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eschaton

On language in Westeros...

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weren't the Tuatha De Danaan really little though? When I read those Marion ZImmer Bradley books she mentioned these little people who were dark... The Children are explicity not human, where as the Native Americans... are.

The Iron Islanders are vile=Scandinavian pirates fits just right. Even if they have some Greek intelligence. They have words like Witan and Kingsmoot and Thralls....

The Anglo-Saxons are Germanic, at that time Anglo-Saxon was closer to German...and German has since changed.

And when I say Celtic, it's because I don't have the linguistic knowledge to research Irish, Scots, Cornish, Breton and Welsh.

At a stab The Riverlands and Vale would be speaking Welsh, The Westerlands would be Scots or Cornish, the Stormlands Irish, and the Reach Breton... It's very hard to describe because the Celtic people were pushed to the far reaches of the world and very few native speakers survive.

But it's like in Westeros by some accident of history the role of the Anglo-Saxons and Celtics was swapped.

No, the "Tuatha Dé Danann" are not what you read in novella and fiction books. They were the ancient gods of the Celtic people who at a latter time were interpreted as to have been real people and their legend turned into myth (as did Snorri with the Heimskringla and the Scandinavian gods).

I never said the Anglo-saxons were not Germanic, on the contrary. But I stated that "runes" are not more Anglo-saxon than Germanic as a whole. And about:

at that time Anglo-Saxon was closer to German...and German has since changed.

No, Anglosaxon was never a place... in any case the people, the anglosaxons lived near other Germanic groups. In reality Germany has 2 provinces, Anglia and Saxony, which could be all that remains about the origins of the Anglosaxons.

How is the role of AS and Celtics swapped? Don't the Children represent Celts and the First Men AS according to you? Then there's no swap.

In any case when I said what I said about "Celtic" groups in general, I was not trying to be overcritical of you in particular, but merely pointing out how abstract the concept is.

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No, the "Tuatha Dé Danann" are not what you read in novella and fiction books. They were the ancient gods of the Celtic people who at a latter time were interpreted as to have been real people and their legend turned into myth (as did Snorri with the Heimskringla and the Scandinavian gods) .

It's true that the Tuatha Dé Danann were actually the ancient Gods of the Celts (like the Children of the Forest are in many ways treated like the gods of the First Men). but I meant that the Children of the Forest were like a pre-human race of magical people, and I happened to have a mistaken belief that the Tuatha De Danann were tiny people... What about the dwarves, elves and Korbalds of Germanic and Norse mythology? The Children could be like that, though they are surely not human.

But until it was decided that the Tuatha De Danaan were obviously the pre-christian Celtic dieties, didn't people believe that they were a mythological magic who inhabited Britain before the Celts?

How is the role of AS and Celtics swapped? Don't the Children represent Celts and the First Men AS according to you? Then there's no swap.

Children of the Forest=Mythological tiny people like Elves, Dwarves, Korbalds, pixies associated with nature. I operated under the mistaken belief that the Tuatha De Danaan where a mythological race of magical tiny people who inhabited Britain before the Celts.

First Humans: In Britain this was the Celts. In Westeros this was the First Men, of whom linguistic evidence points towards speaking a Germanic language.

2nd Wave of Humans: In England this was the Anglo Saxons, forcing the Celts to the far reaches of Britain (Cornwall, Wales, Scotland and Ireland). In Westeros this was the Andals, and there is slight linguistic evidence that the Andals speak a Celtic language (names like Genna, Kevan, Duncan).

So that's what I mean by swapped. Instead of the Celts being the First Humans, it was the Anlo-Saxons who came first. Instead of the Anglo-Saxon's being the wave of invasion, it was the Celts.

3rd Wave: In England The Norman Conquest (French, Latin based language) led by William the Conqueror, In Westeros Aegon the Conqueror leading a few Valyrians (with linguistic evidence pointing towards Valyrian having similarities to Greek).

I never said the Anglo-saxons were not Germanic, on the contrary. But I stated that "runes" are not more Anglo-saxon than Germanic as a whole. And about:

Then the First Men would've had Turkish names, and we would be reading a very different book.

No, Anglosaxon was never a place... in any case the people, the anglosaxons lived near other Germanic groups. In reality Germany has 2 provinces, Anglia and Saxony, which could be all that remains about the origins of the Anglosaxons.

I meant the Anglo-Saxon language would've been closer to German (of that time)

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What's the point of constructing intricate correspondance to real world languages, when it's bleeding obvious that Martin never uses two minutes to do the groundwork for languages on Westeros if one will do. And the language isn't English. (At least I hope it isn't.) The English-with-tweaked-spelling names are the ones that get on my nerves the most in his worldbuilding, because when I read the translation I can't just go "well these names sound just like the language that surrounds them, must be they're translated as well".

