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What would be the best name for chess in Latin?

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Postby Lucus Eques » Wed Aug 08, 2007 1:55 am

Proditor. ;-)

Any thoughts on the pronunciation of Amadeus thread? Or the speaking velocity one? I'd be interested in your opinion.
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Postby ksgarvin » Fri Aug 10, 2007 2:20 pm

Don't forget that one of the Latin words for a tasty pastery, modern and ancient, is placenta


Ugh. I'm going on a diet. :?
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Postby Lucus Eques » Sat Aug 11, 2007 2:04 am

Yeah, it would seem the medical term came from the word for the cream filled pastery of yore. Clinical termonology is ironically vulgar.
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Postby Tertius Robertus » Sat Aug 11, 2007 1:35 pm

Aye, Roberte, modern Latin, such I use to communicate with others on a daily basis, by means of my blog or the Colloquia fora, exempli gratia. As you know, Latin has a tradition going back two and a half thousand years, and the model for modern Latin is the classical Latin of Cicero — just as modern Hebrew is modelled after classical Biblical Hebrew, and modern Italian is based on the classical Italian of Petrarch and Dante.


ha! i see it now.
I find it absurd that Cicero remains a model for this day, and that usually is due to a faulty comprehension of all Latin prose. How many budding classicists are thoroughly well-read in the Classics prose? There were even marked differences between Quintilian, the defender of Cicero, and Cicero himself.


what is the problem with cicerone?
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Postby Lucus Eques » Sat Aug 11, 2007 3:21 pm

Just as there are marked differences between Shakespeare and modern English — in fact far more in English, which has changed so much so quickly — yet Shakespeare remains our model. Vergil had a similar impact.
Last edited by Lucus Eques on Sun Aug 12, 2007 4:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Tertius Robertus » Sat Aug 11, 2007 8:30 pm

optime, luci, salvus sis
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Postby Chris Weimer » Sun Aug 12, 2007 5:32 pm

Lucus Eques wrote:Just as there are marked differences between Shakespeare and modern English — in fact far more in English, which has changed so much so quickly — yet Shakespeare remains our model. Vergil had a similar impact.


Shakespeare isn't our "model". Although we do in fact borrow much from his works. Our model was already defined before Shakespeare wrote a single line.

Behold, a poem before Shakespeare was even born:

Behold love, thy power how she dispiseth :
My great payne, how litle she regardeth
The holy oth, wherof she taketh no cure
Broken she hath : and yet she bideth sure
Right at her ease, and litle she dredeth.

Wepened thou art, and she unarmed sitteth
To the disdaynfull her liff she ledeth :
To me spitefull without cause or mesur.
Behold love.

I ame in hold : if pitie the meveth,
Goo bend thy bowe, that stony hertes breketh,
And with some stroke revenge the displeasur
Of the and him, that sorrowe doeth endur,
And as his lorde the lowly entreateth.
Behold love.
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Postby Lucus Eques » Sun Aug 12, 2007 8:24 pm

I'm not really sure what you're trying to demonstrate here. That English existed before Shakespeare? As did Latin before Cicero. Exemplar est exemplar.
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Postby Chris Weimer » Tue Aug 14, 2007 5:13 am

But your claim is that we should emulate Cicero's Latin. This really only became en vogue after the advocacy of Quintilian over a hundred years later. I wrote a paper on the very subject not too long ago.

Perhaps you meant to say that we should advocate the Latin prominent at the end of the Republic? Cicero is merely a part of the movement, albeit one of the earliest types, and his being a prolific writer made him popular. The crowds were cheering for Hortensius before Cicero and Caesar during Cicero.

Actually, Caesar in my opinion is a nice read, as is even Sallust. Celsus is very smooth and readable. Catullus is a poet par excellence, but I guess we're restricting it to prose - not really sure here. But I don't think that Cicero can claim to be the exemplar Linguae Latinae. I don't think there is one. Certainly he has attracted the praise of most Neo-Latinists of the Renaissance, but there were some who disagreed, and many in real Neo-Latin circles actually opt for Plautine speech for their oral, everyday Latin, and a good thorough mix of the ancients even to the point of it being authentically theirs, for their prose.

You see, when all you do is imitate the Classics, you've become stagnant, unable to achieve anything of worth of your own. I know many of the 19th century Latin composition books actually make fun at inept students who can only parrot Cicero and Caesar. A good Latinist can weave his own tapestry.
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Postby Lucus Eques » Tue Aug 14, 2007 9:58 am

Well, I won't say that you wasted your words, Chris, although I do agree with you completely, you can imagine. I merely did not understand your argument until you made it clear. And yes indeed, I meant not only the exemplar of Cicero but also his contemporaries, and even Vergil many years after his death.

In my original assertions, I meant to convey the attitude of the modern Latin community, which does seek to model its Latin, at least fundamentally, after Cicero. But that community, just as I myself, will never shun Mediæval or Rennaiscence or contemporary Latin — and how can we? when we are inherently a part of that growing and contemporary tradition?

I'd like to see that paper.
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Postby Chris Weimer » Tue Aug 14, 2007 10:25 am

You might see the paper if and when it gets published. It was written for a class, and so needs revision to make it publishable.
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Postby Gonzalo » Tue Aug 14, 2007 10:50 am

Related to a topic of which you are discussing, there is a writing of a famous Spaniard scholar, whose name is Francisco Sánchez de las Brozas (1522-1600). I copy it below in order to make you know it. The author was a great polemist and Grammarian (he also influenced the Port Royal Grammar) in his times as a teacher of Rhetoric (1573), and Greek (at 1576 got his Chair) in Salamanca.

QUI LATINE GARRIUNT
CORRUMPUNT IPSAM LATINITATEM


Lectori salutem. Ultimum posuimus ad linguam latinam praecipuum documentum, quia magna uulnera debent arte atque dolo bono tractari. Timui enim, ne, si hoc remedium in libri fronte proponeretur, omnes medicinam, licet saluberrimam, auersarentur. Quis enim est, non dico in Hispania, sed etiam in tota Europa -quatuor aut sex doctos excipio- qui non et sentiat et praecipiat uerbis latinis exercendam linguam, ut prompte et celeriter possis, quae male cogitaueris, expromere? Quis porro ludi magister grammaticus non subinde pueris crepat -honor sit auribus doctorum- "Vel male uel bene, loquere cum Marco"? Tanta est stultorum hominum ignorantia, peruersitas et pertinacia. At ego, apud quem pluris est rectae rationis pondus quam multorum praescriptum, assero nihil pestilentius posse iuueni linguae latinae cupido euenire quam aut uerbis latinis effutire cogitata, aut loquentium profluentiae interesse. Quicumque enim aliquando peritiam linguae latinae est assequutus, Petrum Bembum dico, aut Osorium, aut nostrum Pincianum, non loquendo, sed scribendo, meditando et imitatione id sunt assecuti. Hortor igitur sacri uerbi concionatores -quando polite et apposite de suggesto loqui non ultima laus est- ut etiam hispane loquentium coetus fugiant; quam paucissima loquantur ipsi; patianturque uel mutos et elingues in confabulationibus appellitari, dum ex scripto et meditato doctorum hominum aures ducant in admirationem. Non discimus hebraea uel graeca, ut loquamur, sed ut docti efficiamur. Quur igitur in latinis non idem efficiemus, quandoquidem iam nulla natio est, quae latine aut graece loquatur? Stylus exercendus est diligenter; hic enim, ut Marcus Tullius ait, est egregius dicendi magister; hic uere nos docebit communi sensu illos carere, qui linguam latinam in plateis, aut etiam in gymnasiis, miris modis conantur dilacerare. Vale.

