What's this all about? Basically, I'm taking some of
the words from Carter's Zanthodon novels and Burroughs Pellucidar novels,
to show that there's a relationship between the two fictional languages,
along the way, I throw in the Mangani language of the Great Apes of Tarzan
and the speech of the Pal-Ul-Don and offer up a theory of Burroughs language
to explain some anomalies.
Okay, it's a bit dry, but not every essay can be about Dejah Thoris'
or Jane Porter's cleavage (at least 5% have to be on other topics).
Hopefully, this will be interesting. For those who are fascinated
by this sort of thing, I'd recommend my essay on Barsoom's language, "Linguistic
Archeology and the Orovars".
Before I start this essay, I think that I should take a moment out and
offer my respects to those writers and fans who have done a lot of painstaking
Credit must go to the authors, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Lin Carter who,
from time to time, put together painstaking glossaries of names of plants,
animals, concepts and terms used in their fictional worlds and by fictional
Lin Carter, for instance, provides three separate glossaries for Zanthodon's
language. Edgar Rice Burroughs provides his own Pal-ul-don glossary
in Tarzan the Terrible. At the same time, Burroughs must surely
have made notes on Mangani and Pellucidar dialects or words in order to
use them consistently.
Fans (of Burroughs particularly) have taken the next step, painstakingly
going through the books, referencing and cross referencing and carefully
putting together glossaries and dictionaries for the various exotic Burroughsian
fantasy languages, including Mangani, Pellucidar, Barsoomian, Caspakian,
etc. Prominent among them are J.G. Huckenpohler, Rick Johnson,
Peter Coogan, David Bruce Bozarth, Ed Stephan, Philip Jose Farmer, Thomas
McGeehan, Brad Mengel, Matthew Baugh among many others. No slight
is intended by the ordering of this list, and the failure to include a
particular name is not intended to be a slur.
There is even a site www.erbzine.com/mag1/0109.html
(Hillman's of course) which demonstrates, quite conclusively in my view,
that the Pal-ul-don language is clearly related to and probably evolved
from Mangani. The production of this compendium or comparison, obviously
represents a great deal of work and thought. Its conclusion,
as noted, is inescapable, which begs certain interesting questions.
I can only express my admiration and appreciation for those who have
undertaken this sort of work and effort. This essay could not have
been written without them, and in some small way, is a tribute to those
gifted and patient individuals.
Yeah, I know, this is off to a slow start compared to a lot of the other
stuff. But this subject is fairly dry, and I thought it would be
worthwhile to get the credits out of the day. It would be fatuous
to say that I stood on the shoulders of giants to write this, but clearly,
I couldn't have written this without the devotion and diligence of others.
Anyway, this essay began while reading Lin Carter's Zanthodon books.
For those who haven't encountered them, or haven't read the other essay
on Zanthodon.... Zanthodon is an underground world situated in a
giant luminous cavern with a land surface of hundreds of thousands or even
a couple of million square miles. Zanthodon lies under the sands
of the sahara and is home to all manner of prehistoric beasts from the
Jurassic onwards, including neanderthals, Cro-Magnon, true humans and some
lost branches of the ancient Minoans and less ancient Barbary Pirates.
Eric Carstairs and Professor Potter descend into this lost world and spend
five books having adventures.
Zanthodon is pretty much a dead ringer for Edgar Rice Burroughs' Pellucidar.
The writing style, the plots, the flora and fauna are all so clearly identical
it is hard to distinguish them. That's hardly an accident.
Carter himself would be the first to admit that his Zanthodon series is
a naked homage to Pellucidar.
So anyway, while reading the Zanthodon books, it struck me that certain
‘caveman’ words seemed to resemble those used by the denizens of Pellucidar.
In particular, the words for Triceratops, Mammoths and Pteranodons, seemed
Well, that seemed intriguing. So, I wandered through Carter's
glossaries of Zanthodon, cross compared it with fan glossaries for Pellucidar,
and came up with a series of loose matches. The result was
a version of the table which follows. Later, I took a look
at fan glossaries for Pal-Ul-Don and Mangani, and added a few more items.
The resulting table, hopefully, is the one which Bill Hillman has rendered
in HTML for you. Take a look, and then I'll say a few words.
