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What's the point?

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What's the point?

Postby oursmartweb » Tue Nov 01, 2011 10:53 pm

Curiously, could someone tell me the point of learning Latin? I am serious when I ask this. I am a web designer and I use lorem ipsum as filler text. It's Latin, and the point of it is that it's a dead language.

So why? :)
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Re: What's the point?

Postby lauragibbs » Wed Nov 02, 2011 4:24 pm

There are MANY books written in Latin, especially during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, that have not been translated into any modern language. If you want to read those books, you have to know Latin. It used to be those books were hard to get access to, locked away in university libraries, but now they are online, thanks to GoogleBooks and other digital library projects. So, if you read Latin, you can read all these old books - I study folktales and fables, so for me it is really exciting to get to read all these hundreds-year-old stories that have survived only in Latin. :-)
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Re: What's the point?

Postby adrianus » Wed Nov 02, 2011 7:54 pm

oursmartweb wrote:I use lorem ipsum as filler text. It's Latin, and the point of it is that it's a dead language.

The point of Lorem Ipsum is that it's meaningless Latin, so even a latinist will focus on the page layout and not be distracted by the text content.

Sine sensu est "Lorem Ipsum" in quo est utilitas eius, deinde et latinista operam dabit ad formam elementorum in paginâ non ad scripturae sensum.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby MatthaeusLatinus » Wed Nov 02, 2011 8:15 pm

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Re: What's the point?

Postby adrianus » Wed Nov 02, 2011 8:31 pm

The point of learning latin is to read the Aeneid in latin. It's so much better than in English.
Latini discendi summa in eo constat: Aeneiden latinè legere. Sic facere sublimius quam anglicè est.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby edonnelly » Wed Nov 02, 2011 8:37 pm

Really, what's the point of anything? What's the point of reading Shakespeare, doing sudoku puzzles or watching American Idol on TV?
The lists:
G'Oogle and the Internet Pharrchive - 1100 or so free Latin and Greek books.
DownLOEBables - Free books from the Loeb Classical Library
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Re: What's the point?

Postby oursmartweb » Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:02 pm

Thank you lauragibbs, I see your point of wanting to learning it. I guess our interests lie elsewhere. :)

Adrianus, I am fully aware and had NO confusion apart from learning the point of (Lorem Ipsum filler text) ONLY for that reason. Also if I may add, if Latin is SO much better than English, than I think the great heads of the world would push it towards a universalist unity. But since I don't see that happening, I will be having to tell all my clients about that it is just filler text, and has no meaning other than to occupy space on their website until they provide me with content. :)
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Re: What's the point?

Postby adrianus » Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:24 pm

An eloquent cry of despair! You're right. Better if they were all in Latin. :wink:
Desperationis clamorem eloquentem! Rectè dicis. Id melius sit si omnia ista in sermones latinos convertantur.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby edonnelly » Thu Nov 03, 2011 2:27 am

I guess it's not really despair. I just think there are a lot of things in life that we do because we enjoy them, whether they be because of personal fulfillment, mental stimulation, pure entertainment or whatever.

I think it's actually quite nice that Latin is a dead language. When I study it, I study the same material that someone studied 100 years ago. There is a finite corpus of work out there that interests me, and reading that material as it was written by its original author is exhilarating and of value in its own right.

On the contrary, I see many students learning Spanish in high school or college, thinking they will use this language in their everyday life. The truth is that few of them ever reach a level of fluency that allows them to communicate with native speakers, and most of the Spanish-speakers here in America speak English so much better than these students speak Spanish, that to attempt any conversation in Spanish between a native speaker of Spanish and a native English speaker here in America is generally little more than a request for a free tutoring lesson.
The lists:
G'Oogle and the Internet Pharrchive - 1100 or so free Latin and Greek books.
DownLOEBables - Free books from the Loeb Classical Library
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Re: What's the point?

Postby ragnar_deerslayer » Thu Nov 03, 2011 1:17 pm

In short, because it's a pleasing, enjoyable, and rewarding pastime. I do not expect that learning Latin will ever make me more money (although if homeschool parents asks me to tutor their children, it might).

The obvious follow-up question is, what exactly do you find rewarding about the difficult work of learning Latin?

Simply this: whenever anything more complicated than a technical manual is translated from one language to another, some of the meaning is always "lost in translation." Additionally, the sound of the language, the cadence, musicality, and poetry, is ALWAYS lost. I am a college professor of English, and I know the strength of Shakespeare is not in the originality of his plot, but in his execution of the details, especially the poetry.

