What is Jameld?
Jameld is a constructed language: that is, one which has been constructed (invented, created or found), rather than one which has evolved over hundreds or thousands of years like the world's natural languages. It began as an idea, became an experiment and then a project, and eventually grew into a full and vibrant culture, albeit an imaginary one.
What sort of language is it?
It's quite a nice one, I reckon. Oh, you meant... ah, well, it's a fictional West Germanic language, so it's pretty similar to the natural West Germanic languages, to wit: Dutch, German (High and Low), Frisian and English. Just rather mangled and mutated.
What were its influences?
Well, the West Germanic languages (as above), obviously, but also French to a certain extent because of the fictional geographical setting. Of the West Germanic tongues, Old Frisian has come to be the strongest influence. Despite my professional interest in Norwegian as a translator, I have worked hard to avoid any influence from the Scandinavian languages.
Surely Esperanto was the inspiration?
No, I was inspired by starting to learn German at school. I thought the umlauts and double-esses were cool, and wanted a language with more stuff like that. Don't be too hard on me, it was 1982 and I was twelve. I did start looking into Esperanto later on though, and I'm sure that it had some small influence on the early work.
Isn't it rather childish?
No, it's rather creative. You know, like writing songs, poetry and fiction, or painting and sculpting. We all do those things when we're little, it's true, but the lucky ones manage to carry on and make a living out of it. The rest of us do a bit here and there for relaxation, and wish we could do more.
You mentioned a fictional setting?
Yes, I did.
Well, tell me about it.
The fictional setting for Jameld is as the language of a people who once lived in Frisia but who moved south, wandered about for a while, then settled in a small area which in our reality is part of Alsace, on the Franco-German border. The rest of the Frisians stayed put and, as in our reality, speak a language which descended from pre-Old Frisian but which has inevitably been influenced by Dutch. The Jameldic people's language has the same origin, but its influences and history have been far less simple than that of Frisian. As a result, modern Jameld looks very little like Frisian, at least to the casual observer.
You keep blathering on about Frisia.
Yes, it's an area in northern Netherlands.
Ah. So that's where Frisian's spoken, is it?
Sort of. But it's really terribly complicated.
You're obviously not going to be any more forthcoming on that one.
Probably not. This isn't really the place.
OK then, why's this site called 'Zolid Matters'? What's that got to do with the price of cheese?
Fine. I've got a comfy chair and a drink.
'Zolid Matters' was the name of a light-hearted newsletter I published some years ago for the purposes of publicising Jameld and the culture which surrounds it. This is what an old version of this site said about it: "From 1992 to 1997 the BJZ published an association journal, Zolid Matters, twice- (and, latterly, thrice-) yearly, in order to 'keep members up-to-date with the totally insignificant developments of Jameld and all things Jameldically related' (to quote the first issue). This publication had a modest double-figure circulation, for reasons of cost; therefore, in order to permit the wider and freer dissemination of the wise words contained in Zolid Matters, the BJZ authorized the creation of this site, which contains a complete archive of past issues of ZM. Since the final issue was published in November 1997, the Zolid Matters web site has become the main 'shop window' for the BJZ."
What's this BJZ thing?
I thought that would be your next question. Here's another quote from the same source: "The BJZ is a non-profit notional organization that promotes the use of Jameld and provides a forum for discussion of the language's merits and for the exchange of its culture. It was formed in 1983 as the British Jameld Association -- in Jameld Te Britaz Jameld Zolidaton -- and in 1996 was renamed Te Binertglobakläi Jameld Zolidaton, with the official English name the Jameld Association. (The word binertglobakläi cannot adequately be translated into English, but it conveys the concept of being global and all-encompassing, yet personal.) Now known [slightly more] simply as Binertglobakläi Jameld Zolidaton (without the 'Te')." If all this sounds a bit pretentious, remember there is no actual organisation: it's a figment of my imagination.
So, is it all a joke?
Not at all -– although I'd be a fool to take it too seriously. It's a source of occasional relaxation and amusement, but I've tried to make the language (and, on a smaller scale, the culture) as realistic as possible. Jameld is a language in its own right, like Dutch or French or Xhosa (albeit with fewer words, a much smaller number of speakers and no clicks). It's not a code. It's not a game. You can't write in Jameld by translating an English text word-for-word, any more than you can write in German that way. It has a full and unique grammar, an extensive vocabulary and its own idioms. For me, that means it 'feels' like Jameld –- in other words, it has its own character.
How can I find out more?
Well, there's the dictionary, but that's a bit heavy going to start with. If you want to see the language, a good place to start is the microphrasebook (a four-page presentation of the most important words and phrases, with pronunciation guide) or the grammar. All of these are available here. There's also the Encyclopædia Jameldica, which goes into the background in much more detail. The Saga of Jorthel is a shortish spoof Dark Ages saga, presented in English and Jameld side by side. Plenty of examples of the language in use can be found in the ZM Archive, where you'll find all twelve issues of Zolid Matters as well as The Jameld Line, a one-off publication that was produced in 1998 to document a BJZ expedition to Zuraaland (the Jameldic homeland).
Zuraaland? I suppose I should just read The Jameld Line to find out.
That would be best, yes.
One final question: where did the name Jameld come from?
No idea. That one's lost in the mists of time. Any similarity to my forename is coincidental. Probably.