Indo-European Naturalistic Conlang?

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Üdj
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Indo-European Naturalistic Conlang?

Post by Üdj »

So, just throwing this idea out there:

What if you looked at, say, the Wikipedia article for Proto-Indo-European, then applied sound changes, grammaticalization, etc. to it and created your own Indo-European language?

I'm going to attempt it, and anyone else is welcome to try - just good luck!
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Re: Indo-European Naturalistic Conlang?

Post by WeepingElf »

Üdj wrote: 18 Sep 2022 16:14 So, just throwing this idea out there:

What if you looked at, say, the Wikipedia article for Proto-Indo-European, then applied sound changes, grammaticalization, etc. to it and created your own Indo-European language?

I'm going to attempt it, and anyone else is welcome to try - just good luck!
It is doable, and has been done. After all, Proto-Indo-European is a pretty well-described language (at least as far as reconstructed ancestor languages go - at least, it is sufficiently described to build a conlang thereon). An example is Hattic by Jan van Steenbergen (not to be confused with an extinct non-IE language of Anatolia with the same name), though it is based on an obsolete model of PIE (with voiceless aspirates). I am currently rebuilding my own main conlang, Old Albic, as such a language - related to Hittite about as closely as Latin is to Sanskrit.
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Re: Indo-European Naturalistic Conlang?

Post by Salmoneus »

Yes, this is a fairly common exercise - there have been a number of them on this board. It's a good idea for a project - as WE says, there's plenty of information available to work with, and the results are often close enough to other IE languages for conlangers (most of whom natively speak an IE language) to feel some familiarity with the results, while at the same time the source material (PIE) is alien enough to provide interest and education; the time depths and geographical ranges and adstrates involved also allow the conlanger a little more freedom than, say, a Latin-derived language would.

I'm afraid my own IElang was now too long ago for me to remember the details that clearly, although I have a fair amount buried in my computer files. My version had some early deviations buried in it but ended up looking solidly classical (i.e. Greco-Latinate, but maybe a little more archaic).

Wikipedia is generally sufficient for PIElanging, but I found it helpful to consult some other sources as well, particularly to more fully understand the verbal system, and to get more of an overview of how the different daughters reflected different aspects of PIE. This is particularly perhaps an issue if you want an early-diverging daughter language, because wikipedia's PIE description, iirc, is perhaps better considered a depiction of specifically 'Late PIE'.
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Re: Indo-European Naturalistic Conlang?

Post by WeepingElf »

Yes, Wikipedia is quite good on PIE, it answers most questions. Yet, I can recommend two books. One is Benjamin W. Fortson IV, Indo-European Language and Culture, which is IMHO the best of the handbooks I have read, affordable and written in a very comprehensible way. For lexicon, check out J. P. Mallory and D. Q. Adams, The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World, which contains more than 1,000 PIE words ordered by fields of discourse; however, it is not cheap. I can't recommend Beekes, who tries to sell too many idiosyncratic ideas as facts, nor Gamkrelidze & Ivanov, who not only present odd ideas (most famously the glottalic theory) but also presuppose familiarity with the standard model; also, the second part dealing with lexicon contains many spurious items - use Mallory & Adams instead! Pokorny's etymological dictionary is in German and grossly out of date, but at least available online.

The Late PIE verb is indeed very complex, it is hardly an overstatement that in Late PIE, "all verbs were irregular". You may want to build a sister clade of Anatolian instead, which has a much simpler verb morphology, deviates from the more familiar IE languages in some interesting ways, and there is obviously much unexplored territory out there. My pet theory is that there once were such sister groups in Europe, including the language of the Bell Beaker culture, and I explore just that in my main conlang project (Old Albic is not the language of the Bell Beaker people, but a descendant thereof).
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Re: Indo-European Naturalistic Conlang?

Post by Salmoneus »

The difficulty with creating a sister to Anatolian is that much less is known, and more has to be hypothesised. I'm not sure it would end up being less complicated anyway - a big part of the drive toward thematic roots in Late PIE is probably the attempt to get away from irregularity (much like the spread of weak verbs in Germanic).