I have wanted to read the Aeneid in Latin since I first read it in translation in high school. It was like smelling a great meal, but not being allowed to eat it. When I got to college, I bought Pharr's reader of the first half of the Aeneid, even though my schedule didn't allow me time to take Latin classes. This, now, is my attempt to fulfill that old longing.

I don't ever say that people "ought" to learn Latin, or "ought to want" to learn Latin. I say that it is a beautiful language that gives direct access to much great literature and poetry. If they enjoy the literature and poetry in translation, they will not enjoy it less in the original.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby thesaurus » Thu Nov 03, 2011 4:31 pm

MatthaeusLatinus wrote:Just point your browser here
http://www.slu.edu/colleges/AS/language ... efits.html


For the record, I like Latin, and I like reading and studying it. However, I think most of these arguments (e.g. "Fashioning community across boundaries of time and space") could be made about any other language with a large written corpus or historical influence. Also, some of these advantages could be gained by reading in translation (e.g. "Irreplaceable educational experience bearing on personal growth and fulfillment").

"The classical liberal arts give us an invaluable praxis for transcending ethnocentrism and destructive radical fundamentalism." I support a liberal arts education, but I wish this claim were true. I'd say that the classical liberal arts are ethically neutral. For example, why were imperialism and other forms of oppression thriving in Europe at the same time that the classical liberal arts were in their heyday (e.g. 18-19th century England, France, Belgium, etc.)? Often classical liberal arts ideals have been used to justify reprehensible practices (imperialism and slavery). Of course, they have also been used by champions of human rights and freedom. I suppose you could argue that those people lacking in ethics have an incorrect or faulty understanding of the classical liberal arts.

I guess I fall into the "studying/reading Latin is a pleasant and gratifying hobby for me, although I don't expect to gain any real objective benefits from it" group.
Horae quidem cedunt et dies et menses et anni, nec praeteritum tempus umquam revertitur nec quid sequatur sciri potest. Quod cuique temporis ad vivendum datur, eo debet esse contentus. --Cicero, De Senectute
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Re: What's the point?

Postby thesaurus » Thu Nov 03, 2011 4:37 pm

oursmartweb wrote:Also if I may add, if Latin is SO much better than English, than I think the great heads of the world would push it towards a universalist unity.


I don't think Adrianus (or anybody else) is suggesting that Latin is "better" than English. Rather, his example was about how it is better to read a literary text in its native language rather than in translation. So if your goal is to read Latin literature, learn Latin. If not, then you probably don't need to worry about it. In that sense, Latin is better than English for reading Latin literary texts like the Aeneid, and English is better than Latin for reading English texts like Shakespeare.
Horae quidem cedunt et dies et menses et anni, nec praeteritum tempus umquam revertitur nec quid sequatur sciri potest. Quod cuique temporis ad vivendum datur, eo debet esse contentus. --Cicero, De Senectute
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Re: What's the point?

Postby adrianus » Thu Nov 03, 2011 5:55 pm

oursmartweb wrote:Also if I may add, if Latin is SO much better than English, than I think the great heads of the world would push it towards a universalist unity.

As thesaurus says. Also, I wouldn't trust great heads to do anything other than to bang together. That's how heads get big in the first place, from vanity and bruising.

Ut dicit thesaurus. Porrò magna capita aliquid facere aliter quam inter se contundere non credam. Sic magna in primordio fiunt capita, per vanitatem cicatricesque.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby chodorov » Thu Nov 03, 2011 9:50 pm

I'm learning Latin and Greek because knowing them will allow me to read about 2500 years worth of material in the original languages. As has been said, people can read the most important books in translation, but they are never as good that way.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby adrianus » Thu Nov 03, 2011 10:13 pm

The oddity of Lorem Ipsum in the source code of a published webpage not displaying on the page itself but turning up in searches can arise because a designer either didn't bother to remove hidden elements introduced by a third-party page-tool or by a third-party provider, or, worse, was unaware that they were there.

