Medieval America Tk II: Discussion Thread

Languages in California

The English languages of the Pacific coast form a north-south dialect continuum. People living in adjacent regions can understand each other, but intelligibility decreases with distance. As in all English-descended languages, the main variant is vowel sounds, but in this case contact with Spanish is a huge factor as well: generally, the further south you go, the more the local language has absorbed Spanish vowels, consonants, grammatical patterns, and vocabulary.

These dialect boundaries are therefore, in many ways, generalizations. On the other hand, it is possible to group languages together based on written and scholarly standards, and on features that some groups have that their neighbors do not exhibit.

The southernmost Californian language is called Angelan, spoken mostly in the Free Zone and neighboring regions. Angelan has a very strong Spanish influence, even in some of its common grammatical words: no has totally replaced not, for example. Angelan is highly influential as a literary language, since most of the Sagas are originally in that language.

In the Republic, we can broadly divide people's speech into a northern and a southern language. Both are called Calian, but they are quite different and not mutually intelligible. The dividing line runs to the south of Sacramento. Northern Calian is the imperial standard, being the language of the capital and the chief port. Southern Calian (sometimes called Central Calian to acknowledge the Free Zone as being part of California) is also a written language. Many legal documents exist in that language, and most of the Sagas not in Angelan are in Southern Calian.

Eureka is bilingual. The language of the people is actually a dialect of Cascadian, the language of the Buddhist Northwest. But the elite learn Standard Calian and often pepper their speech with its refined phraseology.

california language map.png
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I know it's only hardly relevant, but nevertheless it is a bit relevant. There is a documentary from a few years back called Life After People. It mostly deals with how, why and when certain events would occur if people suddenly disappeared, such as famous landmarks being destroyed. With widescale abandonment and movement, a good bit is still relevent. Only small sections of the series deal with a timeframe so far in the future, but there are a few. Interesting stories abound from some of these things, plus an idea of when the ghost towns fully disappear is relevant. Might be worth a look for some of ya'll. Easy enough to find on youtube or virtually anywhere else, for those willing to take a look.

Just found this and I'd love to get involved, but I don't want to tread on anyone's toes. Are there any areas that need doing? As far as I can glean, you're working on North America before moving on - what parts are there left to do?

I mean, half of Iceland is, geologically speaking, part of North America, so I don't know if I could get away with doing that :p but is Alaska available, or some bits of the Carribean?

Since I'm actually British, then I'd be better at doing something on Britain, Europe, maybe NZ or Australia, but I understand wanting to get NA done first.

Or is this dead?
No, only North America is open right now, and up next is the Pacific Northwest who I don't who it is being worked on right now by.
Just to let y'all know I have been working on some stuff for the plains tribes, since I live in this area (and no one else seems interested) I would like to take the lead in that area if that's okay.

Currently I am in the beginning stages of a little piece concerning culture/religion/lifestyle I am thinking of doing it as an in world travel log by possibly a Mormon missionary from Deseret trying to gain converts in the CO/WY area... The one thing I want to be sure of though is that I understand TTL Mormonism/Deseret culture first so whomever is working in that area please point me toward any useful information you might have.
Okay, searched through the thread. Found someone who posted some ideas for Alaska but never actually did the piece. Until I get an idea of which parts of the rest of N. America are free, I'll expand and clarify on his entry.

Then I'll try and do the more northern and western parts of Canada - a bit of british Columbia to go with the Pacific NW stuff, the neo-Inuit, and other such interesting things.

Then I'll maybe look at the Carribean - I'd love to eventually do Latin America, but you guys want to focus on N. America so I'll do that.
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We are moving through America in a vaguely west-to-east direction. So Alaska seems just right.

Of course, that was put in place when things were moving much, much faster than this. I am not the head of the project but I would move to welcome ideas for any part of the world. But that's only a suggestion.
Can I ask - how is the Pacific NW looking in terms of detail?

Because I realised when doing my research for Alaska that it really doesn't make sense to isolate it from British Columbia etc - in fact, all the Pacific NW is going to be continuous, so I'm not sure how to proceed with Alaska.

EDIT: Don't worry about this - it turns out the Saint Elias Mountains form a decent land border, so I can say access to Alaska is almost entirely by sea.

I have other problems though. I want there to be a clear division between groups that regard themselves as descended from (white) Americans and those that see themselves as natives (although their won't actually be major visual differences - its a cultural thing). Those descended from Americans will be the ones which have contact with the Pacific NW cultures, while the natives will be less friendly. Since I have Alaska being shortened to Laska, could they call themselves Mericans? Or would contact with the Pacific NW mean they still called themselves Americans? Or would there be another name entirely?

