For a comparative text in several Romance languages, including
Talossan, click to the John 3:16
For further material both on and in the Talossan language, check out Tomás Gariçéir's Talossan Language Pages.
In December 1979, Robert Ben Madison led the Kingdom of Talossa to its independence from the United States. Ben chose Norwegian as the tiny Kingdom's first official language, to maintain a sense of distance from the English-speaking USA.
Unfortunately Madison could not speak Norwegian. And during the next several months, he experimented with several other "official languages" (including Greek, Polish, Navaho, Turkish, Vietnamese, and Finnish) in vain attempts to find one that would somehow encapsulate the incipient national ethos of the Kingdom.
In December, 1980, King Robert I realized that the only language that could ever truly have a Talossan national character, would be a Talossan language.
The King was an amateur linguist and was familiar with constructed language projects such as Esperanto and Volapük. In this interest he was inspired by a wonderful book, The Loom of Language by Frederick Bodmer and Lancelot Hogben (New York: 1944). He had also studied both German and French for several years, and knew some Spanish.
Unlike creators of other constructed languages, Madison did not sit down, write up fixed rules for the language, and begin writing in it. Instead, he had a vague sense of what Talossan would "look like" and "sound like," and simply began to write. The language evolved over the next several years into its modern form.
The very earliest Talossan texts were a kind of pidgin, with basic vocabulary (pronouns, numbers, conjunctions, articles) coming from French, Spanish or Catalan, with some Romanian admixture. Some rudimentary grammar was also taken from the Romance languages, especially Portuguese, but most of the vocabulary was English with various Romance endings added on (-eu for nouns; -mente for adverbs, etc). As such, this "Archaic Talossan" barely constituted a language at all, but reflected the limited linguistic understandings of its 15-year old creator. A sample from December, 1980:
"Talossa nostreu c'estas almostemente uneu noveu landeu," said Kingeu Robert I todayeu. Uneu noveu Mapeu d'Talossa c'estas in "l'Libreu d'Talossa," a showar qu'l's-changeux in Talossa haveu estescu muy mucheux. "Havemos reachescu nostreu goaleu nationaleu, i estamos happyeux," said l'Kingeu.
Talossan broke out of its "Spanglish" origins in early 1981, with Madison not only purging the language of many of its English elements, but also adding to it exotic features from tongues as varied as Albanian, Latvian, Swedish, Icelandic, and Estonian. It adopted the baroque case system of Finnish, some spelling rules from Hungarian, and took in a pronoun from Turkish. The language was fast becoming a sort of linguistic grab-bag for whatever language-of-the-week Madison was reading about at the time. Despite the odd directions the language was taking, however, Madison wrote all of Talossa's newspapers in it during this period and the language was becoming a patriotic and necessary feature of Talossa's one-man culture. A sample of this Early Classical Talossan (February 1981):
"Qiñeu Diktatga, Talossaux Armeux havè changeascù c'ks. L'Qiñeu c'è pensescù l'ideaga plâcescù c'Armeux över l'flageu anstatt l'Symboleu Ben'u. C'armeux sà più bueneu lookînd als l'primeu."
Sverðeu d'Kérénzt fâçara os ideologiî formáus. L'Dûceu dëllâ Partiá Sverðeu d'Kérénszt, Ben Madison, començara în viensâs ziuâs lâ discertação formál d'"L'Vej d'Sverðeu d'Kérénszt," l'plán formál és ofiçiál dëlla noastrâ Partiá. Acest llibriteu estara l'aßinmêteu grült pëlla Claßeu regesc "Þistoriá Mondiál."
Unfortunately, after 1981, use of the Talossan language fell off sharply, and only a few documents from this period survive. As English-speaking immigrants contributed more and more to the life of the Kingdom, the language became moribund.
"Bunâ, aici-st noastrâ pîmalaiset 'ezitoriál' îlla glhîmbâ Talossán, come comandescù par l'Regeu. Zespäts la nataschâ-d CÚG, på-l 29 Novîmbár 1983 (vers 3 år àllah ziuâ zespäts la pîrmalaiset recogniçâo glhîmbæ), la CÚG rescherscheva l-problüm phonetic Talossán, és est prideascâ ànonçar l-list sovînd della phoneticâ dellâ glhîmbâ."