ENGLISH Zanthodon Pellucidar Pal-ul-Don Mangani
MAMMOTH Thantor Tandor Tantor
STEGOSAURUS Drunth Dyrodor
TRICERATOPS Grymp Gyor Gryf
AUROCH Goroth Thag
CAVE BEAR Omodon , Ryth
PTERODACTYL Thakdol Thipdar
SABER TOOTH TIGER Vandar Tarag Jato
SAUROPOD Thodon Lidi
T-Rex Zar, Zarith
SEA MONSTER Yith , Tandor Az,
CHIEF Omad Go-sha
APE/MAN Panjani Don Bolgani, Mangani,
Congruencies and Departures Between Zanthodon and Pellucidar
Got it? Good.
Now, the first thing we'll note is that there are a number of Zanthodon
words which seem very similar to Pellucidar words, not identical but similar.
Words for Mammoth, Stegosaur, Triceratops, Sea monster, Pteranodon and
Tyrannosaurus all seem to bear very distinct resemblances.
Okay, I've got to admit, I fudged a bit. The Pellucidar word for
T-Rex is Zarith. There is no specific known Zanthodon word
for T-Rex given, but the Minoan culture which worships the T-Rex calls
itself the Zar.... presumably after their patron deity. The Princess
who is ceremonially married to the T-Rex is Zarya, and the individual giant
T-Rex that tears up the city of Zar is called Zorgunzon. There's
enough there to suggest that the Zanthodon word for T-Rex is actually Zar
And Pellucidar has several words for different sorts of sea monsters,
including a different word for the type of sea monster referred to by the
Zanthodons as Yith. On the other hand, given that the aboriginal
Zanthodons and Pellucidareans are generally not a seagoing creature, I
don't think that they're likely to make careful distinctions in their sea
monsters. So, its worth noting that of the handful of Pellucidar
words for sea monsters, there are a couple that resemble the Zanthodon
And there are other handicaps. There are a bunch of Zanthodon
and Pellucidar words that don't seem to resemble each other at all.
This suggests that there may be a divergence between the two languages.
We also don't really get that complete a picture of either the Zanthodon
or Pellucidar languages. At best, we get a few dozen, or perhaps
a couple of hundred words of each. Well, we know that a Chimp
or Gorilla has a capacity to acquire a basic language of 800 words.
Just about every extant language has a vocabulary of 10,000 or tens of
thousands of words. Most average people use a vocabulary of
3000 to 5000 words. So from this, we could estimate that the
primordial languages of Zanthodon and Pellucidar consist of perhaps a minimum
of 3000 words.
Which means that if we have 150 words of Pellucidar or Zanthodon, then
our sample is merely perhaps 5% of each language. Given that, the
fact that we've found as many close and loose overlaps is remarkable.
But based on the above table, I think that we can argue reasonably that
the Zanthodon and Pellucidar languages are related. It's possible
that they were once the same language, and have diverged after Pellucidar
and Zanthodon separated.
Or ... possibly, they are the same language after all.
Can we justify this? Think about it, what we have to do
is explain what appear to be clear discrepancies. This can be done.
First, in terms of the words not shared in common by the two languages...
We don't actually know that. We only get a glimpse of a few percent
of each languages word bank. So its quite possible that the words
of each exist in the language bank of the other. They may share
all their words, and we've just heard different combinations.
What about the words that seem close, but different? There
are several possible answers.
First, the words might actually be the same. Remember, neither
Eric Carstairs of Zanthodon nor David Innes of Pellucidar are trained linguists.
They are Americans from different regions of the United States (with different
ears for accents) who are trying to render a foreign language phonetically
as accurately as they can.
Well, one of the things is that often, in phonetic spellings, the same
word can be rendered in different ways. Phonetic english, for instance,
is quite different from written english. Chinese can render
into written english in different ways, the same city can be spelled Peking
or Beijing. So its possible that many of the discrepancies
may simply be different ways of rendering the same word.
Complicating this might be the existence of regional Pellucidar or Zanthodon
accents. To the Zanthodon and Pellucidar, the difference may
be no more than British English and American Southern, perfectly understandable.
But to a person trying to render phonetically, differences may become quite
These two factors raise the possibility that the Zanthodon and Pellucidar
language overlaps and similarities that we've identified may be much, much
closer than we would assume at first glance.
And there is another factor to consider. Similar words in
the two languages may actually refer to similar but different animals.
