Given how I actually have to refer to the various dialects reasonably often in the upcoming grammar, let's continue with a historical bit, which also allows me to show off my mad MS Paint skills.
A Concise History of Baranxeï
In Which A Short Overview Is Given of the History, and Rough Developments of the Baranxeï Language
Where A Comparison to the other Languages of the Aketamsey Grouping Is Heeded
With Collourd Mapfe OF QUALITY FUPERIOR!
The Akētamse'i Languages
Baranxe'i belongs to the Akētamse'i branch of the Meleiyan (spellings vary) languages (for purposes of fast typing, I'll be lazy and refer to them as Aketamsei from here on). The Aketamsei languages include the Baranxe'i-Asvāneica-Máñḷ dialect continuum (with those three languages being the three standard languages drawing from the continuum), as well as Vereti and its dialects and Amarin and its dialects.
The beginnings of the language(s) lies in the establishment of the Five Marches (ayīrakētṃcei̯eḥ) by the Ilatemaian Empire to protect its western borders against incursions by the nomadic and semi-nomadic tribal federations of Talitre.
Let's visualise this with the help of a little map, yes?
The orange area indicated the main origin of the settlers of the west. The date for this would be ~700 BCE (no concalendar because that is math-y and maths = evil).
The area settled had been annexed earlier from settled Talitran tribes and was heavily depopulated as a result of a convenient epidemic and the war, making it relatively easy for the new settlers.
The five marches ultimately gave rise to the five "march languages":
Bʱēre-t-akētṃce, the March of Bʱēre, also covered territory ceded by the city state of Shanna (mainly its dependency Vērja) and thus had a different subtrate than the other marches. For the first century or two of its development, the Aketamsei-speaking area was non-contiguous with the others, and although it shares some later developments especially with Baranxe'i, modern Vereti is highly divergent from the other languages.
Āmār-t-akētṃce, the March of Āmār, similarly lies on mainly non-Talitran territory, which accounts for the different influences on its language (coupled with its non-contiguous-ness). Later developments brought Amarin closer to Máñḷ, especially in regards to their shared vowel harmony.
This leaves us with the area that gave rise to the BAM-continuum, which is what's important for this thread.
Rānakʲu-t-akētṃce, the March of the Disease Bringer (no, seriously), named so for its marshes and endemic malaria, gave rise to the dialects which are grouped under the dach of Baranxe'i, in particular the Northern Baranxe'i group.
Acʰūan-t-akētṃce, the March of Wine, which at least in name is the originator of Asvāneica, although its northern third (or two thirds, depending on definition) make up the southern dialects of Baranxe'i.
Āonkc-akētṃce, the Southern March, where apart from Asvāneica, Máñḷ developed.
These three form the core of Proto-Aketamsei, and share many innovations, such as the complete loss of the aspiration-*palatalisation distinction of pre-PA and their general shift towards fricatives, and the acquiring of a shitload of Talitran loanwords.
The following centuries see a weak differentiation between the various dialects, resulting in what is termed pre-Old Baranxe'i, pre-Old Asvāneica, etc. The phonological development is hyper-conservative so far, and the differentiation mainly concern lexical developments for now (for example, PA often offers the choice between a simple root and an augmented root, e.g. simple pʲil vs augmented pʲeil star; daughter languages usually adopt only one form of the root, cf Baranxe'i feilu star, feilēna shine vs Asvāneica fir, firīṇa).
One of the biggest divergent features is the development of the original alveolar series (t, tʰ, tʲ / d, dʱ, dʲ). Northern pre-Old Baranxe'i has [t~s, tʰ~sʰ / d~z, dʱ~zʱ], southern pre-Old Baranxe'i has [ts, tsʰ; dz, dzʱ], whereas pre-Old Asvāneica has [c, ts / ɟ, dz] (the others only have their modern results fixed right now, so their pre-Old status is somewhat up in the air).
Fast forward to the 1st century CE, and the Ilatemaian Empire is crumbling.
The Disease March and Southern March both start campaigns for their independence and quickly win it, ushering in the proper Old X period. They begin to write in their own language for the first time (having previously used the Ancient Ilatemaian language). The territory of this first Baranxtuan state covers the earlier Disease March, and also large parts of the Wine March. Its political and cultural center lies in ɢʱṇd, whose dialect becomes the basis for Classical Old Baranxe'i (although the endonym for their language was kūnuir the language, and whether they would feel any kinship with the modern state of Baranxtu or its language and inhabitants is up for debate). COB becomes important later on as a source of many educated loans into whatever the current state of language is.
