Linguistics Conquest And The History Of Names
The history of names is an interesting study, made all the more so by looking at the root causes for the name changes. The stories of conquest are effectively the history of the human race. One factor of human conquest that can easily be lost to history, is the impact it has on language, the natural evolution of language, and the impact of radical and sudden changes to languages and the meaning of words.
A long place ago in a time far away there were no written languages other than those used in place of the Egyptian Language names written in script such as Cuneiform and Hieroglyphs. In that day and age, a name may be represented by a symbol, but given the challenges of writing, and place of scribes only in the upper echelons of society, and the nature of writing at the time, very few people had their names recorded for posterity.
The Introduction of The Alphabet
The debates that surround the history of the written word, more specifically in the terms of the alphabet and phonetic language is a fascinating exploration in itself. It is widely held that the earliest languages written in an alphabetic script were the ancient Sumerian languages.
This however, is contested by both evidence and lesser-held beliefs that the ancient Hebrew language names may have been written in the Hebraic alphabetic script. This may have served as the first language, later after the exodus, evolving into the Sumerian and related languages. While there are some great debates to be held in terms of such considerations, the primary focus here is the impact of linguistic conquest on names throughout history.
What Is Linguistics Conquest
Conquest, as noted, is the forceful “liberation” of foreign lands. There are only two peoples in the history of the world who have managed to conquer the Russian lands. These were the Polish speaking people and the Asian Mongols under Genghis Khan.
Thus, it should not be surprising that there is a large Mongolian and Polish influence extending into the Russian names as well as in other parts of their language. This is a direct result of linguistic conquest and the integration of the two languages. The language of the vanquished will inevitably be impacted by the language of the victors.
However, even the language of the victors will experience some changes as local objects and local information is gleaned from their conquest. There will be many an introduction to new ideas, new concepts, and even new objects that the victors have never encountered before. How are they to explain this with the linguistic “limitations” and having never experienced them before?
How Does Linguistics Conquest Impact Language
New words and a linguistic evolution are as much a part of conquest as human and cultural evolution. As cultures become more integrated, be it through conquest or trade, many new things will be introduced to all of the societies involved. This virtually demands an expansion of language and vocabulary.
Imagine the introduction of all the spices from the ancient trade routes. What did people call them? Corn was grown exclusively in Mesoamerica, as was cacao (or cocoa) coffee, tobacco, and other products that were introduced to the world through global trade. How do you name something that you have never seen before?
In most cases, the original names were introduced into the new worlds and new markets with their original name. These names would change over the course of time, as would the way these items were used. When Cacao or cocoa was discovered, it was not appreciated by the Europeans and Spaniards, not in the early phases of introduction anyhow.
In Mesoamerica, the Cacao was ground into what we would call cocoa powder, but it was often consumed with chili peppers. Yes, hot peppers and cocoa sounds strange now, but at the time it was introduced, that was how it was generally consumed. It was not until the people in Europe who were using it for medicinal purposes, began mixing it with hot sugar water that it became popular.
Linguistic Conquest Versus Linguistic Evolution
There was a time not so long ago when people would mark packages with something like #10 kilograms or #10 pounds. You may also have seen #201 as an example for a room number of locker. The “#” in the days of old was considered a “Number Symbol” or “Pound Sign”. Given its use on telephones and its continuation on to the modern cell phone, this symbol has evolved naturally.
Ask anyone born after the turn of the century to press the pound sign on their phone and they may very well not understand. Try to explain about the Number Key and they may or may not understand. Ask them to press the hashtag though, and they will know exactly what you are referring to. Such is the natural evolution of language and only part of the study regarding the history of names.
The natural evolution of language occurs over the course of time in a more natural fashion. There are approximately 24 notable dialects in American English, with 23 of them being based on the English language in one form or another. There is a strong indication that the Middle English often referenced in the UK before the Norman Conquest, is best represented in the modern world by a very small portion of people in the Appalachian mountains.
Due to the relatively isolated location of these people, many of whom remain living without electricity or other modern conveniences, the language has experienced a very limited natural evolution. Modern generations however, have been introduced to a sort of linguistic evolution without the conquest required in the days of old.
How Does Linguistics Conquest Impact The History of Names
While both the natural evolution of language and the conquest of lands resulting in linguistic conquest will change the local language, they remain distinct and separate concepts. Bubba and Mary-Sue may be just as famous in the mountains as Thibodeaux and Boudreaux are in the swamps of Louisiana.
Cultural creep, just like linguistic evolution and even linguistic conquest will ultimately rule the day, being reflected even in the names that we give to our baby girls and baby boys as we bring in the next generation. Before the Norman conquest of the United Kingdom, most of the names were Anglo Saxon in origin in the Southern and Central regions.
This of course does not count the Gallic invasions which led to the introduction of the Gaelic names in the northernmost portions of the United Kingdom. The Celts and the Picts would share names with Romans as the two intermingled after the Roman Conquest of the United Kingdom long before the Norman Conquest.
About the only areas of the United Kingdom to remain true to their Anglo-Saxon history were the Welsh.
The Earlier Periods Of Linguistic Conquest And The History Of Names
The earlier Roman invasions led to the ultimate decimation of the Pictic peoples, and their integration into Gaelic societies. The physical conquest of their lands led to an integration of the Gaelic and Pictic cultures by way of necessity. This resulted in a new mixing and integration of cultures and languages, including the history of names used locally.
The later Norman invasions led to the introduction of names like William and James into the Middle English language, despite their limited Norman-Franco linguistic origins. The Norman French, unique to this day, was itself part of a larger linguistic conquest resulting from the Viking invasions led by Rollo, who would ultimately become the Viking ruler of Normandy and the introduction of Norman French into Middle English, introducing new changes to the history of names and the local languages.
This would see a further linguistic conquest of the local French vernacular, integrating both the Nordic and French languages. While societal conquest, whether physical or in terms of linguistics, may be tragic in its own right, there may be at least some benefit at the end of the day.
When everything is said and done, we are all humans, and we can all wear our names proudly, no matter what its roots may be or how diverse and intertwined our histories may be collectively.