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History of Gomain
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A brief history of the language's evolution
This public article was written by [Deactivated User] on 4 Sep 2018, 00:42.

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Gomain has long been a literary language, with a corpus of thousands of texts spanning the past four millennia. This vast corpus has proved invaluable in charting the historical development of not only the Gomain and Anhrushite languages, but all of the Anhrushitic languages, which include all the descendants of Late Anhrushite. In the process, historical linguists and sociolinguists have uncovered the previously little-known history of the languages that existed in central and eastern Zasháve prior to the political expansion of the Anhrushite city-state. Indeed, clues in some of the oldest attested toponyms and loanwords in Old Anhrushite texts point to the survival of the non-Yavian languages that were spoken in the Amanha Desert four millennia ago.

The earliest extant documents in the history of the Anhrushite language, which properly belong to the Old Anhrushite phase of the language's existence, are trading accounts and passages of holy scripture. The most famous text of this era, and perhaps the most linguistically important because of its many updates into the vernacular of successive ages, is the charter of Anhrush City, whose age is given by the very year of Anhrushite reckoning. Its oldest surviving version, commonly accepted to have been written in 0 ŴA, contains a few lexemes which have no cognates in any South or East Ham-Hamic language of similar antiquity. These lexemes, therefore, are most likely loanwords borrowed from whatever language was spoken in the western Amanha Desert before the arrival of the Ham-Hamites nearly five millennia ago, and so represent the only known non-Yavian substrate language in the Anhrushite historical record.

The first blossoming of Anhrushite literature, meanwhile, belongs to the era of Classical Anhrushite, beginning ca. 700 ŴA. Many poems, theological works, and plays date from this age, and also from the time of the Empire, when Classical Anhrushite evolved into Late Anhrushite. During this time, some of the loanwords which existed in Old Anhrushite were replaced with innovated lexemes based on native roots, as the updates of the Anhrush City charter reveal. In addition, the relative unity that the Anhrushite language had enjoyed for centuries was lost as the Empire expanded into far-flung regions of Zasháve, only to cede these new territories after sending soldiers, administrators, and colonists to settle and govern them. By the time that the Empire finally collapsed, in the late 18th century ŴA, Late Anhrushite had fractured into over a dozen separate dialects, which gradually evolved into the 17 modern Anhrushitic languages, including Gomain.

Even for the highly chaotic period that followed the Empire's demise, linguists have been able to piece together a detailed genetic map of the descendants of Late Anhrushite by identifying phonological and morphosyntactic features shared by various language groups and linking them to the influence of local substrate languages. For instance, the fact that the Northwest Anhrushitic languages (which are spoken in the region surrounding the Qaptari Lakes) all have a variety of either pharyngealized or ejective/implosive stops suggests that the language that was once spoken in that region had a similar distinction in its phoneme inventory. Similarly, the presence of retroflex consonants in the Rhajhĩ and Ṛaṇat languages (of the Pagsani Plains, north of the Amanha Desert) indicates that those languages were influenced by local Saruyi languages. Meanwhile, the retention of the Anhrushite aoristic aspect in the West Anhrushitic languages (which include Likhrin, among others) and the middle voice in Hagen and Kolkhánain (which are Gomain's closest relatives) suggest that speakers in those regions became isolated after the Empire's fall.

As for Gomain itself, the first texts that are generally agreed to be in Old Gomain date from the mid-20th century ŴA, during the Argóllan occupation of the desert. Even by this time, the language shows considerable influence from Imperial Argóllan, both in a simplification of inflectional morphology and the adoption of vocabulary from the ruling elite. Perhaps most significantly, the second-person pejorative pronoun bal, which originally meant "lord" or "master"in Argóllan, is first attested in chronicles and folk literature of the late 22nd century, during the first Anhrushite rebellions against the occupation. Following the end of the occupation, Old Gomain evolved into Middle Gomain, as the newly-liberated Anhrushites reasserted their cultural and linguistic identity. The shift toward analytic morphosyntax that had begun in the Empire's twilight years was replaced by a wave of grammaticalization, producing (among other things) the case system now present in Modern Gomain. The number and variety of written works has steadily increased since the establishment of the Second Republic 13 centuries ago; and with today's mass media, there are more examples of Gomain creativity, both on paper and online, than ever before.
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