Obiectio prima.

Usus et experientia dominantur in artibus, nec ulla est disciplina, in qua non peccando discatur; nam ubi quid perperam administratum cesserit improspere, uitatur quod fefellerat, illuminatque rectam uiam docentis magisterium. Haec Columella, lib. 1 cap. 1.

Responsio. Vere et sapienter Columella, si de artibus loquaris; sed latine loqui nulla est ars; hoc enim obseruatione rerum innumerabilium constat: Grammatica, musica, rhetorica et similes errando addiscuntur; sed, ut inquit Fabius, lib. 1 cap. 6, aliud est latine loqui, aliud grammatice loqui. Quasi dicas Libris opus habeo, adhibeo tibi fidem, crimen laesae maiestatis, ille tenetur hoc facere, ego amo Deum, grammatice quidem dicas, latine non dicas. Nec enim satis est latinas quaerere dictiones; delectus adhibendus est in uerborum coniunctione, quem isti locutuleii miris modis dilacerant. Non enim quicquid latinum est, statim latine dicetur: Habere orationem dicimus, non facere; uerba facere, non agere; agere gratias, non facere; fer opem dicimus, da opem non dicimus; dare uerba usitatum est, tradere seu praebere uerba inauditum. Quid dicam de illis, qui sibi docti uidentur et passim habentur? Quidam enim ex illis scripsit: Vigilant milites in monte, pro speculantur de monte; tentat frangere aciem, pro conatur aciem perrumpere; dimisit suos milites, pro dimisit copias seu exercitum; impediuit commeatum, pro interclusit; uictu carebat Caesar, pro re frumentaria; duxit uineas, pro egit; primi in consilio, pro consilii principes; reportarunt praedas, pero egerunt; milites monuit, pro hortatus est; signum fecit, pro signum dedit; renouauit proelium, pro restituit aut redintegrauit; aciem ordinauit, pro instruxit; redierunt milites, pro receperunt se; misit ad succurrendum, pro misit subsidio; fecerunt uim, pro impetum fecerunt; magnis uiis contendit, pro magnis itineribus; perdidit opportunitatem, pro amisit occasionem. Sic itaque loquuntur qui linguam, non stylum exercent.

Obiectio secunda.

Propter crebras in uariis disciplinis disputationes latino sermone assidue loquendum.

Responsio. Serias et graues disputationes literis, non uentis, debere mandari quis est qui ignoret, nisi clamosus disputator aut cerebrosus uociferator? An ideo semper assuescendum est loquelae, ut postea dicamus noleitas, uoleitas, et per modum praeteritionis, dico quod, et nota quod Pappa habet aures? Quod sit talis urgeat necessitas, qui latine scripserit, blaterones superauit.

Obiectio tertia.

Si quis linguam gallicam assequi studeat, optime illam cum gallis loquendo comparabit.

Responsio. Dissimile admodum est linguarum aliquam cum latina, quae iam nulla est, comparare. Si ulla esset natio quae pure latine loqueretur, non dubito quin apud illos latina facilitas loquendi perdisceretur. Sed nunc soli sunt libri ad quos recurrendum est, si pure latine scribere uelimus. Idem esto iudicium de graeca uel hebraea lingua, quas non ut loquamur, sed ut intelligamus addiscimus.

Obiectio quarta.


Non desinunt isti onocrotali subinde obiiciere seu uerius abgannire: moris esse ut infantes paruuli papas, mamas, taytas balbutiant, qui tamen postea in melius corrigantur.

Responsio. Nemo sanae mentis tale consilium probabit, ut ineptae nutrices doceant, quae postea sint dedocenda. Ego certe, qui plurimos liberos sustuli, nunquam id sum passus, qui Quintiliano auctore didicerim, non assuescendum puerum sermoni, qui dediscendus sit. Quid quod optima eodem labore aut fortasse facilius edocentur.

Obiectio quinta.

Si latine loqui non esset laudabile, non ita passim ab omnibus commedaretur. Et omnes Academiae legibus sanxerunt, ut et latine legatur et disputetur.

