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Re: USAGE: Can't we say that a language is always related to a "people"?

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  • Jörg Rhiemeier
    Hallo conlangers! ... Yes, _Occitania_ is from Occitan _oc_ yes , as opposed to Old French _oil_ yes , but nobody calls northern France Oilcitania ;)
    Message 1 of 11 , Dec 31, 2012
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      Hallo conlangers!

      On Monday 31 December 2012 12:29:16 Benct Philip Jonsson wrote:

      > [...] The names of languages, peoples and places are often derived
      > from the same root with a change of noun class, without it always being
      > possible or relevant to tease out which is 'primary'. You can stay within
      > the Romance languages and find all three: _Italian_ as glottonym and
      > ethnonym is derived from the name of the country. _France_ and _French_ are
      > derived from the name of just one of the peoples who blended together into
      > the modern people. _Occitania_ OTOH is named after the language, and I
      > daresay there is no agreed-upon name of the people in that case!

      Yes, _Occitania_ is from Occitan _oc_ 'yes', as opposed to Old
      French _oil_ 'yes', but nobody calls northern France "Oilcitania" ;)

      _Deutsch_, the native name of German, was _diutisk_ in Old High
      German, which means 'of the people' (_diut_ was 'people'; a word
      that has since disappeared from the language), as opposed to other
      languages such as Latin,the language of the church and the scholars.
      _Deutschland_ is thus 'land of the people'. The English word
      _Dutch_ is from the same root and actually meant 'German' in
      Middle English (and still does in _Pennsylvania Dutch_ - that
      language variety is a dialect of High German, not of what is now
      understood to be Dutch!). Only later, it was narrowed to the
      language variety of what is closest to England of what was in
      the Middle Ages considered part of Germany.

      > Also the (politics of) relations between (names of) peoples languages and
      > places can be very complicated.

      Sure.

      > To take one example: while _Hindi_ is
      > derived from the Persian name of India very many people would be very
      > pissed off if you suggested that Hindi is *the* language of India. The only
      > one of the many languages of India which comes close to having a reasonable
      > claim of being the language of all India is Sanskrit, but the Sanskrit name
      > of the country (Bharatavarsha) and the people (Bharatiya) are derived from
      > another root entirely, and to rename either after the other would be
      > absurd. BTW _sa.msk,rta bhaa.sa_ has a reasonable claim to be translated as
      > 'The Conlang'!

      That actually does not stretch it too far. At any rate, "Classical
      Sanskrit" is a pleonasm, and IMHO other varieties of Old Indic, such
      as Vedic, should not be called "Sanskrit". Sanskrit proper is the
      variety Pāṇini and his colleagues abstracted from the Old Indic
      literature, i.e. the language sometimes called "Classical Sanskrit".

      But the Republic of India is indeed officially named _Bhārat
      Gaṇarājya_ in Hindi, with _Bhārat_ derived from the Sanskrit name.
      But calling Hindi _Bhāratī_ would nevertheless be a faux-pas, as
      it is just one of many languages of India (even if it is the one
      with the largest speaker base).

      And then there are names of languages which are assigned later
      by scholars and may simply be wrong! For instance, we do not know
      what the people who spoke what is now known as "Tocharian" called
      their own language. The scholars who discovered it named it after
      the Tocharoi, a people of Central Asia mentioned in Hellenistic
      sources, even though it is far from certain that the Tocharoi had
      anything to do with the speakers of "Tocharian"!

      --
      ... brought to you by the Weeping Elf
      http://www.joerg-rhiemeier.de/Conlang/index.html
      "Bêsel asa Éam, a Éam atha cvanthal a cvanth atha Éamal." - SiM 1:1
    • BPJ
      ... Actually we do. Tocharian A is _arśi_ and Tocharian B is _kuśiññe_, i.e. Kuchean , and some scholars have taken to calling the two languages
      Message 2 of 11 , Dec 31, 2012
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        On 2012-12-31 14:35, Jörg Rhiemeier wrote:

        > For instance, we do not know what the people who
        > spoke what is now known as "Tocharian" called their
        > own language.

