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Language Families on Roshar


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I am a sucker for linguistics these days, so this note from Brandon (reddit) attracted my attention.  Parshendi, Shin and Horneater all have dawnchant-derived languages. This is really weird to me not because of linguistics, but because of all humanoid races/species on Roshar (Aimians aside), Parshendi look like the "most Rosharian", while Shin appear to be the "most imported"...

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mistborn:

 

Our basic language families are:

Vorin: Alethi, Veden, Herdazian, and more distantly Thaylen. Nathan is close to dead, but shares a root, and Karbranthian is basically a dialect. Other minor languages like Bav are in here.

Makabaki: Azish is king here, and most the languages around split off this. There are around thirty of these.

Dawnate: A varied language family with distant roots in the dawnchant. Shin, parshendi, Horneater. They share grammar, but they diverged long enough ago that the vocabulary is very different.

Iri: Iriali, Reshi, Purelake dialects, Riran, and some surrounding languages.

Aimian: These two are lumped together, but are very different. Probably what you were looking for.

That isn't counting spren languages, of course. I might have missed something. Typing on my phone without my wiki handy.

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interesting. language families let you track ancienty history, and by studing the languages of two people you can establish with good accuracy when they split from a common ancestor (by how different they are), their technological level at the time (because words for already existing objects would share a common root, while stuff invented after the split would have completely different names) and a lot of other stuff. Not a linguist myself, but I find the whole thing fascinating.

So, most things here are to be expected: language families following geography, as regions with close ties influenced each other languages. Nothing surpriseing about the vorin, makabaki and iri groups.

aimian is surprising: one island having two different languages that aren't even related? there must be some reason why different parts of the island had different languages. maybe a people invaded the place long ago, bringing its language, but could never conquer the whole island? there is a similar situation on some indonesian island, I think, where one people survived by agricolture using species that only grew on the mountains, while another people survived fishing on the shores, and neither was capable of surviving in the other's environment, and so they evolved very segregated. Still, there could be plenty of reasons for it, and not necessarily story-related.

dawnate is the most likely to be a clue to something plot-relevant. Shin, listeners and horneaters have a common root. Since listeners and horneaters have a strong relation with spren, maybe they split from the shin when they bonded spren? It also casts doubt on the "listeners are roshar's natives" theory: it shows that they have ancient cultural ties to others. though, of course, it may be that they were enslaved at some point and forced to adopt the language of their conqueror, their cultural identity completely annihilated.

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23 minutes ago, king of nowhere said:

aimian is surprising: one island having two different languages that aren't even related?

I give you English and Cymraeg (Welsh) (((-: [*]

 

[*] technically both are Indo-Eurpoean,  but from two very different branches: Celtic and Germanic.

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3 hours ago, king of nowhere said:

interesting. language families let you track ancienty history, and by studing the languages of two people you can establish with good accuracy when they split from a common ancestor (by how different they are), their technological level at the time (because words for already existing objects would share a common root, while stuff invented after the split would have completely different names) and a lot of other stuff. Not a linguist myself, but I find the whole thing fascinating.

 

 Agreed. I will only add one caveat: there are examples in history when groups unrelated to each other adopted similar languages. Latin was adopted by Visgoths and by Franks: both Germanic tribes, and from these adoptions Spaish and French vernaculars were born. Bulgarians originally were not a Slavic tribe (more Turkic in origin, I think), but their eventual language (Bulgarian) is Slavic.

But this is exactly why the fact the Shin and Parshendi speak languages from the same family makes me very curious. There is more than one way in which it could've happened, but they all are interesting.

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