Archive for March, 2009

Vulgar Latin

March 29th, 2009 2 comments

I think I could also do with a dictionary of Vulgar Latin… occasionally, I come across etymologies of French, Romansh, or other Modern Romance words, but they typically go to Vulgar Latin.

The dictionary I have is of classical Latin, and I think it’s a bit too “pure” for these purposes.

For example, apparently Romansh “pledar” (to speak) comes from PLACITARE, but my dictionary has no entry for that so I’m unsure what it was supposed to mean in Latin.

Or how French “commencer” is said to come from COMINITIARE — also not present.

At least AFFLARE was there (the root for the Sursilvan word for “to find”).

Categories: meta Tags: , ,

Nominative and the -s

March 27th, 2009 1 comment

It seems that the “predicative -s” in Surselvan as well as the -i/-ai ending of masculine plural participles may derive from the old nominative ending.

Other relics of the nominative case are in nouns denoting humans, such as um/hom itself (< HOMO)

And -s is, in general, retained most where it has morphological function (as a verb or noun ending); less commonly in words such as prepositions or adverbs.

Romansh apparently typically drops all final vowels except -a, which accounts for the vowelless first person singular (chant < CANTO).

And there’s the *P T K > b d g intervocalically thing again that was mentioned in the email. And the palatalisation of word-initial ga- ca- (hardly in the west, in stressed position in the center, and commonly in the east).

And apparently impersonal i is from ILLI.

Categories: Engadinese Tags: ,

Two ös?

March 27th, 2009 Comments off

If I’m going to have two es ([e] vs [ɛ]), I wonder whether I should also have two ös ([ø] vs [œ]).

And if so, how to represent them.

For the e sounds, I have e vs ä (ε and αι in “Greek”, e and æ in “Croatian”, and е and ӕ in “Serbian”, though I suppose э might also be a candidate).

For ö, I currently only have ö (οι in “Greek”, ø in “Croatian”, and ө in “Serbian”).

If I’m going to separate them, œ seems like the obvious character for the open sound in “Romansh” and “Croatian”, though I could simply go the “underspecified” route. I’m not sure sure about the other orthographies, though an οιωι opposition in “Greek” seems like a possibility. “Serbian” is perhaps the most problematic, in part since I don’t know how the sounds are typically represented in languages using the Cyrillic script. Perhaps one of ӧ ӫ ё ұ.

Categories: Engadinese Tags: ,

Updated feed URL

March 27th, 2009 Comments off

I had “burned” the feed for this blog a while ago, and shortly afterwards created an “own-brand” URL under the domain, but hadn’t publicised the new URL.

I now changed the feed URL for the LiveJournal syndicated account, and was going to change the feed link on the blog itself.

I was prepared to dive through the various sources and attempt to hand-hack it, so I grepped through various bits and bobs, until I found something promising in the theme… and saw that the feed URL was apparently controllable through an option! D’oh! I should have expected that.

So I had a look in the dashboard and saw that there was indeed a field for “Current Theme Options”, which included a link for “custom feed URL”. Enabled that, entered the value in the text box, saved, and hey presto! New feed URL behind the syndication icon. Whodathunkit.

Categories: meta Tags:

Future, past, open and closed e

March 27th, 2009 Comments off

Synthetic future and past

So, after reading some more in Rätoromanisch, I see that Ladin *here* has a synthetic future and preterite… so maybe I should resurrect the Ancient Greek future and aorist, respectively, if I want to be like that.

On the other hand, Ricarda Liver notes that:

Das Altsurselvische besaß (wie heute noch das Ladin) synthetische Präteritalformen. Die Geschichte dieses Aspekts des Verbalsystems ist bis heute nicht geschrieben. Es stellt sich die Frage, ob die genannten Präteritalformen je in der gesprochenen Sprache geläufig waren oder ob sie lediglich ein Import (aus Italien?) auf der Ebene der Literatursprache waren.

Though it’s not clear to me whether she’s talking about the Old Surselvan preterite there or about all Romansh synthetic preterites.

Open and closed e

In her phonology of Surselvan, Liver notes that Surselvan has been described as having a vowel system of [i e ɛ a ɔ ʊ u], but that it’s not clear how many of those sounds are separate phonemes.

