Saturday, 17 June 2017

Crepax's reversed Lautverschiebung


Guido Crepax's Valentina comics feature a subterranean race with a language that was heavily influenced by Germanic languages - he calls it "Lautverschiebung in reverse" as I noted in my previous post.

These stories have recently been published by Fantagraphics in beautiful English editions and I am reading them for the first time. Here are some of the words of the subterranean language, their meanings, and my guesses on where Crepax got them. Most of them are from Gothic.

In writing this post I looked in a bunch of Gothic dictionaries.

HÍMANA
celestial
Gothic himina- "heaven"

LÁIH
body
Old High German líh

NÍMAN
imprison, arrest, take
Gothic niman

QÉNA
queen
Gothic qens "wife"

QÍMAN
came
QAM
come
QÁMAN
come
Gothic qiman "to come", qam "come (1s pret)"

ÍH
I
Old High German ih

WÉIT
we
Gothic wit

NÉH
near
Gothic neƕ

BRÁUKJAN
need
Gothic brukjan

LEBANRAUMNAN
vital space
German Lebensraum

GRÉIPAN
invade
Gothic greipan "to snatch, clasp"

DÁUT
death
Gothic dauþus

WÁRTAN
will
Gothic wairþan "to become"

NÉSJAN
save
Gothic nasjan "to escape"

TIÚDAN
people
Gothic þiuda

WÁRPAN
throw
Gothic wairpan

WATO
water
Gothic watō

DIÚPAN
dive
Gothic diups "deep"

BLÍNTANA
blind
Old High German blint

WÁIHMA
soft
Old High German weih

WÁRMA
warm

WIL
will

SIN
she
Gothic si

MÁGAN
we can
Old High German magan

GÉNAN
go
Old High German gēn

SÁIHANDA
sighted
Gothic saíƕan "to see" with a present participle type ending

LÁUTANA
sonic
German laut

ÚNKARA
our
Gothic unsara

HÁBAI
has
Gothic habai "have" (3s pres act subj)

IÚPANA
up
Gothic iup

SÍLDA TÁGLAN
short hair
Gothic sild is "rare" and tagl is "tail, hair"

ÓGTANDA
scared
Gothic ôgan "to fear" with a present participle type ending

QAD
said
Gothic qaþ, 1s pret of qiþan "to say"

HÉHALD
stop
Proto-Germanic *hehald "stop" (1s past ind)

TAIHÉIT
relative pronoun
Gothic þáiei "relative pronoun (nom pl m)"?

There are a few that I can't find:

LÉTNAN
land

MÁTNAN
man, men

QÉD
kneel

MÁKLA
great

GEQÚNDAN
dances

JGHNA
Virgo

MÁUTIA
woman

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Lautverschiebung in reverse

From Valentina in Sovietland by Guido Crepax

Friday, 14 April 2017

དབུགམ



This is dbu med aka headless aka cursive Tibetan script. There is not much information about this script online. Inspection of these charts and this page suggests to me that the word on this shirt is དབུགམ་ dbugs "breath", which is pronounced something like /uk/.

There is a flourish at the beginning and end; removing those gives you just the 4 characters and 1 vowel diacritic. I am not entirely certain what is up with the second vertical stroke.

The last vertical stroke is tseg (་) the punctuation used to separate syllables. Tibetan marks the ends of syllables, but does not mark the ends of words. This creates an interesting problem, as the Tibetan and Himalayan Library notes: 
Another problem is that since punctuation only marks the boundaries of syllables, and not words, it is not entirely clear how to best combine syllables into separate words when transcribing Tibetan phonetically into Roman script.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

sriracha and Reich

Sriracha sauce is apparently named after the town Sri Racha (ศรีราชา) in Thailand. Thai ศรี s̄rī "glory" and ราชา rāchā "royal" are borrowed from Pali, and are cognate with Sanskrit श्री śrī "glory" and राज rāja "king". polglot vegetarian has much more. 

राज rāja "king" is derived from Proto-Indo-European *h₃reǵ- "to move in a straight line". The lengthened grade form *h₃rēǵ- became Celtic *rīg-yo-, borrowed into Germanic as *rīkja-, becoming German Reich "empire, realm".