Inusitatè evenit lorem ipsum scripturam se ostendere non in paginâ editâ sed in fontis notis et proinde in proventibus quaerendi quod qui designavit neglexit elementa abscondita à provisore ab extrâ instrumentove ad paginas interretiales prodendas introducta amovere, setiùsve exstare elementa abscondita ignoravit.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Dominus » Fri Nov 04, 2011 10:34 am

Well personally, its the fact that Latin was one of the single biggest factors that carved the world today - There is no objective reason to learn it, but fully subjective. Latin is our history, and our history is us. We, the people of this blue marble must honour our history, respect it as we respect our parents - without it, you wouldn't exist, I can assure you. And since it is the biggest part of our western history, it deserves to live on - not for objective reasons, but for all other reasons.

Plus, don't you just love the feeling of reading the words that Livy or Caesar wrote and read, as they wrote and read them.
2500+ years of being the universal mother language, I think that merits it some respect in our everyday lives.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby rmansker » Fri Nov 04, 2011 4:46 pm

In the U.S.A. we are only taught how to USE grammar but not actually taught what, how or why these grammar rules stand. Honestly in my very first Latin course (Junior in High School) our teacher asked us to give him a verb. The class went silent. Finally I raised my hand and asked what a verb was. The saddest part is: no one in the class thought this was a stupid question.

Learning Latin is good for many things...
1. Better understanding of English and other Foreign Languages
Indo-European branched off to make many languages, two of which are Latin and Germanic. From Germanic English was formed but much of our vocabulary was derived from Latin as well. If you were to draw a family tree of Language you could say Latin is English's Uncle (but in some ways also English's Father.)

2. Latin helps English speakers break down large words that few people know the meaning of without a dictionary. In a way it can turn the student into a walking dictionary. It also helps Scientists and Medical Doctors understand more about diseases, medicines, procedures, etc.

3. It is essential for Historians who specialize in a time period or area where Latin was used. When it comes to translation it is dangerous for a Historian to "take someone's word on it." If the translation they are using is incorrect then the Historian loses credibility and this can negatively affect their career.

4. Archaeologists in the field (or out of the field) need to be able to translate newly found materials that have Latin script on them. If everyone stopped learning Latin then no one would be able to do this.

