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The Vareyn once lived in a fertile land at the head of a great desert, subsisting off of a great river and its bounty - until they were forced to leave after a catastrophic volcanic eruption.

Many years later, the Vareyn had long moved on to become a seafaring civilization, and after the ash had settled, a new people came to fill their place.

My question is, would these new settlers adopt parts of the Vareyn language? I imagine that, since the material culture of the Old Vareyn people remains, there would be a considerable collection of cultural artifacts (like literature, inscriptions etc) that would become part of these settlers' vast inheritance. Realistically, though, would this influence these people and the evolution of their language specifically?

Thanks for any help you can offer!

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  • $\begingroup$ Language is a very complex and varied subject. People may adopt pieces of another they may not. This seems like something that is entirely dependent upon worldbuilder discretion rather than something that is a good fit for this site. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    May 7 at 4:13
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    $\begingroup$ It all depends on the specifics of the history of the Vareyn and of the "new people", and on what is to be understood by "parts of" the Vareyn language. The English, the Germans and the Hungarians adopted "parts of" the Latin language through high culture. In the case of English, large parts. For example, the English word for a "part" is part, which is a Latin word; the German and Hungarian words for a government "ministry" are Ministerium and minisztérium, which are Latin. The question does not provide sufficient detail for an answer. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    May 7 at 8:28
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    $\begingroup$ If you want the language of the new people to be influence by the language of the Vareyn you can very easily invent historical circumstances to this effect. If you don't, you don't. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    May 7 at 8:37
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    $\begingroup$ Summed up in a one word answer, "Latin'. $\endgroup$ May 7 at 12:22
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexP Even aboriginal languages have had elements of Latin terminology 'invade' their language, once contacts with Whites was made. $\endgroup$ May 7 at 12:43

13 Answers 13

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Previous answers have dealt with the question in its narrow form, but this could be treated as an instance of the more general question: when people are surrounded by multiple languages, how do they decide which one to speak?

If people are surrounded by a language that exists only in written form (as in medieval Egypt), then they won't adopt that language for obvious reasons.

However, it is not unusual for cultures to prefer entirely different languages for writing and speech, which sometimes includes using a "dead" language for writing. For instance, medieval scholars generally wrote in Latin, while the Christian apostles, and Roman philosophers like the emperor Julian, wrote in Greek (according to Gore Vidal, sophisticated correspondents in Julian's time considered Rome's own language to be an inferior option more suitable for bureaucracy and commerce).

Another common pattern is that when large numbers of cultures coexist, as in the Roman empire or modern India, they will settle on a common written language because literacy requires a lot of training anyway, and if you're going to make that investment it is more profitable to learn to write in a language that a thousand times more people can understand (like Latin, or Hindi, or English). And that language might then seep back into their native speech, albeit rarely replacing it wholesale.

The main reason people adopt a foreign written language is commerce (or political force, which is kind of the same thing). But the popularity of written Greek in the early Common Era seems to have been more due to the high regard for existing Greek literature. And modern Greek is partly the result of a conscious effort to resurrect the classical language.

So you could imagine something like that happening with Vareyn, if the settlers brought a wide variety of native languages with them, and Vareyn literature was considered especially good. But, only if actual Vareyn speakers were widely available the whole time. No one goes out of their way to learn a new, long-dead language just to use it to buy cheese in their own village.

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  • $\begingroup$ This makes a lot of sense. It's really helpful, thank you! I might even refer back to it in the future. I appreciate it! $\endgroup$
    – INPU
    May 8 at 15:15
  • $\begingroup$ A major factor that has not been addressed is 'where did the Vareyn language come from in the first place?" Was it influenced by other languages to begin with? A really interesting synopsis of the rise and fall of a language is given here en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoroastrian_Dari_language $\endgroup$ May 9 at 13:15
  • $\begingroup$ On Earth, there has seldom been a 'pure' language that developed completely independent of any other language There is usually an antecedent language, that shows u in other areas, cultures, and languages. There is a reason for the Rosetta Stone to have been created in the first place - cultural and linguistic overlap. $\endgroup$ May 9 at 13:22
  • $\begingroup$ While I agree with this answer in general, this statement is incorrect: "modern India, they will settle on a common written language" --> Most major languages in India have their own distinct script (albiet some share the same roots) $\endgroup$
    – Dhara
    May 9 at 14:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Dhara: By the "common written language" they mean English. It is the only common language on which all Indians agree. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    May 9 at 18:19
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You would not expect any influence because as you describe it there is not any cultural or historical relationship between those two peoples. Literature for example is not "left behind", it is actively transmitted and translated between cultures who are in contact. Stone inscriptions and the like will not influence the language of the newcomers who cannot even read them.

