Ok. I’m going to try to move some ‘comments’ to a new venue.


  1. skitterling

    Humptulips, WA…

    • CJ

      😆 you guys!
      Washington has a lot of flower industry: over on the wet side, there are districts of fields of tulips, like Holland, or iris, near St John. Sounds like part of the flower district to me!

  2. Busifer

    It’s a shame the more bizarre place names here in Sweden don’t translate. Most of them meant something in an ancient dialect 2000 years ago, and in some instances the name is as then and the meaning of the words have changed. In other cases the names has been mangled into obscurity. What about Aspesta (“carrion-pestilence”) or Mensträsk (“menstrual swamp”)? I bet those place names didn’t mean that, originally 😉

    “Sverige”, our own name for Sweden, means “Svea Rike”, the kingdom of the Svea, which was just one of several local tribes. But apparently the most successful (no one know what really happened, it was long ago and the people were largely illiterate so history was oral = lost to us). Anyway, excellent example on how place names and words has change here, throughout history.

    • philospher77

      I’m thinking that they might very well have meant that back then. I can see the first being the site of some great battle or illness, and thus mentioned that way long enough that people just associated the name with the place. The second one is both harder and easier, depending on how tribes acted way back when. But in many cultures it is common to isolate women who are menstruating, because of fear of “contagion”, and if that was a custom of the local tribe way back when, then I can see calling the spot where they were sent “menstrual swamp”, assuming there was a swamp there.

      On the other hand, if the meaning of the words has actually changed, then this is just an example of forcing names to mean something. 🙂

      • Busifer

        It’s a change of meaning AND distortion of the original spelling/pronunciation and has nothing to do (that I know of) with women’s periods. The first registered spelling was ‘mäns’. And in local vernacular ‘träsk’ is not ‘swamp’ but ‘lake’, and the lake was brimming with fish, and thus popular.

  3. Sgt Saturn

    Speaking of country/city names that change radically when “Englished”. I’ve always wondered why a certain starship is named Norway and not Norge, as the locals would spell it.

  4. mitha

    Southern Indiana has “Gnaw Bone,” which, according to one theory, may have originally been “Narbonne.”

  5. oded

    Talking linguistic, two questions:
    1: in Foreigner, Atevi lenguege used “ji” to express honorific sufix or just mean “sir”.
    which is exactly what it mean in Hindi. does Atevi has more Hindi words like that? funny thing is, I read Foreigner when I was traveling in Nepal last year.

    my second question is about the series of books called Arafel.
    I wonder from where this word came there? I know Arafel just mean fog in hebrew. is that where the word taken from?

  6. CJ

    Actually its Gaelic spelling is Aoibheil…a-o’-i-vel…I tried to think of a Gaelic name that would be easy to pronounce. But with examples like Cearbhallain and Fionnghuala, (Carolan and Finella) it’s kind of a hard job. 😉

    -ji is construed as an honorific, used to intimates, with respect. It means: I view you as a close associate or a member of my trusted circle, but should not be used of persons outside one’s age-group, so Cajeiri would never be Geri-ji to Bren, or Bren-ji to Cajeiri. I wasn’t thinking of Hindi, actually, but you’re right. It must have been lodged somewhere in the subconscious.

  7. oded

    Ho, I understand now the honorific distinction.
    in Hindi its a little different I think. Indian ji is suffix to a name to give honor ether it youre assosiate or a stranger(I think). Hindi being a lenguege of a culture based on a caste system, you have different words for youre sabordinates and to youre superiors (and different for equalls).

    Im surprised now, that Arafel is actually celtic…in Hebrew Arafel sound so mistic…being haze or thick clouds towering over the hills. well, it sounded very gealish, isnt it? riders in the green hills riding through the fog…always remind me the old movies about king Arthur.

    What I wobder is the origin of Gaelic (Celtic), and its connection to Latin, and latinian lengueges.
    while study Roman republic history, I thought Gaelic were people who lived in Galia (France of today. galia transalpina) and northern Italy (galia kisalpina) so one would expect theire lenguege is from the same family as Roman Latin is.
    is gaelic lenguege spoken in Britain at the time before saxon invasion was different?

    • CJ

      Ah. Gaelic (Irish and Scots) is an old language, but it is Indo-European, related to Latin, to Greek, to Sanscrit, and various others.