No, in normal circumstances in 1000 years languages significantly change.

True.

1000 years ago all Slavic people spoke more or less the same language, now there are huge differences between let's say Russian, Czech and Bulgarian.

False. Excluding that 1000 years is a really short time for the basic grammar, phonology and basic vocabulary (me, sky, child, food, sun) to change... really, no. Proto-languages are way further in prehistory than that. And as people traveled less and had pretty scarce contact with more distant neighbours, in which cases they'd use a more simplified form of the language - nothing to discuss philosophy or finer points of tanning with, but enough to trade goods and news. I don't know Slavic languages that well, but consider the Baltic Finnish languages. They're definately easily identifiable as relatives, but they're still completely different. I don't speak Estonian - but I can follow the conversation, and understand the gist of it between Estonians. I could probably do the same with Livonian speakers, a language which used to be a very widespread and currently has one living native speaker and a handful of others left. Small languages die in the world of fast mass media.

Also, personal insight about the "but the First Men on Westeros would have wanted to abandon their language for Andals' because they though it was cooler!" -idea: it doesn't work that way. A conquering population inspires no desire to be like them. Finland was under Swedish, and later Russian rule. The only way to get yourself heard in official matters was to speak Swedish, for a very long time. Did people want to be like the awesome new rulers and leave their own ancestral language bashfully fall into disuse because it wasn't fashionable? Hell, no. Language is how you define the world to yourself. If your only contact to a new language is in official business, why should that change the words you need every day, to talk to your family, your ox, your gods?

(And personally I maintain that seeing what Sweden did/does to its Finnish speaking population oop noorth, going from a Swedish backwoods that supplied their cannon fodder, to a Russian grand duchy was the damned best thing to have happened at that point in history. And we got lucky the following next century too, before full independence.)

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But until it was decided that the Tuatha De Danaan were obviously the pre-christian Celtic dieties, didn't people believe that they were a mythological magic who inhabited Britain before the Celts?

No, actually you are mistaken there. It's not like "they decided" for the Tuatha you have as a source the Leabhar Ghabala, the Book of Invasions, there, the medieval author treats the Tuatha as if they were a very ancient people. Not magical, not elvish, just a culture long since extinct. After making some comparisons with other sources it was concluded that many of those names were in fact ancient deities that had been applied the same logic as the Scandinavian gods were in the Heimskringla, where it is said that they were actually people who lived in a kingdom in Asia (hence, Ásgard, totally invented BS by the author, but very fashionable in medieval times).

You seem to assume a lot. I still don't get why you think that runes=Anglosaxons... I mean... Scandinavians used them a lot more, and the Goths developed an alphabet that hints that they too knew runes in some form... so I don't know why they are ANGLOSAXON and not just any Germanic people.

Also Rakka's post hits on the spot. Martin never had all these language stuff in mind when creating his work... I don't think that if runes were Turkish the books would've changed...

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What's the point of constructing intricate correspondance to real world languages, when it's bleeding obvious that Martin never uses two minutes to do the groundwork for languages on Westeros if one will do. And the language isn't English. (At least I hope it isn't.) The English-with-tweaked-spelling names are the ones that get on my nerves the most in his worldbuilding, because when I read the translation I can't just go "well these names sound just like the language that surrounds them, must be they're translated as well".

=-====

No, actually you are mistaken there. It's not like "they decided" for the Tuatha you have as a source the Leabhar Ghabala, the Book of Invasions, there, the medieval author treats the Tuatha as if they were a very ancient people. Not magical, not elvish, just a culture long since extinct. After making some comparisons with other sources it was concluded that many of those names were in fact ancient deities that had been applied the same logic as the Scandinavian gods were in the Heimskringla, where it is said that they were actually people who lived in a kingdom in Asia (hence, Ásgard, totally invented BS by the author, but very fashionable in medieval times).

You seem to assume a lot. I still don't get why you think that runes=Anglosaxons... I mean... Scandinavians used them a lot more, and the Goths developed an alphabet that hints that they too knew runes in some form... so I don't know why they are ANGLOSAXON and not just any Germanic people.

Also Rakka's post hits on the spot. Martin never had all these language stuff in mind when creating his work... I don't think that if runes were Turkish the books would've changed...

Because Anglo-Saxons live in England, off which Westeros is obviously based.

I don't think I could answer your first question without referencing a type of literature that is forbidden on these fora...

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Because Anglo-Saxons live in England, off which Westeros is obviously based.

Oh, I see now.

I don't think I could answer your first question without referencing a type of literature that is forbidden on these fora...

Lol, XD there's a type of literature that is forbidden? Well tell me on private message, please!

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You quoted:

1000 years ago all Slavic people spoke more or less the same language, now there are huge differences between let's say Russian, Czech and Bulgarian.

