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Linguistic Assignations

Chapter Text

Now may the grammar be set. Now may the wayfarers wend. The singers and speakers. The word-weavers and world-wanderers. The smiths of sounds.

The wide open vowel and the constant consonants. Sibilants sliding from S over D into Z. Sounds. The stops of the twins of B and P. K and G. A brace of twins then. Voiced and unvoiced. Shifting. Changing. The hope of assibilation turning hard to soft. As simple as a méhtēr(1) faced with her infant dughtérs'(2) wailing cries. "Shhhhh…"

Call forth the words of our elder méhtēr. The trunk of the tree at the edge of the golden grass. The common roots that hold the branches up to wave at the wandering of dughtérs. The hundred or so words carried down.


Just there.

Where the serpent-way slid through the long grass and split shore from shore. Until that mighty river went down to the dolphin-road. Where sky was separated from his lover, the land, by the wave of wind stroked grass. Where day was divided from night. Summer from winter. The living from the dead.

There, just there, Pie sat with her dughtérs by the campfire. All around them the carts of her speakers. The wanderers. The singers with their songs. This was to be the last time they so gathered there in the long grass. There with their horses to carry them across the wide way. To pull their carts. Carry their loads. The cattle with their milk. Such a little thing. Pie marvelled at it.

Méhtēr-milk(3) that turned green grass into food and grew the herds. Made of wandering a need to feed that growth.

But that was the morrow.

That was for day and this was night.

There by the firelight, Pie stood. She raised a cup of mead and drank to their health.(4) There under the milky-way that meandered across the sky, Pie looked at her dughtérs. Her strong dughtérs with their strong verbs.

Strongly inflected, as she was. So that every word had its own form. Each form its own meaning. Each with a powerful stem from which stiff affixed forms might grow. Such that any word might be placed in any order, and yet still be understood. Object or subject.(5) One, two or many.

Nominitive. Vocative. Neuter. Instrumental. Dative. Ablative. Genitive. Locative. Accusative.(6)

This last was Anatolian. The first to speak. Her eldest dughtér born of a slowly drift like snow on the steppe. "Mine was the first word shift. My right. Mine should be the blessing. Mine the hundred words."(7)

Her next born, Tocharin, smashed her cup of mead upon clay. "You think it no blessing to stay close to our méhtēr. To not be forced to the work of wandering with my hundred. To wonder if I will survive the long way. No matter. I will cannot go nowhere that you are."(8) She turned away from Anatolian. "I will seek my way to the place where the sky-jewel is born. Above the wyrm-teeth mountains. I will go until I come to the end of green grass."

Pregermanic crossed her nouns. Not to be outdone by her elder swésor(9) and yet, as always, wanting to be like her, she said, "Tocharin, I support your vow. I will seek where the sky-bonfire covers his blaze. Above the troll-teeth mountains. I will go until I come to the end of green grass."

The twins, Pretialic and Preceltic, shouted. "We will have our hundred now!"

The twins, Preamenian and Prebaltoslavic, shoved. "We will have our hundred words too."

Hellenic slipped away from her smashing swésors. Off to play with her daubs of paint.

The youngest, Protoindoiranian, looked fiercely at all. Seemed to demand a hundred by force of gaze.

Pie tried to silence them. "Preitalic. Preceltic. You are too young to travel from me yet. You already have your hundred. You drank them with my milk. When you are ready, you can go."

"We are not much younger than Pregermanic," protested Preitalic.

The arguing continued. Until finally it seemed there was to be a split. Some of the swésors would pronounce the word for hundred as centum with a hard C. Would merge plain and paleto velars. While some of the swésors would pronounce hundred as satem. An S. Merge the labio and plain velars, and leave the paleto velars unmerged. (10)

All the while Anatolian shouting that she would merge none of them. "None! I speak for our méhtēr."

Pie corrected her with a crack of a noun. "I speak for me." Though she knew her time was passing. With the last puff of breath, she would pass to the black-cart of Dyēus Pater, sky father. She would pass from words.(11)

Each of her dughtérs to carry their hundreds into the wandering-word-smithing-world. The world that silenced words. But no, she had made strong dughtérs with strong verbs. Surely they would survive.

Pie had hoped for peace. Before wanderers set forth as scattered seeds before Dyēus Pater streaming-wind. As she had once gathered with her swésors along a far distant shore.

Then she laughed, which stopped the shouts. She said, "I argued with my swésors the last time I saw them too. Now I would not know them. Nor they me."

She laughed again. Left the firelight to seek out the spill of stars. Some many stars shot across that sky. No great warning. So they did every night. She watched them until Anatolian came to her. "It is cold, Méhtēr." Pie let her elder dughtér lead her back to warm old nouns by the fire.


1 - Reconstructed Mother in Proto-Indo European.

2 - Reconstructed Daughter in Proto-Indo European.

3 - This is the theory that says that the reason Proto-Indo European (PIE) spread so far because of a genetic mutation among the speakers of PIE that allowed for a new source of calories for adults – milk, tand the domestication of the steppe horse. This means herd animals can produce food without being slaughtered and conversely meant a need for more grazing lands.

4 - There are a lot of words for mead in Indo European languages, so it's one of the better attested words and has many cognates. A cognate is a word that derives the same root stock. Madre and Mother are cognates.

5 -

6 -

7 -

8 - Reconstructed sister in Proto Indo European.

9 -

10 - Reconstructed Sky-Father – aka Zeus, Jupiter, etc.