श्री śrī "glory" is from PIE *ḱreiH-.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

poecilonym and faw

Proto-Indo-European *peiḱ- "coloured, speckled" (IEW) or "to cut, mark" (AHD) became Greek ποικίλος poikilos "many-coloured, variegated, various", borrowed into English thru Latin as poecilo- as in poecilonym, another word for synonym.

In Germanic it became *faiχoz and English faw "coloured, stained, streaked; particoloured, variegated", which seems to have died out in the 16th century.
Beowulf line 1630: 
lagu drusade ƿæter under ƿolcnum ƿældreore fag 
The lake stagnated, water under the sky stained with the blood of slaughter.
In Latin it became pingō, pictum "to represent pictorially with the pencil or needle, to paint, embroider", borrowed into English as picture and paint.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

soccer and sigil

soccer is from university slang, a form of Assoc., an abbreviation of Association, as in Football Association. Association is borrowed from French association or Latin associātiōnem, from ad-sociāre "to join together with" from socius "sharing, united, allied".

socius is from Proto-Indo-European *sokʷ-yo- from the root *sekʷ- "to follow".

The suffixed form *sekʷ-no- became Latin signum "mark, sign, emblem", the diminutive of which, sigillum, was borrowed into English as sigil.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

hard sounds softening

State of Decay episode 2.

Doctor: Have you heard of the brothers Grimm?
Romana: This is no time for fairy tales.
Doctor: They discovered the law of consonantal shift, how language changes over the years.
Romana: You mean the hard sounds softening, Bs becoming Vs and so on?

Romana then repeats the names of the three officers who have changed into vampires, mimicking how they might have changed over the centuries into their present forms:

Sharkey - Zargo
MacMillan - Camilla
O'Connor - Aukon

This was my first exposure to historical linguistics. Pretty much everything the Doctor and Romana say about Grimm's law is wrong, but the general idea that we can study sound change got through to me. To my knowledge Grimm's law was the first time a set of regular sound changes was described. The law describes the phonological changes that happened to some Proto-Indo-European sounds in Proto-Germanic. It was discovered independently by German philologist Johann Jakob Grimm and Danish philologist Rasmus Kristian Rask.

Here are some examples of Grimm's Law. I've included some non-Germanic cognates for comparison. I'm not assigning any phonetic values to the Proto-Germanic sounds (*þ, *ǥ, *đ etc), but you can see how the sounds changed in the Germanic languages: *p to /f/, *t to /θ/, *k to /h/, and so on.

This information is from the IEW and the AHD.

Proto-Indo-European *p -> Proto-Germanic *f
*peth₂- "to open wide (the arms)"
English fathom
Latin pandō "to open"

Proto-Indo-European *t -> Proto-Germanic *þ
*terh₂- "to cross over"
English through
Latin trāns "across"

Proto-Indo-European *k and *ḱ -> Proto-Germanic *χ
*kap-ut- "head"
English head
Latin caput "head"

Proto-Indo-European *kʷ -> Proto-Germanic *χw
*kʷeih₁- "to rest, be quiet"
English while
Latin quiēs "quiet"

Proto-Indo-European *d -> Proto-Germanic *t
*dwo- "two"
English two
Latin duo

Proto-Indo-European *g and *ǵ -> Proto-Germanic *k
*ǵenh₁- "to give birth"
English king
Latin genus "race"

Proto-Indo-European *gʷ -> Proto-Germanic *kw
*gʷen- "woman"
English queen
Greek gunē "woman"

Proto-Indo-European *bh -> Proto-Germanic *ƀ
*bheuH- "to be, grow"
English be
Old Indic bhūtáḥ "become, being"

Proto-Indo-European *dh -> Proto-Germanic *đ
*dheh₁- "to put, place, stay"
English do
Sanskrit dhā "to put, place"

Proto-Indo-European *gh and *ǵh -> Proto-Germanic *ǥ
*ǵhel- "to shine"
German gelb "yellow"
Greek khlōros "greenish-yellow"

Proto-Indo-European *gʷh -> Proto-Germanic *ƀ or *ǥ
*gʷhen- "to strike, kill"
English bane
Sanskrit hánti "to strike"