      The Romans (the Latini tribe, who were one of the main groups within the Roman people) came south in about 2000 BC, at about the same time the Spartans came south. The Romans and Spartans shared many things: the twin founding gods, the double throne, a respect for Castor and Pollux, the twin serpent image, a military culture, and the red cloaks made famous by both cultures. They may have been one people up in the Balkans or further west. The Latini allied with the Oscans, Samnii, Umbrians, Itali, and various other tribes, took their collective name from Roma, their chief city, were conquered by the Etruscans and were under Etruscan kings for a while, but overthrew them in favor of a democracy under consuls.

      They were attacked by non-urbanized, semi-nomadic tribes from the north, Celtae, and conducted intermittent warfare. The Celtae ARE the Galli, or Gaels. The Celtae settled finally and quit coming south (on one occasion they burned Rome and slaughtered the elderly who could not get into the protective citadel), but their small tribal states were frequently at war with each other, some of them allying with Rome, and some tribes attacking the ‘city’ Celtae, until Julius Caesar came up into Gaul and first established a general peace on the region, then prevented other tribes (German and Bohemian) from using the region (France) as a highway. He was advised, he says in his memoirs, that there was a region in Britain that would be perpetually agitating within France, and he went over to see what it was. That proved to be trouble—because there were not only Gaels there, but Pictae (who were older tribes than the Gaels) and that one expedition was not going to have any effect. He left it, and went back to Rome.
      A later ruler, under the Empire, actually invaded the island in force, and established townships and fortifications, which Rome hoped would attract the Gaels in and get them to adopt a quiet life in towns. THis generally worked, so that when Rome fell, some 500 years later, the locals tried to maintain Roman ways long after the legions had left. Some spoke Latin. But the language of the country, and of France, was Gaelic, mixed with Latin. And then the Germanic peoples invaded—the Angles and Saxons, who brought their own language, a Germanic speech. The mixing created English, with Latin rules, Gaelic/Germanic words for farming and war, and Latin words for scholarly concepts. Most educated people still corresponded in Latin, for hundreds of years after, and most official documents were in Latin. But the peoples north of the Roman Wall, and in Wales and in Ireland had always communicated in Gaelic, and continued to do so until they were brought under British rule, and compelled to use English (which by that time had superceded Latin as the official language). This forced conversion of languages worked, so that Gaelic nearly died out, along with Cornish and other local languages of Britain, but a movement began in Ireland to start teaching Gaelic again, so it is a living language in Ireland. The Scots don’t use it, but maintain a unique accent of their own, and many gaelic (gallic) words from pre-Roman times.

  8. oded

    Wow, thanks for the short history of gaelic! its truely fascinating to discover origion of so many english words coming from gaelic/celtic and germanic. the pronounciatin was rather harder than now, and many silent conconants droped from the wrriten word, its so interesting!

    English is so adaptive and flexible lenguege! and originated from 4 lengueges… I always thought english is mix of normanic (old french) and saxon.
    I didnt know avbout gaelic contribution but its make sense.
    reading gaelic words make me understand why Scots and Irish have that distinc accent when they speak English.

    thank you very much for the info!

    Romans versus Spartans, the Romans belived romolus and remos were spartans… I never thought they are from same origion. well, we know about 2000 BC Dorian imigration to greece but we have no record of what happened in Italy at the same time. I always thought latinian ethnic groups were different then dorian greeks. but maybe they were…before they moved to grece and became greek by culture and lenguege.
    I remember reading the story of decoding linear A script that had been found in Israel in the philistinian ancient towns (I think Ashkelon). the archiologists wondered for years what lenguege those people talked. the bible claimed they are from Crete (maybe from time of minos culture who escaped when the volcano errapted?).
    well, decoding of linear A using modern technologies discovered Linear A is an old script of Greek…the bible guess was right