        Actually we do. 'Tocharian A' is _arśi_ and 'Tocharian
        B' is _kuśiññe_, i.e. 'Kuchean', and some scholars have
        taken to calling the two languages "Agnean" and
        "Kuchean", rightly IMO. They are two closely related
        but rather different languages, BTW, comparable perhaps
        to modern French and Italian.

        And I totally think that Sanskrit is a conlang, at
        least to the same degree as all standard languages are
        conlangs, which I'm infamous to argue for! ;-)

        But I don't agree that "Classical Sanskrit" is a
        misnomer. There certainly are postclassical text which
        while not formally violating any Pāṇinean grammar rules
        represent a quite different idiom, among other things
        going to great length in preferring nominalizations and
        nominal forms to finite verbs and multi-part compounds
        to nominal phrases with inflected attributes; a very
        reduced and formulaic grammar which simply disuses
        large parts of the classical grammar.

        I once had the idea to base an 'Indic auxlang' on that
        style of Sanskrit, an _avyaya-saṃskṛta_ parallel to
        Latino Sine Flexione, using participle stems as verbs
        and aderbs as adpositions. Thankfully I've left such
        nonsense behind me!

        /bpj
      • Jörg Rhiemeier
        Hallo conlangers! ... Thank you for correcting me. I didn t know that the self- designations are known. ... Yes, they are. Closely related but different. ...
        Message 3 of 11 , Dec 31, 2012
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          Hallo conlangers!

          On Monday 31 December 2012 16:05:42 BPJ wrote:

          > On 2012-12-31 14:35, Jörg Rhiemeier wrote:
          > > For instance, we do not know what the people who
          > > spoke what is now known as "Tocharian" called their
          > > own language.
          >
          > Actually we do. 'Tocharian A' is _arśi_ and 'Tocharian
          > B' is _kuśiññe_, i.e. 'Kuchean', and some scholars have
          > taken to calling the two languages "Agnean" and
          > "Kuchean", rightly IMO.

          Thank you for correcting me. I didn't know that the self-
          designations are known.

          > They are two closely related
          > but rather different languages, BTW, comparable perhaps
          > to modern French and Italian.

          Yes, they are. Closely related but different.

          > And I totally think that Sanskrit is a conlang, at
          > least to the same degree as all standard languages are
          > conlangs, which I'm infamous to argue for! ;-)
          >
          > But I don't agree that "Classical Sanskrit" is a
          > misnomer. There certainly are postclassical text which
          > while not formally violating any Pāṇinean grammar rules
          > represent a quite different idiom, among other things
          > going to great length in preferring nominalizations and
          > nominal forms to finite verbs and multi-part compounds
          > to nominal phrases with inflected attributes; a very
          > reduced and formulaic grammar which simply disuses
          > large parts of the classical grammar.

          Sure. I am not an Indologist, so I cannot say what kinds of
          varieties of Old Indic exist, and what to properly name them.

          > I once had the idea to base an 'Indic auxlang' on that
          > style of Sanskrit, an _avyaya-saṃskṛta_ parallel to
          > Latino Sine Flexione, using participle stems as verbs
          > and aderbs as adpositions. Thankfully I've left such
          > nonsense behind me!

          That could be fun to work out, like Ray Brown's TAKE, but one
          should indeed avoid seriously proposing such a beast as an
          auxlang. India already has an auxlang - English ;)

          --
          ... brought to you by the Weeping Elf
          http://www.joerg-rhiemeier.de/Conlang/index.html
          "Bêsel asa Éam, a Éam atha cvanthal a cvanth atha Éamal." - SiM 1:1
        • Matthew Martin
          ... I think a better example of what you are trying to get at is maybe, communication systems like modern mathematical notation or maybe programming languages.
          Message 4 of 11 , Dec 31, 2012
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            >A possible problem is that some languages, such as
            > sign languages, are not directly related to a separate
            > "people/ethny/group/community", so I should "define a people" for each
            > language (American deaf people, lojbanist people, etc.).