Lexicon is indeed a problem, although Wiktionary does have a lot. The best resource I've seen was actually a spreadsheet drawn up by a conlanger over on the ZBB (goatface? iirc?), but that was a decade or more ago now so I don't know if it's still around (or has been superceded).

On the book front I can't remember most of the things I checked out (and a few websites too), but one good resource was the first volume of Ringe's history of English, which covers PIE and the development of Proto-Germanic. Ringe isn't always right about things (though he thinks he is), but (going from my more recent reading of volume two) he tries to be clear, evidence-based and systematic, which is more than a lot of linguists can manage...
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Re: Indo-European Naturalistic Conlang?

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

This is similar to what I've done with my main conlang, Lihmelinyan. Although I only did so with IE grammar, not with the lexicon. But I took the tables I found in Ringe and Sihler (another great resource for IE reconstruction) and had them undergo my own selected sound changes and created grammatical and morphological schemata into which I could insert my own a priori vocabulary/lexicon. So that's not exactly what you're talking about, but I did like the idea of taking the most ancient IE reconstructions and creating a "new branch" (not necessarily a sister to any known branch, though the sound changes I chose resemble Anatolian and Indo-Iranian to a degree). My approach was a bit more idiosyncratic as well, as I variously took from Ringe and Sihler depending on whose reconstruction I preferred (as well as some other sources apart from these two), rather than going with one reconstruction systematically.

In any case, I think this is a great idea and would be interested to see what you come up with. [:)]
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Re: Indo-European Naturalistic Conlang?

Post by Solarius »

I've definitely tried to do this before, and may make a stab at this yet--this thread gives some good motivation.

I've had an IE language, intended to be spoken on a small island in the Black Sea, kicking around for a few years. It would be pretty typical of a lot of the eastern languages--Satem and with the ruki rule, but with some unique changes of its own, like an extremely thorough lenition of PIE *s to --> [r], thorough influence from a very typologically different substrate language (which will probably be something designed to look a little Austronesian? idk), and strengthening and firm preservation of the PIE dual. Haven't been super motivated though since there's a bit of an IE learning curve.
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Re: Indo-European Naturalistic Conlang?

Post by Nortaneous »

If you really want to do odd shit you could make a separate descendant of Roland Pooth's PIE
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Re: Indo-European Naturalistic Conlang?

Post by Backstroke_Italics »

The #1 problem I've seen with PIE-langs is historical disconnect. This mostly takes one of two forms: either a lack of interest in the process of how a language could descend from PIE into the target form, or a lack of interest in context.

The first often shows itself as a desire to hit an "end point" without much thought for the intervening centuries. For example, a PIE-lang with no labial consonants a la Iroquoian, or a PIE-lang subjected to an exceptionless sound change that moves every consonant two places counter-clockwise or whatever.

The second usually takes the form of weird-for-the-sake-of-weird languages that feel as if they were plopped down in the present day after opting out of history. There are no Romance languages that do not share at least one major sound change with at least one other Romance language. Many of them have had fairly parallel evolutions. But I don't have enough fingers to count how many Rom-langs I've seen that feel like they've spent the last two thousand years in a parallel dimension.

The most common defense of these languages is "But I found this sound change in Dani/Yoruba/Sard/Guarani/etc., so it's obviously fine here as well!" If you're going to make a conlang from a relatively well reconstructed proto-language like PIE, the verisimilitude of the historical linguistics should be a big part of it. If you're not into that, why bother? Go make an a priori language.
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Re: Indo-European Naturalistic Conlang?

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

Nortaneous wrote: 20 Sep 2022 02:19 If you really want to do odd shit you could make a separate descendant of Roland Pooth's PIE
I keep getting his articles recommended to me on academia.edu. It is out there, that's for sure.
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Re: Indo-European Naturalistic Conlang?

Post by Sequor »

Salmoneus wrote: 19 Sep 2022 21:48Lexicon is indeed a problem, although Wiktionary does have a lot. The best resource I've seen was actually a spreadsheet drawn up by a conlanger over on the ZBB (goatface? iirc?), but that was a decade or more ago now so I don't know if it's still around (or has been superceded).
Goatface's/Morrigan's PIE Lexicon spreadsheet is available on the LCS's website. I'm not sure if it's been superseded. It is indeed very useful.
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