Consider the Zanthodon word for Stegosaurus: Drunth. It's fairly
similar to the Pellucidar word we learn for a type of Stegosaurus: Dyrodor,
but definitely not identical. But hold on a second, the Zanthodon
variety of stegosaurus that we see is a ground based, heavy set, fairly
obnoxious meat eater (or aggressive herbivore), while the Pellucidar variety
that we see is an adapted gliding stegosaur, and a fairly obnoxious meat
eater (or aggressive herbivore). That is, the two stegosaurs
that we see are obviously visibly different, though closely related, types
The resemblance or relationship may be even stronger than we realize.
It may well be that both Pellucidarean and Zanthodonese distinguish finely
between different kinds of animals, much the same way as we distinguish
between Polar Bears, Grizzly Bears, Kodiak Bears and Black Bears. In our
language, they're always called Bears with a modifier. But its only linguistic
convention that keeps them separate. One could see them pronounced so that
they reproduce phonetically: Po-Larbr, Griz-Leebr, Ko-Diak-br, Blakbr.
We also distinguish animals by sex (Ram/Ewe, Stag/Doe) and by age (Bull/Colt/Foal
etc.). So the apparent differences between Zanthodon and Pellucidarean
might well represent designations for slightly different species, male
or females of the species, or maturities. Which means we might well be
looking at the same word set, grammatical and construction rules after
So the Zanthodon triceratops is the Grymp, while the Pellucidar triceratops
with markedly different colours and markings is the Gyor. This may
simply mean that there are two varieties of triceratops running about.
Or possibly three, the Gryf may represent a third visibly different type
in Pal-Ul-Don. The similarity of the words implies a relationship.
So, in cases of stegosaurs, triceratops or mammoths, we may be looking
at identical words, or perhaps words that came from identical sources describing
slightly different kinds of animals.
And we can tell from English, that the same kind of animals may have
very different and apparently unrelated names. Thus Dogs and Wolves
are almost identical, but their names are unrelated. Bulls and Does,
Stallions and Mares, Rams and Ewes. So, for instance, in Pellucidar
we have domesticated diplodocus’ called Lidi, and domesticated mini-apatosaurs
called Thodon. There's a very loose similarity, not much, but loose.
But they're definitely two similar but very distinct animals.
Thakdols and Thipdars and Mahars are three very different pterosaurs.
Aurochs are known as Goroth and Thag. Different sexes? Different
maturities? Perhaps slightly different varieties?
The bottom line is that there may be enough linguistic play that it
is entirely possible that the Zanthodon and Pellucidar languages may not
simply be related to each other, but may actually be the same tongue.
At the very least, the linguistic connections mean that Zanthodon and
its cultures are inescapably a subgroup of Pellucidar, rather than being
a stand alone unique or parallel culture.
and Pal-Ul-Don, Distinct Languages
But let's not stop there. Can we connect other languages?
Like Mangani or Pal-ul-don?
At first, the answer is no. You see, we have a trained and
gifted linguist, Tarzan of the Apes. Tarzan has a natural gift
for languages, over the course of his career he manages to pick up Mangani,
English (written and then spoken) French, Pal-ul-don, Bantu dialects, Waziri,
Arabic, Swahili and a variety of other tongues, perhaps 25 or 30 in all.
Not formally trained as a linguist, he's got a natural ear.
So, Tarzan starts off speaking Mangani, and in Tarzan the Terrible,
he visits Pal-ul-don (around 1914-1920) and encounters the Ho-Don and Waz-Don.
And he doesn't recognize their language as Mangani or anything else he's
heard before. An interesting side note is that the Tor-O-Don
of Pal-ul-don doesn't seem to speak the Don language, but might speak Mangani.
Later, in Tarzan at the Earth's Core, he visits Pellucidar, and
once again, he doesn't recognize the language of the Pellucidareans.
Here however, the distinction is reinforced, because the Sagoth does speak
Mangani understandable to Tarzan.
Tarzan’s Pellucidar experience tells us two important things.
One is that Pellucidar has at least two extant languages (possibly three
if you count the Mahar's communication system), Mangani and
Pellucidarean. And second, that Pellucidarean Mangani is the
same as surface Mangani.
But that should be the end of it, except for the work of a dedicated
fan who proves that the Pal-Ul-Don language seems to derive many of its
words and roots from Mangani. In short, it appears that Pal-Ul-Don
has evolved from Mangani.
