Jacobus wrote:Although I acknowledge the definition in your book as the accepted one, that doesn't mean we can't think otherwise, I don't think.
Quite true. Questioning accepted definitions is done all the time, and is perfectly healthy. I understand that we are now back down to eight planets, because the astronomers decided to finally get around to rigorously defining what a "planet" is, and Pluto didn't pass muster.
Lex wrote:It doesn't list language mutation (e.g. Latin mutating into French) as a reason for language death; perhaps they don't consider that the language is dead, but alive in a radically different form?
As I understand it, by the definition in your book above, they would not consider Latin dead so much as radically changed. Do you agree with the book's definition, or the one you put forward a few posts back, that Latin is indeed dead?
I would say that Latin is dead, whether that book's authors agree or not. Wikipedia agrees with me, for whatever that's worth.
Jacobus wrote:Again, I'm just interested in your opinion, I do not mean to challenge you in a condescending manner.
You're not being condescending at all. I hope I wasn't being condescending, especially with my jibe about really
dead languages. It was just a (very) small attempt at humor, and an attempt to keep an intelligent thread going so I would have something to do today (it's been a slow day). However, since that post, I have noticed that Wikipedia does
make a distinction between dead and extinct languages, which is pretty much the same as your dead and really dead languages.
Jacobus wrote:Ultimately what I'm asking is, can we become truely fluent in a language such as Latin? In a language such as Sumerian, I would say certainly not. But that's my opinion, with my own definitions of terms, whether they are accurate to any degree or not.
I don't know enough about Sumerian to say. If there is no real way to learn what its grammar was for sure, then no.
But with respect to Latin or ancient Greek, by my standard of what constitutes fluency in a dead language, being able to think in it, yes, I think it is possible to become fluent. We have a large corpus of extant texts, from which we have learned the grammars quite well, we have large vocabularies, and have a fairly good idea how they were pronounced, so I'd say thinking in them is certainly possible. But I'm not bothered by a double standard definition of fluency. I think that dead languages are different than live ones, and there is no use holding dead languages up to the standard of live ones. But that's just me.
By your standard, which also includes oral proficiency such that you could be taken for a native speaker by an ancient native speaker (if any existed), I guess that would depend on how well we truly understand the original pronunciation?
I, Lex Llama, super genius, will one day rule this planet! And then you'll rue the day you messed with me, you damned dirty apes!