You can of course construct a situation where such an influence takes place if you want to. Maybe the newcomers find a library of the Vareyn in the desert sand, their scholars somehow figure out their language and it turns out that those Vareyn knew a lot of things the newcomers do not know - in subjects like astronomy, medicine, mathematics etc. In such a case the language of the newcomers would probably adopt scientific vocabulary from the Vareyn.

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  • $\begingroup$ The Vareyn culture is still active, just not in the old place. And as a seafaring culture, they would still be spreading it. Latin survived as a dead language, well after the original speakers vanished. This language still is being used. $\endgroup$ May 7 at 12:48
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Language is not a biological agent which remains active after the bearers are gone.

If it is not used in life, it cannot be transmitted. Look at Latin: though inscriptions in Latin were present in Rome and all the territories if the empire after its fall, hardly anybody without an education would speak Latin, using vulgar. Even less in parts like modern North Africa, Turkey, Greece, middle East and so on.

Actually, I remember reading that in a Pompeii graffiti they found an inscription which sounded more close to the current dialect than to classical Latin: the writer had written "I want to give you a kiss" using, instead of the Latin osculum, the dialectal vasum.

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    $\begingroup$ The thing is, though, Latin still influenced those languages. Spanish, French, Romanian - all languages originating from the peoples who conquered parts of the Roman Empire that are very heavily influenced by the Latin language, even despite Latin itself falling out of common use with the collapse of the Empire. Vareyn, though, is even still active, by a people who live very close by and do a lot of trading. $\endgroup$
    – INPU
    May 7 at 4:27
  • $\begingroup$ My question isn't if the language becomes used by these people or remains alive, it's if the Old Vareyn language will influence the pre-existing language posessed by these settlers. Does that make more sense? $\endgroup$
    – INPU
    May 7 at 4:28
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    $\begingroup$ @INPU: The Spanish, the French and Romanian languages are not "influenced" by Latin. They are the Latin language, as it evolved in Spain, in France and in Romania. We call the Modern Greek language Greek because there is only one; but Romance languages are many, so that we cannot call any of them Modern Latin without doing injustice to the others; but indeed any of the two dozen or so Romance languages would be called Modern Latin if it was the only one. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    May 7 at 8:05
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    $\begingroup$ I am curious what you think that Spanish or Italian are if not the Latin language as it evolved in Spain and in Italy. Languages do change over time. For example, in the history of the English language we generally cut off everything older than Shakespeare and Marlowe as being incomprehensible to a modern audience and place it into Middle English (e.g., Chaucer) or Old English (e.g., the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle). But there was certainly no point between Chaucer and Marlowe where people abandoned Middle English and adopted Modern English; it's just that the language evolved. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    May 7 at 8:25
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    $\begingroup$ The Vareyn culture and language still exists and are still active and practiced, they are just no longer in this territory. That factor is key. $\endgroup$ May 7 at 12:45
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Not a slightest chance

In your case there is a very clear discontinuity between speakers of the old language and new settlers. Only written texts remains, and phonology of the old language just can't be reconstructed.

If new people have interest in the old text AND those texts have strong similarity to the other language that they know, or they are lucky to find a Rosetta Stone which provides a link between the old language and the language that they know, then old text can be translated. But this will be a translation only - without revival of old phonetics, sounds of words of that language would remain lost forever.

P.S. I presume that both old and new civilizations are pre modern. If (like @Daron implied) old civilization left audio recordings of their speech, old language could be revived.

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  • $\begingroup$ The Vareyn language is NOT an 'old language', the Vareyns are still intact, they are just a seafaring civilization now. The language did not die out., $\endgroup$ May 7 at 12:51
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Nope

The settlers move into the ruins of Vareyn civilisation. There are arches with inscriptions and libraries full of books. The settlers cannot read them because it is a different language. It would take decades to reverse engineer the language and there is no obvious benefit.