Responsio. Quasi uero quidquam tam sit ualde, quam nihil sapere, uulgare, ut praeclare 2 de diuin. scripsit Cicero. Sed quoniam tu mihi stultorum turbam obiicis qui latine loquentes colunt et admirantur, ego tibi contra doctissimorum iudicium et consensum opponam, qui huiusmodi pestem siue loquentiam auersantur. Expende diligenter cap. 84 Suetonii in Augusto. Cicero, lib. 1 De orat., de exercitatione agens, sic inquit: Sed plerique in hoc uocem modo, neque eam scienter, et uires exercent suas, et linguae celeritatem incitant uerborumque frequentia delectantur. In quo fallit eos quod audierunt dicendo, homines ut dicant, efficere solere. Vere enim etiam illud dicitur: peruerse dicere homines peruerse dicendo facillime consequi. Et statim: Caput autem est quod, ut uere dicam, minime facimus -est enim magni laboris, quem plerique fugimus- quam plurimum scribere. Stylus optimus et praestantissimus dicendi effector ac magister. Quintilianus, lib. 1 cap. 1: Ante omnia ne sit uitiosus sermo nutricibus: has primum audiet puer harum uerba fingere imitando conabitur; et natura tenacissimi sumus eorum quae rudibus annis percipimus, ut sapor, quo noua imbuimus, durat, neque lanarum colores, quibus ille simplex candor mutatus est, elui possunt. Et haec ipsa magis pertinaciter haerent, quae deteriora sunt, nam bona facile mutantur in peius: nunc quando in bonum uerteris uitia? Non assuescat ergo, ne dum infans quidem est, sermoni cui didiscendus sit. Erasmus, lib. 8 Apophtheg. sic ait: Pollio dicebat: "Commode agendo factum est ut saepe agerem, sed saepe agendo factum est ut minus commode, quia scilicet assiduitate nimia facilitas magis quam facultas, nec fiducia sed temeritas paratur: quod accurate factum uelimus, raro faciendum est". Hac ratione duci uidentur Itali quidam eruditi, qui licet pulchre calleant latine, tamen uix unquam adduci possunt ut in familiari congressu latine loquantur. At quando compellit necessitas, dicunt exacte, quasi de scripto. Noui Venetiae Bernardum Ocricularium, ciuem florentinum, cuius historias si legisses, dixisses alterum Sallustium, aut certe Sallustii temporibus scriptas; nunquam tamen ab homine impetrare licuit, ut mecum latine loqueretur; subinde interpellabam: "Surdo loqueris, uir praeclare; uulgaris linguae uestratis tam sum ignarus quam Indicae". Verbum latinum nunquam quiui ab eo extundere. Haec Erasmus. Budaeus, in Comment. linguae graecae, reprehendens Vallam circa reciprocorum usum, sic ait: Id autem Laurentio non alias accidit quam ex praua loquentium consuetudine, quibus aut legendis aut audiendis inuiti erroris contagionem contrahimus; simul ex sermone extemporali et neglecto, cui inter familiares assuescimus, praesertim purae latinitatis ignaros; qua noxa fit interdum ut quaedam imprudentibus excidant: id quod aliquando experti sumus in autographis, ita ut flagitiosae culpae nos perpuderet. Cornelius Valerius in fine suae Syntaxeos: Hanc proprietatem in uerborum coniunctione qui non obseruat nec delectum habet ullum, is barbarica phrasi omnem peruertit latinitatem. Quod iis fere solet accidere qui linguam latinam ad idioma uernaculum detorquent. Ioachimus Fortius, in libello De ratione studii, cap. de scribendo: Nam fere fit, ut qui loquuntur accurate, minus erudite scribant; dum enim rerum illarum uoluptate afficiuntur, imperfectiores oportet sint in altero. Nemo pari cura res duas unquam tractauerit; et infra: Quo pacto id genus homines, qui tanto plausu in tanta nugatorum corona nugari possunt, accurate quicquam scripserint? Certe neminem nunquam uidi, nisi me memoria fallat, docte scribentem, cui ualde in promptu fuit colloquendi disserendique ratio; et infra: Famam puerilem aspernemur, uulgo inertes uideamur. Ex Bartholomaeo Riccio, lib. 3 De imitatione Ciceronis, in calce: Non soleo ego -ne hoc quoque omittam- meum discipulum cogere, ut fit plerunque in scholis, quicquid ei dicendum usu ueniat, latine ut id proferre conetur. Utrum enim plus commodi an damni ad latinam elegantiam, quam nos quaerimus, hoc afferat studium, non plane satis habeo comprobatum; et paulo inferius: Huc accedit quod infanti puero, dum ea quae uult et ex tempore atque subito proferre laborat, multis partibus ea plura excidant, quae inepte, quae incondite atque incomposite, quae denique nullius dignitatis sint, quamque uix tolerabilia sint necesse est. Ita fit, ut dum locutionis studeant celeritati, orationis ornatum omnem atque dignitatem corrumpant. Quoniam autem quod in quotidiano sermone positum est, nihil admodum latinae orationi prodesse uidetur ad eam dignitatem, quae eius linguae mere germana est, ac omnino ea nobis aliqua exercitatione atque artificio comparanda atque confirmanda est, equidem id diligentiae ab uno stylo, qui dicendi magister et opifex est optimus, petendum esse censeo.

Obiectio sexta.

Propter uaria inter gentes commercia aut ut cum externis hominibus colloquamur, non solum utile, sed necessarium aliquando est latine loqui.

Responsio. Ego latinam linguam non damno, stylum ueneror et amplector, in quo qui probe fuerit exercitatus, si necessitas ingruat, repente dicet: Da mihi panem, uel aliud obsonium. Multis in locis Cicero commendat stylum, et ad Gallum, lib. 7, sic scribit: Urge igitur nec transuersum, quod aiunt, a stylo; is enim dicendi opifex. Ego uero cum doctissimis, neminem excipio, uiris teneo nulla aut aetate aut tempore latina lingua, nisi praemeditate, esse loquendum.

(Franciscus Sanctius Brocensis: Qui latine garriunt corrumpunt ipsam latinitatem, edited by University of Extremadura,1995)
(His complete works: http://books.google.com/books?id=6glzhi ... s&as_brr=1 )
Verus enim amor semper tempore tristi elucescit magis. (Philipp Melanchthon: Decl. de studiis Linguæ Græcæ)
Quin age, si quid habes (P. Vergilii Maronis Ecloga III:52)
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Postby Lucus Eques » Tue Aug 14, 2007 1:55 pm

Muchas gracias, Gonzalo, para esto mirable texto.

I've only read through his exordium, but I am already compelled to comment.

Non discimus hebraea uel graeca, ut loquamur, sed ut docti efficiamur. Quur igitur in latinis non idem efficiemus, quandoquidem iam nulla natio est, quae latine aut graece loquatur?


It is because of fools like Señor Sánchez de las Brozas that spoken Latin came to suffer so very much in the centuries that followed. Only in the past few decades has the Latin speaking world begun to recover from this misplaced elitism and snobbery.

It is fortunate for the Jews and for all the world's heritage that the Israelis ignored notions, such as Señor Sánchez declares, that Hebrew was naught but a dead language. It certainly lives today.

I understand his position, of course: at the time, students and others might butcher their Latin when first learning, or perhaps they were already through school and hadn't learned any better. Sánchez insists then that it be better not to speak Latin at all. I shall criticize him, however: care Francisce, quam ob rem hos discipulos hominesque alios non docebas igitur melius uti loquerentur? Quid juvat silere, cum verba ipsa reverenda Ciceronia tu ipse aliique magistri effari potuissent? Exemplar tu esto! si recte erudire ac ducere vis.

Speaking Latin, and speaking it properly, is essential, absolutely essential, to learning the language rightly. This goes for all languages.
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Postby Lucus Eques » Tue Aug 14, 2007 2:33 pm

Now, I can understand Dante being as ignorant as he was†, since he lived and died before the Classical Revival of the Renaissance and the rescue of enormous corpora of Latin and Greek litterature from the darkness of history. And moreover, he believed that in the times of Vergil, as in his own times, Latin was just an artificial tongue that was rarely spoken and only written, while Vergil, he thought, would in fact have spoken Italian! (or Mantuan, to be precise).

Like I said, Dante's ignorance I understand. But this caudex? Unconscionable.

Vere et sapienter Columella, si de artibus loquaris; sed latine loqui nulla est ars


Awful.

Sic itaque loquuntur qui linguam, non stylum exercent.


His elitism and foolishness here is just shocking. In the above, he condemns the ad hoc usage of Latin and coinage of new phrases, where older ones already exsist. This is nonsensical. Having synonyms, and synonymical phrases, strengthens a language, enriches it. This is why English is so extraordinary and powerful a language, full of variety and possibilities, from the sublime to the profane. To insist on such limitation, such incarceration and restriction, is the closest thing philologically to evil.

Serias et graues disputationes literis, non uentis, debere mandari quis est qui ignoret, nisi clamosus disputator aut cerebrosus uociferator?


Wow. Too bad Sánchez wasn't around to tell this to his buddy Cicero, who swayed the minds of hundreds and the lives of millions by the power of his spoken voice.

_____
† For Dante sought to usurp Latin as the universal language in favor of the native tongue of any person, making way for Italian to take root as a litterary language. Vide "De Vulgari Eloquentia" : http://www.fh-augsburg.de/~harsch/Chron ... _v101.html
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Postby Gonzalo » Tue Aug 14, 2007 3:45 pm

Speaking Latin, and speaking it properly, is essential, absolutely essential, to learning the language rightly. This goes for all languages.