Why doesn't Tarzan recognize Don's relationship to Mangani? Well,
he just speaks them, he doesn't analyze them. In truth, he picks
up the Don language very quickly, so he may be drawing unconsciously or
consciously on the Mangani roots. And there may be more to
it. French is derived from Latin, but speaking Latin doesn't necessarily
make you fluent in French. The Don language may well contain
many new concepts and terms (such as Gryf or City) that are unknown in
Mangani, and there may well be different accents or pronunciations.
What is inescapable is that Mangani is the root language for the Don
speech, and Tarzan has missed it. That's interesting.
Because, arguably, there are a couple of linguistic overlaps between
the Don and Mangani languages, and Pellucidarean and Zanthodon.
Let's take a look.
Pellucidar and Pal-Ul-Don
For Pellucidarean and Don, we have the overlapping word for Triceratops
(though arguably slightly different varieties) : Gryf and Gyor.
The two varieties of Triceratops are similar in markings and colouration,
but the Gyror is less brightly coloured and much less aggressive and carnivorous
than the Gryf. Still, they're obviously the same creature,
or same species of creature, and have very similar names.
The implication of a relationship between Don and Pellucidarean is very
Unfortunately, so far as I can determine, that's the only substantial
overlap. Is this incomprehensible? Not really.
Pal-Ul-Don's world is one of urban and semi-urban cultures, in which
the Gryf is the single apex animal. The culture and word complement,
the terms for the Pellucidar and the Don are quite different, so we might
see different concepts and different terms used. The different
concepts and terms may well mask underlying similarities.
The only other animal named is a small hybrid sabre tooth, the Jato.
In Pellucidar, there is a sabre tooth, the Tarag. Two different
names for Sabre Tooths. But these are very different Sabre Tooths.
However, in Pellucidar, there are two races of tailed monkey-men similar
to the Don, who apparently speak a language which is not Pellucidar standard.
David Innes doesn't speak any Pellucidarean in his encounter with the first,
but it is obvious that they are language users, because they're sophisticated
tool users, dwelling builders and have domesticated animals. They
have a verbal structure and seem to use this to control or urge their animals.
Innes learns Pellucidarean later, but gives no indication that the Pellucidar
speech was used by these creatures. In a later book there is an encounter
with race of sabre-toothed monkey men. Again, they don't seem to
speak the usual language.
It's possible that they speak Mangani. Or its possible that
they are speaking the Don language, which has diverged from Mangani.
But if the Don language is Mangani-derived, the word for triceratops suggests
that it is also related to the Pellucidar tongue. In another
article, I've speculated that the Don are actually from Pellucidar, and
that the Pal-Ul-Don peoples are closely related to the two tailed species
seen in Pellucidar. So an overlap with Pellucidarean does not
seem out of the question.
Of course, the two languages are not the same. Tarzan was fluent
in Pal-Ul-Don when he went to Pellucidar, and he didn't recognize the two
languages as the same. The monkey-men of Pellucidar definitely
are not speaking standard Pellucidarean. But as we've noted,
the word for Triceratops suggests that there may be a more than coincidental
Possible? Yes. Either the Don language has borrowed a word
from the Pellucidar tongue, the way that English borrowed from French.
Or both Pellucidar and Don language may have sprung from the same source,
the way French and Spanish both derive from Latin.
Okay: Mangani is a distinct language, which gives rise to
and is related to Don, another distinct language. Meanwhile
Zanthodon and Pellucidarean are related (possibly the same) languages,
which have a connection to Don.
Let's explore a little further. Zanthodon, arguably, has
links to both Mangani and Don.
The obvious one in Zanthodon is ‘Don’, which is the Pal-Ul-Don word
for human or humanoid, and applies to the Ho-Don, Waz-Don and Tor-O-Don.
Tis a pretty straightforward root. So what's the place called?
In Pal-Ul-Don, ‘Ho’ refers to white, ‘Don’ to people. ‘San’
appears as one hundred, possibly it refers to large or big. ‘Za’
also refers to female. So perhaps Zant-Ho-Don means ‘Motherland
of the white people.’ It works.
There is another Zanthodon word which may be applicable.
The word for cave bear is “Omodon”. “Omad” is Chief, or headman
or big man, so an “Omodon” may translate very loosely as “Big Man” creature.
Interestingly, Lin Carter's first description of the Omodon or Cave Bear
emphasizes its manlike shape as it stands on its hind legs.
Of course, Don also appears in Thodon, which seems to be a pretty big
departure. There's no way that an apatosaur is manlike.