Shortly thereafter the language fell into relative disuse, but in the autumn of 1984, as new citizens began to swell the tiny Kingdom and drive it toward becoming a genuine democracy, the King took a new interest in the native culture he had created. He made sure that Talossan words would find a place in the English dialect of the inhabitants, and words like Cosâ (legislature), Cestoûr (non-Talossan living in Talossa) and Seneschál (Prime Minister) began to find widespread use among the country's Anglophone majority.
The Talossan language so far had been an "artificial language" along the lines of Esperanto or Interlingua. It represented whatever linguistic fads appealed to its inventor from month to month. But in May of 1984 the seeds were planted for a total shift of direction for the young language.
On 22 May 1984 the Talossan newspaper Støtanneu reported that Ben Madison was doing research on "ancient Talossa." Instead of viewing Talossa as a North American "micronation," Ben began to research ancient European and American history in an effort to create a kind of "national mythology" for his kingdom. In its early forms, this mythology proclaimed that ancient ethnic groups (first thought to be Celts) had formed tribes and states not only in ancient Talossa--on the shore of Lake Michigan--but also in Europe, where they founded the town of Toulouse (get it?) in pre-Roman times. His discovery of various Gaulish tribes called the Tolosati, Tolossæ, and Tolosanua provided evidence for these "ancient Talossans."
Little was done on this speculation until the spring of 1985, by which time Madison read in some archaeological works that the pre-Celtic inhabitants of Western Europe--the "Megalith-builders" and the "Beaker Groups"--might have been related to the Berber peoples of North Africa. Around the 20th of March, 1985, Madison discovered that one of the Berber sub-tribes of Morocco is called the Talesinnt, and Madison proclaimed that the "ancient Talossans" were actually Berbers. All this provoked a lot of snickering and disbelief from his subjects.
The idea that Talossans were 'descended from' this undifferentiated mass of Celtic and Berber tribesmen eventually had a powerful impact on Talossan national identity, but also had powerful long and short-term impact on the Talossan language. Madison couldn't speak a word of Berber, and he found what little there was on the language to be too full of linguistic jargon and difficult IPA characters. As a result, even though the country's identity was becoming far more self-consciously Berber than Celtic, Celtic proved to be the main influence on the language. Celtic words began to enter the Talossan language in large numbers. (The most celebrated one is without a doubt el glheþ which means "the language"; it is cognate with Welsh iaith and Breton yezh). Moreover, the entire grammar of the language was suddenly transformed with Celtic-type syntax and pronouns from Celtic ("va"--my) and Berber ("anoc"--we) fused clumsily to what was still basically a Romance-type substructure. Most bafflingly (and, as it turned out, most long-lastingly) Celtic-style consonant mutations (the change of a word's initial consonant depending on the words that precede it) were introduced, which made the language vastly more complex than it needed to be. These mutations were not abolished until the early 1990's. A sample of the Celto-Berberized Talossan of this period (25 June 1985) follows; note the "Irish" definite article an and the various consonant mutations:
"Açest editoriál promptescù isch par áis evînts reçînts în an Oriînt-Çentrál. Come voi säpetzi d'ospréi an Zeclaraziun à shinistrà, eu sînt contra an idéa da therorizim. Eu pût solamînt zirarë, që créu që an ziferensù înt-gCristianità es Islám isch që Crist téa condemnescù an vhiolensà, és Muhammad a téa zonescù viensa lexhitimätsità perversù. An shoçietà d'an Ocçidînt téa an vhiolensà, ben sigür. Más non credameux që ç'isch ben, solamînt që neçeßár'sch; an Muslim ama a violensoû -- o enxhoia túar és murðërar 'për an gloria d'Allah.' Schi Islám tolerata an aniþilaziun da vilatxen totál, an þom ç non pût toleratar an Islám; o fost non. An C'hristianità non parfäts isch, más noi condemniennent terrorizim; és non fasiennent an mismeu an Islámics, aglhórc Islám inferiór'sch als relixhiun."
