(L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

A forum for discussing linguistics or just languages in general.
Otto Kretschmer
rupestrian
rupestrian
Posts: 19
Joined: 27 Dec 2020 12:00

Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Otto Kretschmer »

Were there already Jews living in Slavic lands in Proto-Slavic times/ Weird that the word is borrowed from Italian rather than Greek or the French dialect Jews spoke.
User avatar
sangi39
moderator
moderator
Posts: 2758
Joined: 12 Aug 2010 01:53
Location: North Yorkshire, UK

Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by sangi39 »

Otto Kretschmer wrote: 07 Jan 2021 22:28 Were there already Jews living in Slavic lands in Proto-Slavic times/ Weird that the word is borrowed from Italian rather than Greek or the French dialect Jews spoke.
IIRC, the Vulgar Latin form of Iūdaeus would be, approximately, /ʝudeo/, which is, to my mind, effectively close enough to the Italian form that that's probably why it's rendered "Italian". In writing giudeo seems to go back at least the 9th Century AD, and /ʝudeo/ would have been the pronunciation in around about the 4th Century (from what I can remember), which does give some overlap with Proto-Slavic (about two centuries or so, I think).

It does seem like there were Jewish people living in places like the Balkans and other areas of Eastern Europe during the period in which Proto-Slavic was spoken, but I can't find anything on what languages they spoke (at a brief glance, it probably would have been something related to either Romance or Greek given earlier Jewish settlements in the area were around the Black Sea, when Greek and Romance languages were also spoken in the area).

Honestly, you're probably going to have to do your own digging if you want to find out why one word was borrowed while another one wasn't, especially when dealing with languages that weren't written down until after the borrowing took place.
You can tell the same lie a thousand times,
But it never gets any more true,
So close your eyes once more and once more believe
That they all still believe in you.
Just one time.
Otto Kretschmer
rupestrian
rupestrian
Posts: 19
Joined: 27 Dec 2020 12:00

Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Otto Kretschmer »

If the Latin word legion wad borrowed into Balto Slavic at the time of Principate, how would its Slavic reflex sound?
User avatar
sangi39
moderator
moderator
Posts: 2758
Joined: 12 Aug 2010 01:53
Location: North Yorkshire, UK

Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by sangi39 »

Otto Kretschmer wrote: 08 Jan 2021 00:44 If the Latin word legion wad borrowed into Balto Slavic at the time of Principate, how would its Slavic reflex sound?
*ležǫ, maybe? Which would give Russian, for example, something like лежу?

By this time, however, I think Slavic is usually thought to be distinct from Baltic, but hadn't undergone the first palatalisation yet, so it'd be borrowed into Pre-Slavic or Early Proto-Slavic (Early Common Slavic) instead, depending on whose dates you go by.
You can tell the same lie a thousand times,
But it never gets any more true,
So close your eyes once more and once more believe
That they all still believe in you.
Just one time.
Otto Kretschmer
rupestrian
rupestrian
Posts: 19
Joined: 27 Dec 2020 12:00

Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Otto Kretschmer »

Shat other words vould be borrowed from Latin and earlier, Greek and what could their reflexes be?
User avatar
qwed117
mongolian
mongolian
Posts: 3897
Joined: 20 Nov 2014 02:27

Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by qwed117 »

Silly question, but isn't this thread supposed to be pinned?
Spoiler:
My minicity is Zyphrazia and Novland
What is made of man will crumble away.

The SqwedgePad
Otto Kretschmer
rupestrian
rupestrian
Posts: 19
Joined: 27 Dec 2020 12:00

Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Otto Kretschmer »

If the Western Roman Empire survuved, would development of Romance languages be slowed down/prevented? In such a scenario Iberia and Gallia would continue economic development and integration with each other and would reach economic level of Italy in 6th-7th century.
Salmoneus
MVP
MVP
Posts: 2189
Joined: 19 Sep 2011 19:37

Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus »

How about, rather than us giving you a narrow answer, you show us some of your own thinking?

Why might you think that an enduring Empire would affect the linguistic development?
And what makes you think that your answer to that question may not be correct?
Otto Kretschmer
rupestrian
rupestrian
Posts: 19
Joined: 27 Dec 2020 12:00

Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Otto Kretschmer »

I was thinking along the lines that literacy and urbanization slow down linguistic change. I see this as a reason why Greek has changed much less over last two millenia.

But I may be wrong or just partially right.
Basically surviving WRE.= More economic deveopment earlier = more urban development = more movement of population = slowdown of longuistic change
Salmoneus
MVP
MVP
Posts: 2189
Joined: 19 Sep 2011 19:37

Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus »

Well, I'm glad you've given it some thought! [it's better to be thoughtfully wrong than unthinkingly right...]

I'll reply in a bit more detail tomorrow, but the key thing to say immediately is: urbanisation and population movement actually both tend to lead to more language change rather than less (although there are some exceptions to this, particularly in the short term). Language change takes place in the cities - if you want to find conservative speech, go as deep into the countryside as you can get!