Unless. . .

There IS some obvious benefit. For example the Vareyn had better metalworking technology. Their spoons and geodesic domes are built from some strange rust-resistent alloy.

In that case the settlers' scholars spend ten years trying to read a metalurgical textbook from context, and piece together a lot of the language from there. This leads to a lot of Ancient Vaeryn becoming technical terms in the sciences.

Or maybe they all had smart homes (yuck). All the houses are solar powered; there is food in the fridge; but you have to speak Ancient Varean to open the door.

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    $\begingroup$ The Vareyns are NOT a 'dead civilization'. They are now a seafaring civilization. The language continues. $\endgroup$ May 7 at 12:49
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    $\begingroup$ @JustinThymetheSecond That's a different civilisation. Case in point, the first ones lived in houses, and the second ones live in boats. Different. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    May 7 at 14:45
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    $\begingroup$ +1. Using an older-technology example: The monumental writing on the stone walls of the Vareyn ruins have no value to the New People because they are unreadable. But the stones themselves are a valuable building material. And the ruins of the palaces and temples and libraries make excellent cattle-pens and defensive stockades. The unreadable scrolls make excellent fire-starting aids. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    May 7 at 16:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Daron Not exactly. It's the same people speaking, for the most part, the same language. Parts of their culture have had to adapt to new life on the islands, but most of it remains very familiar. $\endgroup$
    – INPU
    May 7 at 17:39
  • $\begingroup$ However, I like your answer! It seems like most of the answers agree that the influence would mostly be academic. I already had the idea that the Vareyn before the eruption were advanced metalworkers, so it works together well. Thanks for your help! $\endgroup$
    – INPU
    May 7 at 17:41
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Best example: Egypt

Egyptian old dynastic pharaohs had many edicts written in hieroglyphs. By the younger dynasties, the edicts were using shorthand cursive. Then the Achaemenid Persians came (twice!) and brought a different script and then Alexander came. Shortly after, things were written down in greek, then the script changed again (to Latin) when it became a Roman province, then a variant of that, then the Sassanid Empire conquered it, demanding its own script, and then came the time of Islamic rulers, again overthrowing the writing system and language. 3000 years of language changes, in a nutshell.

By 680, nobody in Egypt or anywhere spoke old Egyptian or could read hieroglyphs anymore, and even the cursive and Achaemenid Persian were unreadable or had speakers. Only some dialects of Greek, the Church Latin, and the Sassanid dialects were used somewhere and their scripts readable by someone, but people in Egypt would shift to speak and write what we call "Arabic" today.

So, to boil it down: No, even with a takeover, it is common that the new masters bring their own language, and if there is no contact between the old inhabitants and the new inhabitants, then there is no cultural transfer of language and thus they will bring their own language.

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    $\begingroup$ Plus one, but a minor nitpick: the Latin language and alphabet were never popular in Egypt. Basically only the military spoke and wrote Latin; everybody else remained on Greek. In general, the Roman Empire was bilingual, Latin in the west and Greek in the east, and educated people knew both. In particular, the Christian church in Egypt never used Latin. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    May 7 at 12:32
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    $\begingroup$ You are confusing political power and spoken language here. By your logic, Algerians would not have used Arabic between 1830 and 1962. I wonder if you ever heard of the Coptic language. $\endgroup$
    – Jan
    May 8 at 1:00
  • $\begingroup$ Also Persian seems completely irrelevant here. The Achaemenids seem to have used Aramaic more than Persian when dealing with Egypt, and the Sassanids were in Egypt only for a decade or so. $\endgroup$
    – Jan
    May 8 at 1:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Jan I am only concerned by the language of the ruling elite, which is only a minor fraction of the population, but lead to language shifts. $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    May 8 at 7:19
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Many years later, the Vareyn had long moved on to become a seafaring civilization, and after the ash had settled, a new people came to fill their place.

By this passage, it can be assumed that the two civilizations are still co-existing. The Vareyns still exist as a civilization, with all of their cultural bag and baggage, language, and iconography, they have just moved on to another habitat. Unless the two civilizations were an entirely different species, and communicate in a completely alien fashion to each other, the interplay between the languages is inevitable. Vareyn artifacts will still have to be named by the newcomers, and it is inevitable the names will be based on the original terminology.