The modern period in the language began in July 1985 when the King quietly dropped most of the Celto-Berber infusions and returned the language to a more "classical" form, this time heavily influenced by Rhaeto-Romance and Occitan. In September of 1985 the King published a 4,300 word English-Talossan dictionary called the Zictziunár Naziunál ("National Dictionary") which set the "modern" language in stone and illustrated a massive new influence: Occitan.
Although Talossan lost many of its Celto-Berber accretions, the identity of the language was still firmly "Berber." In August of 1985 Madison had completed his epic History of the Kingdom of Talossa which laid out the first draft of his ancient Berber history hypothesis. According to this version, the ancient Talossans of Toulouse and the south of France had been "Romanized" but never gave up their Berber identity. According to Madison, French was Latin spoken by Gauls, while Occitan--the Romance language of the south of France--was Latin spoken by Berbers. Books on Occitan were readily available, and Madison was able to use Occitan to "Berberize" the Talossan language in a form his linguistically-untutored 20-year-old mind could fully appreciate. Madison consciously drew upon the analogy of Galician--the Romance language of north-west Spain, whose speakers believe themselves to be a Celtic people while speaking a thoroughly Romance language. Likewise, Madison inferred, Talossans were free to think of themselves as Berbers while also speaking a Romance language.
It was also during this period that the Talossan language emerged as a major political issue in Talossa. John Jahn, head of the pro-American "Talossan National Party," was attempting to have the language expunged in favour of English and German, as most Talossans had German ancestors. The political battle over Talossan identity and the Talossan language spurred the King to ever more work on Talossan. A sample from this early modern period (9 November 1985) follows:
"Bens noveschti! El colüm CÚG reviena për'n sola c'hopia da Støtanneu për anonçar à Vhoi lous înformaziuns nhouas súper ár glheþ. Qët Voi liretzi, sînt els pirmalaisets mocts që sînt scriuts par gCompútex dîn la þistoria del R.T. Üc, c'è vräts, el Talossán entra'l atx del fütür. És så rapidamînt, acest entréia...! Hevelor GVB--për façînd toct acest travál për noi, qi non à'cest tîmp existent. Për vrätsità, liretz Voastra Støtanneu."
The new period opened with sweeping reforms in spelling, designed to make regular the use of accent marks (with which Talossan bristles) which had been extremely confusing ever since a host of irregularities was imported from Occitan the year before. The accusative case, which had been vestigial for over a year, was abolished and more and more material began to appear in Talossan in the Talossan press. Citizen Brook Gläfke made history on 30 September 1987 when he wrote a brief post-card to Madison in the Talossan language--the first time the language had ever been used by anyone other than Ben Madison. Madison, who had recently returned from Europe, had also begun to jot down words he found in old issues of Støtanneu and other Talossan-language documents. He declared that these words would be incorporated in the new Dictionaries: "We will try to bring Talossan back to its nobler roots." This was actually a radical move; in most languages, a dictionary is compiled by finding words that actually exist and making a list of them. By contrast, Ben Madison's approach was to come up with a list of English words and then invent or derive Talossan equivalents for them--paying no attention to what actual past Talossan usage had been! And even at this time Madison's pledge to dredge the "nobler roots" of Talossan was only carried out in a handful of cases.
But the result of his labours appeared in the summer of 1987 when the twin-volume English-Talossan and Talossan-English Dictionaries were published. Several copies were sold to interested Talossans, a draft of a "Teach Yourself Talossan" textbook was drawn up (but never completed) and Madison embarked on an ambitious "quixotic quest" to give Talossa "a vernacular literature (something it desperately needs, God knows)." He insisted that he ought to stop writing about Talossan and write in Talossan instead.
To that end Madison published a number of Talossan-language articles and poems, and this became a "Golden Age" for Talossan literature, thanks in large measure to the new Dictionaries. Dating from this period (April, 1987) are Madison's lyrics to the anthem of Talossa's Vuode Province. This song, "'N Regeu Xhust," was set to the tune of the "Marseillaise" and recounts the resistance of Vuode Province to its dictatorial left-wing Governor General, Bob Murphy, who attempted to repress the Province's traditional monarchist sentiments in the spring of 1987:
'N Regeu Xhust
'N regeu xhust és volînd ben për dToct,
O tent creat 'n provînçù.