    • CJ

      Yes, I’ve seen that theory about the Danaoi of ancient Greece being the Danites of the Bible, and another theory linking them to the Sea People who troubled the Egyptians. If you stand on the shore of Crete at a certain spot, you can see a haze that is Africa—whether Egypt or Libya I’d have to check a map to be certain. But certainly the myths of Greece connect the Perseus story (whose mother, yes, is Danae) to trips to Egypt. The site of excavations at Mycenae shows numerous phases in the growth of that city, one of which would be the Danaoi—and some of the grave goods are the daggers decorated with papyrus and leopards, but done in a Greek style. There was a connection there, but exactly what is a question. As is whether or not a party of Danaoi ended up in the Eastern Med. Certainly the eruption of Thera meant upheaval of the whole south Aegean, but the upheaval was likely not just of the ocean, but of the power structure, the politics, everything that had been certain. The things that send a small group of people off in a different direction than the rest of their culture (there’s evidence of Minoans in Greece as well) are likely to be political, religious, or ethnic. Perhaps escapees from Thera were not happy being ruled by Minoans. Perhaps there was a Greek invasion into Minoa after the disaster, and certain Minoans wanted to get out of town. Perhaps the legend citing the Danaoi as Perseus’ band is correct, and they were already ruling in Crete when the Athenian legend says Theseus (of a different Greek ethnic group) killed the minotaur (which could be a telling of the breaking of Minoan power) and carried off a Cretan princess. A lot was going on, told like a drama lit only by occasional flashbulbs, but there are strong hints in oral tradition that the Cretans once ruled the seas, and that successive Greek regional kings dealt with Egypt and broke Cretan power with the help of a major volcanic upheaval.
      There are a lot of subsequent legends that place Minoan princesses in Greek royal houses. I’ve been through small museums in Sparta and in Thebes that have ample evidence of Minoan-like altars and items, including styles of dress, from around that period, ca. 1400 BC.
      It’s a very interesting period, before the Dorians came down. The Dorians brought a more austere culture, and had their strongest areas in Macedonia, and in Sparta.

  9. oded

    Indeed its a fascinating period.
    I read a few books, that claimed Dorian immigration pushed the Ions seaside (into Asia minor and eastern middeteranian coast).
    the sea people are interesting since so many epigraphic sources mention them. correct me if I wrong but Ugarit anals wrote about the seage the sea people inflict on them. Phinicians, hebrew and Egyptian sources mantioning the sea people as a brutal force who invaded the ancient east shore. there were a few events happening in a brief amount of time. the Volcano erraption and the Dorian invasion/immigration happened consequently, bringing many immigrants sea side… who were these people, where they came from etc is still a question in ancient history. Linear A is greek. archeological remains give us more clues about theire origion but certainly that is not a proof.

    I really like that period, when history as we know it didnt happened yet.
    I read a controversy scholar. maybe Emanuel Vilikovsky. he say there were no dark ages in greece (between trojan war and classic greece). its interesting but I doubt this man is right. having troja existed around 12 centuary (according to some historians) 14 centuary greece could answer some questions about the political structure of pre-troja time. I wonder if Troja ever existed… and if it related to the mikenease-minoa’s political and trade strugle.

    regarding Egypt, does the collapse of the early kindom happen with the help of sea people?Ho, its so interesting and confusing. spacially when you need to distinguish mith and reality…
    I always though about some mithical book wriiten by some very early Homerus will be found somewhere and spoon-feed us. or at least give us some more clues.

    a little off from Linguistics…

  10. BlueCatShip

    Heh, find a Rosetta stone for Etruscan. Or Linear-A or -B. Or the Phaistos Disk. Or Minoan.

    There may be plenty of old scrolls and tablets running around in some ancient footlocker or sock drawer or hope chest. Past due Alexandrian Library books? :p Wonderful, if so. Some known authors or totally unknown authors.

    Heck, there’s plenty of room for unknown civilizations in the Americas and Africa, Asia, even in Europe. There had to be other tribes among the Indo-Europeans or before them.

    Anyone want to guess if there was a historical basis for elves in Europe? :evil-laugh:

    • CJ

      Catch “The Desert Mummies” on Discovery. Mummified by the sands in Asia, a group of Europeans going way back. One of the interesting features is a shaman in a tall pointy hat of the sort tradition has assigned to wizards.

      My own hobby back when I was in university was mapping the ethnic groups of ancient Greece by a) who were the heroes of a particular area, and b) what is their family tree as given by the myths and c) where are they alleged to have gone and what are they alleged to have done.

      I believe the pre-history of tribal Greece is available, but it is in the code of the myths. Achilles, for instance, is born of a river-nymph: read: a stream-goddess of an older tribe which once had a much wider area; his great rival and enemy, but the person he has to serve, is Agamemnon of the house of Atreus, which arrived later, but born of a Minoan wife—much ado about a golden fleece (not the one in the Jason tale, but a different one) and the wife hanged herself (members of her house, related to the Sun-god, tend to die suspended in air)… The house of Atreus is noted for infamy and murder, and only holds power because of Helen’s ancestry: she’s got the heredity of every single tribal group preceding the house of Atreus, so having her as a wife means power. Losing her—well, you can see why Agamemnon needed to help his brother Menelaos get his wife back. Agamemnon was married to her sister, and that woman plotted his death while he was gone. No love lost there: and she carried out the murder with the labrys, the double-headed axe, an important religious symbol of the Minoans, et al: read priestess-queen on a mission. Of which we have several samples in myth. Etc.