Hi,
Nice to read your Intelligence here,

What he wanted to say is that one who have not direct contact or trade towards/with native people who speak that Language (ex. gr., Latin), (s)he would not be qualificated to speak it properly.
Sed nunc soli sunt libri ad quos recurrendum est, si pure latine scribere uelimus. (Rensponsio ad objectionem quartam.)
Because we have only the references in Romance languages (such as French, Italian or Spanish -pronunciation) and the texts which were conserved from the Antiquity to our present times, we are not able, ex. gratia, to chat with one another in a proper (real, I mean) Latin; but we can do it, for instance, in English, Hebrew, etc. It is only what he writes, and he also says that he wanted to see a man who wrote a History in a good Latin speaking it.
Then, what resumes the content of this discourse is as follows:
Ita fit, ut dum locutionis studeant celeritati, orationis ornatum omnem atque dignitatem corrumpant. (Responsio ad objectionem quintam)
And he is not saying we shouldn´t talk or practise spoken Latin, he insists on the neccesity of knowing perfectly how to write it, before speaking it. If we did it, it would be like the idioms invented by Scientific Fiction series. Vide: Noui Venetiae Bernardum Ocricularium, ciuem florentinum, cuius historias si legisses, dixisses alterum Sallustium, aut certe Sallustii temporibus scriptas; nunquam tamen ab homine impetrare licuit, ut mecum latine loqueretur; subinde interpellabam: "Surdo loqueris, uir praeclare; uulgaris linguae uestratis tam sum ignarus quam Indicae".


Against the work of the Culteranism, Francisco de Quevedo y Villegas did a composition, which was called "Recipe to compose Solitudes" (pay attention to the word recipe). When the great Quevedo wrote this, there were a lot of people who imitated a certain style of Poetry (but a lot of them did it badly: See Francisco Antonio Bances Candamo) only cultivated with success by certain poets (Juan Bermúdez Alfaro, Pellicer de Ossau, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Fr. Hortensio Félix de Paravicino y Arteaga, Francisco de Trillo y Figueroa, etc., but specially by Antonio de Paredes and Don Luis de Góngora y Argote)
It could be a simile with what we are dealing:

"Recipe to compose Solitudes" (excerpt)

All Castile already,
with only this breviary,
is burnt by Babylonian poets,
writing confused sonnets;
and in the Blemish(*), shepherds and clumsies,
full their bellies of garlics,
like crumbs (**), make Cultities.

[Que ya toda Castilla,
con sola esta cartilla,
se abrasa de poetas babilones,
escribiendo sonetos confusiones;
y en la Mancha, pastores y gañanes,
atestadas de ajos las barrigas,
hacen ya cultedades como migas.
Fco. de Quevedo y Villegas; Poetic works, edited by J. M. Blecua, 1969]

(*)I translate La Mancha like Blemish because of its symbolical significance. I have also taken other liberties in my translation. Excuse my embarrasing English.
(**)Crumbs and garlics is a typical Castillian dish.

P.S.: Don´t you think, oh friend, that if we spoke Latin as if it were our own language it wouldn´t evolve into other Language with the overcoming of the time?
Verus enim amor semper tempore tristi elucescit magis. (Philipp Melanchthon: Decl. de studiis Linguæ Græcæ)
Quin age, si quid habes (P. Vergilii Maronis Ecloga III:52)
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Postby Lucus Eques » Tue Aug 14, 2007 6:26 pm

I appreciate your comments, Gonzalo, and in particular the poetic excerpts. Maximas gratias tibi.

You restated Sánchez' assertion, that no one without contact with native speakers of Latin could properly know or speak Latin, ever.

I have heard this argument many times. Although it does seem logical, history proves it to be ironic.

Let's start with a rhetorical question: how many Roman authors were actually Roman?

Well, let's start at the beginning. Ennius, the father, so called, of Roman and Latin litterature, was Greek. Plautus was from Umbria. Cato the Elder was a Sabine. Terence was Greek or Carthaginian, having come to Rome as a slave. Varro the poet was from Gaul. Cicero is one of the few famous writers actually born in Latium, in Arpinum.

Sallust was a Sabine.
Catullus was home in fair Verona.
Vergil was Mantuan.
Horace was Lucanian.
Livy was Paduan.
Ovid was from Salmona, in Abruzzo.
Seneca wasn't even Italian — he was Spanish!

Again and again and again, we see that the greatest Roman writers were not Roman at all. With only one exception: Julius Caesar. He alone was born and lived his life in Rome.

Most of the above authors, and other multiple authors and even emperors in the centuries that followed, did not grow up speaking Latin. They learned it as a second language. And then they became masters of that language, by speaking it with others, however rudely at first, at length crafting the language better than almost any Roman, or even any Latin.

And this tradition has been maintained throughout history. Erasmus, Newton, Galileo — there are countless greats in post Classical Latin litterature who certianly learned Latin after they acquired their native tongues. Therefore, to learn Latin today, we must all do so as foreigners. But this makes us no different from Seneca, Vergil, Ovid, or Ennius.

So our magister Sánchez is not only incorrect, but a hypocrite. ;)

I will agree with him, that it is imperative to read and write as much as possible, but these are always secondary to speaking.

As for chatting in Latin, was the vulgar Latin of the plebs in the Subura more Latin than the Latin spoken among Spaniards like Marcus Aurelius who only learned it later in life?

The most important part of Roman history was that you didn't have to be from Roman to be truly Roman. This goes for us in the modern day as well. I know and speak real Latin, as much as Seneca or Ovid or the pleb from Campus Martius. Did they have more experience? Certainly. More perhaps than I ever will. But my Latin is real — for it is theirs.

Excuse my embarrasing English.


Actually, Gonzalo, you bring up a good point. Your English, for one, is not embarrassing; it is very good and almost faultless. I would like to emphasize that your English is real, although you are not a native speaker. That puts you in good company with Trajan, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius. :)

P.S.: Don´t you think, oh friend, that if we spoke Latin as if it were our own language it wouldn´t evolve into other Language with the overcoming of the time?


You bring up a good point. It is a widely held belief that all languages will evolve and change over time. This is a myth. A language does not inherently change on its own. It only changes when there are speakers of the language that do not know it well, and are imitated. Rome had no formal education system, so the lower classes (who were increasingly populated by foreigners, freed slaves, and others who were not fluent) did not acquire much access to Classical Latin. Hence the evolution of Italian, Spanish, French, and others. When there is education, however, a language becomes standardized and, for the most part, frozen. It may bend and grow some, but it will remain the same language. This is why English experienced such a various and changing history, and was very unstable until formal education was instituted in Britain and in America — since this institution, English has, for the most part, remained unchanged. And it will not change for as long as English speakers are properly trained in their tongue.
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Postby Gonzalo » Tue Aug 14, 2007 6:47 pm

but a hippocrate
No! Hippocratic, he was a doctor who wanted to stamp out the feign things of this world.