5. Its fun! Seriously. It is difficult at first but once you get the hang of it you can say all sorts of fun things (insert evil smile here...)
~~~I will apologize now for being a Yank. Please do not let me bad English grammar and spelling deter you from talking to me :D ~~~
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Nooj » Mon Nov 07, 2011 12:51 pm

In the U.S.A. we are only taught how to USE grammar but not actually taught what, how or why these grammar rules stand. Honestly in my very first Latin course (Junior in High School) our teacher asked us to give him a verb. The class went silent. Finally I raised my hand and asked what a verb was. The saddest part is: no one in the class thought this was a stupid question.


I personally think that grammar isn't very important. Either we know it already, in which case it's a part of our inherent knowledge of the language (our inherent grammar), or it's something someone's made up. Like the idea that it's ungrammatical to split infinitives. Some guy tried to import that from Latin into English. Stupid idea. 'To boldy go' is grammatical in English. We don't need a teacher to tell us what is grammatical and what is not.

And I don't think it was a stupid question at all. No one is born knowing what a verb is. And truth be told, it's not easy to define. You might be told in school that a verb is a 'doing word', but that's clearly not the entire story. And that's just a semantic definition, it doesn't touch on syntax at all.

Why should kids know what a verb is? Does it actually have any impact on their life? I'm glad that in my English class, we learned about English literature and not English grammar. Second language learners of English may need to learn the rules, but we don't.

On the contrary, I see many students learning Spanish in high school or college, thinking they will use this language in their everyday life. The truth is that few of them ever reach a level of fluency that allows them to communicate with native speakers, and most of the Spanish-speakers here in America speak English so much better than these students speak Spanish, that to attempt any conversation in Spanish between a native speaker of Spanish and a native English speaker here in America is generally little more than a request for a free tutoring lesson.
Does America teach Mexican Spanish or Castilian Spanish?

[Note 1: Almost every culture in the world today either has or is significantly affected by the "Cultural DNA" of the Greco-Latin tradition. We ignore it only to our great shame and ignorance.]
Of course the world's been affected by Latin. But is it such a big deal if we are ignorant of this influence? If I was given the job of informing an alien about the cultures that exist in the world, I wouldn't point them to learning Latin or Greek first. Maybe somewhere down the track.

This website actually seems to be implying that we must learn Latin, or at least that it should be strongly encouraged, since if we do not, we'll be living in great shame and ignorance. Really guys? I can't agree with that.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby adrianus » Mon Nov 07, 2011 2:44 pm

Nooj wrote:Like the idea that it's ungrammatical to split infinitives. Some guy tried to import that from Latin into English. Stupid idea.

Vide http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Split_infinitive#The_argument_from_classical_languages)

Nooj wrote:Why should kids know what a verb is? Does it actually have any impact on their life?

et hunc situm, http://www.insightin.com/esl/2000.php
6,000 most frequently used English words
The ranks of word frequency were calculated by running word list in wordnet dictionary database against a few popular search engines from 2002 - 2003. It basically uses search engine index databases as corpus. The size of the corpus ranges from 1 billion to 4 billions...

1447 verb
1448 preach
1450 friendly
1451 observed
1452 fan
1453 connect
1453 Fig
1454 count
1454 egg
1454 items
1454 mention
1456 Texas
1457 calculate


Nooj wrote:we must learn Latin, or at least that it should be strongly encouraged, since if we do not, we'll be living in great shame and ignorance. Really guys? I can't agree with that.

Nor I, and many here, I suspect.// Tecum concurro, et plerique hîc, ut suspicor.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Lavrentivs » Thu Nov 10, 2011 3:53 pm

thesaurus wrote:
oursmartweb wrote:Also if I may add, if Latin is SO much better than English, than I think the great heads of the world would push it towards a universalist unity.


I don't think Adrianus (or anybody else) is suggesting that Latin is "better" than English. Rather, his example was about how it is better to read a literary text in its native language rather than in translation. So if your goal is to read Latin literature, learn Latin. If not, then you probably don't need to worry about it. In that sense, Latin is better than English for reading Latin literary texts like the Aeneid, and English is better than Latin for reading English texts like Shakespeare.


Latin is better than English in the sense that its grammar allows a more elegant and intellectually satisfying style. Or does anyone (who knows anything about it) disagree?
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Re: What's the point?

Postby adrianus » Thu Nov 10, 2011 4:58 pm

Some people have said that once centuries ago, who were wholly fluent in Latin. I, who am not fluent in Latin, have no basis for thinking so, unless I merely repeat the opinions of others. Why do you think so?
Latin as an expression of a dominant culture is great, but it got there at the cost of suppressing many other cultures.

Olim ante hos saeculos erant aliqui magnae volubilitatis linguae latinae qui sic credebant. Nihil est quod ego credam, qui latinè non facundè loquor,—separatim ut sententias aliorum repetam. Cur sic habes?
Lingua latina est vox humanitatis dominantis. Sic facta est quod multas alias necavit.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Lavrentivs » Thu Nov 10, 2011 6:42 pm

adrianus wrote:Why do you think so?