It is equivalent to the white race pretty much forcing indigenous societies out of their lands, but elements of the original indigenous language live on in the manes of places, and artifacts.

As long as two civilizations co-exist, their language will intermingle.

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    $\begingroup$ I would say that from the point of view from the newcomers, the Vareyn are an extinct civilization. Unless they can decypher the artifacts inscriptions(if they exist), they will have no way of even knowing the pre-existing terminology. $\endgroup$
    – LWS SWL
    May 7 at 17:59
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    $\begingroup$ @LWSSWL I think the point is the old V race isn't extinct -- they are currently "seafarers" and will come sailing over to trade and such once they see the new people are there. $\endgroup$ May 7 at 20:23
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    $\begingroup$ The “white race” doesn’t exist any more than any other “race”. Imperialist Western nations with lord-of-all-they-see attitudes exist. Racists and racist societies exist. $\endgroup$
    – Dúthomhas
    May 8 at 3:51
  • $\begingroup$ @ Dúthomhas With dogs and cats and other mammals, we use the term 'breeds' instead of 'races'. $\endgroup$ May 8 at 13:02
  • $\begingroup$ The white race, whatever it is that you think it is, did not force anybody out of any lands. Some specific Englishmen, and Frenchmen, and Spaniards, and Portuguese, did the forcing, most often with the express support of the English, French, Spanish and Portuguese states. Even taken at the most restrictive definition imaginable, the white race covers much more than England, France, Portugal and Spain. (To give a straightforward example: which indigenous societies were forced out of their lands by the Swiss, or by the Greeks, or by the Czechs?) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    May 9 at 18:28
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The new people were longtime admirers of the old.

double headed eagle

So know, pious king, that all the Christian kingdoms came to an end and came together in a single kingdom of yours, two Romes have fallen, the third stands, and there will be no fourth...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moscow,_third_Rome

The people who now inhabit these lands did not come a long distance to settle here. They lived in the hinterlands and barbarian areas around the Vareyn homelands. They raided the Vareyn, or were employed by them, or enslaved by them. They were very impressed by the Vareyn and rightly so. They are to this day.

These people have repaired the Vareyn buildings. They emulate Vareyn society. They assert that they speak Vareyn. They say that they are Vareyn. No original Vareyn are around to disagree.

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    $\begingroup$ +1. Fun little fact: after the Roman empire expanded to include Greece, the Greeks felt very at home in their large new country, and that this was the culmination of the Hellenic history and culture. Eventually they came to call themselves Romans, Ῥωμαῖοι (Rhomaioi, Romêï), and their language Rhomaic. When the modern Greek nationality emerged in the 19th century, the patriotic intellectuals had quite a bit of trouble convicing the peasantry that they were Hellenes, Ἕλληνες, and not Romans, because in the mind of ordinary people the Hellenes were the pagan people of the old days... $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    May 7 at 23:06
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You've got the serious (and correct) answers, so I'm just going to abuse the fact that you didn't specify the technological level that the Vareyn had reached before sailing off to sea.

Yes, but they don't understand it

The Old Vareyn ruins are complex and full of marvels. Over the years, the bravest of your people have dared to explore the crumbling towers, labyrinthine tunnels, vast plazas and majestic palaces. What they found was, by any definition, magic. Doors that open themselves, stairs that move, magical mirrors that show moving images from far away. And - voices. Some are activated by pressing a button, others just by standing in the right spot. Some have been looping forever. Some have now stopped, but your sages have recorded them.

Your people understand that these are the voices of the Gods. They sing the looped recordings as chants to Myne D'hgap, goddess of the underworld, not knowing their meaning, but feeling their power in repetition. They recognise some as warnings or omens, because when One-Armed Lynn tried to stick her hand through the doors, the voice came and she acquired her nickname.

Out of narrative, the only way they would include the previous civilization's language is if they could hear it. If the Vareyn are gone, the only way is audio recordings. Without actual two-way communication, they would not understand what these recordings mean, but they could still use them for ritual purposes - this was the status of Church Latin for most Catholics until the Second Vatican Council. Individual snippets (they may not be able to identify which sequence of sounds is a single lexeme, so it may not be something a Vareyn would recognise as a word) may be incorporated in their language as names, invocations, curses etc. The overall sound of the language may affect theirs in terms of phonemes, but only if enough people actually get to hear the original audio. The grammar and language structure would leave no trace whatsoever.

