MotF 254: The Sayings of the Elders

MotF 254: The Sayings of the Elders

Thanks to all who voted on the contest theme! We had a very even spread this time, and this theme beat out two other tied competitors by a single third-choice vote.

Please continue to submit your suggestions for future contests here and vote for the theme for 255 here.

The Challenge
Depict an endangered language.

The Rules
No special rules.

If you're not sure whether your idea meets the criteria of this challenge, please comment in the main thread.

Entries will end for this round when the voting thread is posted on Monday, May 9.

Discussion must take place in the main thread. If you post anything other than a map entry (or a description accompanying a map entry) in this thread, you will be asked to delete the post and forced to learn Lutuamian.​

Dagoth Ur

The thin, pale woman stood in the warm foyer, snow melting from her black boots. Her mouth was turned down in a wry frown, frequently broken as she brought a long, narrow cigarette up to her lips and sucked greedily. She glanced at the secretary, head down, not too talkative today at all. Bright white noon light flooded into the room from several windows. One window was right behind the secretary surmounted by a flag, THE flag, the swastika flag. The thin woman snapped her head around at the sound of a heavy door opening. A stocky blond man lumbered out of his office and came to stop in front of her. "Well, Herr Meyer..." she puffed again at the cigarette and gave an embarrassed smile. "Well, what's he done this time?"

Meyer swallowed and blinked. Stiffly he said, "Come with me, Frau Golubitsch. And put out the cigarette please." Then he turned and lumbered back into his office. Frau Golubitsch stood blinking. First the secretary, now Meyer, what was wrong with everyone today? Dragging one last time on the cigarette and crushing it into the secretary's ashtray, she followed him warily. Approaching the doorway she saw another man seated...long coat...shiny black hat...her legs failed her, or else she would have ran. Instead they betrayed her, carried her into the room to stand, shaking slightly, in front of the man in the chair.

He gazed up at her dispassionately. "You are Frau Golubitsch?" She nodded quickly, staring into the man's face for any clue as to his intentions. Her stomach was roiling. He smiled and said, "Please have a seat, Frau Golubitsch." She turned and almost collapsed into the chair, giving a little oof of surprise as she did so.

Meyer cleared his throat to her left. She started and whipped her head to look at him. She'd forgotten he was there. "Frau Golubitsch...we've called you here into my off--"

"Frau Golubitsch," the gestapo spoke as though Meyer wasn't there, "where is Herr Golubitsch, why isn't he with you?"

She turned her head back and forgot Meyer again. "I am sorry husband died years ago. A hero! He died a hero, clearing out a den of partisan terrorists on Welebit. Now I tend to my affairs without his guidance." She let her gaze drift down in regret, praying for the secret policeman to forget why he was here. But the logical part of her mind knew he would not forget, he already knew every circumstance of her life and her husband's death, he toyed with her. Sweat beaded on her brow, for she still wore a winter coat and it was warm and uncomfortable and dangerous in the room.

The gestapo shook his head, "No, it is I who am sorry Frau. I should have introduced myself, I am Herr Ackermann. My condolences for the loss of your husband. I can see what an effect it has had on you, and on your son."

"M-my son?" she asked, gazing up at the gestapo.

"What an intelligent boy, but I wonder if he is intelligent enough?" Ackermann leaned back and gave a bemused shrug. "Have you seen his latest work?" She stared at him with terrorized confusion. Meyer's knuckles were white from clutching the edge of his desk. "Maybe it is his first work...after all Herr Meyer's records only show your son's maladaptive attitude against proper authority and cultural purity, not propaganda. Then again, Herr Meyer's records are nowhere near perfect." In a stage whisper he said, "I confess I have begun to doubt his loyalty."

Meyer sighed loudly and let go of his desk, mopping sweat from his forehead. Still the gestapo ignored him. Frau Golubitsch licked her lips and said, " Well...well, Herr Ackermann...probably Herr Meyer's records are thorough and, well, my son has not done anything worse than what has been recorded. Jokes in poor taste, silly puns, a culture fashion fad, things like that. Right?"