Acest päts c'esteva liv'rescù,
Más vuit-séifet vid'va 'n cînxh
Más vuit-séifet vid'va 'n cînxh
Citaxhiéns, videtz që' paßa!
Prîndetz për zefençar tú phäts
L'Apîntat o fäts'ci qët o volt,
Contrâ bhen és contrâ tradiziuns
Vuode volt vivar, ár phäts å liverar!
Avînt, avînt, la vhoce cînt':
El vell, eða la mhoart!
Another example from this period is Madison's beautiful poem Stiloûr, "Fountain Pen" (16 April 1990), a love poem about waiting for letters to arrive in a long-distance romance:
Tú isch la mhà qi tent el stiloûr
Qi scriua la stôriâ da vha vhiðâ.
Cün 'n averçâ da thú bPigñhetâ
Tú fäts va vhiðâ alerétz eða tristâ.
Scriitzi várlegâ--Non dencida va c'hard!
Scriitzi sovînt--Non me tenetz în eñclin!
Scriitzi tú stôriâ, în lácrimâs, schi tú volt, sür va pháxhinâ
Noi povent lirar
Plans for this project remained vague until August of 1990, when Madison made a dramatic, ground-breaking announcement: He was systematically going through every single document ever written in the Talossan language from 1980 to date, and recovering from them a lengthy list of historic Talossan language words. These he would compare to words which existed only in the dictionary, and in most cases the unused "dictionary words" were suppressed in favour of the "living" words drawn from the past corpus of Talossan writings. "It's an attempt," he wrote, "to return our language to its own heritage, or to retalossanize the ethnic language of our country." Through these efforts the language was 'tightened up'; it began to look at all strata of its past development as worthy of emulation, and became more authentically representative of its own heritage than ever before. Hence the name, "the Harmonic Period"--attempting to "harmonize" all the past eras of the Language into an authentic, self-assured whole.
In another dramatic break from recent precedent, Madison appeared to reject the whole "Berber" basis of the language. The Celtic system of consonant mutations was abolished starting in January 1991 and culminating with an Act of the Cosâ to that effect in May 1992. In his preface to the new dictionary, issued in 1993, Madison denounced the "hallucinatory Berber frenzy" which had once engulfed the language, and stated that the "alleged 'Celto-Berber-Moundbuilder' origins [of Talossa are] quite thankfully abandoned." However, this may have simply been meant for public consumption. Much of Madison's work on the language in this period actually strengthened the Berber elements in Talossan. To solve for literally hundreds of "blank" English words for which no Talossan equivalent existed, Madison chose to use actual Berber words from North Africa (or often the extinct Berber dialect of the Canary Islands). Madison's work culminated in the summer of 1993 with the publication of the two-volume Treisoûr del Glhetg Talossán ("Treasure of the Talossan Language"), a dictionary of the modern language which is the definitive word on Talossan vocabulary. A sample of the modern language follows: It is the first 8 verses of the Epistle of James (which the King has translated into Talossan in its entirety):
TXEC, ün servesc da Dïeu és del Segñhôr Iésu- C'hrïost, àls dudësch tribâs dal tvistraziun: Dïeu t'alegra! En consideretz come la pür aleretzâ, quândevri dals diviársen tentaziuns voi ec'hperistent; parç që voi säpetz që la provaziun da voastra féitz encoraxha l'endurançù. Láßetz, që l'endurançù tenadra ça travál entiéir, svo ath voi pëvadretz estarë matürs és complätsilor, nitgil mañc'hînd. Schi iñenviens într-voi mañc'ha la saxheçâ, o fost zemandar da Dïeu, qi zona à toct cün parfüns, és sânc trovar dels focts; és ça serà zonescù à lo. Más quând që o zemanda, o fost credarë sânc la duvitaziun; parç që el qi duvita isch com'iensâ undâ dal már, eißaladâ és xhetadâ par el vînt. Ün ciovec com'acest fost non pensar që o va reçáifar qualse'cosâ del Segñhôr: o isch 'n ciovec dützüc'hoûr és ûnstavál în toct qët o fäts.
