The story of Talossan since 1980 is the story of one very dedicated teenage boy who grew to become a very dedicated man. At the age of 15, Robert Ben Madison, founder of the Kingdom of Talossa, created — er, rediscovered — the Talossan language. Madison’s dedication to the language, and to the Kingdom he had founded the year before, is the reason Talossan exists today. Madison refused to let what others would consider a childhood whim fade away when he reached adulthood, and for the next three decades he worked tirelessly to ensure that his creations would outlive him. All those who love the Talossan language are indebted to his tenaciousness, and to his stubborn dedication to the creations of his adolescence.
Madison had a knowledge of a great many languages, which was in part inspired by the book “The Loom of Language”, a book that describes the origin and evolution of language families. This book was so important to Madison and Talossa that it is still the book on which the Prime Minister of Talossa rests his or her hand when taking the oath of office.
Madison studied many languages during his education; he spent time in Russia (then part of the Soviet Union) where his familiarity with the Russian language grew. As a result, Talossan was influenced by Russian and the many other languages with which Madison came in contact, and he often documented the intentional borrowings from other languages that went into the Talossan grammar and vocabulary.
Madison was initially alone in his pursuit of the language. In the small community that was Talossa back in the 1980’s, Madison issued a mimeographed newspaper named Støtanneu (Talossan for “Tusk”). This newspaper was written completely in Talossan, and there is every chance that no one who received a copy could read a word of it…except Madison himself. This is how Talossan grew its impressive vocabulary; through being used on a daily basis in the writing of this newspaper. The issues of this newspaper that survive give great insight into the early form of the language, some of which are barely recognisable as the origins of today’s Talossan.
The CÚG and Its Mission
In 1983, La Comità per l’Útzil del Glheþ (The Committee for the Use of the Language, often referred to by the acronym “CÚG”) was created to oversee and study the language. The Committee was formed when Madison was joined by others who became enthusiastic about Talossan and began to study it. Madison formed the CÚG to provide this growing community of enthusiasts with a forum to discuss and work on the language. Notable among its members over the years is Tomás Gariçéir, whose considerable knowledge in linguistics, and his assistance in understanding and documenting the language that Madison had built, was invaluable.
Under the leadership of Madison and the Committee, the vocabulary continued to grow. Influences from various languages were intentionally encouraged, thus giving the language the flavour that its mythical heritage would imply. As examples, in the late 1980’s, Talossan was imbued with a great many words derived from Gaelic, and recently, the CÚG has indicated a preference for deriving words from the languages believed to be closest to Talossa’s mythical origins — such as Occitan, Catalan, and Sardinian.
The Committee laboured over Talossan tirelessly. By 1990, Madison had written a book entitled “La Scúrzniâ Gramáticâ Del Glhetg Talossán” (“The Short Grammar of the Talossan Language”, which is often referred to as “SG”), and by 1996, this book had gone through two editions.
All along, Madison and the Committee were maintaining an ever-growing list of the translations of English words and phrases into Talossan. This list, known as the Treisour (which means “treasure”) was first published in 1993 and included over 30,000 entries. In the years since, the Treisour has been updated by the Committee, and by 2009, Talossan could boast a vocabulary (counting conjugated and declined forms of the 35,000+ root words) of over 121,000 words.
One of the missions of the CÚG is to periodically issue documents known as Arestadas (documents describing changes that the CÚG recommends be made in the usage of the language), and Pienamaintschen (lists of newly-coined words that have been added to the Treisour by the CÚG). Over the years, the CÚG has issued a great many Arestadas, some of them detailing minor changes in the language, and others detailing major reforms.
Upheaval and Reform
In 2004, a group of Talossan citizens renounced their citizenship and began to live the Talossan culture separate from the Kingdom, forming the Talossan Republic. This event caused some Talossans to feel torn in their allegiances and friendships, among them Tomás Gariçéir and other members of the CÚG. As a result, the CÚG membership was reduced to a handful of people. The Talossan Republic formed a separate organisation, known as L’Icastolâ (which means “the school”), dedicated to the Talossan language.
In 2005, during the election to the 32nd Cosa of the Kingdom of Talossa, the political party La Mha Nheagra (The Black Hand) was challenged on the issue of the availability of material to assist in the teaching and learning of the language. This challenge was one of the causes that led to the abdication of King Robert I, and to his renunciation of Talossan citizenship. The departure of the King further crippled the CÚG, to the point where only one member remained, Quedeir Castiglha.
At this point, John Woolley, Baron Tepistà, Cresti Siervicül, Xhorxh Asmour, and others with a love of the language joined the CÚG to help resurrect the Committee and to ensure that the language would continue to be studied and updated in the Kingdom. Beginning in 2006, the CÚG undertook an in-depth study of the phonology, stress, and other features of the language, and this led to the landmark Arestada of 12 December 2007. Input on the recommendations that the CÚG was considering was sought from Tomás Gariçéir and from persons involved in L’Icastolâ.
Ever since its “rediscovery”, Talossan had been a difficult language to learn, and this was most often blamed on its confusing set of accent marks. Even Madison himself admitted that the system of diacritical marks was bewildering, and had often worked to effect a reform. One of the goals of the 2007 Arestada was to understand, regularise, and formalise the use of the various accent marks, and in the process simplify spelling, minimising the number of marks used, as a great many of them were truly meaningless.
As an example, prior to the Arestada of 2007, an accent mark on a Talossan vowel could indicate stress, or it could indicate a change in the pronunciation of the vowel, or it could indicate both, and very often this same mark could indicate neither. The study of how Talossan words were pronounced and stressed enabled the discovery and creation of simple rules that allowed many Talossan accent marks to become unneeded, so that the reforms of the 2007 Arestada gave Talossan a slightly (only slightly, really) different “look” by removing some of the accent marks. For example, the word Arestada was written Arestadâ prior to the reforms, and the title of Madison’s book, “La Scúrzniâ Gramáticâ Del Glhetg Talossán“, would be written “La Scurznia Gramatica Del Glhetg Talossan” in modern orthography. Pre-2007 spelling continues to be used by some Talossan writers, and some others choose to retain it in the spelling of their personal name.
An overview of the changes made to Talossan in the far-reaching reforms of 2007 is provided on a Webpage devoted to describing “Classic Talossan”.
Mid-2007 saw the formation of the Association of Talossan Language Organisations, the society that maintains this Website. The ATLO serves as a body intended to coördinate activities of different groups studying and using Talossan.
With Madison’s grammar, La Scurnziâ Gramáticâ, out of print, and with an updated work needed that would reflect the recent reforms made in the language, members of the Committee subjected the language to an in-depth study, and compiled what would become Ün Guizua Compläts del Glheþ Talossan (A Complete Guide to the Talossan Language). This work, published in 2008, was followed in 2011 by an expanded and updated second edition.
In 2009, a series of lectures on the state of the language was given, responding to an expansion in the number of students and users of the language. (These lectures, updated and donated by their author, formed the basis for the content of the talossan.com Website you are reading now.)
Today, the Talossan language flourishes. The language continues to be studied and expanded. New users are discovering the language and are joining the community of Ladintschen, speaking, emailing, and chatting online with one another using el bel glheþ. Translation of works from other languages into Talossan is constantly underway, and the creation and production of original stories, songs, poems, jokes, opera libretti and other literary works continues to quicken in pace, all building the corpus of available reference material for the interested student.