You said:

False. Excluding that 1000 years is a really short time for the basic grammar, phonology and basic vocabulary (me, sky, child, food, sun) to change... really, no. Proto-languages are way further in prehistory than that.

False. There are some 1000 years between Proto-Slavic (the ancestor language) and Modern Slavic languages (maybe even less, but it's hard to be exact, as it difficult to define a point on timeline where the modern/new language was formed, as there are no such clear moment or breakingpoints, but it's all a gradual transition). Now, it depends what one defines as "huge differences", but the differences are way bigger than between let's say the language of Vale, Mountain clans, North, Reach and Iron Islands (where everybody can understand each other). I can understand some separate words from other Slavic languages, but certainly can't understand a body of text (outside of some words) or a normal conversation in other Slavic language.

Basic vocabulary is similar in many cases (but for "food" it would be Russian "pisca" (simplified transliteration), Czech "jidlo", Bulgarian "hrana"). Grammar differences out of my head between Russian and Bulgarian:

Russian: no article (the/a), Bulgarian: existence of definite article as suffix (hrana - food, hranata - the food)

Russian: noun declension, 6 cases; Bulgarian: no declension (more or less)

Russian: simplified verb tenses (3 tenses), Bulgarian: more complex tense system, several past tenses

Russian: future tense is formed by special form of verb "be" + infinitive; Bulgarian: future tense is formed by a form of verb "will/want" + present tense.

etc.

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Could I get some sources for that. I find it incredibly hard to believe that a mere 1000 years would be enough to create such changes. I remain doubtful until you get some credible sources, sorry. Languages just don't change that fast.

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Certainly you don't expect me to link everything I wrote? Use google translate for the translations, and wikipedia articles for checking the grammar stuff, I guess the Bulgarian and Russian has a satisfying grammar descriptions. Or think about the differences between French, Italian, Romanian and Spanish, they all evolved from Vulgar Latin (Latin as it was spoken), or you don't believe that those languages are significantly different. You are Finnish, aren't you? You know some Swedish, don't you? Check the difference between Old Norse, as spoken in Sweden in Viking times and Swedish spoken today.

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Not to be misunderstood, the word for "food" in different languages obviously didn't evolve from the same source. I'm Slovenian, we have the same word for food as Bulgarian "hrana". The Czech word "jidlo", could be analyzed as "jid-lo" or "ji-dlo", where "ji(d)" is related to Slovenian word "jesti" to eat (in Proslavic it would be *jedti), so it means "what's eaten". The Russian word "pishcha" is related to Slovenia verb pit-ati, which means to "to feed an animal". Slovenian word "picha" is related to Russian "pishcha", historically in Slovenian it meant "fodder, animal food", but now it means "bird fodder". There's something wrong with Russian diet, if you ask me.

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Could I get some sources for that. I find it incredibly hard to believe that a mere 1000 years would be enough to create such changes. I remain doubtful until you get some credible sources, sorry. Languages just don't change that fast.

How can you not believe it? Try to read the Beowulf in its original language if you want to talk about language variation! Hwaet we gardena in geardagum... this is Old English

According to experts it is dated c. 8th to 11th century... if you split the difference (i.e. 9.5th century) and do the math (we are in the 21st century) then you've got 1000~1150 years approx. and the changes are so vast that no English speaking person can read it and understand it in its original language. Waestú hál!

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False. There are some 1000 years between Proto-Slavic (the ancestor language) and Modern Slavic languages (maybe even less, but it's hard to be exact, as it difficult to define a point on timeline where the modern/new language was formed, as there are no such clear moment or breakingpoints, but it's all a gradual transition). Now, it depends what one defines as "huge differences", but the differences are way bigger than between let's say the language of Vale, Mountain clans, North, Reach and Iron Islands (where everybody can understand each other). I can understand some separate words from other Slavic languages, but certainly can't understand a body of text (outside of some words) or a normal conversation in other Slavic language.

No. 1000 years ago, Brižinski spomeniki were written and they are decidedly Slovene. A proto-slavic language must have been very different and it existed between 4th and 6th century. So there is about 1500 years between that and modern languages, not 1000.

You showed three posts later that you know something about the theme:

Not to be misunderstood, the word for "food" in different languages obviously didn't evolve from the same source. I'm Slovenian, we have the same word for food as Bulgarian "hrana". The Czech word "jidlo", could be analyzed as "jid-lo" or "ji-dlo", where "ji(d)" is related to Slovenian word "jesti" to eat (in Proslavic it would be *jedti), so it means "what's eaten". The Russian word "pishcha" is related to Slovenia verb pit-ati, which means to "to feed an animal". Slovenian word "picha" is related to Russian "pishcha", historically in Slovenian it meant "fodder, animal food", but now it means "bird fodder".

... but your persepctive of time is off.