In January 1994 the country's ruling party, the Progressive Conservatives, toyed with the idea of changing their name to els Tamoráes da Fiál or "The Warriors of Destiny," the word for "warrior," tamorán, coming from Berber. While the proposal was eventually rejected, it symbolized a new resurgence of interest in things Berber in Talossa. Soon the Cosâ had passed a law referring in passing to the country's "ancient Berber heritage," and Støtanneu noted that Madison was building "a Berber base" of supporters of the country's Berber identity. It referred to this group of Talossans, which included Wes Erni, Gary Schwichtenberg, John McGarry, John Eiffler, and others, as "the Berber Tendency." Finally in November 1994 the Cosâ officially proclaimed that Talossa was, as a nation, "inextricably and inexplicably connected somehow to Berbers."
All of this had the effect of increasing the number of new Berber words in the Talossan language, being added to the annual vocabulary supplements being tacked onto the 1993 Treisoûr. In February 1986 Madison began writing The Berber Project, which laid out a thoroughly-researched and masterfully-presented defence of the idea of ancient Berbers in Europe and the New World from whom modern Talossans are actually descended. (To purchase a copy of The Berber Project, or any of the numerous works available on the Talossan language, click on the country's Bookstore Page.)
Today Talossan's self-concept as a "restored" language like Modern Cornish or Modern Hebrew is sweeping aside all its critics. While Talossans are committing themselves to this mythic view of Talossa in increasing numbers, the Talossan Language can be seen as an attempt by its speakers to put linguistic flesh onto a historic skeleton and thereby give it new life. In its present form, The Berber Project provides evidence that the last wave of Berber migrants to ancient Wisconsin were persecuted "Donatists" from Berber North Africa, who fled in boats from the coast of Morocco around 500 A.D. and settled in the Milwaukee area, bringing with them a Berber-influenced Romance language, very similar to Talossan. Amazingly, a 19th century work in ethnology recorded the last words of an elderly Indian who claimed to be the descendant of the late Moundbuilders of Wisconsin; his words, spoken in an unknown language--Alla sha-lah lu-lah; Alla sha-lah me-mah!--have been shown to be a decrepit form of Vulgar Latin closely akin to Talossan itself: Allà salva el regeu; Allà salva la menâ! (God save the King; God save the people!)
It is tempting to speculate on what kind of people would "really" have spoken modern Talossan if the language had evolved naturally to its present state instead of being pushed there by Ben Madison. In March of 1997 Ben did a glottochronological survey of Talossan which revealed that based on its degree of divergence, Talossan would have separated from Classical Latin around 174 BC--astonishingly close to the 146 BC date at which Rome actually began to settle Roman colonists in North Africa. Moreover, the same survey shows that Talossan would have separated from Occitan--representative of an undifferentiated Western Romance--in 506 AD. Again this dovetails exactly with the proposed date Donatist Berbers would have fled North Africa for the New World.
And so, modern Talossan can be seen in many ways. One of these ways is to view the language as an attempt to answer the question, "If ancient Latin-influenced Berbers sailed across the Atlantic Ocean and lived among Indians in Wisconsin, what kind of language would they have spoken?" In an effort to make "Talossan" a more plausible answer to that question, Talossan is currently being more and more enriched by a flood of new words stemming from North African Latin, and a variety of Native American languages which would have influenced this putative mediaeval Talossan. Of course the Talossan language does not have to be viewed in these terms, as a "restored" language giving life to an ancient reality, but for the author of this website, this is the most satisfying.
None of the preceding would be half as important were it not for the enormous recent expansion of interest in the language among Talossans. In early 1996 the Kingdom of Talossa opened its doors to the world by announcing itself--and its language--on the Internet. Of the huge flood of "Cybercits" who have joined Talossa since then, fully one-quarter were attracted to the country not solely by its rambunctious political culture, but also by the Talossan Language itself. A number of language-related webpages all over the world feature links to this page, and this has proven to be a powerful way of attracting people who wish to partake fully in Talossa's cultural idiosyncrasy by learning about--or even learning--the Talossan language. Ladintschen (Talossan-speakers), whose flag, the Drapéu Grischun ("Grey Flag") is featured here, are Talossa's fastest-growing minority group. 1996 also saw the publication of the second edition of La Scúrzniâ Gramáticâ del Glhetg Talossán ("The Brief Grammar of the Talossan Language"), the standard reference grammar. So many changes had taken place in the language since the publication of the first edition in 1990, that this edition was less than half the length of the first, yet still covered the entire grammar of the language!
