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From: "Chris" 
Subject: Re: (urth) One Ship: reply
Date: Mon, 18 Aug 2003 18:33:20 +0000

Excellent points.

Another possibility that occurs to me is that Typhon might have actually 
revived those languages (presumably from some ancient archive or lexicon) 
specifically for the people on the Whorl. We do know that he fiddled with 
their heads/memories.

Two reasons I can think of for this, though I'm sure there could be others. 
One is that he revived them because the structure of whatever language they 
use in his day doesn't lend itself well to the kind of archaic social 
controls he's putting in place (sort of the reverse of the direction Orwell 
anticipated). This isn't out of the realm of possibility but seems kind of 
hokey to me, and based on what Wolfe had to say about the Ascian language, I 
don't think he bought into the theory that would justify that.

The second reason would be practical - by making it so that the "cargo" 
could no longer read or speak the current tongue, he makes it more difficult 
for them to subvert the mission if they should ever gain access to controls, 
instruments, or - Pas forbid - an instruction manual.

>That I can go with easily enough if I had to.
> >Also, Latin is extant in Severian's day, along with Greek and Spanish.
>Nope.  An ancient language (epitomized by the inscriptions in the Atrium
>of Time) presented to us as Latin not because it is Latin but because it
>bears a similar relationship to Severian's tongue as Latin does to ours.
>There is a general assumption that writing slows the change of language
>and the more widespread literacy, the larger the published corpus and the
>more durable and disparate the means of recording the slower changes will
>Yet it is actually rather hard to demonstrate that this is in fact the
>Take as an example Hindustani.  A language formed over half a millennium
>from the Sanskrit rooted languages of the mid western Deccan and the
>Persian of the Muhguls.
>Hindustani is grammatically indistinguishable from Urdu and Hindi.
>Technically all three are the same language.  Or were.
>But starting in the late c19 and formalized at the beginning of the c20
>Hindustani was divided.  Urdu re-acquired words of Persian origin while
>de-emphasizing Sanskrit based vocabulary.  Hindi delved into Sanskrit
>adopting words to supplant Persian vocabulary.
>One single century since this was formalized a grammatically identical,
>lexically identical language has been split to the point where spoken Urdu
>(eg from TV and radio broadcasts) has only 60 percent comprehension for
>Hindi speakers and Hindi - made more obscure by the flowery
>circumlocutions of classical Sanskrit - is only 40 percent comprehensible
>to Urdu speakers.
>Should this rate of change persist the two languages are likely to be
>mutually incomprehensible within another 100 years.  More divergent than
>classical and modern Greek.  English is not immune, 400 year old
>Shakespeare needs occasional footnotes; 600 year old Chaucer needs entire
>explicative texts; American English and British English differ in
>lexicography and usage sufficiently to require a choice between them when
>installing a computer!  French has hallowed institutions dedicated to
>preserving the immutability of the language yet Rabelais can be as obscure
>as Shakespeare and Chretien do Troyes needs translating.  Castillian and
>American Spanish.  Arabic in variations from Morroco to Syria.
>Consider then the span of time between ourselves and Severian.  Consider
>also the upheavals that are alluded to in the history.  The likelihood is
>that if Greek, Latin, French, Spanish English or any other current
>language "existed" it would be as archeological artefacts as obscure and
>incomprehensible as Minoan / Archaean Linear A and Linear B.

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