On 26/03/2014 17:47, Pete Bleackley wrote:
> This is a good opportunity to quote my conlanging motto,
>  "Let your language decide."

Which is all very well, no doubt, for an artlang.  Maybe at
some stage Bretainois will have developed enough that I get
a "feel" for the way it is going; but it is nowhere near
that stage at the moment.

> It's not a matter of whether sound change A or sound
> change B is more plausible - as far as I can tell, both
> are equally likely.

The only trouble is that _plausibility_ is an essential part
of this thought experiment.  I had thought one development
more likely than another - but that was questioned.  Indeed,
rather more than questioned; I was told privately by a
conlanger whose linguistic savvy I respect that my choice
was implausible.  That is why I brought the problem to the list.

> It's a subjective, artistic decision as to which you
> feel suits the language better, so it's entirely your
> call.

Sadly, no.

On 26/03/2014 18:37, And Rosta wrote:
> Except that the fascinating thing about Ray's project is
>  that it isn't artistic and subjective but rather is a
> scrupulously scholarly best estimate of what a British
> Romance language would have been like (given certain
> minimal foundational uchronian assumptions). Really it's
>  an engelang and a work of creative scholarship.

Yes, I hadn't thought of it as an engelang - it's not the
usual type - but it does feel rather like engineering.  I'm
trying to avoid the merely subjective.   It is a _thought
experiment_, and I am trying to be as objective as possible.
  It ain't easy.

> And it's a deep pleasure to see it unfold and read Ray's
>  justifications for each detail.

Thank you.

On 26/03/2014 20:09, Jörg Rhiemeier wrote:
> Hallo conlangers!
> On Wednesday 26 March 2014 17:57:55 R A Brown wrote:
>> ...  the development of Vulgar Latin /e/ and /o/ (i.e.
>> Classical Latin /ē/ and /ō/) in open topic syllables.
>> In many Romance languages they just remained /e/ and
>> /o/, but in the northern and south-eastern Gaul, in
>> northern Italy and in western and central Raetia we
>> find /e/ -> /ei/ and /o/ -> /ou/.
> Yep.  The occurrence of this change in northern Gaul
> makes it plausible to assume it for British Romance, too.
> (I *should* have used it in Roman Germanech, too; but I
> shall resist the temptation to open that can of worms
> again and rework it.


>> The question is whether it would have remained at this
>>  stage, as Norman French did, or whether it would have
>>  shared in the further change /ei/ -> /oi/ of the
>> dialects of central and north eastern France (including
>> Picardy).  I have assumed the latter, because: - the
>> proximity of south east Britain to north east France;
> This is a valid reason; the contact between Britain and
> Gaul certainly would have been strongest where the
> Channel is narrowest.  Maybe the southeastern dialects of
> Bretainois, including the prestigious dialect of
> Londinium on which the written standard would probably be
> based, would have /oi/, but the more rustic western and
> northern dialects preserve the more archaic /ei/. One can
> see a shibboleth arise here!

Yes, a nice idea.  There would inevitably have been dialect
difference within a British Romance.  It would be very
interesting to delve deeper into that.  But to do that
properly, in my opinion, will take many years of work
analogous to Tolkien's life-time work on Elven dialects and
language.  I do not now have a life-time in which to do
that. But your suggestion is certainly not unlikely.  Sound
changes do not happen everywhere at once.


On 26/03/2014 23:02, Siva Kalyan wrote:
> I do like the idea of creating dialect differences! I
> gather that’s not often done by conlangers.
> For added realism, there should eventually be some
> cross-dialect borrowing, so that while most words in
> standard Bretainois show /e/ > /oi/, a few (perhaps
> mainly terms relating to country life) could show an
> unexpected reflex /ei/. There should also be some
> /ei/~/oi/ doublets, showing subtle (or not so subtle)
> semantic differences.

Yes, all standard languages AFAIK show unexpected dialect
forms; one obviously example in English is the pronunciation
of _one_. It derives from Old English _ān_ and would expect
the modern word to rhyme with _bone_ and _stone_.  It doesn't.

> Also, let me point out that the ethnonym doesn’t have to
> follow regular sound changes, and can very well be
> borrowed from a different dialect or even language. For
> example, français shows /e/ > /ai/,

Actually it's /e/ -> /ɛ/, the spelling _ai_ was a simple
modification of _oi_ to show the pronunciation had changed
from earlier /wɛ/ -> /ɛ/.

Old French /oi/ had changed from being a falling diphthong
to a rising one, /oi/ -> /wi/, after which the second
element gradually lowered thus: /wi/ -> /we/ -> /wɛ/. In the
15th century it began to change to just /ɛ/, possibly helped
by Norman migration to Paris since, in the Norman dialect
the older /ei/ had given way to the monophthong /ɛ/.  Be
that as it may, the pronunciation /ɛ/ was normal in the 16th
century Court, and spellings began to change to reflect this.

But the grammarians upset this development.  They condemned
it as "careless" (nothing new there!) and, wrongly (nothing
new there either!) attributed it to Italian influence
corrupting the French language.  The result of these
grammarians was that by the 17th century, they was
hesitation in polite society between the artificially
restore /eɛ/ and /ɛ/ which was the result of 'natural'
evolution.  So we have interesting doublets, e.g: harnais ~
harnois; raide ~ roide, Français ~ François.

In the more common words /ɛ/ was too firmly established to
be eradicated, especially where the spelling had become
_ai_; this applied also to morphology where the older -oie/
-ois, -ois, -oit etc of the imperfect tense had been
replaced by -ais, -ais, -ait etc.

But, by a strange irony, the grammarians got their
comeuppance.  Their partially successfully attempt to
restore /wɛ/ paved the way for the /wa/ of the Parisian
populace to replace the polite bourgeois /wɛ/ after the
Revolution      :)

So strictly the development of /oi/ to /ɛ/ was the 'natural'
development; that of /oi/ -> /wa/ was dialect, but became
part of the standard language due to pedantry of 15th & 16th
century grammarians     :)

> and español is apparently borrowed from Occitan (the
> expected reflex is *españuelo, from *HISPANIŌLUS).

Quite ;possibly.

> Thus, there could be a plausible story for making it
> ‘Bretaineis’, even if the language in general shows /e/
> > /oi/.

Yes, but I don't want to get into the business of dreaming
up plausible stories for exceptions at this stage.  I'm
trying to concentrate on the overall general trends in the
phonological development of the language at the moment.

"Ein Kopf, der auf seine eigene Kosten denkt,
wird immer Eingriffe in die Sprache thun."
[J.G. Hamann, 1760]
"A mind that thinks at its own expense
will always interfere with language".