COB preserves an older state where many aspirated stops remain unshifted, whereas the dialects of the later stage of Old Baranxe'i have all shifted them to some fricatives or affricates. The only exception are the dental stops, which already appears as [þ, ð] in COB. Importantly, the dialect of ɢʱṇd falls into the North dialects (which is a Northern dialect), whereas modern Baranxe'i is mostly based on a Central dialect (whose classification is a bit difficult, more on that later).
Baranxe'i during this period also absorbs even more Talitran loanwords than the southern parts of the BAM continuum. The south borders generally nomadic territory with little interaction with Talitrans, whereas the Baranxe'i areas border permanently settled territory. These words are the source of modern [tⁿ]-, and a large source for [xp]-, [xt]- and [xk]-.
The end of the Baranxe'i kingdom comes with a disastrous war against the Atamian kingdom, which leads to a short period of vassalage and the long-term loss of huge swathes of northeastern territory, the utter destruction of ɢʱṇd, and great social and political upheavals (at least in part caused by a huge influx of northern refugees in the southern parts) which leads to the next phase.
The Great Vowel Change of Baranxe'i is the single biggest phonological marker. It starts in the south and spreads northwards, although it doesn't reach the northernmost dialects (whose speakers live under Atamian rule) until much, much later, when many of the vowels to which it could've applied have gone through their separate changes.
The next few centuries, Baranxtu (the name slowly emerges during this time after the shift of capital from lost ɢʱṇd to Baranxiź, site of a cult temple to Baranxi, a euphemistically deformed and/or syncretistic Middle Baranxe'i version of older Rānakʲu) remains a small player and is eclipsed in prestige both by the Atamian empire and the emerging kingdom of Máñalle in the south (the former South March). The early Middle Baranxe'i period is marked by a lot of loans taken from Middle Máñḷ.
Around 1000 CE, fortunes shift for Baranxtu, as it acquires large western territories (again from the Talitran tribes, who just won't get a break).
This situation is important, as it precedes a huge expansion of the Baranxe'i-speaking areas, and also the emergence of a new formalised Baranxe'i.
The Northern group forms a unity on phonological grounds; they share developments not found in the south and vice versa (although many southern shifts would spread northwards later on).
The Central dialect, however, is a bit of an odd one out. Regarding grammar, vocabulary and syntax, it is much closer to the southern variants. As it forms the basis of Modern Standard Baranxe'i, this is an important fact. For example, Northern and Eastern dialects generally show a genitive versus partitive distinction (modern times approximately kunsi-tu vs kunsi-i, with considerable variation of the realisation of the suffixes); they share this with Vereti (modern koons-t vs kouns-i. On the other hand, a genitive-partitive merger is not only found in the Central and Southern dialects of Baranxe'i (kunsi-tu), but also Asvāneica (modern kōñci-t, with -i being used for consonant stems kōñ-i) and Amarin (køyṃdź-e). Máñḷ has two cases, too, but with switched suffixes (genitive kønn-i, partitive køn-d).
Around 1500 CE, the development of a new stress-length system beings in the Central dialects. This marks the beginning of
Loaning now mainly takes place from COB, often to replace earlier Atamian or Máñḷ loans (Talitran loans often remain untouched as a) they are present in COB, as well, and b) they often have gone too native to notice).
The development of the modern standard is slow and the language largely remains written only. Its phonology is largely based on the dialect of Baranxiź, its vocabulary is thoroughly mixed, but leans heavily on COB and Religious Baranxe'i (a separate register that survives until the modern period as a separate quasi-dialect with archaic phonology, arcane grammar and antiquated vocabulary), although the merchant lingua franca supplies many words, as well.
The 18t century CE sees the standard becoming more and more modernised and brought closer to the spoken standard of Baranxiź.
Ultimately, the Modern Standard loosely reflects the status of the 1820s. Things like the loss of nasalisation mentioned above didn't hit the Central dialects until the late 19th century CE.
Many other shifts in "Modern" Baranxe'i haven't actually influenced the standard, or are limited to certain dialects (one marker for Eastern-ness is [þ] > [t], which took place in the Modern period), and the various dialects of the Baranxe'i continuum are not fully mutually intelligible nowadays. This has lead to the (partial) adoption of Modern Standard Baranxe'i as a second language for most modern Baranxe'i-speakers.
There are also the settler dialects, which nowadays account for more than half of Baranxe'i native speakers. They have their own sub-classifications, but as these settler dialects had little influence on the standard language, I'll leave them for another time.
Here's a map of the modern distribution:
Do note that the southernmost dialect is a Northern one, and the northernmost a Southern one.
Having said all that, next up, nominal morphology! Yay!
- Another conlanging/conworlding blog.