Isidora Zamora sikyal: > I think I already know the answer to my question, but I'm going to run it > by you all anyway. > > One of my conlangs has a speaker base with a communal history stretching > back somewhere between 1500 and 3000 years. (Sorry not to have a more > accurate figure. I know one of those numbers is double the other > one.) These people live over a distributed geographical area in > independent villages and small towns with plenty of room in between. They > have had no written language (though that is about to change), but they > have a very strong shared oral tradition consisting of their history as a > people (which is still being composed) and their civic and religious > rites. This oral corpus is very large, and it has the effect of binding > them together into one culture so that they have remained a single people > rather than drifting apart into many tribes with many languages. > > My question is this: considering the time scale involved, do these people > speak one language or two? My guess is that they speak several languages, or have a dialect continuum covering the area where they live. Unless the community is very small, it's unlikely that all of the synchronic dialects will still be mutually intelligible. As for the oral tradition--like Padraic (I think), there would almost certainly be a difference in register between the poetic and everyday language. If the poetic corpus was relatively open and actively used, the two languages would probably remain mutually intelligible, but there would be significant differences. Consider the differences between Homeric and Koine Greek. Literate Greek-speakers in the late classical world could be expected to understand Homer, at least passively, but Homer retained a great many inflections, vocabulary items, and linguistic patterns that were completely dead in the vernacular. He also preserved traces of even older linguistic features, like the digamma, which were no longer pronounced but could still be discerned by poetics. Things like this could probably exist as differences between the vernacular and poetic language. It's stuff to think about, at least. -- Jesse S. Bangs [log in to unmask] http://students.washington.edu/jaspax/ http://students.washington.edu/jaspax/blog Jesus asked them, "Who do you say that I am?" And they answered, "You are the eschatological manifestation of the ground of our being, the kerygma in which we find the ultimate meaning of our interpersonal relationship." And Jesus said, "What?"