Ghostlangs: Virginian Algonquian

A fake language isn’t worth studying unless it has a suitable word+lang portmanteau. I’m going to call all attempts to revive completely dead and incompletely attested languages ghostlangs. In this family, I’d place Dnghu (so-called Modern Proto-Indoeuropean) and certainly Virginian Algonquian as spoken the the movie “A New World”

A good ghostlang is so good that you can use it to talk to the real ghosts. In practice, a ghostlang probably is nothing close to that, reconstruction can absorb an infinite amount of effort and is never really finished, where as a conlang, presumably will be done as soon as it has fans and the fans stop re-acting to the latest refinements.

The linguist, Blair Rudes, who wrote that conlang is now dead. Here is the best description of the language written by the man himself. The movie was a commercial flop, so it didn’t attract much attention, let alone much attention among likely conlang fans.

Rudes took the 600 attested words, and worked out some of the sound changes that seemed to have been going on. He also used proto-Algonquian to fill in lexical gaps. The grammar came from Munsee Delaware and Natick. The pronunciation came from Munsee Delware and inferences from the 600 attested words. According to the National Geographic article, Rudes (or the movie) planned to turn over the work to *someone* or *some* organization, but it isn’t clear who got the goods.

Until I find better factoids, it appears Passamaquoddy-Malecite in Maine and
Micmac in New Brunswick are the closest related languages. Some of the closest dead relatives are Naticoke and Piscataway, which are attested by only a few 100 words. The later appears to be the exact dialect/language spoken where my apartment is right now.

Wampanoag is also another relative language which is being revived.

I assume an VA Algonquian would also borrow it’s vocabulary heavily from the above sources.

Next on the to do list: put together a small dedicated website, track down the 600 words, put together a sort of research agenda/rules of the game.

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