"Jokes," Ackermann chuckled. "Puns," he shook his head and scoffed. He lifted a binder from the floor and opened it. "Now this, is this a joke to you? A passing fad?" He passed her a poster of some sort, grey and red with tall red letters. Her eyes crossed as she tried to parse the text, then she realized it wasn't German. She only recognized a few of the words, the ones that might as well be German ones. "You can't read it, can you? Of course, half you Slavicized Aryans couldn't read before the Reich liberated and educated you. Good, no decent woman should be able to read that filthy language." He took a typewritten sheet from the binder. Without preamble he began, "'People! Proud people, free people! Wake up! The fascist machine of murder and suffering cannot continue without you. But also the soul of our people cannot continue without you. We are Yugoslavs. Selfless, hot blooded, honest, passionate, proud, and also under the knife. From the beginning of the fascist occupation we have lost enough. See what little we have left...but not for long. Do not allow us all to become slaves to the Germans.' And then above that cities declaring their Slavic names, not their proper names. And indicated with a RED star." Ackermann shook his head and sighed. "Childish, communistic, silly, traitorous which is your son? He is fourteen, quite too old to be a child."

The poster fell from Frau Golubitsch's nerveless fingers. Meyer hurried around the desk to pick it up and place a comforting hand on her shoulder. The gestapo man smacked a hand down on the arm of his chair and snarled. "YOU should be more worried than the woman and the boy are, Herr Meyer! YOU have been very derelict in your duty! I must assess whether you can handle the great responsibility of nurturing and educating proper young Germans. You may have been his father's friend, you may wink at what you view as childish antics, but I assure you if this attitude is not stamped out it WILL result in the deaths of German soldiers and civilians...or it will result in the intensive reeducation, far from home, of one intractable boy."

Meyer, white as a sheet, stepped back and sat behind his desk again. Frau Golubitsch was alone again, mouth open, eyes unseeing. "Frau, look at me." She raised her head and saw the gestapo's outline through blurred eyes. "Your people were Slavicized hundreds of years ago by howling savages from the east. The Reich has freed you from the oppressive shackles of barbarism. I will not allow that work to retreat one inch. You will correct your son, or you know what waits for him." He gathered his poster and binder and left the room, slamming the door behind him. Striding briskly through the foyer he stopped at the secretary's desk. "As promised, you will have the next open position at Agram University for your loyalty."

She dipped her head. "Thank you, Herr."


He shuffled forward, toes freezing, squinting into the dark. Even though pure white snow covered the ground, with no moon and heavy cloud cover it was hard to see anything. He thought he was at the right door. Well, here went nothing. He knocked once, hard. Immediately the door was opened and he was pulled inside. Large, rough hands pulled at his clothes, tore his hat away, rustled his hair and even grabbed between his legs. He yowled and fought for his life, when one blow sent him sprawling. "Stupid boy," the man growled.

Franjo looked up blearily and saw the huge man looming over him. "A-are you gestapo?" The man's lips curled down. Was he angry? Then he began to shake, and Franjo realized he was chuckling, shaking with mirth. Finally he gave up and boomed laughter.

Another man, this one normal sized, wandered in from the next room. "My, my, you must be a special one to make Stanko laugh like that. What's so funny, Stanko?"

"The little boy pissed his pants," Stanko said through his chuckles, "thought I was gestapo."

The other man smiled tightly, with narrow blue eyes. "You'd be dead now, if we were." He turned to head into the other room. "Come on, get up," he threw over his shoulder.

Franjo patted his body down to make sure the big man hadn't pulled his arms off or something. Or mugged him. Nope, his money was still there. He got up slowly and followed the other man, giving Stanko a wide berth. But Stanko didn't acknowledge his presence anymore, he'd returned to standing stoically at the door. Franjo shook his head and went on into the next room. Several desks were cluttered into the small area, covered with papers and files and maps, a few ashtrays, and two small radio sets. "Have a seat, Franjo Golubić," the man whom he'd seen before sat leaning forward, elbows on his thighs, hands clasped.

Franjo sat, looking around with his wide eyes. "How'd you know my name?"