She says that it’s pretty clear that the “palatal side” is a “four-step system”, i.e. that there are four phonemic front vowels /i e ɛ a/ (with /a/ neutral wrt front/back), but that this is less clear on the “velar side”: there’s only one /o/ (phonetically [ɔ]), and the opposition of /u/ into [ʊ] and [u] is barely, if at all, phonemic: long /u/ tends to be [uː] while short /u/ tends to be [ʊ] (with the notable exception of cudisch [ˈkʊːdiʃ]).

For the opposition /e/ vs /ɛ/, she gives the following minimal pairs (quoting Spescha 1989:58):

pèr [pɛːr] ‚Paar‘ vs. pér [peːr] ‚Birne‘

pèz [pɛts] ‚Brust‘ vs. péz [pets] ‚(Berg)spitze‘

spert [ʃpɛrt] ‚rasch‘ vs. spért [ʃpert] ‚Geist‘

dètg [dɛc] ‚gehörig‘ vs. detg [dec] ‚gesagt‘.

Assuming I make a similar distinction, perhaps I could spell it with ä (open) vs. e (closed), since I more or less decided I’d have ä.

Prepositional accusative

In Ladin, it’s apparently common to use a preposition a, as in Spanish, before a direct object if it is [+animate], especially if it’s [+human].

Possibly consider doing something like that, too. (What’s a in Engadinese, anyway? Some reflex of eis, presumably?)

In summary

I think I could really do with a decent textbook on Vallader 🙂 Especially the phonology and morphology, ideally also the historical sound changes.

Book: Rätoromanisch

March 24th, 2009 Comments off

I bought the book Rätoromanisch on Sunday, and it arrived today.

Even from a brief look, I think it’s going to be useful in working on Engadinese.

Now what I need is a dictionary of Vallader (or, even better, a dictionary/dictionaries of all the idioms), together with a phonology of the various idioms. And, ideally, a sound change history and a grammar. (For example, apparently Ladin has a synthetic future, so Engadinese should maybe have one, too. I wouldn’t have known that since RG chucked it, together with other things that were not attested in all idioms.)

No spam for you

March 23rd, 2009 Comments off

I was wondering why I hadn’t seen spam comments in my queue recently… I just realised this is almost certainly due to the Akismet option to delete-on-sight suspected spam on posts older than a month.

Categories: meta Tags:

Rhaetian Latin

March 23rd, 2009 Comments off

The other day, someone posted in the “pub” of the Romansh Wikipedia asking about sound changes in Rhaetian Latin.

I asked him to email me about the information he had already since the topic interested me, and he gave me a quick dump of some information — very interesting! And I can imagine that it will influence Engadinese.

For example, he said that the umlauting of u to ü must have happened comparatively early, while vowel length was still phonemic, since only long us turned into ü. (Also, only long e merged with short i to i, and only short u with long o to u.)

Also, I’m beginning to think that my decision to introduce umlaut was probably wrong; that is, ö and ü should probably not derive from o and u that have a /j/ or /i/ in the next syllable (and ä not from a plus /j/ or /i/), but from other ways. For example, since /u/ is not overly common in Greek, perhaps I could make long υ into ü and short υ into u, and have ö derive only from οι. (Though length isn’t often marked for iota and upsilon, so I might have to do some more digging if I decide to split up upsilon by original length.) Perhaps having a straight αι οι υ -> ä ö ü mapping might be cleanest and easiest.

With ä being orthographical only, an etymological spelling; I don’t think the pronunciation will differ from e. Unless I introduce /æ/, or differentiate between /e/ and /ɛ/? But the latter would only make sense if I also differentiate between /ɔ/ and /o/, I think, which doesn’t seem likely just now. I think just having ä and e be the same is fine, whatever phonetic value (or range of values — apparently, both/e/ and /ɛ/ and /ɔ/ and /o/ are distinguished in Romansh in speech but not in writing) those symbols will have.

Eta (η) already goes to i, so I have the “long-e merges with short-i” part of Rhaetian Latin; perhaps now to move omega (ω) to u as well to match “long-o merges with short-u”? That would certainly have repercussions, I imagine.

-tio (and -ti- in general) was treated specially, it seems, but I’m not sure whether to take that into account, since that sequence of sounds doesn’t have the same wide distribution in Greek as it does in Latin.

He also mentioned lenition of p t c to v d g intervocalically.

There is also a v ~ b alternation where either sound can turn into the other. But Greek has no /v/, and I’m not sure whether to introduce a phonemic /v/ for Engadinese, so I’m not sure whether that will apply. (My current feeling is to have /b/ have allophones of [b] and [β], possibly even [v], but not as separate phonemes… perhaps something like [b]~[β] word-initially and before a consonant, and [β]~[v] intervocalically.)