One reason is that the inflection of Latin, as well as forms such as the gerund and supine, make it possible to express oneself more briefly and hence more elegantly. For example, "ignoring such things as deserve being ignored" may be expressed in two words: "ignotis ignorandis".

Another is the flexibility of the word order.

But you are obviously not unfamiliar with these things; and I do not see why one should have to be fluent in Latin to appreciate them.

Of course I cannot prove that this is so, any more than I can prove that one work of art is better than another; but I would be very surprised if you did not have similar thoughts.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby adrianus » Thu Nov 10, 2011 8:32 pm

Lavrentivs wrote:For example, "ignoring such things as deserve being ignored" may be expressed in two words: "ignotis ignorandis".

Anglicè "ignotis ignorandis" de contextu vel sensu quaesito pendens per dua vocabula sic verti potest:
Depending on context or sense sought, two English words can translate "ignotis ignorandis" thus:
""ignoring inessentials", "inessentials ignored", "ignorables discounted", "disregarding inessentials", "irrelevancies disregarded".

Et unum anglicum sufficit:
And one can suffice: "focussing", "concentrating", "painstakingly".

And neologisms will generally be less elegant in Latin, I believe, than in a language borrowed from.
Et minùs elegantes ferè latinè neologismi, credo, quam per linguam mutuantem.

You can't separate elegance from the writer's ability and attribute it to the language alone.
Cultum à facultate auctoris separare ut is ad linguam solam attribuatur non debes.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Lavrentivs » Thu Nov 10, 2011 10:27 pm

adrianus wrote:
Lavrentivs wrote:For example, "ignoring such things as deserve being ignored" may be expressed in two words: "ignotis ignorandis".

Anglicè "ignotis ignorandis" de contextu vel sensu quaesito pendens per dua vocabula sic verti potest:
Depending on context or sense sought, two English words can translate "ignotis ignorandis" thus:
""ignoring inessentials", "inessentials ignored", "ignorables discounted", "disregarding inessentials", "irrelevancies disregarded".

Et unum anglicum sufficit:
And one can suffice: "focussing", "concentrating", "painstakingly".

And neologisms will generally be less elegant in Latin, I believe, than in a language borrowed from.
Et minùs elegantes ferè latinè neologismi, credo, quam per linguam mutuantem.

You can't separate elegance from the writer's ability and attribute it to the language alone.
Cultum à facultate auctoris separare ut is ad linguam solam attribuatur non debes.


Nevertheless, Latin generally uses fewer words than English. If you look at a book with parallel Latin and English, you will see that the text on the left pages tend to be shorter than that on the right ones.

And being able to use cases instead of præpositions is better.

And would you not agree that Latin has a greater grammatical richness than English? (It certainly has more grammatical categories.)
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Re: What's the point?

Postby thesaurus » Thu Nov 10, 2011 11:36 pm

When did fewer words become synonymous with elegance? 19th century English novelists used a lot of words, but I don't think that fact makes their writing less elegant than, say, contemporary poetry, which attempts to express more meaning in fewer words.

I think different languages allow one to be elegant (or not elegant) in different ways. What's elegant in Latin isn't necessarily elegant when put in English, and vice versa.

Is Finnish, which has many, many inflections, more elegant than English or a less inflected languages? Are languages without inflections or conjugations incapable of elegance?

In general terms, you seem to be equating elegance with synthetic languages, while taking it away from an analytic language. By this argument, Mandarin Chinese is the least elegant language, while Mohawk (a Native American language) is the most elegant of all:
Mohawk: Washakotya'tawitsherahetkvhta'se means "He ruined her dress" (strictly, "He made the thing that one puts on one's body ugly for her"). One word expresses the idea that would be conveyed in an entire sentence in a non-polysynthetic language.

In comparison with this sentence, Latin looks fairly barbaric.

I think it would be easier not to attribute elegance to the inherent nature of languages.
Horae quidem cedunt et dies et menses et anni, nec praeteritum tempus umquam revertitur nec quid sequatur sciri potest. Quod cuique temporis ad vivendum datur, eo debet esse contentus. --Cicero, De Senectute
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Lavrentivs » Fri Nov 11, 2011 1:01 am

I didn't mean to say that verbosity is inelegant; what I meant was that a translation, say, from English to Latin will be shorter in Latin. Another reason for this is that in Latin, one seldom repeats elements that are used several times in the same period. Arguably, repetition is inelegant.

You are right in ascribing to me the opinion that synthetic languages are, ceteris paribus, more elegant than analytic ones, or rather: that sytheticity is more elegant than analyticity. Which is not to say that any more synthetic language is more elegant than any less synthetic language.

There is also the richness of grammatical forms.

I admit that I find it difficult to defend my position, especially since I don't know Latin very well (or Finnish or Mohawk); but I am not convinced that there is no truth in it.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby procrastinator » Fri Nov 11, 2011 3:31 am

This thread is turning out to be quite interesting. As a native English speaker, I see a charm in Latin, as too do many other native English-speaking people, as witnessed by its use in Hollywood movies and books. If I had to describe Latin I'd choose adjectives like "elegant", "powerful", "strong". If there are non-native English-speaking members reading this, how do you perceive Latin? Perhaps if you're a native slavic language-speaking person, it may not sound elegant, I don't know. If you were a native Latin-speaking person, then you probably wouldn't feel the language is special at all, and instead feel that some foreign language was more elegant.