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    $\begingroup$ U'nat'ndead bgggewil beedyspsdov. SeeitsAitsortedd. The mantra of pilgrims following the great Circalyne. $\endgroup$ May 7 at 16:31
  • $\begingroup$ @LittlePickle. I get the Circalyne pun but what is "U'nat'ndead bgggewil beedyspsdov." based on? $\endgroup$
    – user253751
    May 9 at 14:58
  • $\begingroup$ Ahh. "Unattended baggage will be disposed of" (I think the announcement says "may be disposed of" in fact) and "see it, say it, sorted!". @user253751 $\endgroup$ May 9 at 15:16
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The Vareyn once lived in a fertile land at the head of a great desert, subsisting off of a great river and its bounty - until they were forced to leave after a catastrophic volcanic eruption.

Many years later, the Vareyn had long moved on to become a seafaring civilization, and after the ash had settled, a new people came to fill their place.

My question is, would these new settlers adopt parts of the Vareyn language?

Maybe. Probably not, but it really depends on how we fill in the gaps in your scenario. (FWIW, that's one reason why you're getting so many different answers.)

Newcomers to a land borrowing words (and expressions and phonetics and even grammatical features) from the language of the people previously living there happens all the time. Linguists even have a term for it: substrate influence. But normally that happens while the people speaking the old language are still there.

If the previous inhabitants are gone entirely, e.g. destroyed or driven far away by some catastrophe, then it's unlikely that just the inscriptions they left behind will have much effect on the newcomers' language, especially if most of the newcomers can't read them. Even if some of the newcomers do have the motivation and skill to decipher the old inscriptions (rather than just treating them as decorative art, or as evil heathen marks to be destroyed, as seems to have been common in real life), they'll probably just translate them into their own language. Sure, you might end up with a handful of borrowed words for otherwise untranslatable technical or cultural terms, but probably not much more than that.

Things might be somewhat different if the two languages happened to share the same writing system, and if literacy was common enough among the newcomers, that most people finding the old inscriptions could actually read them. In that case you could perhaps get significant borrowing, especially if the two languages happened to be so closely related as to be at least somewhat mutually comprehensible.

On the other hand, if the new language was unrelated to the old one (but still sharing the same writing system), it seems more plausible that the old inscriptions would just seem like gibberish to the newcomers. Now, a common human reaction to seeing something unreadable but clearly meaningful carved in stone seems to be "It must be magic!" So a plausible outcome of this particular scenario could be a bunch of words from the old language being adopted into the new one, but with completely different meanings, as people claiming (falsely) to be able to understand the old language would pick more or less random phrases from it and use them as "barbarous names", inventing new mystical meanings for them.


But of course, none of those scenarios really match yours in one respect: your Vareyn people are still alive, although living in completely different region and with a different lifestyle. That, in turn, raises a bunch of questions:

  • Did any Vareyn remain in the old lands, or return there after the catastrophe? If not, why not? (It's rare for people to entirely abandon a land, as long as as it's even marginally livable and as long as they're not forced out of it by other people moving in.)

  • If all the Vareyn left, did they move far away, or did they stay close enough that the new people settling their old lands would know of them? (And, if the latter, why didn't the Vareyn themselves resettle the old lands once it was possible again?)

  • How much of their old culture and language do the new "sea Vareyn" retain? Can even they read the old inscriptions, or understand the old Vareyn language? Do they even know where their old homeland was?

If some descendants of the old Vareyn did stay in or near the old lands, or return there once the worst of the catastrophe was over, that could provide the kind of linguistic continuity needed for a proper linguistic substratum. It doesn't really matter if there are only a few of them — all that's needed is that they're there, and they they can read the old texts in their own language and teach that language to the newcomers.

On the other hand, if the Vareyn moved far away from their old homeland, it's possible that the newcomers might not even know that the Vareyn still exist somewhere. In which case it doesn't really matter whether they do or not, as far as the newcomers are concerned.