You forget Marcus Fabius Quintilianus... yes, but the question is that they had Latin with a living reference.
You talk about Erasmus. I have this for you: http://big.chez.com/asklepios/erasmus/p ... atione.htm

I let you this link to Dialogus de recta latinae linguae pronuntiatione by Justus Lipsius: http://www.sflt.ucl.ac.be/files/AClassF ... _07-09.txt

Two great scholars. Personally, I prefer Brocensis&Lipsius´ Neostoicism.
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Postby annis » Tue Aug 14, 2007 9:49 pm

Lucus Eques wrote:It is a widely held belief that all languages will evolve and change over time. This is a myth. A language does not inherently change on its own. It only changes when there are speakers of the language that do not know it well, and are imitated.


On what authority do you make this astonishing claim? If there is one thing we can say absolutely applies to all human languages, it is that they change over time. Not a single one has ever escaped.

What slows this process is the widespread access to and distribution of technologies to store language, by which I include not only the computers we're all sitting in front of, radio and television, but also literacy and affordable books. Widespread literacy has the most to do with the pickled state of English.

Broadcast media is also a major force, since it promulgates a fixed variety of a given language — whatever has been declared the standard. That standard, decided by fiat, ends up on tv and radio and flattens the regional dialects over time. This has less to do with "proper training" (active) than constant exposure (passive). Cairene Arabic is widely understood (and even produced) all over the Arab world because Egypt pumps out lots of pop music and movies, not because people are getting formal training.

My own feeling is that as long as there are reruns of American TV and it's easy to get The Simpsons on DVD (or whatever), American English will remain mostly static.
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Postby Lucus Eques » Wed Aug 15, 2007 1:54 am

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Postby Kasper » Wed Aug 15, 2007 2:14 am

But Luce, then what actually is a language? Is there a static thing called language that is changed by its (ab)users?

I could imagine an argument that language is that by which people communicate, and as their manners and their subjects of communication change, so does their mode of communication, i.e. their language.

As you say, and I agree, people and/or their circumstances are constantly changing. It then follows that language is also always changing, i.e. there is no such thing as a static, unchanging language.

What I am asking is, i guess, is it not the essential nature of language to be continuously changing, regardless of the causation of such changes? That is to say, is not change an essential part of the make-up of language?

To say it is not, I think, would otherwise - by analogy - be the same as me, as a person, saying that I don't change, but that I am merely changed by my circumstances. I could see that this would be philosophically debatable, but in practice, by whatever causation, I - my body, my thoughts, my perceptions of the world and of myself, etc. - am constantly changing. Change, or adaptation, is a part of human nature.

Similarly I would think that change or adaptation is part of the nature of language.

Would you agree with this?
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Postby annis » Wed Aug 15, 2007 2:43 am

Lucus Eques wrote:Darwinism applied to language, which you have paraphrased, is equally fraught with error. To assume, if you say a word, e.g. "cat," that I will say something quite different, like "cash," is ridiculous, of course. Why then should the word change between two people? It probably would not. Among a hundred? Unlikely. Thousands?


Open to a page of any historical linguistics text and you will see the results of entire communities shifting from "cat" to "cash."

The obvious question arises: would not someone be unfamiliar with the word? get it wrong? repete to others wrong? He might. But within an isolated community, the word's variations would flatten out, and a democratic pronunciation would dominate, shared by all, and by all the children and their children's children.


For unclear reasons, the entire community might just decide to go along. This is the very engine of language change. Unfamiliarity has little to do with it. Further, at no time ever is any language a single, unitary thing. Even small language communities have variations, perhaps not even noticeable to the native speakers, which may get selected or emphasized over time.

But if a word is changed, it is because a person has changed, not because the word changed itself.


Eh? This seems a highly platonic view of words.

Take certain islander tribes that have preserved a nearly unchanged way of life for thousands of years, their tongues equally unmoved by the passage of the stars. This is the essential null hypothesis and starting point from which our evolutionary theories may grow.


Ah. Thanks to missionary and athropological work, we know this is completely false. Languages isolated from preserving technologies change most rapidly, regardless of the lifestyle of speakers. We have plenty of aboriginal languages recorded at different times over the last few hundred years, so we can chart their change. Three generations may bring as much change as English has gone through in the last half millennium.

I highly recommend John McWhorter's The Power of Babel: a Natural History of Language which is a layman's introduction to the many ways languages change.

So let us again address Gonzalo's question: would Latin not change in the mouths of Neolatinists over time?


Here we have the preservative influence of, well, Cicero, I suppose. Normal language change rules don't apply.
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Postby modus.irrealis » Wed Aug 15, 2007 2:53 am

annis wrote:My own feeling is that as long as there are reruns of American TV and it's easy to get The Simpsons on DVD (or whatever), American English will remain mostly static.

I think it depends what you're calling American English, since in its spoken form, it doesn't seem to be all that static at the moment as there are various sounds shifts going on currently (the northern cities vowel shift e.g.), as well as other changes, and there's African American Vernacular English which doesn't seem to be converging to more standard forms. What I've read suggests that which way of speaking gains prestige (and will therefore be imitated by a larger number of people) is determined by local factors and by the speech that is spoken around you everyday, so that television and other media don't have too much of an influence on language change. Maybe English will end up like German, or way down the line like Arabic, with a standard variety (or more than one if standard British and North American English continue to diverge, as well as the other varieties) used for writing and more formal speech (formal meaning what these hypothetical future speakers will consider to be formal), but with local varieties that people use on an everyday basis for normal activities.

But about language constantly changing one of the reasons I think it does so is because language is so important in distinguishing one group from the another so there's a lot of pressure for groups of people who self-identify to speak differently from other groups, whether the difference is based on on region, class, ethnicity, race, religion, career, and so on. Sometimes its the highly educated who are innovative in language and you find conservative forms preserved among the uneducated so I'm not even sure education can hold back the change of the colloquial language (the formal, standard language is a different thing of course).
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Postby Gonzalo » Wed Aug 15, 2007 7:02 am

Lucus Eques,
Let us take any word of any idiom which has a spread use among a concret office (ex. gr., baker) at this very moment, compare it in thirty or fourty years. The word which before a time served to designate a tool, will change its name with the evolve of the technique. Isn´t it a change in language? If you talk at this moment Latin (and you know the Language) you would be able to talk it; but probably when your grandson learn by means of his parents the Latin Language, not because of his willing interest, he will change it - because he will have it like his natural (not confuse the word; I use natural in the sense of common, normal, of ownself, etc.) language.
You have said, Lucus Eques, that the idiom changes because people does not know the language. The language changes, really, because people know it and need to change it. Compare, for instance, the change in Ancient Greek when the Christian Era arose. They had need of new words for new realities, etc, and you cannot tell that they didn´t know their own language. Please, explain what you mean.
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Postby Arvid » Wed Aug 15, 2007 8:23 am

I agree completely with Annis on this. I have always seen it quoted as a truism that the smaller a population and the more isolated it was, the more rapidly its language would change. There are numerous examples of this, particularly in Polynesia and Africa, where the Bantu languages spread over a tremendous area just in the last thousand years or so.

You don't have to go that far afield from our interests, though: the Vulgar Latin of the late Empire changed into vernaculars that were recognizably Spanish, French, and so forth in no more than 400 years. Change doesn't always happen that fast, and yes, a lot of that was because of new populations moving in and learning the local language--imperfectly.