In early 1997, Thomas Leigh, a native of Massachusetts who was studying Gaelic at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, was naturalized as a Talossan citizen. Leigh quickly made Talosssan history by adopting a Talossan name, Tomás Gariçéir, and learning the Talossan language to fluency--the only Talossan other than Ben Madison to ever do so. Gariçéir and Madison maintained lengthy correspondence in Talossan throughout that year, proving that Talossan was just as capable a vehicle for communication on any subject as any other national language. In the summer of 1997, Gariçéir was elected presedînt (president) of CÚG, and several other new citizens swelled the ranks of that venerable organization. One of them, T. Cartéir-Adrár (T. Carter-Ross, another citizen who adopted a Talossan name), created the first-ever CÚG website! In addition to that, the Telaragñhâ Mondiál (World Wide Web) brought us Real Audio technology, which made possible the first Internet "radio" broadcast in Talossan, Ben Madison's Las Penetrontâs ("The Headlines"). This was followed quickly by Tomás Gariçéir's Rádieu Ladintsch. Sadly, tragedy has befallen all three of these sites. Mr. Cartéir-Adrár became rather inactive, and his CÚG pages have not been updated since July, 1997. Due to server problems in England, Las Penetrontâs disappeared along with its host station, the English-language Talossan Free Radio Service. Time constraints and concerns outside of Talossa have forced Mr. Gariçéir to take down the Rádieu Ladintsch website and suspend broadcasting, although he hopes to come back with a new and improved Rádieu Ladintsch towards the end of 1999 or early 2000.
1998 was another momentous year for the Talossan language. A new order of Talossan knighthood, the Order of the Purple Tongue, was created to recognise outstanding linguistic accomplishments, and Tomás Gariçéir was honoured for his achievments with the language by being its first recipient. During Gariçéir's haxh ("pilgrimage") to Talossa in January of 1998, he and Madison sustained a conversation entirely in Talossan for half an hour--another unprecedented event in Talossan history, and one which proved beyond any doubt that Talossan is a real language, capable of expressing ideas, emotions, and nuances of thought as well as any other language on earth, while also wrapping it all in a distinctly Talossan cultural perspective. In addition, two of the most important books in the history of the language were published in 1998: the second edition of the Treisoûr del Glheþ Talossán, further expanding the language's vocabulary and incorporating the orthographical changes which had been adopted by CÚG, and the Corpus Scriptionum Talossanarum, a collection of every single Talossan-language document ever written from the birth of the language up to December of 1996. As 1999 opens, the third edition of La Scúrzniâ Gramáticâ del Glheþ Talossán is in the works, as is a translation of Ár Päts! ("Our Country!"), the short Talossan history, into Talossan.
Today the guiding and directing hand of Talossan is, as it has been since 1983, CÚG, La Comità për l'Útzil del Glheþ ("Committee for the Use of the Language"). It counts among its members some of Talossa's most prominent citizens, including Rôibeard Donatüs (Ben Madison), Chirischtôval Lauramáintsch (Chris Gruber), and Tomás Gariçéir (Thomas Leigh), who publishes numerous articles and texts in the Talossan language, as well as information in English and learning materials, in his Talossan Language pages.
People who have committed their time and enthusiasm to the Talossan Language now comprise some 15% of the Talossan population, a number that compares well to similar enthusiasts in Scotland, or Cornwall, or Sardinia, or a number of other "threatened" languages with movements seeking to protect them. The proportion of Talossan-enthusiasts to the general population has almost quadrupled since 1995!
Talossan is a living language that has been used as a tool of communication. It has a literature and culture all its own. We close with one more example of our sînt glheþ, our "holy language": the numbers from one to ten. Viens, douâ, tres, qator, simcâ, sex, seifet, vuit, nouâ, bisquinc.
If none of Talossa's many web pages answers your questions, you can contact the Kingdom directly at email@example.com.
(Revised 8 March 1996/XVII; rewritten 30 May 1997/XVIII; re-revised 25 January 1999/XX)