Indeed, if enough time has passed, even the Vareyn themselves might have forgotten exactly where their old homeland was, and their culture and language could easily have changed beyond recognition. They might not even be able to read the old Vareyn inscriptions themselves, e.g. if they ended up adopting a different writing system from some other culture in the mean time, or if literacy among the old Vareyn was restricted to, say, a particular priestly class that no longer had any meaningful social role in their new lifestyle.

And the new Vareyn language could also be heavily influence by a substrate language spoken by whoever used to previously live where the Vareyn moved to. Someone almost certainly already lived there, and that's probably who the Vareyn learned their new lifestyle from, one way or another. Most likely that learning would come with a heavy dose of linguistic borrowing, as the Vareyn would need huge amounts of new nautical terminology (boat/ship types, ship parts, crew roles, sailing tasks and commands, directions, points of sail, terms for nautical geography and weather and winds, types of fish and other marine life, new foodstuffs, etc., etc.) that they wouldn't have needed before.

Or the Vareyn might even have given up their old language entirely and switched to a different one spoken in their new homeland, maybe with a bunch of substrate vocabulary and phonetic influence remaining from their old speech.


Anyway, assuming that your newcomer people do somehow end up in sufficient contact with the old Vareyn language to borrow parts of it, what would be the most likely things to be borrowed?

Historically, the most likely remnants of a displaced and otherwise forgotten language to survive in a recognizable form are toponyms, i.e. the names of places and geographical features. The reason for this is kind of obvious: when you move to a new land, you need some names to call the rivers and hills and valleys etc. there, and one of the most natural choices (especially if the particular feature you need a name for doesn't have a particularly distinctive appearance) is whatever the previous inhabitants called those things. Which might be whatever the previous previous inhabitants called them, and so on.

Of course, it's also likely that any such borrowed geographical names will be modified to fit the new language, and maybe even given new folk etymologies and "corrected" to better match them. At the very least you're like to see the old names attached to a descriptive suffix (or prefix) like "town" or "river" or "hill" etc. in the new language.

Personal names are also fairly likely to survive, although a lot of that depends on the naming habits of the new culture. (If personal names in the new culture tend to be descriptive phrases, they're a lot less likely to adopt names from another language than if they have a tradition of "opaque" names with no obvious surface meaning being passed on from generation to generation.)

A third common category for borrowed words are terms for things that the borrowing language has no existing word for, such as types of animals or plants or terrain or weather that don't exist in their former homeland, or new technological, cultural, social or religious concepts. The latter category might include things such as professions, titles and military or religious ranks, as well as things like new foodstuffs, clothing items, tools, games, instruments, etc.

Of course, the likelihood of all of these linguistics borrowings depends a lot on what kinds of cultural and technological aspects the new culture ends up adopting from the old one. Here, as in general, language tends to follow culture. Yes, sometimes even words for common and familiar things do get borrowed, especially if two languages are in very close contact. But borrowing is a lot more likely to happen when you need a word for a new concept that you don't have in your own language yet.

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  • $\begingroup$ Damn, another really good answer! I won't change the accepted mark for a 3rd time lol but I really appreciate this and I'll definitely consider it when fleshing out this part of my scenario. Thank you! $\endgroup$
    – INPU
    May 9 at 4:51
  • $\begingroup$ All three of your answers that you consider 'accepted' have one thing in common - the degree to which the Vareyn peoples have prospered and developed, and the length of time since the Careyn have left the area. The OP is very scarce in details on this, and that is pretty much a plot consideration. There are many ways the plot can go, but most of the paths wherein the Vareyn still exist lead to some influence on their language. $\endgroup$ May 9 at 13:04
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It may impact the culture, but not the language. Even if they were able to decode the Vaeryn texts and understand the meaning, that would provide no indication as to how the words were spoken, unless the two languages share the same written characters, and interpret those characters in the same way. The settlers would ultimately use their own language when describing Vaeryn cultural artifacts, and no element of the Vaeryn language would be reconstructed (for a real life example, how much do you see "Linear A" script or "Indus" script impact modern languages).

If they share similar looking characters but not pronunciations, the result may be like an English speaker trying to read Cyrillic by substituting the sound of whatever letter looks most similar. Something might get incorporated into the settler's language, but it wouldn't necessarily sound anything like the original word.

