Visigothic 2.0

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shimobaatar
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Visigothic 2.0

Post by shimobaatar »

Table of Contents

Introduction

In August 2016, I started a thread here on the board entitled "Visigothic 1.0", in which I began posting some of my ideas for a modern descendant of Gothic spoken in Iberia (this one, not this one). That thread hasn't been updated since August 2017 (although I seem to have continued using that version of the language on the board until July 2018), and I'd rather forget that it exists. Even though my methods and ideas have changed a lot over the past 4-5 years, however, my desire to work on this project has never really died, so I'm trying again here. I don't have much to report so far, and I don't expect to be posting updates very frequently, but I'm starting this thread anyway in hopes of "forcing" myself to make some actual progress after years of false starts. I can be a bit of an indecisive perfectionist when it comes to my own work, I'm afraid.

Unlike the original version of the language ("Visigothic 1.0", if you will), I don't intend for this iteration of Visigothic to be a "bogolang", "graftlang", or whatever you'd prefer to call the result of applying some approximation of the sound changes between Latin and Spanish to Gothic. Nothing against anyone who likes conlanging that way, of course, but it's no longer a method that I personally enjoy or find satisfying. Instead, I want the languages I create to feel generally realistic and naturalistic, to whatever extent that's even possible for conlangs. I want Visigothic to be recognizably Germanic, although I'd like for its isolation from the rest of the family to be evident as well. Ideally, I'd like it to preserve at least some of the features that set Gothic apart from the North and West Germanic languages, but I realize that many of those features may only have been preserved in Gothic itself due to its early attestation relative to most of the rest of the family, and I don't want to make Visigothic unrealistically archaic, so to speak. Also, I don't want the language to feel completely out of place in Iberia, but I don't want to force it to look like an Iberian Romance language either.

Visigothic is intended to be a fictional, constructed East Germanic language. I'm not trying to reconstruct the natural, spoken language of the Visigoths that went extinct during the Middle Ages in real life, the "real Visigothic". From what I understand, I don't know if there's enough evidence for that to be possible. This "fake Visigothic" isn't necessarily intended to be a direct descendent of any particular natlang, but my general "starting point" will be "Biblical Gothic", given the fact that it's so much better attested than any other East Germanic variety. I also plan to take other Germanic languages and the languages of groups with whom speakers of Visigothic likely would have had contact over the centuries into account. My primary resources for this project, and really for a posteriori conlanging in general, are Wikipedia and Wiktionary. I know they're not the best options out there, but they're free, familiar, and convenient, and they're good enough for my purposes, I'd say. I'm not trying to trick anyone into thinking that I've somehow discovered an obscure natlang spoken in some remote village in Spain. Of course, those aren't my only resources, and while I may not always be actively looking, I am always open to finding new ones. Regarding how to approach creating this language, and a posteriori languages in general, I've been taking inspiration from Ray Brown's Britainese, the languages of Martin Posthumus (veche.net), and some of the most well-developed a posteriori projects that have been shared here on the CBB over the years.

My primary focus will be the language itself, so I don't know how deeply I'll get into alternate history or anything like that. Obviously, in order for an East Germanic language to survive and be spoken in present-day Iberia, the history of the "alternate universe" in which Visigothic is spoken must not be exactly the same as the history of the real world, but I admittedly haven't given it much thought yet. Unlike the original version, Visigothic 2.0 likely won't be the official and/or majority language of a country. I think I often set myself up for disappointment and dissatisfaction with a posteriori projects by trying to "rush" straight from the "starting point" to the modern stage of the language, so I want to try to take it slow here, so to speak. For instance, I want to start with developing "Old Visigothic" for a while until I feel comfortable enough with it to then move onto "Middle Visigothic", or whatever I end up calling it. I'll likely be keeping the historical context in which the language is spoken in mind as I try to decide on when, roughly, these periods/stages begin and end.

There are a number of topics regarding the phonology, lexicon, and morphosyntax of Visigothic that I'd like to take into consideration to start with, especially since I've been mulling them over indecisively for quite some time now, but I need to get back to work soon, and I don't want to overload what was originally meant to be just a brief introductory post even more, so I'll save these "issues" for later.

Finally, I'd like to acknowledge a few of the other East Germanic or Iberian Germanic languages that have had their own threads here on the CBB over the years. If the creators of any of these languages would like to have their threads removed from this list, please let me know and I will be happy to do so ASAP!
Salmoneus
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Re: Visigothic 2.0

Post by Salmoneus »