  11. BlueCatShip

    And “Helen” means a Greek or Greeks generally.

    House of Atreus — Later reached fame with that book about the guy with the religious-military complex and a thing for worms. 😉 Or a kid on a horse with a luck-dragon buddy. 😉

    Huh, pointy hat wearing shaman, early Europeans crossing into Asia eh? I haven’t seen that, sounds good.

  12. CJ

    Helen, Hellas—it’s what you call ‘eponymous’, meaning, “Well, we dunno, but she was prototypical…” Actually her actual ancestry was in our terms pre-Greek, but there was an even more eponymous Hellas somewhere back there. Then you’ve got the Argives, who are another mixed bag; and the Messenians, who are related to the Helots, are probably somewhat proto-Spartan in origin and didn’t like the Dorian Spartans at-all. On the other hand, they and whoever the Helots were may not have liked each other much at all, because any Helot who wanted to could easily get across the ridge to the Messenians, who were nominally their kin; and for some reason they stayed where they were, under Dorian Spartan rule—(actually paying 20% of their produce in taxes to their Spartan lords, which is waaaaay better than the Athenian tax rate, which was about 40-50%. It probably was better being a Helot than an Athenian farmer with a landlord.)

  13. BlueCatShip

    Childhood mispronunciations:

    Somewhere around 6th or 7th grade, my English teacher that year (Mrs. Daily) knew I could read well without pauses and so forth, so she asked me to read a passage, among others in the class. Then I got to disheveled, a word I hadn’t seen or heard before. I think I knew the meaning, but I pronounced it, “diss-HEEV-uld,” which makes a certain amount of sense. She corrected me gently enough. I hadn’t thought of that in years. — It took me years not to want to spell tomorrow with two M’s, though I don’t know why.

  14. Apf

    Athenian farmers though were freemen and didn’t have to deal with the krypteia wandering around at night looking for any helots getting to uppity.

    • CJ

      The krypteia was primarily active during the helot wars post-earthquake. Herodotus made it sound as if they were permanent. THe purpose of the krypteia was to ferret out Messinians masquerading as helots and conducting guerilla war against Sparta, which had no walls, and therefore was quite vulnerable to such goings-on.

  15. Ragi-at-heart

    Out of curiosity, how much of each alien language have you laid out? Have you planned only the words you use, do you have rough grammatical forms, or is it laid out in exacting detail?

  16. CJ

    Sketchy. I have a notion of the grammar, but it’s assembled as I go, based on the grammar I have an inkling of.

  17. HRHSpence

    Speaking of which, CJ. I have just finished Chapter 4 of my sketch of the Ragi language. It is the TMA system or the verbal complex and complex it is. 2 more chapters to go, Modifiers and Numeric Harmony. That last one is the killer!

  18. HRHSpence

    I just finished the rough draft! woot! now for the major editing. I know, write BS, edit brilliantly.

  19. HRHSpence

    Gath = 1, reib = 2, dhef = 3, trad = 5, jeid = 7, djoch = prime.
    Gath Casimi chate in. Thu treime in. Thu baire in. Reib thu thuisit shaidhati fogu pete in. Dhef thu bekati-ta shail lekati-on muche in.

    Casimi = common male name
    chat = wake
    treim = arise
    bair = wash
    pet = feel
    shaidj = stomach
    fog = hurt
    much = eat
    bek = egg
    shail = and
    lek = bread

    A word about 2 and its multiples. Two indicates opposition, fighting and conflict. All are infelicitous. Infelicity us to be avoided. It hurts the sensibilities of even the roughest of atevi. Civilized people do not use 2, two, pair, bi-lateral or any such concept. To avoid this usage, unless it is your deliberate intention to discomfort those you are listening to.

    Each of these numeric indicators has a feeling. One is a starting place, a neutral feeling. We have discussed the conflict of two. Three resolves the conflict. Five is stable, life is as it should be. Seven is stable, but leading to something else. Prime is all that one and five are, but it includes the universe as well. Talented orators use the feelings of these numeric indicators like movie makers use a soundtrack. Your use will influence your listeners emotions while you speak. In the above story about Casimi, we start with three sentences that have gath as the numeric indicator. This sets the stage. We have conflict with his hungry, and hurting stomach. Hence that sentence uses reib. We have resolution with him eating his breakfast.

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