            I think a better example of what you are trying to get at is maybe, communication systems like modern mathematical notation or maybe programming languages. In the former case, there isn't necessarily a lot of social interaction of the sort you see with natural languages, there aren't that many competing dialects in the case of math. In the case of programming, most of the time communication is with the computer and sometimes with other software developers. Both of these cut across regular social group & language boundaries.

            Now for the deaf, the Deaf, and lojbanistan:
            The deaf are people who just lost their hearing. If they are late in life deaf, they are learning ASL as a 2nd language, are not necessarily (at first or sometimes ever) very good at it and they prefer to hang out with the English speaking hearing, sort of the way immigrants prefer to hang out in the immigrant community.

            The implication that the Deaf are an incidental group, like the group of people who have to communicate with their hands while their mouths are full of cookies-- in the right part of Washington DC this would lead to a small riot. The Deaf on the other hand, probably speak ASL as their native language, use English as a foreign language and prefer to hang out with other Deaf for the same reason that you (and I) don't immediately gravitate to hanging out with mono-lingual Mongolian speakers. Learning languages is hard and getting people to learn your language is crazy hard and that has real consequences for who you hang out with.

            By the way I highly recommend taking the time to break out of ones normal group, since ASL (and the other SLs) are great fun and Mongolian has awesome pop music.

            I think the people of lojbanistan are indeed an identifiable social group and in a more interesting way than the group of people who are just logic specialists or mathematicians who use Liebniz's notation for calculus. For example, there have been weddings where the vows were in lojban.

            I don't know about your language, but I would imagine a word should reflect the salient points of the world according to the inner logic of your language and it's speakers (which could just be you or some imaginary entity). If social grouping is important, then you will be likely to create words that reflect social characteristics. On the otherhand, in a my cat's conlang, he's going to mostly have words that divide up the world into me, mother cat, edible creatures, creatures that might want to eat me, creatures that don't taste good and things that smell like citrus. In a catlang, social groups are irrelevant noise, like having a word for people who often fart while looking to the east and remembering about the things they should not remember.
          • Leonardo Castro
            ... Mine is kind of a philosophical language. All words from the same class begins with the same CV syllable. For instance, fruits and vegetables names could
            Message 5 of 11 , Jan 9, 2013
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              2012/12/31 Matthew Martin <matthewdeanmartin@...>:
              >>A possible problem is that some languages, such as
              >> sign languages, are not directly related to a separate
              >> "people/ethny/group/community", so I should "define a people" for each
              >> language (American deaf people, lojbanist people, etc.).
              >
              > I don't know about your language, but I would imagine a word should reflect the salient points of the world according to the inner logic of your language and it's speakers (which could just be you or some imaginary entity). If social grouping is important, then you will be likely to create words that reflect social characteristics.

              Mine is kind of a philosophical language. All words from the same
              class begins with the same CV syllable. For instance, fruits and
              vegetables' names could begin with "ma" and be "mapanti" (banana),
              "manansi" (apple), etc.

              So, I can define a single class for people, nation, ethny and language
              or a different class for each one. For instance, we know that
              Kiswahili is "Swahili language", Waswahili is "Swahili culture" and
              Msahili is "Swahili people" (not sure).

              In my language, maybe it would be better define a single term
              "tisuali" (Swahili) and specifying "{language-of} tisuali",
              "{culture-of} tisuali", etc. So, "ti-" would not be a pureblood
              preffix, since all expressions refering to Swahili in any way would
              have the complete expression "tisuali", and other words ending in
              "-suali" could have an unrelated meaning. For instance, "masuali"
              could be use for some Indonesian fruit whose local name resembles
              "suali".
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