One of my interests since childhood has been languages. One of my favorite articles from the 1972 edition of Collier’s Encyclopedia that we had when I was a kid was the one on Latin. The best part of that article was its good description of the phonetic development of Latin from Proto-Indo-European.

The languages that I have been interested in over the years have included the following: Latin, Ancient Greek, Sanskrit, Avestan, Gothic, Old English, Old Saxon, Old High German, Gaulish, Welsh, (Old) Irish, Sumerian, Akkadian, Ancient Egyptian, Hebrew, Arabic, Ojibway, Cree. I have acquired many reference works on all of these languages (many of which I no longer have). Unfortunately, I’ve never studied any of these languages enough to gain any kind of fluency.

Along with my interest in actual historical or current languages, I’ve worked on a few artificial, or constructed, languages (i.e. conlangs). The first one, called Reshish, was created entirely from scratch. The few words I remember from this language are him ‘earth’, har ‘sky’ and tom’lael ‘cut’ (actually, this last word was “influenced” by Greek a-tomos ‘uncut’).

After I discovered the Gaulish language (mostly due to a website that Christopher Gwinn used to have), I decided to try to recreate Gaulish, or at least something like it. This “reconstruction” was called Danuvjâcon (i.e. Danubian): the reasoning for this name was the idea that the Proto-Celtic language had developed somewhere in the area of southern Germany/Austria/Hungary and that Gaulish was a direct continuation of Proto-Celtic. Although I still believe that Proto-Celtic originated somewhere in Central Europe, others prefer to think that it developed in the Atlantic regions (where the Celtoid languages remain to this day).

I posted a wordlist and grammatical material for Danuvjâcon on a website that I once had (I think it was an Angelfire website). That website hasn’t existed for a long time but an Ancient Celtic conlang Yahoo! Group that I once belonged to might still have that information. Interestingly, I recently found a reference to Danuvjâcon on a Neo-Druidic website. In hindsight, I have to admit that Danuvjâcon was much more a product of what I thought Ancient Celtic should be, rather than what it probably was.

I have worked on two other conlangs in the past few years (off and on). One of them is an attempt at deriving a distinct Indo-European language directly from reconstructed Proto-Indo-European. It would essentially constitute its own branch of Indo-European and be a cousin of Sanskrit, Ancient Greek and Latin, if you will.

The big problem with this project is that there are often things and concepts for which no common word can clearly be reconstructed to Proto-Indo-European. Words for ‘father’ (pater), for ‘horse’ (ekwos) and for ‘carry/bear’ (ber-) are easy enough, but there are no common Proto-Indo-European words that can clearly mean ‘leg’ or ‘wall’ or ‘itch’.

Working on a Germanic conlang is much easier because the Germanic language family is much more homogenous than most other language families. For this simple reason, the conlang that I’ve been most successful with has been my West Germanic conlang.

The motivation to create a West Germanic conlang came largely from my discovery of the Old Saxon language through James E. Cathey’s Hêliand: Text and Commentary. After the text selections and the commentary on these is a section with a fairly complete description of Old Saxon grammar as well as a wordlist from the text. Along with Cathey’s Old Saxon resource, I’ve consulted reference works on Old English and Old High German as well as Gothic (Joseph Wright’s works for the last two), and Vladimir Orel’s A Handbook of Germanic Etymology. I’ve also consulted dictionaries of Modern German and Dutch, and I’ve made much use of the etymologies on Wiktionary.

I decided to call my West Germanic conlang “Frankish” but with the following caveat: it would be something like the Old Low Frankish which developed into Dutch rather than the West Central German (i.e. Franconian) dialect that the Carolingians apparently used (no High German consonant shift). Also, my version of “Frankish” is phonetically more conservative than Old Low Frankish probably was (especially in that the diphthongs ai and au are retained rather than becoming long e and long o). Still, I like to call my West Germanic conlang “Frankish” – sa Frenkish spraaka.

Here is a small sample of this “Frankish” language (for nouns and adjectives, the second and third columns are singular and plural; for verbs, the second column is the infinitive, the third column is the present third person singular, and the fourth column is the past third person singular):

apple                     appel                     apla

and                        and

beautiful              shoen                   shoena

big                          mikel                     mikla

bigger, more      maira                     mairen

bird                        fogel                      fogla

black                      swart                     swarta

bone                     bain                       baina

bread                    braud

break                    breken                 breketh                brak

bring                      bringen                bringeth               braahta

brother                broodar                broodra

cloud                     wolken                 wolkena

daughter             dohtar                  dohtra

day                         dag                         daga

dog                        hund                     hunda

drink                      drinken                drinketh               drank

ear                         aura                       auren

earth                     ertha

east                       aust

eat                         eten                      eteth                     aat

eye                        auga                      augen

father                   fadar                     fadra

food                      met

foot                       foot                       foeta

from                      fan

go                           gaan                      gaath                     ida

goose                    gans                       gensa

green                    groen                    groena

hand                      hand                      henda

have                      haven                   haveth                  haveda

head                      hauvid                  hauvda

hear                       heuren                 heureth                heureda

heart                     herta                     herten

house                   huus                      huuza

know                     witen                    wait                       wissa

language              spraaka                spraaken

light                       leoht

light                       liiht                         liihta

make                     maken                  maketh                makeda

month                  maanoth              maandha

moon                    maana

mother                 moodar                moodra

mouse                  muus                     myysa

mouth                  munth                  mundha

new                       neo                        newa

night                      naht                       nehta

north                     north

one                        ain

or                            oth

say                         sagen                    sageth                  sagda

see                         seen                      seeth                    sah

sister                     swestar                swestra

sky                         himil                      himla

son                         sun                         suna

south                    sunth

speak                    spreken                spreketh              sprak

star                        sterra                    sterren

sun                         sunna

take                       nimen                   nimeth                 nam

the                         sa                            dha

this/these           dhis                        dheza

three                     thrii

tongue                 tunga                    tungen

tree                       treo                       trewa

two                        twai

water                    watar

west                      west

white                    hwiit                      hwiita

with                       mid

wolf                       wulf                       wulva

word                     word                     worda

world                    werold                  werolda

year                       jaar                        jaara

young                   jung                       junga