gotten anywhere (the results were too close to existing romance languages to keep me interested).

For me, the interesting thing about Anglo-Romance is that it sits on the periphery of the Gallic area. Thus, you can have a Western Romance language that ISN'T fully Gallic, and that only borrows the Gallic innovations you want. [whereas all real-life surviving Western Romance languages (if you don't count Italian in that) are all thoroughly gallicised]. In real life, for instance, the tS > ts shift did not occur in some dialects in the north of France/Belgium.
Wightish would be, because of its distance from other related languages, be one of the most innovative Romance languages, if not the most innovative.
That's not quite how it works, though - isolated, peripheral languages are generally more conservative, not more innovative. However, it is of course possible for their innovations to be relatively distinctive, because they can go in a different direction from more central branches.
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Re: I need help again, this time with a Romlang

Post by elemtilas »

You might also look into Grandgent's Introduction to Vulgar Latin and Rohlf's From Vulgar Latin to Old French.
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Re: I need help again, this time with a Romlang

Post by GoshDiggityDangit »

Salmoneus wrote: 29 Oct 2020 20:34
GoshDiggityDangit wrote: 29 Oct 2020 13:12 Wightish would be, because of its distance from other related languages, be one of the most innovative Romance languages, if not the most innovative.
That's not quite how it works, though - isolated, peripheral languages are generally more conservative, not more innovative. However, it is of course possible for their innovations to be relatively distinctive because they can go in a different direction from more central branches.
Really? That's awfully surprising to me, but I'll trust you on it. Anyway, I was thinking what you mentioned later, that being that its own innovations on the language would be more distinctive.

Thanks again to everybody for all the resources.
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Re: I need help again, this time with a Romlang

Post by Salmoneus »

GoshDiggityDangit wrote: 30 Oct 2020 06:16
Salmoneus wrote: 29 Oct 2020 20:34
GoshDiggityDangit wrote: 29 Oct 2020 13:12 Wightish would be, because of its distance from other related languages, be one of the most innovative Romance languages, if not the most innovative.
That's not quite how it works, though - isolated, peripheral languages are generally more conservative, not more innovative. However, it is of course possible for their innovations to be relatively distinctive because they can go in a different direction from more central branches.
Really? That's awfully surprising to me, but I'll trust you on it. Anyway, I was thinking what you mentioned later, that being that its own innovations on the language would be more distinctive.

Thanks again to everybody for all the resources.
Yes, this is the opposite of what most people expect. However, it is generally true. This is why, for example, American English is much closer to Shakespeare's English (at least phonologically) than British English is - and why the most conservative dialects in America are in the rural south, and the most conservative dialects in England are in the Fens, or Wales or the like. [all these dialects have of course innovated in their own ways]


Think about modern trends in language, and who sounds most "old-fashioned". Is it a farmer in Alabama, or a social media influencer in Los Angeles?

The more people there are speaking a dialect, the more confident they are in their culture (i.e. not seeing themselves as culturally subordinate to some more fashionable place), the more different people they speak to, the more ingroups and subcultures are able to form, the more they innovate in their language. So innovation happens in populous, central, culturally powerful regions. And the more populous and culturally powerful a place is, the moe its innovations tend to spread uniformly across an area, becoming the new standard - whereas local backwater innovations are likely to be undone or countermanded by new innovations before they have a chance to become standardised.

More simplistically, imagine that you meet X people a week. One fraction, A, have very conservative speech; one fraction, B, have adopted a new innovation; and one fraction, C, have not adopted that particular innovation, but have adopted some alternative innovation in a related part of the language. Do you adopt the innovation? In brute terms, this often comes down to and how many B people you meet (encouraging you to adopt the innovation), and how many A people you meet (pressuring you to remain conservative). In a 'central' location, you meet more people, so you meet more B people - you come into contact with innovations sooner and are more able to hang out with innovators. However, you also meet more C people - because central locations are more diverse - and the presence of C people waters down the influence of the A people: as the percentage of people with SOME innovation rises, the ability of A people to claim to represent the one true standard diminishes, making EACH innovation more able to grow (until they start competing with each other, of course).


However, there are some possible exceptions to bear in mind...

- isolated dialects may change less, but they can change in different ways, branching off and ending up looking 'weirder' by comparison to the other dialects. A good example of this in Romance is Sardinian. The Sardinian dialects are, unambiguously, the most conservative - they have undergone relatively few major changes, and they have resisted most of the otherwise universal changes that have led to modern Romance - they retain the classical vowel system (minus length), and they have resisted palatalisation. As a result, though, they look very odd by Romance standards. And they have undergone a few changes that seem odd compared to the rest of the family.

- dialects spoken by small, isolated groups seem to be better at being pointlessly difficult. Linguistic complexities become marks of in-group identity, and there are few second-language learners arriving to bulldoze interesting features by not bothering to learn them properly. Hence, although language change may be slower in these places (everyone you meet is an A person, and you never meet newcomers), it's more able to 'add up'. It's not a universal rule, but generally you're more likely to find weird and complicated languages in, for example, isolated mountain valley communities (eg the Caucasus), while the languages of continent-spanning empires tend to be 'simpler'.

- language contact can be a big driver of innovation: both because features can be borrowed from one language to another, and because second-language learners may disregard the more counterintuitive parts of the language entirely. Language contact often happens at peripheries, so peripheral dialects can be innovative, at least in the short term. However, in most cases intense active language contact at the periphery doesn't necessarily last that long - once the Romans have conquered an area and everyone speaks Latin, most famers on the Roman side of the border aren't going to meet many farmers from the other side of the border. Conversely, sustained language contact often DOES take place in central locations, as non-native speakers migrate there from everywhere else (New York is a long way from the border, but is one of the places in the US with the most Spanish-speakers; in the same way, there would have been lots of speakers of Gaulish and Germanic in Rome).

- where you specifically have colonisation, you often get dialect-levelling, which can be quite conservative. So the West of the US for a long time was a very peripheral region, yet it had a relatively neutral, conservative dialect (it adopted the innovations that most of the country had adopted, but failed to adopt many local innovations that had taken place elsewhere). This is because settlers to the West came from all over the US, so developed a neutral language-form that was intelligible to all. However, this could still produce innovation - the cot/caught merger, for instance, which I suspect may at least in part have been the result of confusion between the different ways different dialects tried to keep cot/caught separate.
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