As this is the first real post on this blog, I am compelled to introduce myself and this blog. Perhaps I’ll create a separate page in the future for this, but this will do for now.

My name goes by the handle “Ælfwine” on the CBB (Conlang Bulletin Board) and ZBB (Zompist Bulletin Board), however, I am fine being called by my real name, Lex. As the title of this blog suggests, this is a blog dedicated to my conlangs (short for “constructed language”). My current focus nearly exclusively on my romance conlang (“rom”lang for short) which I am tentatively calling *Castellianu, the name derived from the city it is spoken in, Castellum, or modern-day Keszthely in western Hungary. The reason for this project is singlefold: to create a plausible descendent of the language that may have been spoken by a continuation of Keszthely culture in Romanized Pannonia.

Before I get started, I’d like to offer some thanks to both Salmoneus and Dewrad of the CBB and ZBB respectively for assisting me in this project, as well as Isfendil who brow beated me to not giving up on it. My next blog post will probably concern some brief historical background of the language before getting into the linguistic nitty gritty.



Review of Crimean Gothic: Analysis and Etymology of the Corpus

I know I have not posted for quite some time, as I have neglected this blog in favor of other modes of communication. However, as very few people want to hear me talk about linguistics, much less certain phenomena in linguistics, I thought posting my thoughts here would be most prudent.

My Pannonian Romance conlang is unfortunately in stasis, as I cannot quite find the motivation to work on it. I feel as though it will be overshadowed by Deiniol Jone’s Dravian, an excellent conlang that also is based on Pannonian Romance. So good is that conlang that it feels as if trying anything different will make me unhappy, as it would not quite satisfy me. While the evidence I’ve gathered points to a stronger Rhaeto-Romance connection, that does not particularly appeal to me as much as my initial vision, which as an Eastern Romance language akin to Romanian, but different.

Anyway, there are a couple of other projects I am working on instead. One is a Slavic conlang spoken in the same Transdanubian region. I have been assisted by a very talented and knowledgeable student in Slavic linguistics who helped me out with deriving many of the sound shifts and accentual system. However, as he had been busy with schoolwork, I’ve began another conlang, a modern descendant of the Gothic language spoken in Crimea — yes, I mean the poorly attested Crimean Gothic language.

With this language I’ve consulted a few resources, one of which is Stearns 1978 book “Crimean Gothic: Analysis and Etymology of the Corpus.” It is quite the book, admittedly it is a bit dry in parts, but no less informative. For example, Stearns supposes that the informant he interviewed had not a native’s command of the language, but was affected by his native language, which had certain qualities such as diphthongizing /e/ to [ej] in monosyllables. Stearns then adjusts certain words in the corpus to get a better picture of the underlying “native” Crimean Gothic language.

Nonetheless, I have found issue with a few of Stearn’s suggestions here and there. One is the idea that while it is likely the <tz> may either be a missprint for <th> or Busbecq’s attempt at rendering the phone [θ], I don’t really believe the <th> in the articles or pronouns (like the clitic -thata) represent the underlying phones [t] or [d]. Had Busbecq heard [t] or [d], I reckon he would have wrote <t> or <d>, as he did in “fyder,” or “handa”. Should Busbecq be as familiar with Greek as speculated, I would have thought he would have used <th> to represent [θ], as it often does in Greek loanwords. As Proto-Germanic had [θ] in most of the places where he writes <th>, I would think this phoneme would be /θ/ and not /d/.

Another of my nitpicks is while Stearns first posits a NCG (Native Crimean Gothic) reconstruction of /w/ for <vv>, I do not understand the logic of later assigning this phoneme to /v/ in all positions, even when he states that the informant could only produce [v]. Surely it’s possible that /w/ may have existed as a phoneme in Crimean Gothic, unless I am ignorant of some Proto-Germanic phonotactics that would’ve caused it to merge? I admit I am not a Germanicist (or even a trained linguist!) like Stearns is, but I am skeptical here.

Regardless, this book has been very helpful in my quest to reconstruct Crimean Gothic. While I didn’t intend this blog post to become a book review, I cannot recommend it enough for anyone interested in the language

On the Palatalization of the Velars

Now that most of the preliminary brainstorming has been finished, I can start detailing the sound changes that underlie Pannonian Romance as a family and it’s dialects (Aquincumian, Savarian, Sopian, Castellian, etc.), possibly experimenting with different sound changes. For the most part, I consider Castellian the “standard” dialect that Pannonian Romance is based upon, with others such as Aquincumian and Sopian being outliers.

The first question that struck me was whether the alveolar and velar consonants palatalized in Pannonian and what the outcome of that palatalization was like. Probably, palatalization of the alveolars had already occurred before the palatalization of the velars, and would have been present in the Pannonian Romance language. While we have no examples of the palatalization of the velars from Pannonia, we do have a few examples of palatalization of /dj/, consistent with similar developments throughout the Empire (Adamik 103-110). Despite the low attestation of palatalization,  I do believe that Pannonian Romance would’ve eventually palatalized its velars due to the large presence of postconsonantal [j].

