It’s been a while since I’ve put up any conlanging here (I did do a huge tranche of stuff on Rawàng Ata but never got around to posting most of it). So, here, enjoy (if you can!) a brief sketch of a Germanic language from the North Atlantic. I’ll post it in sections to buoy your suspense (and because I haven’t finished it yet – still got a few more syntax sections to wade through). Any questions or comments gratefully received!
I’ll start with a brief explanation of what the language is…
INTRODUCTION and CONTEXT
VOORCANT ay SAMMENHANG
Øynduyska is a minor Germanic language spoken by somewhat under 200,000 people on the Wentharian Islands (located northwest of Ireland and southwest of Iceland and the Faroes), by small numbers of expatriates around the world (with particular concentrations in the UK, US, Canada, Norway, and Argentina; there is a very small multigenerational community surviving in western Canada, while other speakers abroad are mostly first- or second-generation immigrants). There are also several tens of thousands of second-language speakers in the Islands.
Øynduyska belongs to the Northwest Germanic subfamily. Early philologists generally assumed it to be an Ingvaeonic, or even specifically Anglo-Frisian language, as it shares some prominent features with English and Frisian. However, modern linguists believe that these are parallel evolutions, probably suggesting extensive early contact and sprachbund effects; it is not even clear whether Øynduyska can accurately be called a West Germanic language, thanks to its delayed rhotacisation (a feature shared with North Germanic but not with West Germanic). However, as the language is in other regards close to West Germanic, and shares few early developments with North Germanic, the general tendency appears to be to overlook this difference and to consider it a somewhat ‘anomalous’ West Germanic language.
Considerable perplexity surrounds the early history of the language, and in particular how the language could have arrived in such a remote location. It is possible that the ancestors of the modern Øynduyar (English: ‘Onthoyers’ or ‘Wenthers’) may have participated in the Anglo-Saxon invasion of England, crossed the island rapidly, and then spread to the west via the Hebrides. It seems more likely, however, that they reached their current location either following a coastal path along the east coast of Britain, and thence via the Hebrides, or else following a coastal path along the west coast of Norway, prior to Norse settlement there, and then travelling to the west via the Faroes. The latter suggestion has always been more politically popular in the Islands, but the former would seem more probable, given the shorter distances required to be travelled, and the absence of any clear connexion between the Øynduyar and the Faroes.
In any event, the Islands were subsequently subjugated under Norse (and later variously Danish and Norwegian) rule, from the 9th century through to the 20th, and this contact has had a considerable effect on the superficial appearance of the language, and a more subtle influence upon other aspects of the tongue.
In reality, of course, there is no Øynduyska, nor any Wentharian Islands (or at least, in our world there is only one such island, and it’s very, very small).
I’ve toyed on and off, over the years, with some sort of a sister or cousin to English, retaining a more archaic feel – a common enough conceit. Those ideas never really went anywhere, however, until I saw and borrowed the idea of placing some more dry land on our Rockall Plateau. What would the inhabitants of such islands speak? Well, realistically they’d speak a sister to Icelandic and to Faroese, but that didn’t interest me much, so instead… Øynduyska. Not actually a descendent of Old English, but similarities in vocabulary and (over-enthusiastic!) participation in the Ingvaeonic Nasal Spirant Law hopefully make it feel strangely familiar to English speakers. It retains some features suggestive of Old English – it has not undergone Modern English’s Great Vowel Shift, for instance, and continues to use the distinctive ‘eo’ digraph lost in Modern English – while following Modern English in some other respects (it has eliminated or reduced many of its unstressed vowels, for instance, and dramatically simplified its morphology). At the same time, for both aesthetic and historical reasons, I wanted to give the language a slightly ‘Northern’ feel, a touch of cold crispness that seemed to suit both its windswept locale and its long association with the Nordic nations. This is most obvious in the orthography, with its inclusion of such letters as ø and ð, and in a number of Norse loanwords.
Next Up: Phonology and Orthography!
Nu ta vylga: Fonologi ay Ortografi!