The Name of the Game (Literally!)

Today, I sent the following message to CONLANG-L:

On Fri, 8 Mar 2013 13:36:27 -0300, Leonardo Castro wrote:

On Fri, 8 Mar 2013 01:00:54 -0300, Leonardo Castro wrote:

A. “language-spoken-by-people-X”: English, Français, Português, tlhIngan Hol (?), etc.

* “language of linkers”, “language of community”, “language of this group”… “linker” has two senses: people who link themselves to others and the “verbs” that link a noun to another ;

And then, there’s German, whose self-designation, Deutsch, just meant ‘people-ish’ originally, from Germ.-MLat. theodiscus ‘belonging to one’s own people’, cf. PG *þeuðō ‘people’ + -isk- ‘adj. related to’ (OHG thiutisk, MHG tiutsch), according to the dwds.de entry for ‘deutsch’. It’s of course also the origin of the word Dutch.

I have nothing figured out yet for my own conlang, but it’s been peeving me for some time already that I made the name in -i, since -i is not a derivative morpheme in this language. People have suggested that it might be an exonym. OTOH, the people’s endonym might be Ayer, though that’d be an unusual word in the language, since only few words end in -r. I don’t remember if I coined aye ‘people, crew’ from that consciously; a word for ‘people’ I coined later anyway and which I used more frequently is keynam. As alternatives based on what was listed here before, there would be narān ‘language’ (< nara- ‘to speak’), narān ban ‘good language’, narān biming ‘understandable language’. ‘Language of the people’ would be narān keynamena.

I’m really tempted to pick one from the list of noun-plus-adjective phrases and make that an endonym right now, maybe with some wear and tear added. Having a proto-language to derive a term from and pipe that through the customary sound changes would certainly come in handy here. But how about Naramban, or Banaran (with inverted order for euphony), or just Bimingan ‘the Intelligible’?1 Since I also mentioned German, another route to follow would be something like ‘our’s’, possibilities for which include sitang-nana ‘of our own, ourself’s’ (nominalized sitang-nanān, could be shortened to just Nanān), da-nana ‘that of us’ (nominalized da-nanān). I think I like Bimingan and Nanān best.

  • Co-conlanger H. S. Teoh notes that names tend to fossilize and reflect older stages of the language, so that it wouldn’t be a problem to have Ayer or Ayeri even as the native name for the people and their language. Hadn’t thought of that, but yes.
  1. Note that the Slavic word for ‘German’, PSl. *němьcь, originally meant ‘dumb, mute’ and, by extension, ‘foreigner’ according to Wikipedia.

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