One reason I dabble in Latin is the sheer challenge of it. A lot of mental exercise is required at the beginning to get the word endings right, and to get your head around the grammar which is so different from English. Once starting, however I've found much delight in discovering words that are pretty much used in English as is, and I enjoy finding out the etymologies of English words.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby adrianus » Fri Nov 11, 2011 3:48 am

Lavrentivs wrote:Nevertheless, Latin generally uses fewer words than English. If you look at a book with parallel Latin and English, you will see that the text on the left pages tend to be shorter than that on the right ones.

And being able to use cases instead of præpositions is better.

And would you not agree that Latin has a greater grammatical richness than English? (It certainly has more grammatical categories.)
I agree with thesaurus.
Also, if those things were important, Latin wouldn't have evolved into the Romance languages.
Further, faithful translation will generally require more words. Newman's latin translation of Chapter 1 of Robinson Crusoe has 3747 words where the English original has 1853.

Cum thesauro concurro. Etiam si magni momenti hae res, non mutavisset Latinum in linguas romanicas. Porrò, plerumquè fideliter convertere plura verba requirit. Ut Rebelii Crusonis Annalium caput primum in Latinum convertat, bis vocabulorum numerum quod principe in opere est adhibet Newman.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Lavrentivs » Fri Nov 11, 2011 10:46 am

You seem to assume that "evolution" never empoverishes a language, keeps all elements that are worth keeping. Or that there is no such thing as richness or poverty in a language -- ?

What do you think of the argument from intelligence, that has also been touched on here? Is it an illusion, that Latin requires more intelligence to read and write and bears witness of more intelligence, is that something we feel merely because we know English better than Latin?

Being of Norwegian native tounge I consider this a degenerate form of Danish. A little more than an hundred years ago, there was no difference between D. and N.; then politicians begun making small changes, attempting to "evolve" away from Danish. Many of these changes are empoverishments. For example, Danish has different endings for neutral and utral adjectives, which is lost in N. It is difficult to find good examples when one is looking for them, but I believe that Kierkegaards 19th century Danish is eminently superior to modern "Norwegian", which, were it to aspire to his style, would become Danish (more Danish than it already is).

Here you might respond that this is a comparison of dialects, not languages, or perhaps rather of styles: that one should say that the style of Kierkegaard is richer than that of any contemporary Norwegian writer, not that is language is. But perhaps the borders between these modes of distinction are not entirely clear. Is the style of Cicero possible in English? If one can compare styles, and a language makes certain styles possible and others not, is it not then only as good as the styles it permits?
Last edited by Lavrentivs on Fri Nov 11, 2011 3:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Alatius » Fri Nov 11, 2011 11:45 am

adrianus wrote:Further, faithful translation will generally require more words.

I believe it is generally true, that a faithful translation will demand more morphemes than the original; but if the target language is more synthetic, the result may nevertheless consist of fewer words.
Newman's latin translation of Chapter 1 of Robinson Crusoe has 3747 words where the English original has 1853.

Unfortunately, Newman's translation is not faithful by any measure. As he states in his preface: "I surely need not apologize for taking only the general idea from Defoe. His tale is far too diffuse, too full of moralizing and with too little variety. He was very ignorant of the Botany and Zoology of the tropics, and when his tale is faithfully abridged, its impossibilities become too glaring." As a matter of fact, his version is much more condence: the whole Latin book consists of a bit less than 38000 words, whereas Defoe's original has 123000. (Furthermore, the English original has no chapter divisions, so I'm curious how you made your calculation.)
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Re: What's the point?

Postby adrianus » Fri Nov 11, 2011 8:30 pm

Alatius wrote:Unfortunately, Newman's translation is not faithful by any measure.

You're right. I didn't look carefully enough. And the chapter division of http://www.grexlat.com/biblio/rebilius/gl/ is different from here http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/DefCru1.html.
Rectum est. Versionem non satis diligenter scrutinavi. Et divisio capitum in hoc loco citato non similis est eius in ille.

I checked this: // Hoc notavi:
Winnie the Pooh 22000 words // viginti duo milia verborum
Winnie ille Pu 17000 words // septendecim milia

No doubt by means of morphemes is the way to count.
Sine dubito per morphemes numeradum.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby beerclark » Sat Nov 12, 2011 4:03 am

Lavrentivs wrote:What do you think of the argument from intelligence, that has also been touched on here? Is it an illusion, that Latin requires more intelligence to read and write and bears witness of more intelligence, is that something we feel merely because we know English better than Latin?



I think Latin does require more intelligence... if your native tongue is English! :lol:

I think any language that man has developed fits within the parameters of the human mind. For example, while Latin is more detailed in declensions then English, it also requires less words. So everything always allows a balance. So I think your question presents language backwards. Since languages are all developed from the same human brain, they are all made under the same restrictions... ergo, they all require the same intelligence!