In the long run, though, all languages have to change. Why? Because no imitation is perfect. A child learns its native language by imitating its parents. The parents will correct the child until the imitation is good enough for all practical purposes, then stop. Not too many parents even in our world, let alone earlier cultures, were trained phoneticians. As soon as the child's speech is acceptable, the correction stops, and that's that. There's bound to be some slight variation, and over a number of generations, yes, cat can change to cash.

Just since I was a kid, several New England or at least Northeastern features have begun to spread throughout the country: pronouncing "awe" the same as "ah," the loss of the aspirated "w" so words like "wine" and "whine" fall together, the loss of the palatal on-glide between a dental and "u" so that "tune" is pronounced "toon"...and so forth. Sometimes it makes me grit my teeth, I admit, and once I was seriously embarrassed when I was told to expect someone named "Don" as I heard it, and a woman named Dawn showed up; but what are you going to do? Change is inevitable.

Grammatical changes can happen even more quickly. An incorrect analysis on a child's part of a grammatical construction or the workings of "folk etymology" can change things rapidly. If a child assumes the end of the word "pease" is a plural ending, a false singular "pea" can be formed at one go.

The "Darwinian" view of language change is wrong only because it fossilizes an obsolete popular view of evolution. Languages change gradually with time, but species don't. They come into being, almost always in a small peripheral population where rapid change is possible, remain unchanged for as long as they last, and then become extinct. Some are so perfectly adapted to their niche that they remain unchanged for enormous periods of time; your "living fossils." Others come and go much more rapidly; and of course if a trillion-tonne rock hits at 30,000 meters per second, all bets are off!
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Postby Lucus Eques » Wed Aug 15, 2007 1:07 pm

Ave, Kasper! Nice to see you here.

Kasper wrote:But Luce, then what actually is a language? Is there a static thing called language that is changed by its (ab)users?

I could imagine an argument that language is that by which people communicate, and as their manners and their subjects of communication change, so does their mode of communication, i.e. their language.


I appreciate that argument. Then, I will ask, what is Ancient Greek? If we went by the argument, that a language is irrevocabuly tied to its speakers, then how is it Ancient Greek still exsists? Modern Greeks don't speak Ancient Greek, so therefore the language Ancient Greek should not exsist.

Yet it does.

As you say, and I agree, people and/or their circumstances are constantly changing. It then follows that language is also always changing, i.e. there is no such thing as a static, unchanging language.


Just as there is no such thing as a perfect circle. But you still believe there are 360° in a circle, even though no earthly circle has such a measure. You and I believe that a circle's circumference is determined by π, even though we cannot calculate π with absolute precision, nor therefore find the exact circumference of anything. We still say that parallel lines are those that never touch and stretch out into infinity, although no such lines exsist anywhere.

Let us narrowly define the Latin of Cicero as its own language, extremely close to many other forms of Latin. Still, this Latin has remained absolutely unchanged for two thousand years. Why? Because we have chosen to limit ourselves to the many writings of Cicero (not verbatim, but restructured as necessary) as our only means of communication. And if we adhere tightly to those writings, then Ciceronian will become again alive, yet remain unchanged. Until we choose to define Ciceronian by new vocabulary or other innovations.

So languages are greatly similar to biological species: some evolve into others (Italian from Latin), but some can survive alongside the new species (Latin beside Italian), while still others can go quite exstinct, and all we have are their fossilized remains (Ancient Egyptian).

What I am asking is, i guess, is it not the essential nature of language to be continuously changing, regardless of the causation of such changes? That is to say, is not change an essential part of the make-up of language?


Absolutely not.

To say it is not, I think, would otherwise - by analogy - be the same as me, as a person, saying that I don't change, but that I am merely changed by my circumstances. I could see that this would be philosophically debatable, but in practice, by whatever causation, I - my body, my thoughts, my perceptions of the world and of myself, etc. - am constantly changing. Change, or adaptation, is a part of human nature.


You certainly do change! As do all individuals. But if a whole society is isolated, once all the imbalanced charges, if I may make an electrical metaphor, are neutralized and there ceases to be anything new of significance entering the society, then the society will remain unchanged. And so will the language.

Is this rare? Of course. But I think it is very important to understand.

Similarly I would think that change or adaptation is part of the nature of language.

Would you agree with this?


Well, let me offer another metaphor. Language is a tool, right? Let's say Latin is a Roman hammer. Over time and through the Middle Ages, hammer types changed, and German hammers influenced the style of Italian hammers, until the Florentine type hammer became very popular in all of Italy and became the Italian hammer. But all the while, some people still used the older type of hammer, the Roman one. People never stopped using the Roman hammer. Still, rather few people were using it.

Then, new carpenters come and want to learn to use the Roman hammer, how to bang it, its quirks, how to handle it. And, for the sake of tradition, and perhaps for the sake of ediying structures in the Roman way again, the Roman hammer regains popularity. Even as Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and French hammers exsist right alongside each other with the ancient hammer. When will they put down the Roman style hammer? Perhaps never. Will some types of hammers be put down over time? Maybe. That depends on those who use the hammers.
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Postby quendidil » Wed Aug 15, 2007 1:56 pm

In a book somewhere, (something about Rediscovering Homer? sorry, I forgot, but it was on Ancient Greek) this Pacific tribe, which lacked females, was mentioned. The men of this tribe went off to kidnap some females from a surrounding tribe to marry. The two tribes spoke different languages.

These men never learnt their wives' language fluently; they taught their male children their own language, meant to be used as a private hunting language. Of course, the boys also learnt their mothers' native tongue, with some loanwords. Over the next 2 generations, the male descendants gradually lost their fathers' (the invaders') language, the only language left by the 4th generation of the original kidnappers was the mother's language.

Granted, the whole example was illustrated to point out that women's language is usually more conservative than men's. (The chapter was about Homer as a female, I believe) Which was still evident recently in southern British English, where daughters were taught to speak RP (Received Pronunciation) rather than the working class dialects of their fathers. But, I think it shows that the invading language is usually not very influential on the substrate language.

Regarding the examples about the Germanic invaders learning Latin imperfectly, I think the Germanic influence is still rather minimal.
Somewhere else, (I'm sad to say I forgot the title of this book too) the author said that language changes are due mainly to sound shifts. The loss of the nasal finals -m in Latin resulted in the loss of the accusative (in speech at least); the loss of the diphthongs -ae, -oe further resulting in destruction of the declension system. I don't think education can prevent sound shifts either, native speakers themselves might find it difficult to differentiate sounds in daily speech, passing the shifted sounds down to children. Even in English, the vowels in to and two are supposed to be different, but most people won't hear the difference unless they are paying particularly close attention. In Mandarin, one of my native languages, I'm aware that I pronounce the ou diphthong like a single u; similar to the change in Attic-Ionic greek.

Sound changes can reverse rapidly and head off in another direction within a century though, I think. In the Cockney speech of the 19th century, w was pronounced like v, as in German, this particular change has long since vanished. Non-rhoticism however, also originating in lower-class English speech, was stigmatized in the 19th century, Keats, I believe was derided for not pronouncing his Rs. But by the turn of the 20th century, non-rhoticism was part of educated British speech (and several Eastern and Southern American areas).

