Languages of Faeland

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Fig. 12 Languages of Faeland

The Languages of Faeland vary considerably depending on geographic location and ethnic group. According to the last census, Faelish and Vallo are the primary languages of most of the population. However it should be noted that while English is spoken by most residents of the island as a second language, Faelish is largely restricted to the Kingdom of Faeland (including the exclave of Valania and the Vinesene Archipelago islands). There are many large language groups besides these two languages, but the near universal understanding of English and the native prominence of Faelish have served to make these two the most widely understood.

According to Census of Faeland of 2001, Fáel has 3 major languages and 15 minor languages. However, figures from other sources vary, primarily due to differences in definition of the terms "language" and "dialect". The 2001 Census recorded 3 languages which were spoken by more than a million native speakers and 5 which were spoken natively by more than 10,000 people. Two contact languages have played an important role in the history of Faeland: Latin and English. Latin was the court language for much of the Alnish Kingdom as well as dominating the Latin Coast, where it has since evolved into Vallonese. It reigned as an administrative language for several centuries until the era of colonization. Up till now, English is an important language in Faeland— used in higher education and in some areas of the government. Faelish, the most widely spoken native language in Fáel today, serves as a lingua franca across much of the islands alongside English. There have been, however, anti-English agitations in Central and Northwest Faeland (Ríocht Fíl and the Dhíall), most notably in the Highlands and Valania. There is also opposition in non-Faelish Belt states towards any perceived imposition of Faelish in these areas.

Faeland's two official languages are the native Faelish and Latin. Although the lingua franca for most is English, the legal interpretation of the law is that "...to protect our common heritage, Faelish, and to interact with that part of the world fallen to Christ, Latin..." (This interesting legal position not only paints jurist John Emilji a "Heathen" supporter, but also, perhaps, dares to consider Fáel apart from Europe).

The four most widely-spoken non-official languages are Vallo (42%), Irish (13%), English (78%), and Asturian (24%). There are also significant populations of Galician, Basque, Danish, Provençal, and Breton speaking peoples, as well as multiple pidgins and creoles.

The plural "languages" is often used to describe the situation in Faeland because unlike many countries, there is not even a single root language that is used across all of the island. The lingua franca of the nation, English, is, as the name suggests, not an import but a scar of a bygone era- an "import" to use the ad-lang of the day. The Faelish language family is native but the range of speakers has retreated largely to within Ríocht Fíl, elsewhere it is treated as a second language.

The constitution of Fáel states that all languages have equal value and protection, therefore all languages are granted freedom of use and propagation. Even though there are official languages, Faeland has become a virtual archive of languages, with minority communities establishing themselves across the island. This is due to a strong government policy of language preservation.

Language preservation strives to prevent languages from becoming extinct. This can happen when a language is no longer taught to younger generations, and the elderly people who do speak the language fluently die. In cases where there are not enough children for a language to be taught in schools, and the government sees that less young people are learning a language than older people passing away, state "banks" are set up to archive as much written and oral material as possible, and typically offer free instruction from volunteers for interested learners.


Native Languages

See also: Faelish Language

Fig. 34 Knowledge of Faelish in the Faelish Isles.

The Çelathi languages are descended from Proto-Çelathi, a branch of the greater Celtic language family. The term "Çelathi" was used to describe this language group by English settlers in the 16th century, having been used much earlier by Roman writers to describe tribes of the island. For most of the island's history, Çelathi was spoken across the island, from the Bay of Biscay to the Atlantic. Today, Çelathi languages are limited to the Kingdom of Faeland where a standardized version exists, as well as pockets of speakers within other V.F. countries, which often exist as Creoles. Most speakers of Faelish are fiercely proud of their linguistic heritage, although many are fluent in English as well.

Invasive Tongues

Throughout its history, the island has ever been floating paradoxical: insulated yet penetrated; deceptively isolated yet inundated with foreign languages (cf. "The Washing" - i.e. a washing over by ancient Celtic linguistic influence).

So long as there have been such things as "national languages," only English has ever held singular and exclusive hegemony at law -- during the Demesne: beginning with the expulsion of other colonial powers until independence in 1925. For the rest of its history there has always been a combination of languages used officially by the various states.

Old Norse

Having a very limited pale, and never penetrating beyond coastal settlements, Old Norse was carried in the mouths of Scandinavian raiders to the northern and western shores of the Faelish Isles.

Frankish/French

Sasanaxh

Crusading knights invaded Faeland in the 13th century, introducing by their presence a pocket of Middle Low German in the Raebigho River Valley. Although the language has survived and evolved to this day, even at its height "Saxanaxh" (Faelish: "Saxon") was spoken by a limited number of people, restricted largely to the ruling warrior class and their retainers, clerics, servants, etc.

The Saxon invasion had most impact on place names, which changed significantly due to the invaders establishing and occupying established settlements. It is not known precisely how much Faelish (if any) the German knights learned, nor how much the knowledge of Saxon spread among the lower classes, but the demands of trade and basic communication probably meant that at least some of the knights and native Faelish were bilingual. Nevertheless, Prince John Alexander never developed a working knowledge of Faelish and for centuries afterward Faelish was not well understood by the Saxon nobility.

A high estimate of 500 Saxons settled in Faeland as a result of the crusade, although exact figures cannot be established. Some of these new residents intermarried with the natives, but the extent of this practice initially was limited. Most Saxons continued to contract marriages with other Saxons or other continental families rather than with the Faelish. Within a century of the crusade, intermarriage between the native English and the Saxon immigrants had become common.

Today, Sasanaxh clearly displays the admixture of the Germanic and the native languages. Due to Sasanaxh's limited utility it has been in decline since the 1970's. Most primary speakers of the language reside in the cities of the S.A.Z. where academic institutions preserve its literary heritage. In rural areas Rumanhese prediminates.

Colonial Languages

Arguably the first colonial language as such was Latin; brought by Roman legionaries settled in the Latin Coast (whence the name). The vulgar Latin of the soldiers and settlers evolved into a recognizable Vallonese (or "Valanian") by the middle of the 6th cent. CE. As part of the Romance spectrum of languages it has many features in common with e.g. Spanish or Italian, however it is -within the context of the Faelish Isles- a language family in its own right, with many attested dialects including some with low mutual intelligibility. See Vallo Language.

Portuguese

Galician & Basque

English

Main article: Faelish English

Historically, English was the sole official language of government during the Demesne from 1785 to 19XX, although its use was not widespread outside The Shore and government. From 19XX onwards, English became a lingua franca across the island as the polyglot countries began to unify into the V.F.. One of the great Faelish poets, Cader Born Tenson, often wrote in English.

Due to its global spread, English has risen to become the dominant non-native lingua franca of the islands, arguably moreso than during British occupation.

The most recent influx of colonialist speakers of English bring an American drawl to the East Country, as they call it. It is yet to see how this will influence the English of the island.