Well, yes, it would, but the situation your describing sounds bizarre… I’m trying to imagine how it would work. So you have four different cultures, but all of them use the same language, but they don’t work together, but they do have contact…? How is this possible? Do they hate each other—or, rather, did they hate each other until 50 years ago? If the barrier was physical, depending on the time depth, the problem is that they wouldn’t necessarily have four different dialects, but four different languages. See what I’m saying? The reality of the situation will have to support the linguistic idea you want to exist.
Ack - well… damn, this mucks things up for me.
The concept (the short version) is that these 4 different groups of humans were enslaved by 4 different races of aliens. The aliens bought and sold the humans between each other (which is how some contact between tribes was maintained) but there was no significant contact until 50 years ago, when all 4 groups of humans rallied together and won their freedom.
Would it be that they would’ve developed 4 different languages with a common base (like the romance languages) or is my idea for a common language with a handful of different vocabulary still feasible?
All right, now we’re cooking with oil here! So, first question is, obviously, how different were these four groups before they were enslaved? They all spoke the same language before? Why wouldn’t they have already had their own dialects with separate vocabularies, then? If they all spoke exactly the same language and were a part of the same cultural group, what exactly separated them into four groups? Also, why would the aliens have kept them in four separated groups? Were these four different groups of aliens that did four different enslavements—all at the same time—and from four different groups of humans who all spoke the same language?
Next comes the time question. Did this period of enslavement and trading only happen over 50 years? If so, there are probably a good number of humans that were alive before, during and after the enslavement, in which case the language probably wouldn’t have changed much at all. If it was a longer period of time, what was the time period?
Also, what languages do these four different groups of aliens speak, and how did those languages not have an impact on the situation?
Finally, if there was a buying-selling situation going on, I wouldn’t expect that to be enough contact to warrant maintaining the same language, if other pressures would ordinarily dictate that the languages would diverge. I mean if group D has 10,000 and you bring in 20 from group A, that’s not going to be a drop in the bucket. The group A folks would have to assimilate to the language of group D.
Damnit, that’s what i was afraid of.
There’s 4 different races of aliens that took the humans, but the other three got their humans from the first group, so i guess my humans could start off with a base language to change from. I already know that each alien race basically wanted the humans for different purposes, and that will affect the culture/language that the humans develop, but the enslavement happens over a period of thousands of years - the fact that they’ve been free for 50 years still makes the freedom a novelty to them, as a people - so that’s a lot of time to change.
Some of the aliens spoke languages of their own (one race doesn’t have mouths so I’m giving them a sign language, I think - maybe include “artificial” sounds like stomping or clapping? it’s just a vague concept) and I know that they’ll have a big influence on the humans’ languages, too, now that I’ve stopped to think about it. Some buying-selling would’ve been bigger that like “20 from group A”, but mostly it wouldn’t have been thousands of people they were trading, and the humans traded wouldn’t have necessarily been able to stay together to keep their original languages, so assimilation makes sense.
I really appreciate all the help you’ve been providing me with! It might sound silly, but I really want this world to be as realistic and vivid as i can make it. If it means I have to turn my original language into a proto-language and build up 4 new langs from there, I can handle that - I’m not in any rush.
Okay, given the time depth, there’s absolutely no way the four groups could be speaking the same language at the end of it. You’d have four completely different languages. A sign language wouldn’t have any kind of impact on the production of the spoken language, but it might have a grammatical impact. Otherwise unless the aliens can speak the human language fluently, I’d expect the humans to adopt the aliens’ languages, unless their articulatory organs or so different that they can’t possibly pronounce each other’s languages (e.g. as in District 9). Even without that, though, if the time depth is literally thousands of years, there’s no way the languages would be mutually intelligible at the end of their period of enslavement.