As far as history goes, I think the division is going to have come about because of trade, essentially. The trade with the Pacific Northwest cultures is going to have kept a more 'American' viewpoint in those in Southern Alaska, particularly those around Anchorage (or as it is now know, Ankrage). Meanwhile, native dominates areas in the SW of Alaska will cling to their culture even harder and become hostile to outsiders, and the interior will gradually become dominated by natives using old techniques as Americans struggle to survive. There will be one major native state around where Delta Junction is now, in a reasonably fertile area - the rest will mostly be tribal areas.

There will have been occasional wars fought between natives and Americans, but there won't have been much change in territories, since although the Americans have a population advantage they don't have the techniques to settle further north.

The Americans will be divided into small townships, ruled by a Mayor who chooses their own successor - almost always a member of his own family, but not necessarily a firstborn son or even a son. The Major has to take the opinions of the township into account, and if the town will follow his brother more than his son, he is most likely to choose his brother, especially if he doesn't want his son to 'accidently' die soon after becoming Mayor.

The Mayor of the largest township, Ankrage, is known as the Govner. He acts as a first among equals - he presides over the yearly meet of the Mayors in the Spring, and acts as arbitrator in disputes betwene other Mayors, but otherwise his power is dependent on his own political skill and charisma, as well as (in less peaceful times) his skill as a warrior and general. Some Govners have been mostly powerless - others have been close to a King, but Alaska's size has prevented any permanent unified state from being established.

Sound good?
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Food and Farming in the California Republic

California's Central Valley contains some of Earth's most productive agricultural land. Just about anything will grow there. In the Medieval America era, the use of this farmland has changed. Gone are the vast fields of fruits and vegetables; much more land is devoted to basic carbohydrate crops (grains and tubers) than in the age of industrialized farming. But many fruits and vegetables continue to be grown, both for subsistence and for export. Californians are fond of saying that "a Californian peasant eats better than a foreign king." This is an exaggeration, but it is definitely true that most Californians eat a diet that is more balanced, nutritious, and varied than in most other places.

The base of this diet is grains and potatoes. Different regions and localities employ different combinations of grain crops. Rice production, once important in California, has declined greatly except for the wettest part of the valley near San Francisco and Monterrey. In a general sense, maize becomes more predominant the further south you get. But almost every place uses a mix; in fact, a meal is usually not a meal unless it contains at least two kinds of grain. Californians make their grain into a variety of gruels, porridges and soups that form the backbone of the peasant diet. Except in particularly lean times, they supplement these with breads and potatoes. Bread making is highly localized, with each village proudly producing its own local variety. The far north leavens its bread with yeast, the central part of the empire uses sourdough, while the south prefers unleavened flatbreads.

Beans supply the bulk of California's protein. The specific variety and methods of preparing beans also vary from region to region and village to village, but just about everybody eats a lot of them. Nuts are an important supplement that is widely available, most villages having a common almond grove.

Livestock are far less crucial to California's economy than plants, but still play an important role. Most poor people eat very little meat outside of feast days. Only the very rich expect it every day, while those in the middle get it a couple of times a week. Sheep are the main source of milk, providing another protein source for many Californians. Their wool provides clothing to people in regions with cold winters, and it furnishes many of the soft comforts in the homes of the rich. Chickens are raised for their eggs, and to a lesser extent for their meat. Pigs are raised for meat, lard, and other products. Cattle, being inefficient users of land, water, and resources, have declined in California but are still found in some less densely populated areas. Some regions specialize in cow cheeses, which are sold to wealthy people. California actually imports beef; specifically, army units stationed on the frontier buy substantial quantities of jerky from nomadic traders to feed their men. A large quantity of fish is hauled in at the wharves of San Francisco, and this is dried or smoked or salted, and then traded throughout the empire.

Lard and (in some areas) sheep butter are the most common cooking oils, but olive oil is preferred. It is one of those little luxuries that most moderately prosperous peasants can look forward to on special occasions or when important guests are visiting. It is a symbol of prosperity, and "olive oil on your table" is a common blessing.

And once again, even the poorest have reliable access to fruits and vegetables - onions, leeks, cucumbers, tomatoes, cherries, apples, peaches, citruses, berries, squashes, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Much of the time, these are consumed dried, pickled, or otherwise preserved, rather than fresh. Citruses grow at the far southern end of the Central Valley, but the Republic still imports a lot of them from the Free Zone; they are an important part of rations for the sailors in the navy and the merchant marine, their preventative effects against scurvy being well known.

California produces a great amount of wine and beer. Wine has kept its association with affluence, while beer is the drink of the masses. Grapes, hops, and barley grow in abundance in different parts of the empire, so California is able to meet its local demand and also make these alcoholic products some of its main exports.

Salt making is an important industry along the arms of San Francisco Bay. Sugar beets are prized as a sweetener for festival cakes (among the peasantry) or to enhance the flavor of precious imported coffee (among the very rich). But honey is more common. Besides these basic flavorings, California grows chilies of every type and intensity.

