Keeping up with the Armenians

Armenian is not the oldest Indo-European language, however it’s the oldest surviving one to date. Given Armenia’s relative isolation from the rest of Europe it could inevitably cling onto more primitive grammar to some degree. I don’t know much about Armenian since I don’t bother to learn about it.

What I do know is that Armenia and to a historical extent Turkey are the originators of not only the original Indo-Europeans both linguistically and genetically but also the ancestors of some ethnic groups in Ancient Rome. It’s been established in some studies that Tuscans are related to Armenians.

Considering that Indo-European languages originated in Armenia, it’s possible that those that stayed would be linguistically and sometimes culturally closer to what’s left of the original culture as others adapted to the influences of those they invaded or settled.

Whether eastwards to India or westwards to Europe, they clearly adapted themselves to their host populations. Not just linguistically but also culturally, thus leaving Armenia out.

The geeks that weren’t

I wrote it on a notebook about the differences between old school and new school geek culture, the main one for me is that the latter’s increasingly fantastical even when there are geeks with more realistic or grounded obsessions. With the Internet, anyone could be a geek. There are history, language and fashion geeks after all but they don’t attract that much attention as their fantasy oriented counterparts do.
There is overlap between fantasy and medieval nerds but while the latter’s similarly influential and catered to, that’s got nothing on what the fantasy nerds get. The former gets full-blown franchises and merchandise, the latter has research material and props. Plus there predictably are festivals in Europe where you can relive the Dark Ages and Renaissance as well as folk and ecclestial clothing close enough to it.
It also happens for the overlap between folklore nerds and fantasy nerds to an extent. Keep in mind that there are people who still believe in ghosts and the like or enjoy ghost stories and folktales without being nerds. It seems geek culture in popular literature is almost always linked to either science or fantastical imaginations. This leaves out history nerds and their ilk, maybe because they can be too ‘normie’ or something.

Lusophone Africa

The second most successful Romance language in Africa after French is Portuguese (Italian would come third especially in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Libya) and that the Portuguese have worked in or visited African countries like present day Ghana, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Nigeria (hence Lagos and the Yoruba diaspora in Brazil) and Democratic Republic of Congo.

The four most persistently Lusophone countries are Mozambique, Angola, Sao Tome and Cabo Verde. As the Portuguese colonised Africa, they undoubtedly played a big part in slavery in which it was abolished much later in Brazil. Like I said, there’s a substantial black diaspora in Brazil and the largest black population after Nigeria. There’s even a place in Nigeria called Lagos, which sounds Portuguese.

Angola seems to be the most well-off part of Lusophone Africa with a growing middle class and rising internet usage. They too will have their time to influence Africa and make others speak Portuguese, becoming a new centre for it after Brazil when Portugal’s population shrinks.

That could happen in the future but in the meantime Angola and the rest of Africa are still rising so they’ll wait longer to catch up.

Namibia

This is arguably the only African country that spoke German the longest and with the most persistent German influence and colonisation. Keep in mind that Togo, Cameroon, Kenya and Tanzania used to be German colonies at one point or another but got surrendered to France and Britain respectively. This leaves Namibia to Germany for better or worse.

For another matter, South Africa was a Dutch colony and Afrikaans is descended from the Dutch language. I haven’t been to Namibia before and I know little of it. At this point, Namibia’s increasingly Anglophone though I won’t be surprised if there were attempts to preserve the German language by some Namibians. It’s also parsimonious to suggest that France and Britain were more successful at colonising Africa than Germany and even Italy did.

Hence why French is still far more heavily spoken in Cameroon than in Ethiopia and in here, German in Namibia.

Latin Africa

That’s a name given to the Romance speaking part of Africa, which is mostly Francophone as Latin America’s predominantly Hispanophone. A more parsimonious definition of Latin America as in Romance speaking Americas would include French speaking Canada and Haiti. In the like manner, Latin Africa wouldn’t and shouldn’t exclude Equatorial Guinea, Cabo Verde, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Libya, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Angola as they use or rather used Italian, Spanish and Portuguese to varying degrees.

There are lots of French speaking African countries which includes most of Cameroon, the two Congos, Burundi, Rwanda at some point, Cote D’Ivoire, parts of Morocco and Tunisia, Senegal, Sudan, Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Gamibia and Reunion. There are several English speaking countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Though Cameroon used to be a German colony, the odd one out for the longest is Namibia. Perhaps France and England were far more persuasive in colonising Africa, even stealing some when Germany got defeated in WWI.

This is why Cameroon is currently and mostly Francophone. Some Cameroonians still speak German, many more speak French and seemingly discriminate against Anglophones hence some on and off conflict.

The portrait of a poet as a young man

As he’s often seen with a hat, it’s hard to tell what his actual hair colour’s like. It can only be interfered from both Boccaccio’s description and his own. As what one book, Portraits of Dante, said that the former’s description aptly describes the ageing Dante. Dante mentioned himself going grey and having been blond or lighter haired before. The younger Dante probably wasn’t blond either but lighter than average.
If Dante did go grey, keep in mind that when some European adults age their hair turns gunmetal grey. A veteran journalist named Francesco Caremani also has that colour and there’s research suggesting that memory distorts everytime somebody recalls it. Even Dante and Boccaccio (or any of his informants) aren’t immune to this. It’s highly possible or plausible given there’s hardly any portrait of him without his hat.

I Will Survive

Perhaps an even bigger question is if any of those languages spoken in Europe (and Japan) were to survive, many of them that is if lucky enough they could survive elsewhere. Not just with former colonies that are either keeping those alive or revitalising them like what Spanish is in the Philippines but also overseas communities dedicated to learning those.

Similar things could be said of certain cultural traits and costumes but inevitably and perhaps sadly some of them will disappear. Who knows if people will continue speaking in Sorbian in 2033 that is unless if outsiders are willing to practise such customs and speak in that language. Growing numbers of those communities could alleviate the problem.

There’s an Italian language centre in Manila as well as scattered Ethiopian and Libyan counterparts which all three could be the language’s and Italy’s salvation in the near future if many more people got to speak it. But similar things could be said of other languages especially if they got really lucky.

It would however take many more factors to keep something like Irish around for years to come.