A New Project

Proud to have worked on National Geographic’s new series, Origins : The Journey of Humankind. Premieres tonight in the US at 9 pm ET.  I worked on eight languages for it!

Image result for nat geo origins

  • Lydian
  • Gaulish
  • Proto-Indo-European
  • Germanic-flavored Proto-Indo-European
  • Nostratic
  • Proto-Afro-Asiatic
  • Basque-flavored Proto-Dene-Caucasian\
  • Proto Pama-Nyungan

Hopefully (if I get approval from the powers that be), I’ll be able to go into some detail here about my work on the show.

16 thoughts on “A New Project

  1. Unknown says:

    I can't wait to see the Gaulish, it's a language I've been working on myself for years.

  2. Winjapati says:

    Cool, I hope you like it. It was tons of fun designing the dialogue for the show.

  3. Weidocu Senocenetli says:

    When I was playing Primal I actually found myself understanding some Wenja through Gaulish (i.e. marwa = *marwos 'dead'). Would it be possible to get your opinion on a few things related to Gaulish declension?

  4. Frå Tromsø til Austerveg: folk, mat og alt anna says:

    This is very interesting! Admittedly I thought the documentary was the wrong kind of bombastic and flashy but I still watched the first two episodes so I could hear your work.

    Am I right in guessing that the hunter-gatherers in the first episode are speaking Basque-flavored Proto-Dene-Caucasian (this is really cool by the way) and that Ôtzi in the second episode is speaking PIE?

  5. Winjapati says:

    Anything in particular you're thinking of? *mrwos was the basic word for 'dead' in PIE, which produces Wenja marwa, Izila mrwo's. Any other words jump out at you?

  6. Winjapati says:

    Yeah, it's definitely flashy! The hunter gatherers are speaking Nostratic in the first episode. In the third (posted above), there's a scene of two tribes trading and they're speaking in Proto-Afro-Asiatic. You're correct that Oetzi was speaking PIE. 🙂

  7. Weidocu Senocenetli says:

    I was wondering what you think the eh₂-stem instrumental singular, *-eh₂(e)h₁, would have become in Gaulish? In Old Irish the form is ‘túaith’ (it is my belief that the Old Irish datives are from what was originally the instrumental, not the dative) which to me would suggest:
    *tewteh₂(e)h₁ > *teutāi > *toutai > *tōtī > túaith
    Does this seem plausible to you? My other question is about the locative plural – this is the only case ending for which we have no evidence in Gaulish (though we do have locative singulars). Most reconstruct it as being identical to the instrumental (so *toutābi < *tewteh₂bʰi), but seeing as there is no evidence for this, could it alternatively have been derived from the original PIE ending (*toutāsu < *tewteh₂su)? Which seems more likely to you?

  8. Winjapati says:

    These are excellent questions, ones to which I don't have any intelligent answers for without some serious study of the texts and secondary literature. As for the Isg., if the endings were *-eh2-h1, sure that would have become *-a:; *-eh2-eh1 would have become *ae: initially (if laryngeal coloring didn't affect the ending), then *ai:. From there *-ai is not unreasonable as the actual Isg. for Proto-Celtic.

    As for the Lpl., we have traces of *-su in OIr. ís, no? (As it's from *pe:d-su 'on the feet') Whether this was fossilized in Pre-PCelt. or PCelt. I have no idea.

    Sorry I don't have more definitive answers!

  9. Cameron says:

    Could you perhaps post a list of which languages feature in which scenes?

  10. Cameron says:

    I've only watched the first episode so far far, specifically in order to hear your language work. One issue of course is that the languages aren't labelled….so would you perhaps be able to post a list of which languages appear in which scene? I appreciate that you've already explained some for which thank you

  11. Winjapati says:

    Yep, that's one of the most famous forms (at least among IEists) in Proto-Celtic — it's an analogically created locative plural to the endingless locative *pe:d.

  12. Winjapati says:

    Hi Cameron, I would be happy to clarify any languages you have trouble identifying beyond the ones listed above. Which scenes did you have in mind?

  13. Cameron says:

    Hello – thanks for the response and apologies for the delayed reply. Firstly, just to note that I didn't mean to repeat myself: when my first question didn't appear I thought perhaps I hadn't posted it properly. I've actually still only watched the first episode! Various distractions to contend with. But I'll go through and draw up a list of the scenes. Thanks!

  14. Frå Tromsø til Austerveg: folk, mat og alt anna says:

    Hello again and thanks a lot for the reply, I don't want to seem ungrateful but I thought my comment hadn't been put up for some reason and I just now came back after watching a few more episodes of the series.

    The trading scene in Proto-Afro-Asiatic is my favourite.

  15. Winjapati says:

    Glad you enjoyed the scenes! My favorite is the Lycian scene, but mostly because I'm a fan of nasalized vowels. Take care!

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