Except... that the Thodon is domesticated and ridden by humans. So
the ‘don’ in its name may refer to the fact that it is domesticated by
man, rather than manlike in itself.
And of course, Don and Zanthodon languages share a similar word for
triceratops, Grymp and Gryf. So there are two distinct overlaps between
Don and Zanthodon, one of which repeats.
Let's keep on going. There seems to be an interesting and very
obvious overlap between Zanthodon and Mangani. You see, the
Mangani word for themselves is ‘Mangani’ obviously. But their word
for Gorilla is ‘Bolgani.’ ‘Balgani’ is Orangutan.
Their word for white men is ‘Tarmangani.’ and for blacks is ‘Gomangani.’
‘Tongani’ is a Baboon. Notice the pattern.
The Mangani root for themselves, humans and apes is ‘gani.’
Different kinds of apes or humans are distinguished by adding prefixes
So.... What's the Zanthodon word that is used to describe the
dominant Cro-Magnon tribes? Panjani. This is Panjani
transcribed by Eric Carstairs, non-linguist. So phonetically,
it might be: Pan-jani. Or Pan-gani?
Pan in Mangani is ‘soft’, which might be a form of description of the slender
Okay, well, a single similar word, as tempting as it may be, doesn't
necessarily make our connection between Zanthodon and Mangani.
Here's another connection: Elephant. In Mangani,
elephant is Tantor. In Zanthodon, elephant (mammoth) is Thandor.
That's very close. And in fact, it's a three way connection,
because Tandor is also the Pellucidar word for elephant or mammoth.
We have our second linguistic connection between Mangani and Zanthodon,
and in fact a connection between Pellucidar and Mangani.
Now obviously, we'd expect the overlaps between Mangani and Zanthodon
or Pellucidar to be limited. For one thing, the Mangani don't
have a lot of experience with dinosaurs. The Mangani
environment and world view, satisfactory to them, is a lot more limited
than that seen in Zanthodon or Pellucidar. We have the same
problem, to a lesser extent, with the Don, whose language in a more species
poor environment, has less opportunities to overlap.
Indeed, the fact that we can find overlaps between Mangani and Don on
the one hand, and Zanthodon and Pellucidar on the other suggests that there
are relationships between the languages.
So, this opens up further avenues of investigation. For
instance, would a dedicated scholar be able to find more overlaps between
Zanthodon and Mangani? How about further overlaps between Mangani
and Pellucidar? The connection between Don and Mangani has
been demonstrated, but can we find additional connections between Don and
Pellucidar or Zanthodon?
How about Burroughs last great terrestrial language: Caspakian?
Would it be possible to ferret out possible overlaps between Caspakian
and either Pellucidar, Don or Mangani? Might be interesting
to make the effort.
But now, let's take an abrupt left turn and look at the languages in
relation to each other. One of the peculiar things about each
of these languages is that they all seem to be universal languages.
Theory of Primal Ur-Languages
Thus, Mangani is spoken not only by the Mangani, but by Bolgani in Africa,
Balgani in Asia, understood even by monkeys in Africa and South America,
and by Sagoths in Pellucidar.
The Zanthodon tongue is spoken throughout Zanthodon. The Pellucidar
tongue throughout Pellucidar. And the Don tongue may well be
spoken inside Pellucidar by other neo-hominids.
This seems to contradict everything we know about language. Basically,
in our world, languages seem to diverge rapidly. There are
several thousand extant languages, perhaps dozens of times as many dead
languages. Languages continually mutate into dialects, split and
evolve into new languages. History and isolation are all it
takes to form a new language.
The only forces that seems to freeze a language in place are isolation
of small groups or populations on the one hand, and widespread literacy...
(the written word) on the other. Obviously, neither of these apply
to the four tongues we've seen here.
So, it's a mystery. How do these ‘universal languages’ exist and
remain widespread but intact over apparently large spans, against the rigours
of isolation and time.
Ur-Language Family Tree, Mangani
My suggestion is that we may well be looking at Ur-languages.
We know that primate brains contain some basic degree of linguistic capacity.
Essentially, primates seem to have some innate neural wiring which predisposes
them to understand and use ‘words’ or ‘meaningful communication signals.’
Let's suppose that the raw neural wiring of primate brains contains
a basic language coded into it. Think of it as the base programming
language, a natural default language which is so closely adapted or suited
to the neural wiring of the brain that it is learned easily and naturally,
but because of its basic biological wiring roots, does not evolve or change
The ultimate Ur-language is Mangani, which is the primate language.
