Sunday, 19 March 2017

M And DVDs

The Roman language, Latin, became the Romance languages of Europe although I have just been told that English, which incorporates a lot of Latin, is Germanic. In Poul Anderson's Technic History, English will become Anglic which will be long dead by the end of the History.

We experience linguistic changes. The Latin accusative ending is -m. Thus, "slave" is servus in the nominative case but servum in the accusative. The accusative -m survives in English in the words "him," "them" and "whom." However, we are ceasing to say "whom."

"'They lost who?'"
-SM Stirling, The Protector's War (New York, 2006), Chapter Seventeen, p. 486.

This does not even sound incorrect as "They lost she" would. And when we hear:

"Don't tell I, tell 'ee" (see here)

-we understand it and attribute it to a regional dialect.  

The man who asks "They lost who?" wonders whether DVDs really would have replaced videotapes in an unChanged world, which is a good indicator or reminder of the state of technology at the time of the Change.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Sometimes I'm guilty of tampering with the English language myself! Occasionally, I will type "tho" for "though," or even "u" for "you" to save on keystrokes. To say nothing of such science fictional geekeries as using Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoomian greeting "Kaor." (Smiles)

And I can imagine English becoming Anglic by such a process!


David Birr said...

Paul and Sean:
One peculiarity I've adopted when handwriting notes intended only as aids to my memory is to replace "of" and "the" with the Greek letters "phi" and "theta" respectively as part of a personal shorthand. Think of it as sort of like using the ampersand in lieu of writing out the word "and." The rest of my "shorthand" consists of such abbreviations and elisions as "'g" replacing "ing," or "'n" replacing "tion" ... and sometimes I don't bother with the apostrophe. "Working on behalf of the nation" would thus become "Workg on behalf ϕ θ na'n."

Paul Shackley said...


David Birr said...


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, DAVID!

Weird, maybe, but it's not totally implausible to think the evolution of the English language will include incorporating as "standard" things similar to what you do.

Another peculiarity of mine is to sometimes type "although" as "altho." I think simplifying of the spelling of many words will be among the changes English will undergo as it becomes Anglic. Hopefully in a real world interstellar context!


S.M. Stirling said...

English has the disadvantage that the spelling became standardized right in the middle of a period of linguistic upheaval.

Originally "thought" was pronounced much as spelled, with a guttural "th-ow-uu-ghht", not "thot". The sound in Scottish "loch" is a survival of this; the northernmost dialects never underwent the whole set of sound-shifts.

The change was very rapid; if you look at the way Henry VIII wrote in his private letters, and then compare them to the way Elizabeth I (his daughter) did, some of the shifts are visible. The Royal court was at the epicenter of it, of course.

Poul did a nice play on this when he has the David and Chee Lan and Adzel visit Meresia. They know the language... but their version sounds "Elizabethan" to the locals.

Paul Shackley said...

Mr Stirling,
Thank you. You give us the benefits of an author's background knowledge. This explains the oddities of English spelling.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Stirling,

True, I have seen some bits of English as people like Henry VIII wrote it--and how much it was changing even as early as Elizabeth I's time.

And I do recall the difficulties David Falkayn had while on Merseia due to the Eriau he first knew being an archaic form of the language.