I don't think even modern media can stop sound changes completely, Scouse is still going strong, almost forty years after the Beatles broke up; and the advent of modern television programming, in fact it's getting Scouser. Of course, a united political state, and need for widespread communication have caused dialect levelling, in the form of more standard pronunciation and a standard spelling system, but the idiom of individual vernaculars, of the colloquial language is still unique. Even in English, there is a wide range of vocabulary and grammatical difference between the two main "koine" dialects, British and American.

Of course, what do I know? I'm just 15, just read up all this for kicks.
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Postby spiphany » Wed Aug 15, 2007 2:55 pm

quendidil wrote:Granted, the whole example was illustrated to point out that women's language is usually more conservative than men's. ... But, I think it shows that the invading language is usually not very influential on the substrate language.

Okay, sometimes yes. Sometimes, no. I've been studying some of this lately; both your statements need a bit of modification. There are a lot of factors which influence why a language change and who adopts the changes. You can have, for example, a situation in which the women lead the innovation in language within a speech group because learning a higher status language (or dialect) offers them more opportunities for advancement, whereas for the men, who have more freedom in their society, this is less of a motivation.

There is also the example of the history of English, where you have several waves of invaders -- the Celts, the Romans, the Saxons, and later the Vikings and Normans. What is particularly interesting about the example is that in the case of the Celts, their language was for the most part replaced by that of the Anglo-Saxons. Yet when the Saxons themselves were invaded, they largely absorbed the language of the invaders, changing the language itself a great deal in the process. So it's hard to predict these things.

Not to pick nits -- you have some good ideas. I just wanted to provide you with a bit more information on the subject (I'm not an expert myself). I've discovered through my own experience that a lot of popular books on language don't really give you the full picture -- they often overgeneralize, and we accept the statements because on some level they fit with our experience of language, but they don't really do justice to the complexity of how a language works.
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Postby Amadeus » Wed Aug 15, 2007 3:55 pm

Salve, Luce!

Lucus Eques wrote:I appreciate that argument. Then, I will ask, what is Ancient Greek? If we went by the argument, that a language is irrevocabuly tied to its speakers, then how is it Ancient Greek still exsists? Modern Greeks don't speak Ancient Greek, so therefore the language Ancient Greek should not exsist.


Ancient Greek is a dead language. It got fossilised in parchment.

Let us narrowly define the Latin of Cicero as its own language, extremely close to many other forms of Latin. Still, this Latin has remained absolutely unchanged for two thousand years.


By your logic, my way of speaking/writing can be a language that will never change. But, as you know, language is not the property of one person, but of a whole nation, and it will live, change and die with that nation. History shows this quite well, I think. On the other hand, arbitrarily picking a language as it was spoken in a particular time and place, and set it as the "standard," does not bring it back to life. It is still dead. (Or if it was living, you just killed it by "standardizing it," because you took it out of its element.) In the case of "ciceronian Latin," it is still dead because you confine it to one person and because for Latin to be a "living language" again its speakers must be able to think in Latin (and here I mean thinking in a spontaneous manner, such that Latin becomes really part of the speaker) and be able to give new meanings to words.

So languages are greatly similar to biological species: some evolve into others (Italian from Latin), but some can survive alongside the new species (Latin beside Italian), while still others can go quite exstinct, and all we have are their fossilized remains (Ancient Egyptian).


Let's forget, for a moment, about Darwinian evolution. Let's just think of language as a living organism. Has anyone heard of a living organism that hasn't ever changed?

Kasper wrote:What I am asking is, i guess, is it not the essential nature of language to be continuously changing, regardless of the causation of such changes? That is to say, is not change an essential part of the make-up of language?


Absolutely! But here you might want to specify a bit: "is not change part of the make-up of (a living) language?

Just my two cents. :wink:
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Postby Lucus Eques » Wed Aug 15, 2007 5:43 pm

Iterum salve, amice!

Amadeus wrote:
Lucus Eques wrote:I appreciate that argument. Then, I will ask, what is Ancient Greek? If we went by the argument, that a language is irrevocabuly tied to its speakers, then how is it Ancient Greek still exsists? Modern Greeks don't speak Ancient Greek, so therefore the language Ancient Greek should not exsist.


Ancient Greek is a dead language. It got fossilised in parchment.


And what do you say to this? http://www.akwn.net/

Let us narrowly define the Latin of Cicero as its own language, extremely close to many other forms of Latin. Still, this Latin has remained absolutely unchanged for two thousand years.


By your logic, my way of speaking/writing can be a language that will never change. But, as you know, language is not the property of one person, but of a whole nation, and it will live, change and die with that nation.


Well then, Amadeus, by your logic you and I must be ancient Romans, since we speak and write Latin as they did.

You and I prove that language, although tied to a people, is not confined to it. Latin did not die with the Romans. Latin, or any language, is the property of whoever speaks it. And we say, vivat lingua Latina, and it lives.

On the other hand, arbitrarily picking a language as it was spoken in a particular time and place, and set it as the "standard," does not bring it back to life.


Yet that is precisely what we do, when we read Ørberg's Familia Romana. Or when we write to one another in Latin. And doing so is a millenia-old tradition.
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Postby bioluminescence » Thu Aug 16, 2007 12:31 pm

God, I love this forum! :)
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Postby perispomenon » Thu Aug 16, 2007 2:31 pm

Lucus Eques wrote:
Amadeus wrote:Ancient Greek is a dead language. It got fossilised in parchment.


And what do you say to this? http://www.akwn.net/


Well, I would say it's dead :D : 'this site is not going to be operative any more' is what it says...
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Postby Amadeus » Thu Aug 16, 2007 2:44 pm

Amadeus Luco s.p.d.,

Lucus Eques wrote:And what do you say to this? http://www.akwn.net/


I call it "modern people using a dead language to convey current news." :wink:

You and I prove that language, although tied to a people, is not confined to it. [...] Latin, or any language, is the property of whoever speaks it.


If that were the case, Luce, then we could change the spelling of Latin words and add new meanings to them to suit our fancy. But I'm sure most latinists would have a problem with that, because Latin cannot change anymore, it is deceased. (And that's a good thing, however, as it breaks the communication barriers in both time and space!)

And we say, vivat lingua Latina, and it lives.


Since Latin cannot change, we say it is a dead language, and speaking it does not bring it back to life anymore than reading Shakespeare or remembering a loved one brings them back. Poetically, yes, the dead continue to live in our hearts, but, strictly speaking, they are no more.

I would be more convinced, care Luce, if you could come up with a living (or modern) language that is static and unchanging. And in doing this, you cannot use Latin and Ancient Greek as proof, for that they are still "living" is what you are trying to prove.

Vale!
Lisa: Relax?! I can't relax! Nor can I yield, relent, or... Only two synonyms? Oh my God! I'm losing my perspicacity! Aaaaa!

