Roger Mills wrote:
"What's wrong with _sapere_?  Although this unique (I think) retention of
scio would be noteworthy."

and Dan Jones suggested:
"How about something from cognoscere (Fr. connaître) or sapere (Fr.

    My goal was, originally, to make this language rather conservative and
even slavishly dependent upon Classical Latin (despite being firmly grounded
in colloquial speech).  However, in the end, I think that words such as
sapere (Afer sapare) and cognoscere (Afer conoscare or conoxijar - not sure
about that one yet) will probably have their place in Afer as well."

Roger Mills continues:
"Any Berber influence?   If this is taking place around Augustine's time,
don't forget the Vandals.  Also, pre-Islamic, so
probably no vast Arabic influence for a while.  Do we know the ethnic make
up of the native North Africans? Phoenician + Berber, or what?"

    I am attempting to adapt the hypothetical vulgar latin base to the
speech of "libyans" (whoever they were) and "africans" (Punic-speaking North
Africans).  While it is tempting to view the Libyan language as an ancestor
or relative of today's Berber languages, several notable scholars have
cautioned against making this leap.  Of course, what we don't know about
Libyan could fill an ocean - there are, according to the (rather outdated)
corpus, over 1,123 inscriptions in this language, untranslated and possibly
    My specialty is Phoenician, so I'm trying to apply that as well.  Did
you know that Sardinian preserves a few Phoenician words?  I'm not sure how
many are preserved in the North African language, but by some accounts the
word "mufti" is one of them.
    As you can see, North Africa at the time of St. Augustine was very
multicultural.  I'm trying to consider the influence of the Vandals on the
language - perhaps my best option is to go back and attempt to make the
vulgar substrate of Afer some sort of intersection of Sardinian and
Mozarabic.  After all, the Vandals influenced these languages, too.  I don't
want to make this langauge too Germanic however; the past tense is based
upon the Latin perfect (passato rimoto in Italian), and I'm tempted to use
Latin words for the cardinal directions and colors instead of Germanic

Andrew wrote:
"This could be an interesting question.  Does it remain a national
language or become the community language of a religious minority.
Catholic or Donatist, or maybe even Manichaean!"

    That is an interesting question -- originally I was convinced that the
language of the Donatists was some sort of Punic.  Frend's wonderful book
tries to prove that the Donatists were "Libyans" and that the Donatist
movement was an nationalistic movement within the ranks of the Berbers
against the Rome.  I wasn't sure that I swallowed this, and after reading
several good reviews of his book (most noteworthy those of Peter Brown and
Fergus Millar) I became convinced that the Donatists were just as
comfortable with Latin as were St. Augustine's lot, and that Punic and
Libyan were languages of the pagan hordes, for whose souls both parties were
    After all, Latin was the lingua franca in North Africa, so it simply
wouldn't do to evangelize in any other language - given the great diversity
of local dialects that exist there even today.  For the same reason, the
Manichaeans also used Latin and Greek in this area of the world.

    In the real world, a large part of the (Latin-speaking) urbanized
inhabitants of North Africa fled and/or were deported during the successive
invasions of that area after Late Antiquity.  This spelled death for the
development of any Romance language in that area.  When these folks
(Donatists and Manichaens as well as "Catholics") ended up in Italy and
became assimilated, they traded in their old religions for safety (although
some of the more traditional varieties of Roman Catholicism, particularly in
the south, manifest striking Donatist and Manichaean attributes, such as the
cult of the saints or the dualism inherent in the figure of Satan).

     If we are to assume that a Romance language lived on in North Africa,
this could not have happened.  Latin would have remained the preeminent
language of the region.  If and when the Arabs arrived, they would be
assimilated into the local population (as they were in other regions that
they conquered), losing their identity much like the Franks and the Bulgars.
     If the Catholics, Donatists, and Manichaeans were not able to get their
act together before the Arabs arrived and put their differences aside
(possibly evolving into something like traditional Roman Catholicism as
practiced in Southern Italy), the Arabs would most definitely establish a
policy of tolerance for all denominations, so as to ensure that they could
play one sect against another and take advantage of the lack of unity among
the Afer.

     Notice the extreme number of religious denominations existing in the
Middle East today (or, as on of my Harvard Divinity School associates would
say, "wacho Christian sects") - you have Jacobites, Melchites, Maronites,
Chaldeans, Assyrians, "Syriac" (as of 1999), Nestorians, Roman Catholic
varieties in every nation, Orthodox varieties in every nation, in addition
to several different denominations of Judaism (in addition to aboriginal
varieties such as the Jews of Kurdistan or the Samaritans), several
different denominations of Islam, and others that defy description, such as
the Zoroastrians, the Druze, or the Mandaeans.  One scholar has even
suggested that the Monophysite schism was directly responsible for the loss
of Byzantine North Africa (the Copts aided the Arabs against the Orthodox,
and even lended a hand in the conquest of land further west).  This is the
old principle of "divide and conquer" taken to an extreme.

Then Dan inquired:
"What is Chollie short for?"
    It is short for Charles.  I've interacted with many people who either
spoke English as a foreign language or did not speak it at all (whether I
was excavating abroad or working as a groundskeeper here in New England).
In my experience abroad, *everyone* immediately proceeded to call me Charlie
(or Tsarli, or Sharli, or Chollie, or some other variety) once I told them
that my given name is Charles.
    Also, there is a longstanding tradition in the Italo-American community
of abbreviating names and appending an -ie to the end of them -- Vinny,
Paulie, Charlie, Louie, Joey, etc. So, when I worked with the fine people of
Plant Operations at Brown University or the FMO here at Hahvahd, it was only
natural that they (being Italian, or more commonly Portuguese and Cape
Verdean) call me Chollie without a second thought.  I think it suits me.

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