[in the UK, for instance, the 'oldest' dialects - that retain the oldest features and that have avoided the most innovations - are found in places like Norfolk and Wales, not London]
User avatar
eldin raigmore
korean
korean
Posts: 5738
Joined: 14 Aug 2010 19:38
Location: SouthEast Michigan

Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by eldin raigmore »

Otto Kretschmer wrote: 10 Jan 2021 14:37 If the Western Roman Empire survuved, would development of Romance languages be slowed down/prevented? In such a scenario Iberia and Gallia would continue economic development and integration with each other and would reach economic level of Italy in 6th-7th century.
Slowdown of language split-up, yes;
Slowdown of language change, no.

Assuming Marc Baker (sp?) is right, “imperial simplification” would probably speed up, replacing language fragmentation.

That’s my guess.
Otto Kretschmer
rupestrian
rupestrian
Posts: 19
Joined: 27 Dec 2020 12:00

Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Otto Kretschmer »

In any case, can you see a Greek population (even a few 1000s surviving from the time of Alexander until today?
Salmoneus
MVP
MVP
Posts: 2189
Joined: 19 Sep 2011 19:37

Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus »

Spoiler alert: a Greek population HAS survived! (linguistically, if arguably not genetically).

If you mean specifically in Western Europe: probably not, no, but theoretically maybe, but probably not, no. But I can't really answer questions properly, if you don't pause on one before moving to the next...

----------


The Roman Empire and language change...

Languages generally change when:
- babies learn it
- foreigners learn it
- speakers of a different dialect learn the mainstream dialect
- subcultures, mostly of young people, attempt to differentiate themselves from the mainstream by speaking weirdly for fun

We could sum up the first three as 'mislearning', and the fourth as 'innovation'. There's also a fifth way: when speakers of the mainstream language react to speakers of weird dialects by changing their own speech, to ensure they can be understood. We could call this 'accommodation'.

I don't know if there's an academic consensus yet - and note, I'm not a linguist! - but I think it's usually thought that, most of the time, innovation is the biggest driver of change.

Then we can talk about why languages break apart. The answer is simple: languages break into two when the speakers of one dialect do not feel compelled to accommodate speakers of another dialect anymore. This is mostly going to happen when they don't meet speakers of the other dialect as often. Mass movement brings unity, while isolation brings division.

------------

How does this apply to a unified western empire?

Greater urbanisation brings more change - all five types happen more often in more populated areas, particularly when they're connected to large-scale travel networks.
Greater political unity brings more travel, and more travel brings more change: more mislearning (in all ways other than by babies), more accommodation, and even more innovation (travel creates ghettoes, creates subcultures).


So an Enduring Empire would not, you'd expect, lead to less linguistic change. On the contrary, it would probably lead to more linguistic change.

Would it lead to less fragmentation? In theory, yes: more unity across an area, more travel, means more pressure for everyone to keep being able to understand one another.

In practice, though: not so fast. In premodern times, only a tiny number of merchants and politicians actually travelled regularly. They would need to understand one another - but ordinary peasants wouldn't. A peasant outside Lisbon wouldn't need to understand the speech of a peasant outside Bruges. Indeed nobody the one peasant ever met would ever need to talk to anybody the other peasant ever met. The great bulk of the language community would remain several degrees of separation away from any cosmopolitan elite.

So yes, maybe you'd see less fragmentation, but it certainly wouldn't be total, and I don't think it would necessarily be all that major at all.

What you would see would be a lingua franca that the ruling class spoke. And, of course, we had that in real life: Latin. I would expect people would continue to write to one another in Latin, as in reality, and that this would last a bit longer than in real life.

I wonder, though, whether they might actually stop using Classical Latin, and instead - if fragmentation is indeed a bit slower - use a more modern vernacular. You could maybe see 'Old French' as the lingua franca - though this might depend on the political details. You'd probably see polyglossia, as in early modern China: Latin (i.e. Literary Chinese) continuing to be used as the written standard for scholarly purposes, but a specific, compromise Romance language (i.e. Mandarin) being used as a spoken lingua franca by the administrative classes, and possibly written by them also in some informal contexts.

You also wouldn't see the sharp language divides that you see today: dialects would blur into one another. But this is also how things were in reality up to the 19th century: the famous saying is that in 1800 you could walk from Paris to Lisbon without ever noticing the language around you change. Nation states and the enforcement of local standard language forms through standardised education and national media are modern phenomena.


-----

Hypothetically, however, modern romance might be different. In general, large empires with lots of travel have high levels of accommodation and mislearning. They tend to be associated - though the link is controversial - with 'simple' languages, lacking complex morphologies and counterintuitive or eccentric features, because new learners struggle with these things, and natives adjust their speech to avoid thing that confuse the learners. By contrast, highly isolated areas, in which linguistic groups admit few new learners, tend to be more dominated by unfettered innovation: they change more slowly, but their changes may be weirder, and often involve more 'complicated' grammar.

Vulgar Latin, for example, simplifies the nominal and verbal systems of Classical Latin considerably, relying more on prepositions and periphrastic idioms. Many Romance languages, however, have subsequently rebuilt their verbal systems in particular. I do wonder whether maybe a unified Empire might have discouaged this rebuilding, keeping all of Romance more analytical?

I wouldn't necessarily bet much money on that, however.
Otto Kretschmer
rupestrian
rupestrian
Posts: 19
Joined: 27 Dec 2020 12:00

Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Otto Kretschmer »

Regarding Greece I meant a surviving population in...

India.

Assuming it survived until today, would the language be recognized as Greek? Romani still survives
Post Reply