(And a random thought from reading too much about Irish recently: introduce cool word-initial morphosyntactically-determined consonant mutations. But that would not be Romansh, so that’ll have to wait for another project.)

Categories: Engadinese Tags: ,

Boundaries of Engadinesia

March 15th, 2009 Comments off
Map of Engadinesia with its divisions as well as adjoining Greater Tyrol

Map of Engadinesia (blue) with its divisions (red) as well as adjoining Greater South Tyrol (magenta). Based on a Wikimedia Commons image by Lencer, used by permission. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

So… just when I thought I had finalised the boundaries of Engadinesia, I had a thought… what about adding in the areas that speak Ladin, in the Dolomites?

This is essentially the four valleys around Piz Boè (clockwise from the north: Gadertal/Val Badia, Buchenstein/Fodom, Fassatal/Fascia, and Gröden/Gherdëina) as well as the valley around Cortina d’Ampezzo/Anpëz a bit further east. Some say that the language of Nonstal/Val di Non is also Ladin rather than a dialect of Italian.

So I had a look at the boundaries that would result from that.

The five main valleys where Ladin is spoken are divided up between three Italian provinces *here* (Trentino, Südtirol/Alto Adige, and Belluno); some say that this was done deliberately, to splinter the Ladin-speaking community.

Be that as it may, I let myself be inspired by the province boundaries of Südtirol and the language boundaries of the Ladin-speaking areas as marked on this map; you can see the result on the map above.

That would also have the advantage that Engadinesia would not be so teeny-tiny any more.

But it wasn’t completely satisfactory, for some reason. Partly, I suppose, because I had already done so much work on the boundaries, and partly because that region was not traditionally associated with Switzerland, Graubünden, or its predecessor leagues.

So I decided I might leave it a bit more similar to *here*. After all, whether or not the various Ladin languages/dialects are related to the Romansh ones isn’t clear (that’s essentially the Questione Ladina).

So I think I would posit some Ladin-ish Graeclangs in the Dolomites in the east, surrounded by a German-speaking area (whether that would belong to a Germany-ish, Austria-ish, Italy-ish, Switzerland-ish, or other-ish country is open), and some Romansh-ish Graeclangs (of which the standard is Engadinese) in the west.

I also decided I would probably not make Engadinesia into a country, since it would be pretty small one. Instead, I would probably make both Engadinesia and Rhaetia be provinces of a bigger country, possibly a Switzerland-ish one.

I might have to update the nomenclature of my subdivisions (provinces and districts might become districts and circles or something, if Engadinesia itself is a province), or I might call Engadinesia a canton or something and leave its provinces. On the other hand, “province” might not be quite the word for so small an area.

Engadinesia with provinces marked. Based on a Wikimedia Commons image by Lencer. Used by permission.

Engadinesia (blue) with provinces marked (in red). Based on a Wikimedia Commons image by Lencer, used by permission. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

Anyway. I thought the “provinces” (as I’ll call them for now) would follow the natural river valleys, so I’d have, clockwise from the northwest: Inn, Adige, Adda, and Mera (these are the English names). The provinces would be named after the main river.

These also correspond to three major river drainage areas: the Inn flows into the Danube, the Adige has a decent-sized drainage area, and Adda and Mera flow into the Po eventually. (I debated leaving the Adda and Mera provinces together, but decided to split them up in the end, partly because Val Bregaglia didn’t really seem to fit well with the valley of the Adda. It’s all subjective in the end.)

I also decided to split up the provinces into districts, and have a semi-final hand-drawn map of those, but haven’t digitised those borders yet. The districts I’m planning to call by the name of the main town in them, in most cases.

You’ll see that I decided to split off not only the Fimbertal/Val Fenga but also Samnaun. So history *there* obviously went differently from history *here*, where those two areas were claimed by farmer and herdsmen from the Inn valley as additional pasture land. (The Valle di Lei is also not part of Engadinesia, since it drains into the Rhine; it’s part of Rhaetia, I think.)

So, now that that’s more or less settled, I just have to see about settling on the actual names in Engadinese — and figure out a better name for the language and the country than Engadinese/Engadinesian!

(For the area, I’m considering “East Rhaetia”, and what’s currently known as “Rhaetia” would then be “West Rhaetia”. But I don’t particularly like that, either.)

Categories: Engadinese Tags: , ,