"It's our business to know a lot about you...'Franz Golubitsch'," the man said, mangling the German pronunciation, not lifting his squinting blue eyes from Franjo's bovine face. "We wouldn't have even contacted you if we didn't already know quite a lot about you, actually. At least you seem to hate the fascist imperialist genocidal German occupation of our homeland enough to use your real name instead of the oppressor's name. Do you want some tea?"

Franjo blinked at this sudden change of topic. "Sure!" He rubbed his bulb nose and fleshy lips, red from the cold outside.

"Zdenka, get us some tea will you? Two cups," the man seemed to call out into thin air.

"Three!" came Stanko's booming voice from the other room. Almost immediately a young woman--almost a girl--bustled into the room from the space behind the blue-eyed man. Franjo craned his neck and saw a very narrow doorway behind a bookcase, barely visible. Zdenka poured four cups, took one to Stanko, and came back to settle herself next to the man. She looked at Franjo more kindly than the man seemed to.

Franjo realized nothing had been said in a minute. "So, uh, what's your name...sir...?"

"There are no sirs or madams here," the man shook his head. "We are all comrades in the fight against fascism. My name is Sokol."

"Is that your real name?"

"Of course that's not my real name," the man hissed scathingly. He glanced at Zdenka, then back at Franjo. "Jesus kid, I thought you'd be smart enough to know that."

"Sorry," Franjo widened his big eyes and leaned back, sipping his tea.

The man's eyes narrowed even further, if that was possible. "Jesus kid, are you really that good at playing dumb?"

The boy grinned and winked. "I'm not pretty, but I know how to use my face as best I can. Sokol, so do all you leaders have code names, and only know a few of the others, so if you're captured you can't really give too much intel? And those radios, what are they like? They look kind of small, are they brand new technology or something? American?" his eyes shone brightly. He stared intently at the radio as if it would start blaring The Star Spangled Banner.

Sokol shook his head. "I will not give you all kinds of information until I know you better, kid. For now know we are doing the best we can, and we are the force that will liberate our people from the Nazi menace. Now let's talk about your looks really good for such an amateur work, but I have some ideas for how it can be improved. And it is a little bit exagerrated." Sokol smiled and nodded, "But that is a good thing, it is propaganda after all. So to improve, why don't you...."
Set in the same universe as this map.

The Angurish Language
The young man put his blue turban back on and readjusted his two ties, waiting outside the city archives. The Haideraban library was renowned throughout the subcontinent and even across the seas. Its entrance, however, was more than difficult to obtain for foreigners.
But Medexei Hazanov had obtained a royal permission from the Rajyapa himself. And it is with a confident and very proud step that he presented himself at the main gate, guarded by two soldiers armed with spears and dressed in red. Inside, however, the steward in dawn did not seem to be pleased to see a visitor.

"Entrances are prohibited. You are not allowed to enter this place.
-Forgive me sir, but I am sent by Darsha Mootbati himself. Here is my pass."

The old steward read in a perplexed way the authorization that Medexei had just handed him. While stroking his beard, he invited the young man to enter this vast place shrouded in mystery. The corridors were long, filled with gigantic shelves with dozens of rows each. Between several columns, the steward asked Medexei in a haughty manner:

"Why then does his Highness allow a foreigner like you to enter this place? To an inhabitant of Suwiet even more so...
-No, I am not from Suwiet but from Yama. In spite of my name I speak Gilizia. And it is my mastery of several Angurish languages that led his Majesty to ask me.
-I know what goals our Monarch has. His latest conquests have made him interested in the "Great Complete Kingdom", the Unique Raj.
-Darsha Mootbati's lineage goes back to the time of this Raj. In view of his glorious reign, one can only understand his attraction for this era.
-Do you also plan to give him history lessons? replied the steward with irony.
-History and language lessons!"

The steward gave Medexei an annoyed look. He did not appreciate the pride of this young man who had come to conquer where he thought he would never have a rival.

"Well! If you think you can decipher the ancient Angurish go ahead! Push him to rebuild the Biriwish Empire too! As if his court and concubines didn't push him to madness enough already!"