If they share a phonetic written language and there hasn't been too much linguistic drift, it would be possible to reconstruct the pronunciation of Vaeryn words, and they may then be incorporated into the settlers' language. However, in that case you are probably talking about two closely related languages used by closely related cultures. How much would these ruins teach them that they haven't learned directly through exposure?

Culturally, the remaining Vaeryn ruins might inspire the settlers' architecture, or they might simply like the look of Vaeryn text and use elements of it for decoration. Similar to how, in real life, it's not uncommon for someone who doesn't speak Japanese to get a phrase tattooed in kanji. Technology might get rediscovered if the settlers take the time to figure out what it is and how to use it, but it might also get repurposed. Metal tools may be melted down, stone blocks stolen and used in new buildings, paving stones relocated onto new roads. The finished product merely indicates that something is possible to construct, it doesn't necessarily provide the information one would need to duplicate the feat.

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  • $\begingroup$ The Angles and the Saxons came into Great Britain after the Romans have left. And yet, the English language has very many words of Latin origin. For example, words such as "example", or "language", or "origin". Language is a cultural phenomenon, and culture is a complicated thing. If the author wants the language of the new people to have been influence by the language of the old people, than they can easily invent a historical reason to make it so. After all, the English language has many words of Greek origin, and Greek was never ever spoken in Britain as an everyday language. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    May 7 at 8:36
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP the introduction of at least some, maybe even a lot? of those examples date from long after though, the introduction of Christianity bringing with it it's Latin Bible being one cause, between times I thought its influence largely disappeared, so your point may not be entirely as valid as presented? $\endgroup$
    – Pelinore
    May 7 at 12:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Pelinore: You yourself give an excellent example of a historical circumstance which may lead to the old language influencing the new. As I said in a comment on the question, if the author wants the language of the previous inhabitants influencing the language of the new settlers, they can very easily invent the necessary historical circumstances. If they don't, they don't. This answer is wrong because it given a categorical no; it would be equally wrong if it gave a categorical yes. The question simply doesn't provide anywhere near sufficient information. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    May 7 at 17:32
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They might take on some of their language in order to better communicate with other tribes, merchants, or people in neighboring countries, if the original inhabitant's language was known and the new inhabitants language wasn't.

Like how many African nations found that knowing English was useful long after native English speakers left, because it was a common language that they could use to communicate with each other, or with people from far away who didn't know any African languages\dialects.

You might also have situations where the newcomers were in awe of some aspects of the local culture and followed them in a cult like way.

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Before this is closed. I want to squeeze in another factor to be considered, that complicates any answer.

If the Vareyn culture and language was 'replaced' in this area by another different culture and language, it assumes there were at least two cultures that had descended from some common culture through evolution (unless they are a different species). This therefore assumes some common ancestry. It also presumes that the Vareyn peoples were not alone in their part of the world. With any sufficiently advanced culture, they would have traded with societies around them. This would have necessitated some form of mutual common communication.

Even if the Vareyn completely left the area, their influences on their neighbours would still remain.

A case in point is the Rosetta stone. This stone was created for a reason - the original intention was to link three languages and cultures together, because there was obvious intermingling between them, undoubtedly promoted by trade. It was created when all three languages were active, and all three societies were intermingling.

There are very few 'pure' languages on Earth that have not been influenced by antecedent languages in their development.

As a frame challenge, any answer would depend on how the Vareyn language originated, and on how widely it was spread to neighbouring societies while the Vareyn were in the neighbourhood. If the Vareyn peoples were numerous, they would most certainly have had 'branches' that spread throughout the region. In point of fact, it is not beyond speculation that the newcomer language could probably have been influenced by the Vareyn language, and vice versa, even while the Vareyn were still inhabiting the region.

It is very rare that any population develops in complete isolation, unless it is, well, completely isolated by geography. And that is a plot point that is not specified in the original question.

Here is an example of a language that has descended from other languages, morphed into its own distinct language, and is now almost extinct.

Genealogy Genealogically, Dari Persian is a member of the Northwestern Iranian language subfamily, which includes several other closely related languages, for instance, Kurdish, Zazaki, and Balochi.[6] These Northwestern Iranian languages are a branch of the larger Western Iranian language group, which is, in turn, a subgroup of the Iranian language family.

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