shimobaatar wrote: 20 Nov 2021 21:54 Unlike the original version of the language ("Visigothic 1.0", if you will), I don't intend for this iteration of Visigothic to be a "bogolang", "graftlang", or whatever you'd prefer to call the result of applying some approximation of the sound changes between Latin and Spanish to Gothic. Nothing against anyone who likes conlanging that way, of course, but it's no longer a method that I personally enjoy or find satisfying. Instead, I want the languages I create to feel generally realistic and naturalistic, to whatever extent that's even possible for conlangs. I want Visigothic to be recognizably Germanic, although I'd like for its isolation from the rest of the family to be evident as well. Ideally, I'd like it to preserve at least some of the features that set Gothic apart from the North and West Germanic languages, but I realize that many of those features may only have been preserved in Gothic itself due to its early attestation relative to most of the rest of the family, and I don't want to make Visigothic unrealistically archaic, so to speak. Also, I don't want the language to feel completely out of place in Iberia, but I don't want to force it to look like an Iberian Romance language either.
That's fair; but bear in mind that there may be an element of truth in bogolanging. Yes, the idea of just directly applying sound changes from one language to another is nonsense; but Old Visigothic would have a huge Romance-speaking (not exactly Classic Latin speaking!) substrate, will presumably have a huge number of borrowings from Latin (particularly in religious, political, and geographical/environmental vocabulary - although you might want to consider how much Greek borrowing there will have been as well), and may well (depending on the althistory) have many Romance neighbours, or even (if it's a minority language) a Romance superstrate. So I'd expect many of the more systematic sorts of changes in Spanish to be found in Visigothic...
My primary resources for this project, and really for a posteriori conlanging in general, are Wikipedia and Wiktionary. I know they're not the best options out there, but they're free, familiar, and convenient, and they're good enough for my purposes, I'd say. I'm not trying to trick anyone into thinking that I've somehow discovered an obscure natlang spoken in some remote village in Spain. Of course, those aren't my only resources, and while I may not always be actively looking, I am always open to finding new ones.
Fortunately, Wikipedia and Wiktionary are actually pretty amazing when it comes to Proto-Germanic! There's nothing wrong with leaning heavily on them. I sometimes also consult Orel's etymological dictionary of Proto-Germanic, though I find it annoying to work with (it's formatted annoyingly, is terse, uses a different notation, etc - it's a stark contrast from the wonderful sister volume in the same series on Latin), and 90% of the content just matches Wiktionary anyway.

You may also want to have a look at Fulk's "Comparative Grammar of the Early Germanic Languages" - unfortunately it says virtually nothing about syntax, but it examines the probable morphology and function words of Proto-Germanic and how they're reflected in the various Old Germanic languages; it can supplement Wikipedia's simplified picture. It's easily found free (and legal!) on the internet. You may also want to check out Ringe's book on the evolution of Proto-Indo-European into Proto-Germanic, though it's not essential (and I'm not sure it's readily available).
Regarding how to approach creating this language, and a posteriori languages in general, I've been taking inspiration from Ray Brown's Britainese, the languages of Martin Posthumus (veche.net), and some of the most well-developed a posteriori projects that have been shared here on the CBB over the years.
Ambitious!
I think I often set myself up for disappointment and dissatisfaction with a posteriori projects by trying to "rush" straight from the "starting point" to the modern stage of the language, so I want to try to take it slow here, so to speak. For instance, I want to start with developing "Old Visigothic" for a while until I feel comfortable enough with it to then move onto "Middle Visigothic", or whatever I end up calling it. I'll likely be keeping the historical context in which the language is spoken in mind as I try to decide on when, roughly, these periods/stages begin and end.
I've taken the same approach with my own Germanic language, Wenthish... which unfortunately is why I'm now seemingly permanently stuck in Old Wenthish. [hint: the longer I stick with Old Wenthish, the less and less it looks like I originally imagined Wenthish to be - I've gradually pared out more and more things that I at first naively thought would have been the case all along, but that really have no place in a conservative language of the first millennium (and some of which were just my native-Germanic-language-speaker instincts filling in gaps that shouldn't have been filled in...)]
There are a number of topics regarding the phonology, lexicon, and morphosyntax of Visigothic that I'd like to take into consideration to start with, especially since I've been mulling them over indecisively for quite some time now, but I need to get back to work soon, and I don't want to overload what was originally meant to be just a brief introductory post even more, so I'll save these "issues" for later.
I'll be interested to see what you come up with. There haven't been many con-Germanic languages explored in depth here, and they tend to be modern, so it'll be nice to see another Old Germanic language - albeit an Eastern one.

One thing I would say, if you're not aware yet: beware the verbs! Germanic languages have fucking insane verbal systems, particularly in Old Germanic: you can't really just stick with the (already complicated) Proto-Germanic system*, which will already be falling apart, but you don't (yet) get to wave it all away as 'regular weak verbs plus a few irregulars'. Old Wenthish has... dozens... of verbal classes.

Wikipedia was an invaluable aid to me in this, because the strong and weak verb pages list many verbs in each category. You can run sound changes on a bunch in each category, to work out which categories will split due to later sound change - it'll probably end up being a lot more complicated than you might assume from just thinking about it without all those examples.


*PGmc already has, what, about 20 verb classes, plus irregulars!?
dva_arla
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Re: Visigothic 2.0

Post by dva_arla »

Just noticed this thread! It is an honour, perhaps felt somewhat undeserved, to have my half-baked compilation of notes featured on the thread created by a fellow conlanger. Wish you all the best in your endeavours.
This "fake Visigothic" isn't necessarily intended to be a direct descendent of any particular natlang, but my general "starting point" will be "Biblical Gothic", given the fact that it's so much better attested than any other East Germanic variety. I also plan to take other Germanic languages and the languages of groups with whom speakers of Visigothic likely would have had contact over the centuries into account.
Biblical/Wulfilan Gothic is the most completely attested East Germanic language and would therefore serve well as a reference from which to draw the brunt of the morphology (inflection etc.) out (not to mention that Wulfilan was most probably a Visigothic dialect), but the Vandalic language -- the third-best attested East Germanic language out there (after Crimean [Ostro]Gothic) and one spoken within proximity of your Iberian Visigoths -- might also be a good place to scour for evolutionary features:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vandalic_language

Gothic loanwords in Spanish and Portuguese may hint at possible sound changes:
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Category ... rom_Gothic
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Category ... rom_Gothic
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Re: Visigothic 2.0

Post by spanick »

I’m very interested and excited to see what you come up with! I’ve always been very impressed by your work.

I think I had the most fun working on Gotski/Sortsbergish.
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