Mangani is spoken, not only by the Mangani themselves, but by other apes
in Africa, apes in Asia, and even monkeys in Asia, Africa and South America.
Arguably, simplified forms or less complex forms of Mangani are spoken
or understood by apes or monkeys, but the basic neuro-linguistic wiring
is universal, and so populations separated by oceans or millions of years
of separation are still comprehending the same vocabulary and syntax.
Okay, well, if its coded into the neural wiring, we would expect it
to change slowly. But then again, these animals, monkeys, apes, mangani
have all physically evolved differently. Why is the fundamental primate
language not changing. Why isn't there a Bolgani version of Mangani,
or a new world monkey version of Mangani, or a baboon version, each incomprehensible
to the other... Why is their language consistent across species.
I can offer two thoughts. First the evolutionary pressure that
diverges monkeys from apes, apes from each other and apes from mangani
may not be pushing the linguistic wiring of primate brains. I.e.,
the core structure doesn't change much. Still, random mutation
should start to produce discrepancies...
But there may be another factor at work. In the normal world,
all of the primates have overlapping habitats. Monkeys of different
species will share a jungle with each other, and with gorillas and chimps
and mangani in Africa, and with Orangs in Asia. Now, given
the overlapping habitats of multiple species of primates, there may be
an evolutionary advantage to permeable language. A chimp that
can understand monkey-mangani has warnings of predators that monkeys spot,
and a leg up on food sources that monkeys find, and vice versa.
A monkey troop that can understand the speech of a rival species monkey
troop may have innate advantages over a troop that can't communicate with
So, evolution, at the primate level may actually be selecting for a
cross-species linguistic facility. Evolution may be discouraging
change in the Mangani language. As species become more sophisticated,
the vocabulary and syntax probably becomes more complex, but the base root
vocabulary and syntax probably remain universal.
Indeed, because the language arises fairly directly from neuro-linguistic
brain wiring and seems to be highly standard across species lines, we might
extrapolate that different lines from Mangani might produce the same or
similar word for creatures that the Mangani have never seen. A similar
word might arise spontaneously because the underlying wiring and language
rules are identical.
So for instance, Tarzan’s Mangani, and the surface Mangani never saw
a triceratops. The evolving Mangani of the surface never encountered
such a beast. Yet the Zanthodon, Pal-Ul-Don and Pellucidar
words for triceratops are extremely similar. So, it might be
that the three languages diverged after the triceratops was named, or it
might be that the similar words are rooted in the same basic language structure.
It's worth noting that the Mangani word for crocodile... The only
large, dangerous, quadruped reptilian in their world... is Gimla.
Gimla isn't a ringer for Gryf, Grymp or Gyor, but its close enough to suggest
a linguistic thread.
In any event, the result is that Mangani is a cross-species language
spoken inside and outside the earth, on three different, widely separated
continents, by species ranging all the way from simple monkeys to near
human. The Universal Ultimate language.
Ur-Language Family Tree, Pal-Ul-Don
In this light, we can safely assume that Don is obviously and clearly
derived from Mangani. And so is Pellucidar and Zanthodon...
All languages derive originally from Mangani. This may explain
why Tarzan is so good at learning languages, because his original language
is the natural linguistic architecture of primates. In the
same way that a latin speaker finds it easier to learn spanish or french,
Tarzan’s mastery of mangani makes it easier to learn *any* language.
Now, with respect to Don, I've speculated that the prehensile tailed
Don race are not true hominids, but a parallel line of evolution.
They're descended from New World Monkeys who produced their own versions
of apes and humans. The Don died out in South America, but
survived in Pellucidar with other South American refugees, and a population
eventually wound up in Africa as a result of a temporary geological opening
between inner and outer worlds.
What this would mean is that the basic Mangani architecture of language
was inherited by the Don, but as they developed into parallel hominids
they elaborated that structure into a distinct language. Because
they've got a different evolutionary track than true humans, they have
an Ur Language distinct from either Mangani (the parent), or human Ur-language
(sibling). In this case, its extremely likely that the language
spoken in Pellucidar by the two races of monkey men seen is actually Don.
Ur-Language Family Tree, Pellucidar and Zanthodon
So, what's the next step? Human brains are an order of magnitude
more complex and larger than primate brains. That's not boasting.