But let me twist your question. How much does the Latin language show the Roman culture? I have heard that the words of a language can sometimes show what a particular culture focused on. But does the grammar show attitude? Like with English, order is important. So are English speakers more apt to try to keep order? And were Romans more prone to 'purpose' thinking since order isn't as important as the message? Just a thought.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Grochojad » Sat Nov 12, 2011 5:26 am

beerclark wrote:Like with English, order is important. So are English speakers more apt to try to keep order? And were Romans more prone to 'purpose' thinking since order isn't as important as the message? Just a thought.


Amusingly, this post shows how the language shapes your thinking. You drew a parallel between "order" (http://dictionary.cambridge.org/diction ... sh/order_2) and "order" (http://dictionary.cambridge.org/diction ... sh/order_7) only because you were thinking in English.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Lavrentivs » Sat Nov 12, 2011 12:38 pm

beerclark wrote:I think Latin does require more intelligence... if your native tongue is English! :lol:

I think any language that man has developed fits within the parameters of the human mind. For example, while Latin is more detailed in declensions then English, it also requires less words. So everything always allows a balance. So I think your question presents language backwards. Since languages are all developed from the same human brain, they are all made under the same restrictions... ergo, they all require the same intelligence!


If you are right, it would be as difficult for a native Latin speaker to learn English as it is for a native English speaker to learn Latin; and simpler to learn Greek, because of its grammatical similarity to Latin. Do you think that's true?
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Re: What's the point?

Postby beerclark » Sat Nov 12, 2011 4:16 pm

Grochojad: LOL... Amusing observation! You caught me with my own logic.

Lavrentivs: I can't answer that question from any basis of my own knowledge, but I would venture to say you are correct. I would think that its simply a factor of having to learn less. Of course on an individual basis I'm sure there are exceptions.

From a practical stand point, I wonder if it is more difficult to learn English. It is my only tongue right now (though I had some French in high school) so I could not judge. I have always heard that English is difficult because the rules have a lot of exceptions and/or alternates. Plus the language is so mashed up between Anglo-Saxon and French that definitions and uses of words are sometimes strange. I only know that I sometimes observe a rule in English that I take for granted but suddenly realize how difficult it would be to explain to someone else!
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Grochojad » Sat Nov 12, 2011 10:35 pm

beerclark wrote:From a practical stand point, I wonder if it is more difficult to learn English. It is my only tongue right now (though I had some French in high school) so I could not judge. I have always heard that English is difficult because the rules have a lot of exceptions and/or alternates. Plus the language is so mashed up between Anglo-Saxon and French that definitions and uses of words are sometimes strange. I only know that I sometimes observe a rule in English that I take for granted but suddenly realize how difficult it would be to explain to someone else!


Actually English is VERY easy to learn, one of the easiest out there.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Nooj » Sun Nov 13, 2011 4:50 am

This thread is turning out to be quite interesting. As a native English speaker, I see a charm in Latin, as too do many other native English-speaking people, as witnessed by its use in Hollywood movies and books. If I had to describe Latin I'd choose adjectives like "elegant", "powerful", "strong". If there are non-native English-speaking members reading this, how do you perceive Latin? Perhaps if you're a native slavic language-speaking person, it may not sound elegant, I don't know. If you were a native Latin-speaking person, then you probably wouldn't feel the language is special at all, and instead feel that some foreign language was more elegant.
The charm comes from socio-cultural impetuses. The elite used to learn Latin, the elites hold the power, Latin therefore is seen as the language of prestige and influence. Someone who learns Latin must be smart and suave etc etc. Nevermind the fact that the stupidest Roman knew Latin fluently. There is nothing inherently more powerful about Latin than Romani, the language spoken by the Roma/Gypsy people.
Dolor poetas creat.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby Lavrentivs » Sun Nov 13, 2011 7:14 pm

Perhaps you are right that one cannot separate the inherent nature of a language from its socio-cultural value, and certainly this is part of what makes it elegant. You would not feel the same if you read Shakespeare in a dialect commonly considered as vulgar, even if one had succeeded in making a translation with no loss of inherent elegance. However, it also seems plausible to me that an aristocratic culture will tend to develop its language into something inherently more beautiful and intelligent, as it is more open to the spirituality and poetry of language, its being something different from and more than a means of communication.

All affected languages have suffered from the socialism and democratism of the past century. Certainly in the light of our associating older manners of expression with elegance because of their socio-cultural value; perhaps also because socio-cultural factors of the time ensured that inherently beautiful or intelligent features were præserved and cultivated.
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Re: What's the point?

Postby adrianus » Sun Nov 13, 2011 9:35 pm

Certainly, that's what groups like to believe who consider themselves superior to others.
Certè sic habeant classes quae se credunt superae.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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