After showing him with a hand trembling with anger the shelves of one of the bookcases, he left the young man alone in the vast floor by slamming the door. Far from being destabilized by the hatred of the old man, Medexei was happy that to have in front of him a little more than 1500 years of History, if not more, which waited only for his glance to be discovered and deciphered.
While taking a first bundle of documents that he undid, he fell on an old worn paper and tinted of red. It took him several minutes to dust and unfold this sheet before he realized that this terribly stained archive was a vintage planisphere, representing the legendary Kingdom of Fawns and Flowers: The Biriwish Empire.


The languages of the Angurish family are intimately linked to the legendary kingdom of beasts and flowers, the Biriwish Empire. However, it is difficult to disentangle the legends from the oral reality. It is known, however, that before the Great Fire, Biriwish was the most powerful kingdom to rule the globe. It is said that its heart was on remote islands on the edge of the continent of Aishiya, now in the frozen lands. With powerful fleets of metal ships, Biriwish would have succeeded in settling on all the continents of the planet and spreading its culture and language.
However, about 1600 years ago, the Biriwish Empire went to war with other nations across the planet. These devastating wars culminated in the Great Fire, which destroyed many of the cities of the time and their tremendous wealth. The Biriwish monarchy left their homelands and fled to their domains around the World.
But with the collapse of the Old World, the Biriwish Empire fragmented into multiple rival states. The Empire's language, Angurish, followed the same path, changing form between each region, becoming unintelligible between its variants or simply fading away.
For many linguists today, Angurish is a long forgotten dead language. But a few centuries ago, some people still considered it to be alive, wishing to rely on its prestige to establish their power.
Thus, in 1432 after the Great Fire, the Rajyapa Darsha Mootbati, after having extended his reign to the south of Bara, set out to resurrect Angurish. He commissioned a great explorer of the time, Medexei Hazanov, to compile all Angurish dialects around the world.
Hazanov's work, although based on old archives and numerous travels, has however the defect of being more than approximate, but also of lacking objectivity, of grouping together languages having nothing to do with Angurish, and even of exaggerating certain linguistic groups. Moreover, it is difficult to know what Medexei Hazanov relied on, as the next century saw the destruction of the Haideraban Library by the Similani Sowiyati.
The most approximate part of Hazanov's work is probably that on Mairiquai. Chances are that the dialects are overestimated on the east coast (which has become unsuitable for life) but underestimated inland. Moreover, there is a good chance that the "Niouyor" dialect is just a fantasy based on the legendary city of the same name. The region where this dialect is represented is probably Kunebeck-speaking today. It is also not known what "Dinisret" is.
His work on Ayphric, while more reliable, also has its flaws. Kingreza Vikorya" and "Kingreza Tangika" probably conceal a much greater variety of dialects (and far from Angurish) than the map seems to suggest. The states that are also represented there are likely to be Hazanov's invention as well. However, further study is difficult in view of the many conflicts between the coastal kingdoms and the Konogo Empire.
Another probably deliberate mistake is the dialect south of Ayphric called "Engeles" probably refers to the language of the Bonowai, a language which like Angurish is not native to the continent.
The last part of his work on Bara is surprisingly reliable in view of the political objectives that Darsha Mootbati had. The representation of the angruzee is probably quite accurate (although one should not ignore Haideraban's desire at the time to re-found the " Unique Raj "). The presence of Angruzee in Tousaniland is possibly true, given its use in trade in the region.
Finally, the Angurish languages on this gigantic island is possibly the author's biggest fantasy. The legendary Ostralinia, despite its mention in ancient writings, was never found. It is likely that Hazanov relied on the accounts of fishermen or merchants of the Tousaniland, or simply reproduced an ancient map.
In spite of this work carried out 200 years ago, it is difficult to seriously rely on it for linguistic studies. The Angurish language family is much smaller than these linguistic maps suggest. Although it can be said that Angurish is still spoken in some places, it is a safe bet that its use today, despite its prestige, is limited to a few Esayon monks in temples of the Lone God in Bara.

Abdil Tunatov (Alekxangrad University)


With us today we have Professor Valamir Smitha, Director of the Institute of Gothic Studies and Professor of Gothic Studies at the University of Pforzheim. He will be speaking to us as he ventures in the first step of what will be a world tour of conferences presenting his latest book, Who Can Answer the Gothic Question? Thank you for coming to the show, Professor.

Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here.

So Professor, I guess the question everyone at home will be making is… Who indeed can answer the Gothic Question?

[Laughs] That is indeed a good question. The fate that is to come for the Gothic people is a subject that, for a myriad of reasons, has never been treated with the care that it should, inside or out of academia, and this is something that I really try to, if not answer, at least present with proper regard in my book. It’s not merely a history of the Gothic people – even if that is indeed a considerable chunk of it – but a prognostic of its future, or rather its futures, depending on the one path out of many that we end up following.

I did make an effort to present the Gothic people not as a historical artefact, but as a living, breathing folk – 3 million and 500 thousand strong – spread around the world and with a future ahead of us.

Spread around the world indeed… Looking at your tour schedule, you manage to circumnavigate the globe and land at least once in each continent… right? So Stockholm, that’s one, New York, that’s another, Buenos Aires… Oh Melbourne, that gets you Australia… I see you’re going to Kazakhstan too… is Lebanon in Africa? No? Well, Morocco is, though, so that gets you every continent.

Except Antarctica.

Except Antarctica, of course… Tsk, tsk, so not even the Goths could build a settlement there?

Until now, at least [laughs] although I may investigate it as a possible homeland for the second edition of the book. Might prove the path of least resistance.

That is the main point of the book, correct? That, despite being so thoroughly spread around the world, the Goths still possess no piece of land to call theirs.

Well, yes, that would be the main point of the Gothic Question – that we are a stateless nation and, more than that, one without a homeland to inhabit. Goths are a minority people in almost every land our people inhabit, and a small minority at that.

This has its consequences on the proper development of a nation. It goes behind the fear of discrimination, one that might not be felt today by some communities, in Germany or Sweden, for instance, but that is quite real in our living memory and still present in other countries, but it also makes it harder to maintain the distinct language, religion and culture that for centuries have defined the Gothic people.

It is hard to keep church services going and our own schools when we are talking about such small communities at times. And those institutions are important to keep a community, a nation alive. In Germany, church attendance in the Gothic church is decreasing rapidly, even when compared to other Christian denominations feeling the weight of a secularising society. And more than half of the children of Goths in Germany do not actually speak the Gothic language fluently.

This demonstrates the difficulties of maintaining the national spirit alive when one lacks a homeland and the institutions that come with it. Those are the sort of issues, very contemporary, very real issues of the Gothic people that I explore in my book.


So the lore I have for this setting is way too extensive and I couldn't write it all down in time. The basic idea is the Goths surviving as a stateless nation (mostly occupying a niche of goldsmiths) around Europe and suffering a number of tribulations throughout their existence (a lot of parallels to the Jewish peoples) characterized by their Gothic language and their Arian faith.

Some highlights I found particularly interesting in my ideas, most of which show up in the map unexplained

  • The Toulouse Visigoths get slaughtered during the Cathar Crusade (maybe in this TL the alt-Cathars were Arian non-Gothic converts, idk)
  • The Visigoths get expelled from the Iberian peninsula with the Jews during the era of the Catholic Monarchs
  • Expelled Visigoths settle around the Ottoman Empire, some of which rebuilding the ancient city of Ptolemais, an ancient Arian center in Libya
  • I can only imagine the relationship between the Arian Goths and the rising Protestant faith to be complicated, especially as Visigothic refugees would be settling German cities during the heyday of Luther and Calvin
  • During the Russian Civil War, the last White General to hold in Crimea was a Crimean Goth noble (think alt-Wrangler) that, like Wrangler, would attempt to reform Crimea into an alternative model to the Bolsheviks, although perhaps with a more Crimean nationalist element, only to have that curbed by both the reactionarism of his officers and the imminent Bolshevik invasion
  • Even so, the Goths did get their Crimean ASSR
  • The alt-Wrangler would survive the interwar period and become a commander of the anti-Soviet Russian units fighting for the Third Reich in World War II
  • The Nazis simply adored the surviving Goths, and had full intent on establishing (at least) the Crimea as a Gothic homeland. In fact, during the war, as an attempt to attract Goths to the region and demonstrate their "liberation" of local peoples, the Gotengau would have various free local power structures making it an island of (relative) freedom inside the Nazi totalitarian machine
  • Cooperation with the Nazis + the Nazi fondness for them would lead post-war USSR to simply deport the hell out of their Gothic population, together with every other country that side of the Iron Curtain. Many were deported to Kazakhstan during the war, but many others would go to Germany, becoming part of the displaced Eastern Germans in a way
  • In fact, only after the fall of the USSR did it become possible to the Crimean Goths to return to Crimea, and some did (been faring pretty badly under renewed Russian occupation though). Others remain in Kazakhstan. There have been calls to "rebuild" a Gothic ASSR in Kazakhstan, but those were stalled by fierce Kazakh opposition. Nevertheless, there have been efforts to give the Gothic language official status in the Kazakh region that most Goths inhabit
  • The only Gothic party that consistently gets to elect members to its national legislature is a Gothic minority party in Germany
Stylistically, I really like this map. It's very busy, but I think that's why I like it. Hopefully I'll write the full lore of this world some day.