The cranial capacity of the biggest apes, comparable in size to man (Orangutans,
Chimpanzees, Gorillas and Bonobos) is about 600 cubic centimeters, (the
same holds true for early hominids and protohominids like australopithecus
and ramapithecus - I believe that the conjecture has been that Great Apes
or Mangani are actually relict Australopithecines rather than true apes)
and not extensively folded. Human brains are about three times that
size with extensive folding denoting greater complexity.
So there's a huge gap between the apes and proto-hominids, and the hominids
and humans. (And let's face it, the monkeys, being physically
tinier are probably a lot less sophisticated. They're not even in
the running). Hominids probably still have the basic neurolinguistic
wiring that supports Mangani as its root language (Tarzan has no trouble
with it), but they have orders of magnitude more complexity (Tarzan’s early
self-teaching of written English may actually have been the result of a
half stimulated linguistic capacity - Mangani provided a set of basics
that stimulated but did not occupy excess linguistic capacity, it would
be like revving up a car and leaving a brick on the accelerator)..
The result is probably the formation of a new language.
Derived from Mangani, more complex and elaborate, distinctive enough to
be a new tongue, but still close enough to the actual neuro-linguistic
wiring of the brain to still be a ‘default’ tongue. This new
language, because of its neurological affinity is still a universal language.
Thus, we have Pellucidar, or Zanthodon.
This suggests strongly that Pellucidar and Zanthodon are actually the
same language or very close to identical. Alternately,
given the fact that we're looking at a lot of neural complexity, the architecture
may be more prone to evolving.
If this is the case, then Zanthodon, as a long isolated fragment of
Pellucidar, may actually be a somewhat archaic form of Pellucidarean.
The current Pellucidar language may be more modern. However,
this seems unlikely.
If the language was prone to evolution, we would expect regional divergence
in Pellucidar. A trapped population like Zanthodon would be more
likely to evolve and diverge. The fact that Pellucidar’s population,
despite the vast geography of Pellucidar, has a common language suggests
that the Ur-Language is deeply embedded in the neuro-linguistic wiring
and that this wiring is not prone to changing.
Zanthodon features two distinct lines of hominid. Cro-Magnons
(who seem to be very close to anatomically modern humans) and a variety
of super-sized Neanderthals (European Neanderthals were about feet feet
on average, the Zanthodon bunch run well over six feet tall). Both
speak the universal language. If Zanthodon's Ur-Language had
diverged, we'd expect the two groups languages to start drifting apart,
it hasn't. This implies that the Zanthodon tongue is archaic,
In Pellucidar, we meet a variety of human (or Cro-Magnon) ethnic groups,
including groups resembling orientals, american indians and negroes.
Whether they're truly parts of these ethnicities or independent developments
within Pellucidar is an open question. There are several semi-human
races, which may represent offshoots rather than pre-homo-sapiens - the
Coripies, Gorbuses, Azarians, all of whom speak the basic language.
Again, there's no sign of linguistic divergence with them or from them.
It's possible, however, that the explanation here may be as much cultural
as neuro-linguistic, each of these groups has steady intercourse.
Cultural factors are likely the reason that the Brute-men (gorilla sheep),
Ganaks (horned men) and the Reptilian Horrib speak the common language.
The inference is that the Pellucidar language has shown almost no tendency
So, we now have a linguistic family tree. At the root is
‘Mangani’ - spoken by apes, mangani and subhumans. It leads
to two parallel streams, ‘Don’ which is the language of the South American
(hypothetical) neo-apes and neo-hominids. ‘Mangani’ leads to
‘Pellucidarean.’ ‘Zanthodon’ may be an offshoot of ‘Pellucidarean’
or it may be the same language.
There's some room for tinkering. ‘Don’ may be derived from
an earlier more basic form of ‘Mangani’ spoken by Monkeys, rather than
the more sophisticated, elaborate form spoken by apes and proto-hominids.
It's arguable whether the more basic Monkey speech would amount to a
distinct language from Mangani. If we wanted to, we could call
the Monkey Speech ‘low Mangani’ and Mangani speech ‘high Mangani.’
Under this construction, the ‘Don’ language and ‘High Mangani’ would be
sibling languages, both developing from ‘low mangani.’
In which case, Don would be an ‘aunt/uncle language to Pellucidarean,
or possibly a 1st cousin rather than a sibling language. This
might explain Tarzan’s initial difficulty with the ‘Don’ language.