Adamik writes:

“Thus it is hardly surprising that the developments of palatalisation which would have been possible considering the comparatively rich attestation of the consonantal [j] in contrast to other deeply Romanised provinces like Dalmatia or Venetia and Histria couldn’t be realised because of the fast disappearance of the Romanised population from Pannonia (310) [emphasis mine].”

Additionally, Pannonia is said to have “strong connections with the Empire” and Castellum’s position as a fort would’ve meant it would have picked up many travelers from the broader Empire. Given this, I’d expect the velars to palatalize before /e/ and /i/ to /t͡ʃ/ and /d͡ʒ/, consistent on what we find in Northern Italy and Romanian.

Preliminary Considerations

First, I must apologize for the infrequent updates. I meant to update this blog at aleast once a week, but the reality seems to be me updating it once a month at most. In this blog post, I give a brief summary of the various stratum that might affect the development of the Pannonian Romance language. As the crossroads between Western and Eastern Europe, many various ethnic groups would’ve been present in the Carpathian Basin. The three most significant groups would’ve been the Illyrians, the Celts, and the Goths in the first half of the first millenium (the Slavs and the Hungarians would not be present until the second half, and therefore would not have affected early Pannonian Romance.)

According to the linguist Julius Pokorny, the name of Pannonia was derived via Illyrian from the PIE root, *pen- “swamp, water, wet.” Given the fact we know that “Illyrians” were nearby Lake Balaton, it is highly likely that some sort of language ancestral to Albanian may have influenced the Pannonian Romance language, similar to how Dacian may have influenced modern Romanian.

The Celts were also present in Pannonia. According to “Pannonia and Moesia Superior a History of the Middle Danubian Provinces” by Andras Mocsy, the Celts managed to displace the native Pannonians in the north of Pannonia but not the south. They originally came from northern Italy, Switzerland and southern Germany, and colonized much of Noricum and Pannonia Superior. One possible Celtic influence in the Pannonian Romance language is the fronting of A to E found in several inscriptions, much like Rhetoromance, French, and some Occitan varieties. Dewrad suggests that this may have indicated an underlining [æ], much like some Rhetoromance varieties such as Friulian.

Besides Celtic and Illyrian, there would’ve definitely been a Germanic presence in the area until their assimilation into the Avar Khaganate. However, given the short timespan the Ostrogoths ruled over Pannonia, I doubt Germanic influence would penetrate deeply. Nonetheless, Upper Pannonia’s proximity to Noricum (modern day Austria) should be considered.

The History behind the Pannonian Language

(Note: this blog post was originally supposed to be much larger. However, due to time constraints [read: procrastination] I’ve mostly limited it in scope to the 9th and 10th centuries for now; had I attempted to develop a full history, I would have never got around to actually developing the language proper. A more extensive history will be created as the language develops further along, otherwise I start from the idea that this alternative timeline develops for the most part quite like our own.)

The initial history behind the Romanized inhabitants of Pannonia is divided into roughly two halves: the first half is the time roughly extending from Pannonia’s initial colonization until its collapse during the end of the Imperial Age. The second half is the time immediately after its collapse, from the arrival of the Avars in the region leading up to the invasion of the Magyars in 907 CE. For our purposes, we are mostly concerned with the second half. Specifically, we are concerned about the reasons behind the disappearance of the Pannonians and their language. Since the survival of the Romanized Pannonians is intrinsicly linked to the Avars, preserving the Avars (but not necessarily the Khaganate itself) would go a long way to keeping the language in tact.

While Wikipedia states that Frankish invasions caused the death of the Pannonian Romance culture, I am disinclined to believe that the Frankish invasions had upset anything at all, given the resulting changes were mostly political in nature instead of demographical. Instead, I think the final nail in the coffin were the Magyar invasions, whom quickly assimilated the Slavic speakers, and likewise the Roman descendants of Castellum. So, instead of preventing the Franks from conquering the weaker Khaganate as some might think, it may make more sense to strengthen Frankish hold onto Pannonia in order to prevent the Hungarians from completely overrunning the Carpathian Basin. To achieve this, I’ve decided that the Battle of Pressburg resulted in a East Francian victory instead of defeat. After a few more battles, the Hungarians make a peace treaty with the East Francian empire and are given territory east of the Tisa river.

Eventually, the Slavs of the Carpathian Basin, under the rule of Braslav, would have unified into a kingdom independent of Frankish rule. They speak a “Central Slavic” language that lends itself as the superstrate to my Pannonian Romance language. However enticing a “Central Slavic” language might be, that is another project for another day. The main idea is keeping the Romanized population of Castellum alive until the modern day, similar to how Istriot and Vegliot survived in modern Croatia.

That is a brief idea on how the Pannonian Romance language will be preserved. My next blog post will cover some preliminary considerations, like the ethnography and potential influences on the Pannonian Romance language. Unlike this post, it will not delve into alternative history or any “what ifs,” but solely on what we do know.