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Questions about classics

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Questions about classics

Postby Nooj » Sat May 23, 2009 4:21 am

Do we know the demographics of classics?

I gather that many millions can still translate a basic sentence like 'puella amat puerum' from their school days. How many people do you think can read a paragraph in Latin or so, w/o a dictionary? How many people can still speak it? Similarly for Greek, although I think the chances are that more people take Greek now than Latin for religious reasons.

A second question, this time about Sanskrit. The Oxford introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European worldputs it that:
Sanskrit literature was by no means confined to religious matters but also included an enormous literary output, including drama, scientific treatises, and other works such that the volume of Sanskrit documents probably exceeds that of ancient Greece and Rome combined.

How accurate is this statement? And which has the larger corpus, Greek or Latin?
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Re: Questions about classics

Postby Nooj » Sun May 31, 2009 5:12 pm

About the last question, I found this:
I’ve seen a figure of 1.4 million Sanskrit manuscripts currently in existence. For Classical Greek and Latin combined, there are 30,000 manuscripts.


It's a stunning amount of work, makes me regret not taking Sanskrit as well.
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Re: Questions about classics

Postby Lucus Eques » Sun May 31, 2009 11:55 pm

I wish I knew the answers to these questions!

Of Latin speakers, I have heard that there about approximately one hundred thousand — but that is hearsay.

I also believe, with greater certainly, that of Greek writings there is a much greater richness in litterature (at least in quantity) than of the ancient Romans — but in the 1500 years that have gone by since the fall of Rome, I suspect much more has been written in Latin than in Greek, and that Latin, in the end, wins out.
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Re: Questions about classics

Postby thesaurus » Mon Jun 01, 2009 1:47 am

From Wikipedia:
With about one hundred thousand verses, long prose passages, and about 1.8 million words in total, the Mahābhārata is one of the longest epic poems in the world.[4] It is roughly ten times the length of the Iliad and Odyssey combined,[5] roughly five times longer than Dante's Divine Comedy, and about four times the length of the Ramayana. Including the Harivaṃśa, the Mahabharata has a total length of more than 90,000 verses.


A random example, but based on the ratio I don't think it would be ridiculous to assume that Sanskrit literature could vastly outweigh the Greek and Latin.

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Re: Questions about classics

Postby annis » Mon Jun 01, 2009 2:08 am

Nooj wrote:About the last question, I found this:
I’ve seen a figure of 1.4 million Sanskrit manuscripts currently in existence. For Classical Greek and Latin combined, there are 30,000 manuscripts.


Erm.

Is counting manuscripts the best way to do this? I myself own a Sanskrit manuscript — of the Vedas. The number of different texts seems a more interesting measure.

I feel confident saying Sanskrit titles outweigh Greek and Latin titles by at least an order of mangnitude, but not two. Years ago I worked as a student at a center that wanted to participate in something like the TLG for Sanskrit. Everyone was freaked out thinking about how to store so many more texts.
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