The Elvenpath (Jörg Rhiemeier)

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The Elvenpath is the legendarium by Jörg Rhiemeier connected with the Elves of the British Isles (and some other places). The Elvenpath traces the historical development of this people in a world that is otherwise the same as our own. It is a part of Atla and was a part of the now defunct collaborative project, League of Lost Languages.

Project history

Tolkienian origins

The Elvenpath originated in a completely different project, whose only common feature with what now is The Elvenpath is that it had Elves in it. Early in the year 2000, Jörg attempted to fill the "gap" between J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium and the real world history under the assumption that what Tolkien wrote had actually happened (of course, he never believed that in his real life). During that work, he found a fan fiction story on the Web which featured Elves staying behind in the modern world. This inspired him to work out the language of those Elves. Thus, Nur-ellen was born, the first conlang he had made since his teenage years.

In order to make Nur-ellen, Jörg learned the diachronic method by reading historical linguistics textbooks and familiarized himself with Tolkien's Quendian languages, perusing web sites on that matter and following the discussions in the Elfling mailing list. He also joined the CONLANG mailing list.

Later in the year, Jörg decided that "his" Elves would not be the kind of Elves Tolkien wrote about, but a human ethnic group in pre-Celtic Britain with a small minority in the modern world descending from them. These Elves were also proposed to be part of the Ill Bethisad collaborative alternative history (for which Jörg also made the Romance language Roman Germanech after the model of Brithenig), but disagreements with some other members enticed him to leave Ill Bethisad again.

At first, Jörg kept the Tolkienian languages. The ancient Elves would speak Common Eldarin, the Elves of Medieval Britain Sindarin, the modern British Elves Nur-ellen and a group of Elves who had emigrated to Madeira when the Commonwealth of the Elves fell would speak Quenya. However, he felt increasingly uncomfortable with this kind of blatant theft of another author's entire conlang family; also, he had developed ideas about the Elvish languages that were not found in Tolkien's languages (yet pursued in Nur-ellen), so he decided to cease using Tolkien's languages, discard Nur-ellen and rebuild the languages as his own inventions.

Developing the Albic family

Instead of Quendian, the Elves would speak a new language family called Albic (initially labelled provisionally as "Q"), which instead were related to the Indo-European languages. The idea to this relationship arose when Jörg was reading Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans by T. V. Gamkrelidze and V. V. Ivanov, which presents an alternative reconstruction of Early Proto-Indo-European which had a number of features in common with what he planned for his Elvish languages. Thus, he built an internal reconstruction of an earlier stage of Proto-Indo-European to use as the starting point for building Albic.

Jörg's ideas about the relationship between Albic and Indo-European changed over time. The oldest concept located the common ancestor of Albic and Indo-European in where now is the Bay of Odessa before the "Black Sea Flood" proposed by Walter Pitman and William Ryan in their book Noah's Flood. From there, refugees would have moved northwards on the Dniepr River founding the Proto-Indo-European community, and westwards on the Danube River founding the Linearbandkeramik culture; from the latter, the Elves would descend via the Bell Beaker culture. Jörg also developed the idea that there may have been relatives of the Albic languages on the European mainland, thus developing the idea of the Hesperic language family of which Albic was one branch.

This idea, however, turned out to be untenable. Not only is the Black Sea Flood doubted by most relevant scientists (it seems now as if Pitman and Ryan had misinterpreted their data), it also turned out that the Linearbandkeramik culture was archaeologically and genetically unrelated to the Yamnaya culture considered the best candidate for the PIE speaker community, and that the Bell Beaker culture was likewise unrelated to the Linearbandkeramik but related to the Yamnaya culture.

Jörg now assumes that the Hesperic languages evolved from an archaic dialect of Proto-Indo-European, spoken in a western extension of the Yamnaya culture in the Pannonian Basin. From this dialect, Proto-Hesperic would have evolved around 3000 BC and spread across much of western Europe as the language of the Bell Beaker culture in the subsequent centuries. He is working in parallel on Proto-Hesperic, Proto-Albic and Old Albic.

Conlangs in The Elvenpath

  • Old Albic
  • miscellaneous others, yet unexplored