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Postby Maximus » Thu Aug 16, 2007 2:45 pm

I think, when we are arguing about the liveliness of a language, we are really arguing about metaphers. The term "living language" <i>itself</i> makes about as much sense as "laughing stone". Only when you state, what constitues a living language, does it makes sense to even begin an argument. Because to me the meaning of the term "living language" isn't as obvious: does it denominate a language that is spoken either in written or oral form? In this case Latin is a living language. Does it denominate a language, that is spoken natively? But what seems to make such a language more alife than others? Latin is probably spoken by more people than Cimbrian (which is spoken natively by some). Yet Cimbrian is supposed to be more alife? Finally, does it denominate a language, that is constantly evolving? This is the most ironic of definitions, because if you change a language just enough, it looses its character, ceases to be what it was and "dies". You could, in this respect, call Italian or Spanish the current evolution of Latin and therefore Latin a living language. It is a matter of categorizations, the stuff dry and bottomless debates are made of.

I'm convinced, that if people ceased to use the words "living" and "dead", which are fuzzy and carry certain emotional connotations, and instead said, what they really mean, the appeal of this controvery would instantly fade away. Because the opinions and views hiding behind the sentence "Latin is a dead language." are either the aforementioned trivialities (i.e. "Latin is not a mother tongue of anyone") or the sentence is a judgement about the supposed value of the language, about its economic utility. This last position reveals the modern-day barbarian.

To sum up my point, I think metaphers like "a language is a plant" help us see things in a certain light and talk about them more easily, but they become an obstacle, if we mistake them for the "Ding-an-sich".
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Postby Amadeus » Thu Aug 16, 2007 2:48 pm

Hmmm... Interesting points, Maxime. I shall ponder them some more. :)
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Postby Lucus Eques » Thu Aug 16, 2007 3:00 pm

I'm convinced, that if people ceased to use the words "living" and "dead", which are fuzzy and carry certain emotional connotations, and instead said, what they really mean, the appeal of this controvery would instantly fade away.


I think that's absolutely brilliant. Thank you, sir, for bringing this out of the terminological muck!
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Postby Chris Weimer » Fri Aug 17, 2007 4:54 am

Lucus Eques wrote:I appreciate that argument. Then, I will ask, what is Ancient Greek? If we went by the argument, that a language is irrevocabuly tied to its speakers, then how is it Ancient Greek still exsists? Modern Greeks don't speak Ancient Greek, so therefore the language Ancient Greek should not exsist.

Ancient Greek doesn't exist as a natural language if it isn't tied to speakers. Just because it exists doesn't make it natural. All the words are chosen by those who learned the language under another language, i.e. before the language was imprinted on them, and their use of it is tied to special circumstances, not everyday thought. One of the most under-appreciated aspects of language is its imprint in our brain - whether at critical formation, or by excessive usage over time.

Let us narrowly define the Latin of Cicero as its own language, extremely close to many other forms of Latin. Still, this Latin has remained absolutely unchanged for two thousand years. Why? Because we have chosen to limit ourselves to the many writings of Cicero (not verbatim, but restructured as necessary) as our only means of communication. And if we adhere tightly to those writings, then Ciceronian will become again alive, yet remain unchanged.

Unless your entire speech is only made up of quotes from Cicero, then it's not exactly Cicero's Latin. It's your idiomatic expression modeled after another's idiomatic expression, but the two will never be one. Likewise, the English we speak is different as well.

Then, new carpenters come and want to learn to use the Roman hammer, how to bang it, its quirks, how to handle it. And, for the sake of tradition, and perhaps for the sake of ediying structures in the Roman way again, the Roman hammer regains popularity. Even as Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and French hammers exsist right alongside each other with the ancient hammer. When will they put down the Roman style hammer? Perhaps never. Will some types of hammers be put down over time? Maybe. That depends on those who use the hammers.

Physical objects are different as they are a "quote" of each other - you can make the exact same. Whereas language isn't merely "quoting" each other. You can model after it, but you cannot replicate it. The analogy is unfitting in this respect.
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Postby Kasper » Fri Aug 17, 2007 6:51 am

Lucus Eques wrote: Then, I will ask, what is Ancient Greek? If we went by the argument, that a language is irrevocabuly tied to its speakers, then how is it Ancient Greek still exsists? Modern Greeks don't speak Ancient Greek, so therefore the language Ancient Greek should not exist
...

So languages are greatly similar to biological species: some evolve into others (Italian from Latin), but some can survive alongside the new species (Latin beside Italian), while still others can go quite exstinct, and all we have are their fossilized remains (Ancient Egyptian).



hmm... is a stuffed fox still a fox?? A fossilised dinosaur bone still a dinosaur? I mean, you can look at it; talk to it; hunt it; pet it; smell it; eat it; be frightened by it; etc. But it wouldn't quite be the same, now would it?


Just as there is no such thing as a perfect circle. But you still believe there are 360° in a circle, even though no earthly circle has such a measure. You and I believe that a circle's circumference is determined by π, even though we cannot calculate π with absolute precision, nor therefore find the exact circumference of anything. We still say that parallel lines are those that never touch and stretch out into infinity, although no such lines exsist anywhere.



I simply cannot agree with this argument. For i do not understand it. I failed to pay attention to maths in high school. Is there really no such thing as a perfect cirle? I honestly did not know that.


But if a whole society is isolated, once all the imbalanced charges, if I may make an electrical metaphor, are neutralized and there ceases to be anything new of significance entering the society, then the society will remain unchanged. And so will the language.

Is this rare? Of course. But I think it is very important to understand.


Rare or purely hypothetical? Besides, the venerable annis appears to disagree with this and knows much, much more than i do.

I must agree that the hammer metaphor fails to hit the nail on the head for reasons expounded by CW.


Much more importantly though, IN 2 HOURS I WILL BE SEENG BOB DYLAN IN CONCERT!!! YEAH!!
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”
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Postby Lucus Eques » Fri Aug 17, 2007 2:13 pm

Chris Weimer wrote:
Lucus Eques wrote:I appreciate that argument. Then, I will ask, what is Ancient Greek? If we went by the argument, that a language is irrevocabuly tied to its speakers, then how is it Ancient Greek still exsists? Modern Greeks don't speak Ancient Greek, so therefore the language Ancient Greek should not exsist.

Ancient Greek doesn't exist as a natural language if it isn't tied to speakers. Just because it exists doesn't make it natural. All the words are chosen by those who learned the language under another language, i.e. before the language was imprinted on them, and their use of it is tied to special circumstances, not everyday thought. One of the most under-appreciated aspects of language is its imprint in our brain - whether at critical formation, or by excessive usage over time.


I'm going to move that "natural" be one of those terms like "living" and "dead" that is just semantics and not helpful to the discussion.

In any case, I cannot agree. Marcus Aurelius wrote his memoirs in Greek — is that Greek "unnatural"? Is the Italian I speak unnatural? Certainly not. Refer to my previous argument, regarding the fact that almost none of the famous Roman authors spoke Latin as a first language.

Physical objects are different as they are a "quote" of each other


I believe you mean a "copy."

I simply cannot agree with this argument. For i do not understand it. I failed to pay attention to maths in high school. Is there really no such thing as a perfect cirle? I honestly did not know that.


Actually, this is Plato's argument — Platonic ideals. Even though no circle actually exsists anywhere physical, it still exsists. Very important in Western thought.
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