Without a doubt the most important non-food crop is hemp. Hemp has largely replaced cotton as the main fiber crop. It provides canyomo, the linen-like fabric for everyday clothing and bedding. It makes the canvass for cloaks and sails. Its fiber makes the rope and twine necessary for work at home and sea. It provides the paper that fuels the national bureaucracy. Its seeds supplement people's diets. And yes, it is smoked as well, either in pipes (of clay, wood, or corncob) or in something like a cigarrette wrapped in cornhusk. Tobacco smoking is highly uncommon, confined to a few members of the nobility, and cannabis has largely filled the gap. Most smokers use an extremely mild form. Stronger varieties are important in religious rituals.

Though not agriculture exactly, managed forestry is very important in the mountains to the west of the Sacramento Valley. Here, vast tracts are gubernatorial preserves for supplying the navy not only with timber, but with pitch, tar, and the other pine products necessary for great sailing vessels. The foresters, though technically tenants of the Governor, live a much more free existence than their counterparts in the Valley, though their lives are considerably less comfortable. Their forests are managed by bureaucrats in a manner every bit as precise, though much less heavy-handed, as the Valley's irrigated fields.
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The Lands of Laska

The Lands of Laska are seen by most in Western North America to be the far northern outpost of civilisation, cut off from most contact. This is, to a great extent, true. The Santelia Mountains prevent land travel to Alaska for all but the hardiest and most resourceful of individuals and with the thin strip of coastal land unoccupied, most contact has to be by sea.

Laska is divided culturally into several areas. The Laskan Federation or the Laskan Mayordoms is what most outsiders think of when Laska is mentioned, as it is the body with which traders, particularly from the Pacific Northwest, have the most contact. It considers itself an heir to ‘Merica’ in the region, as opposed to the ‘Eskimos’.

Of course, this term is misleading – there are a diverse range of peoples inhabiting the rest of Laska, none of which appreciate the term ‘Eskimo’. In the west and southwest, there is the Confederation of Yupik, which is often a more unitary body than the Laskan Federation. Even further to the Southwest is the Great Tribe of the Aleuts, renowned sailors, fisherman and warriors. In the area beyond the Laska Mountains, north of the Federation, lie a great many tribes.

In the west, the largest is the Koykon, who dominate west-central Laska and other tribes in the area. Further east, the Deltana kingdom, which practice agriculture as intensely as the Federation, is perhaps the single ‘nation’ in Laska. Even further east from there, the Ro-ki mountains block travel, and beyond them are wild lands of unknown tribes, where few travellers venture.

North of Deltana and the Koykon are the great Brook Mountains. Beyond the Brooks dwell only a few Gwichin tribes and a few Inuit who live on the coast – although occasionally adventurers will head to this area chasing old legends of gold…

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How does it look?
The Lands of Laska
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How does it look?

This sounds about right. I like the coastal federation. What's their culture like? Buddhist? Tribal religion?

I'd think that the "indigenous" groups would, in terms of descent, have a strong "Mercan" background as well, but still be basically indigenous. Culturally, do they have any influence from Merca?

Do you know anything about the Yukon? Geographically it sort of forms a piece with Alaska.

An addendum to my last post:

Food and Farming in the Free Zone

The Free Zone follows a system and way of life basically similar to the Republic to the north, so most of what I said about the Republic can apply to the Free Zone as well. The most important difference is that the Los Angeles basin is considerably hotter, drier, and of course smaller than the Central Valley. This means that its suite of crops is different, and everything happens on a much smaller scale.

Maize and beans are almost universal staples for rich and poor alike. Meat is an even smaller portion of most people's diets than in the Republic. Sheep and hogs are the most common livestock.

The Free Zone grows fruits and vegetables, but much less than the Republic, and without the great variety. Subtropical fruits, like papaya and citrus fruits, can be found here. The longer growing season does mean that these are available fresh, rather than preserved, more often than in the north.

Canyamo, made from hemp, is the chief textile here as well. Canvass, also from hemp, is used for work pants and aprons, and for cloaks in tough weather.​
Alaska looks good - about what I thought.

On that note, since this is moving slower than originally intended, I am opening up the remainder of North America. For the record this is:

-The Feudal Core (aka the Heartland)
-The Piedmont (The Upper/Atlantic South)
-Dixie (The Gulf Coast)
-The Mid-Atlantic
-New England
-The Caribbean Islands

And Marc Pasquin's post on Quebec is now canon.
For the record I'll put up the review of White's eastern stuff later this week, after an post on Columbia and their fight with the dreaded Sasquatch menace.
On that note, since this is moving slower than originally intended, I am opening up the remainder of North America. For the record this is:

I am a little surprised at the slow pace; there had been a lot of interest previously. Was the reboot not a wise idea, I wonder?

For California, I would like to say a few more words about the Bikers, put together some kind of scheme for the Free Zone's government (which is an absolute labyrinth), and then move on to my idea of a Hanseatic League for the upper Great Lakes.