The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Friday, August 04, 2017

Standard Average European

I was roaming around Youtube one night and stumbled upon a NativLang documentary about "Standard Average European". (Cue Chris Farley here: S.A.E.! S.A.E.!.) Its script linked to Kortmann's PDF from 2001. Apparently Kortmann is famous. The things I've missed since leaving the college life . . .

At base, this thesis argues for a number of shared traits amongst the European languages today, which were not in the projected Indo-European base, nor even (much) in Latin and ancient Greek. These traits render European languages "exotic" compared to other languages. They cluster in France and the High Germany; they don't include Nedderduuts nor English so much, and Insular Celtic here behaves like an outlier on par with Tocharian.

It's been noted that the core region is basically Charlemagne's empire. This does allow for its weakness in the British Isles and the east Slavs. But this doesn't account for SAE in Greece, Albania, Romania, and Iberia.

What might account for SAE! SAE! in the Latin-influenced lands is the late Roman army. When I was "translating" Leo the Grammarian a few years ago (really, mapping its Greek to some earlier Theophanes translations) I ran across words like "caballero". This is, of course, not Greek. It is also poor Latin; any Roman with self-respect would speak of "equestrians". The cavalier is however found all over Spain, France, and Norman-occupied England. It is the same in Romanian, I would say from very early times because the Albanians have borne witness in kalë / kalorës. So here was a term from the Roman-employed auxiliaries that found its way all over the Mediterranean as far as the Byzantine East.

Some element in Vulgar Latin, and I would narrow this to Military Late Latin, affixed itself to the common tongue of the Empire and further distorted the non-Latin languages with which it came into contact. As for whence this element originally came, I know not. Old Germannic?


posted by Zimri on 19:19 | link | 0 comments

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