Plaque text (English version, on display as part of an exhibit at the Dunwich Museum of the English Language):
The displayed map shows the percentage of respondents on the first censuses taken after Anglic and Sacson independence to say yes to the question "Do you regularly speak English as a means of everyday communication?" Towns with distinct English and Cantais French (or, in the cases of Grantbridge and Medham, English and Brittonic) names are shown with endonym on top and English name below.

Note that the percentage of people who could speak English was likely somewhat higher in the cities; the question asked was whether respondents regularly did speak English, so there were likely many urban immigrants who did not use their English very often and thus responded "no".

These two nations have since implemented many policies to promote the use of their native tongue of English in most contexts, so the modern map (displayed to the right [not shown]) looks much more red. However, at this time, most communication (especially in urban areas) was in Brittonic, because of the centuries these areas had spent as part of Britannia.

This is the first map I've made using QGIS!
I'm happy with how the hillshade turned out, and it was generally much quicker than it would have been using just Illustrator (what I've done in the past).
Edit: Oh yeah, also, sorry to any Welsh people for my laughable attempts at renaming some of the towns here.
Last edited:

The POD is that Napoleon III is more insistant in the application of his "Arab kingdom" project, and the Emir Abdelkader is called back to Algeria to autonomously rule over much of the Algerian hinterland, while the distinction between European and Arab owned territory is entrenched, This works well in his historical base in the west, less so among tribes of the Constantinois... Either way this enables a larger freedom of movement for many affected algerians after the disastrous famine of 1866-1868 (where 15-30% - depending on which historiography you read - of the native algerian population starved), encouraged by the Emir, a number of destitute algerians would try their luck in latin america, where by chance many of the countries were opening themselves to immigration, the first migrants settled in Uruguay and the Dominican republic and soon enough words of their success came back. From the 1870s to the 1930s hundreds of thousands of Algerians would leave their country as even the harshest coffee plantation work in brazil was still an improvement from the miserable life back at home.

With algeria being a third berberophone in the mid 19th century, and with many of the migrants coming from the particularly affected mountainous Constantinois, it's no surprise that many of them brought their Berber language with them. Kabyle, Chenouis and Chaouis quickly mixed among the diaspora to become a more or less common "American Berber". It wouldn't last through generations under the pressure of both the Spanish or Portuguese language of their host country nor the Arabic language of the majority of their coreligionist.

While the American-Algerian community would steadily enrich itself (in some place, like argentina, even becoming better off than the french colonists in algeria) and become more politically aware, it didn't translate into any feeling of linguistic appartenance or preservation for the berber speaking community. Quite the opposite with the development of arab nationalism and the american arabic litterature, particularly in the case of the growing algerian conflict where most of the diaspora found itself united opposition to the "divide and rule" approach of french colonialism (particularly in the algerian east) and its support for collaborating traditional structure within the Tiaret Emirate. This reaction can be shown by how the American branches of the Rahmaniyya tariqa quickly taught exclusively in arabic despite having deep roots in Kabylia.
Last edited: