|Conworld:||League of Lost Languages|
|Total speakers:||ca. 50,000|
|Basic word order:||varies|
Hesperic is a family of diachronic conlangs by Jörg Rhiemeier spoken in the world of the League of Lost Languages. This family forms an early diverging branch of the Indo-European family (see Macro-Indo-European) and is a "re-creation" of the hypothetical Aquan language group. So far, Old Albic is the best-elaborated language of the family.
The Hesperic language family is built on an internal reconstruction (by the author himself, but drawing on the ideas of various scholars such as T. V. Gamkrelidze, V. V. Ivanov and the late, lamented J. E. Rasmussen) of an early stage of Proto-Indo-European; a part of the vocabulary is based on words in Celtic and Germanic languages without good PIE etymologies which may be loanwords from a substratum language. Further inspiration for the building of the family came from the Uralic and Kartvelian language families.
The Hesperic languages are spoken in various residual zones in Central and Western Europe, with a total number of speakers not exceeding 50,000 today, though the family once had many more speakers (Old Albic alone is estimated to have been spoken by about 2 million people at its apogee about 600 BC).
This family is a branch (or sister family) of Indo-European that separated from the rest of the family early, around 4500 BC, and is probably associated with the first wave of the Kurgan culture expansions. (The Anatolian languages would represent the second wave around 3500 BC, while the other Indo-European languages would descend from the third wave around 3000 BC in this model.) The Old European hydronymy may be Hesperic in origin, but as the original meanings of those names are unknown, such an identification remains speculative.
Proto-Hesperic would have been spoken about 4000 BC in Central Europe, and thus probably actually older than the Late PIE the standard reconstruction represents (which may have been as late as 3000 BC, but the dating is controversial). The family also shows similarities to the Uralic languages, and appears to be something like the "missing link" between Indo-European and Uralic. Typological similarities also exist to the Kartvelian languages, but this does not appear to reveal a relationship.
Today, however, all Hesperic languages have to be considered endangered, and none has official status in the country or countries where it is spoken.
- West Hesperic
- Mediterranean Hesperic
- East Hesperic
Viddan shows a mixture of western and eastern traits, and its affiliation is unclear; it is probably an early offshoot of West Hesperic but influenced by East Hesperic. Dravinian appears to have separated from the rest of Hesperic at an early date.
The "Kastenholz scheme"
The Kastenholz scheme (named after a fictional linguist) groups the nine branches of Hesperic in a 3x3 grid:
This chart corresponds to four major isogloss bundles, two running north-south and two running east-west, characterized as below.
- Moderate to large consonant inventories
- Long and short vowels
- Pitch accent with two contrasting intonations (thrusting and slipping tone) on long vowels
- Preservation of all five Proto-Hesperic primary cases
- Richly developed secondary cases
- Complex verb morphology with two sets of personal endings
- Moderate consonant inventories
- Long and short vowels
- Stress accent
- Four-case system
- Moderately complex verb morphology
- Small consonant inventories
- No long vowels
- Stress accent
- Topic-prominent noun declension, topic marker from genitive
- Simple verb morphology
- Loss of aspiration (only partially in Albic)
- Drummond's Law
- Senantho's Law
- Alfermann's Law
- Vowel umlauts
- Initial accent (lost in parts of Albic)
- Spirantization of aspirates (also in parts of Albic)
- Drummond's Law (uvularization in Viddan)
- Senantho's Law (not in Viddan)
- Alfermann's Law (not in Viddan)
- Monophtongization of diphthongs (also in parts of Albic)
- Initial accent
- Loss of aspiration
- Gemination of consonants followed by laryngeals
- Loss of semivowels after consonants
- Loss of first stop in stop+stop clusters
- Penultimate accent
Influence of Standard Average European
The Hesperic languages have been influenced to various degrees by the Standard Average European linguistic area. The influence of this Sprachbund is strongest in Alpianic and weakest in Albic.