Every other language he ever encountered had descended from the Mangani
he spoke, the Don language was a parallel development for him. And
it would also help explain the persistence of the Don language within Pellucidar,
and why it has not been swamped by the majority language of Pellucidar.
However, to my thinking, the distinction is arbitrary at best.
I should note that Rick Johnson argues that the Don are offshoots of
the hominid line, and not New-world neo-hominids. Now, if he is correct,
then the root language for the Don would not be the simple Mangani of Monkeys,
but the more complex Mangani of the Great Apes themselves.
The clear difference between the Don and Pellucidar language suggests that
the Don would have branched off the hominid line sometime after the Mangani
and Sagoths, (Australopithecus and Homo Erectus?), but before the establishment
of the Pellucidar humans (Cro Magnon and Neandertal?).
Which takes us to the plethora of human languages on the surface.
Obviously, all other human languages are descended from Mangani by way
of Pellucidarean. What are these languages? Obviously
second order languages, resting on the base of neuro-linguistic wiring,
but more elaborate. They're like the computer interface, the
menus, the word processor, the taskbars and functions, rather than the
underlying programming language or the hard wiring. They undoubtedly
rest upon the hard wiring (neuro-linguistic wiring), and the base of programming
language (Mangani/Pellucidarean) but they're considerably beyond that.
So, why do human languages proliferate topside and the ur-language dominates
underside. Possibly for the same reason that Pellucidar cultures
seem to be much more stable and less changing than topside cultures.
It is possible that the Pellucidar hominids are actually much closer to
their roots, they may represent a slightly earlier form of human or hominid.
One which still cleaves to the basic wiring, rather than having the inbuilt
Anyway, I hope that this has been interesting.... I'd certainly
welcome further thought.
Yes, I know its all nonsense. But its fun nonsense, and
it isn't quite as random as it seems. If I was taking a group
of unrelated books written without any contact between each other, then
I'd probably be in trouble. But the thing is, that this linguistic
odyssey delves into a series of books written by only a couple of authors
with an intimate knowledge of their own works.
The key to remember is that all of these ‘languages’ derive from Edgar
Rice Burroughs. Presumably, he spent a fair bit of time and effort
developing his Mangani language, either in spurts, or gradually over the
course of several books.. Obviously, he couldn't make up words randomly,
once a word was introduced, he had to use it consistently.
He had to make up rules for these words and use them. By all
accounts, he was meticulous in his invention.
And he wasn't an ignorant man. He had a good grasp of English
and at least a passing familiarity with other languages. So he brought
a bit of native sophistication to his quest. It was not an unconscious
or illiterate effort.
But in Tarzan the Terrible, he was called upon to do it all over again,
inventing a language for the Pal-Ul-Don who he conceived as something between
Mangani and Human. So it makes sense that he might deliberately or
unconsciously borrow from Mangani. It may have been simple laziness,
or perhaps a lack of imagination at the moment.
At the same time, he was also coming up with terms for Caspak and for
Pellucidar. Given that it was all swimming around in his head, some
conscious or unconscious overlaps might be inevitable.
Hence, it becomes possible to find connections between Mangani and other
languages, because these connections really are there. Instead
of actual linguistic history, we have Burroughs fertile imagination, drawing
So that accounts for Mangani, Pellucidar, Pal-Ul-Don, and who knows,
perhaps even a bit of Caspak.
As for Zanthodon... here we've got Lin Carter, a writer and editor who
was such a fan of Burroughs that two of his principal series, Zanthodon
and Callisto, were direct tributes to Burroughs Barsoom and Pellucidar.
His Zanthodon is pretty much Pellucidar through and through. We can
assume Carter's knowledge of Burroughs work was encyclopedic, and that
he reread Pellucidar and Tarzan repeatedly, steeping himself in Burroughs
This means that Burroughs terms and terminology were well known to Carter,
he was drenched in it. So its hardly surprising that it would find
itself creeping out, consciously or unconsciously. A work which
was a deliberate tribute would almost inevitably have these linguistic
Indeed, Carter has Tarzan and Mangani, Don and Pellucidar in mind when
he's writing. He is taking his inspiration from all of these Burroughs
sources, rather than holding strictly. So within Carter's Zanthodon,
there's more of a chance of blending.
In short, we can reasonably pull the languages together, not because
they're real languages, but because they're informed by a single creative
And as I said, it's fun.