Oh, and čšž work here. I had some problems deciphering "picha". As Mormont's raven tells us: "Piča! Piča! Piča!" :)

There's something wrong with Russian diet, if you ask me.

:P

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I am certainly not an expert and most people here seem to be very knowledgeable about linguistics, but hasn't Icelandic remained relatively unchanged for about 1,000 yrs?

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No. 1000 years ago, Brižinski spomeniki were written and they are decidedly Slovene. A proto-slavic language must have been very different and it existed between 4th and 6th century. So there is about 1500 years between that and modern languages, not 1000.

There's something wrong with your math. For example, there are 1500 years between protoslavic and modern languages, if you assume that modern languages were formed in 21 century. Or, you say that Brizinski spomeniki are decidedly Slovene (10 century), but that would make the change from Protoslavic (6 century) to Slovene (10 century) less than 500 years or around 500 years. Which is it than, 500 or 1500?

As I said is hard to point to an exact point in timeline where one language ceased (Protoslavic) and another started (Slovene or any other modern Slavic language), so we can talk about centuries up and down (Old Church Slavonic from 9th century was clearly understood among Slavs living elsewhere (the language was based on Slavic spoken in Northern Greece) and practically considered the same language in Panonia for example), but fact remains that in 1000 years languages normally widely change.

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I am certainly not an expert and most people here seem to be very knowledgeable about linguistics, but hasn't Icelandic remained relatively unchanged for about 1,000 yrs?

Not that I am any expert on that issue, but RELATIVELY yes. In absolute terms, it's the language that changed significantly less from Old Norse in Viking Era than any other Scandinavian language.

One of factors may be wide literacy and strong saga tradition in post viking period.

Another is their isolation. Languages in isolation are either conservative or inovative or both. If you consider language change as a wave, going wider and wider from the center, where change started, such wave doesn't reach a related language/change in isolation. On the other hand if a change starts in a isolated position it can't reach the other related languages/dialects. If you imagine a vowel shift, let's say "a > e" starting somewhere in Sweden, if successful this shift would move slowely through related dialects/languages, reach Norway for example, but there it would stop on the Atlantic shore (if there's limited interaction by migrations and else between Norway and Iceland), on the other hand change which started in Iceland may never reach Scandinavia.

This obviously answers the question why is Icelandic more different than other Scandinavian languages and partly why it is more conservative than let's say Norwegian, but it doesn't answer very satisfactorily why it isn't more inovative.

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There's something wrong with your math. For example, there are 1500 years between protoslavic and modern languages, if you assume that modern languages were formed in 21 century. Or, you say that Brizinski spomeniki are decidedly Slovene (10 century), but that would make the change from Protoslavic (6 century) to Slovene (10 century) less than 500 years or around 500 years. Which is it than, 500 or 1500?

As I said is hard to point to an exact point in timeline where one language ceased (Protoslavic) and another started (Slovene or any other modern Slavic language), so we can talk about centuries up and down (Old Church Slavonic from 9th century was clearly understood among Slavs living elsewhere (the language was based on Slavic spoken in Northern Greece) and practically considered the same language in Panonia for example), but fact remains that in 1000 years languages normally widely change.

Sorry, I did not express myself properly. I did not want to imply that a document written about 1000 AD is modern language, I just wanted to say that its language is different from other Slavic languages and that 1000 years ago there was not any Slavic language that others developed from, but that there were already different languages (developed from another, which was common for all of them).

So we agree that in 1000 years languages normally widely change. Which is not the case in Westeros. I believe GRRM just did not want to bother with lingustic.

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An important note:

modern era with wide literacy (and even more modern with compulsory school where you learn literary standard, and even more modern with massmedia), somehow halts language change and helps the language (at least literary standard, but partially spoken language too) to remain "fossilized".

In past language change was "faster", Westeros is part of this past, and there the change would be faster than one we may notice in last 2-3 centuries.

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Sorry, I did not express myself properly. I did not want to imply that a document written about 1000 AD is modern language, I just wanted to say that its language is different from other Slavic languages and that 1000 years ago there was not any Slavic language that others developed from, but that there were already different languages (developed from another, which was common for all of them).

So we agree that in 1000 years languages normally widely change. Which is not the case in Westeros. I believe GRRM just did not want to bother with lingustic.

I'm happy we agree.

Martins' "language world" is unrealistic. But it's not something I would complain too much, I can accept it, lingustics is just not his strong side. For me the biggest problem of his invented world, is how Earth flora and fauna (boars, deer etc) survive multiyear winter. There is either no multiyear winter, or no animals we know from our Earth. Still, maybe he can find an explanation at the end of the series (or he already found it, I don't know), but this is offtopic, no need to discuss it here.

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How can you not believe it?

It's the "every slavic tribe spoke the same language 1000 years ago" part that I don't buy. Sorry about the confusion. Thousand years is plenty of time to change a language, no doubt about that.

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