Where do you place latin?

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What is latin in your opinion?

A superior language
15
48%
A primitive language
0
No votes
Latin is just like any other language
16
52%
 
Total votes: 31

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Amadeus
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Where do you place latin?

Post by Amadeus » Wed Mar 08, 2006 11:50 pm

I've been thinking about this for a while. Sometimes I tend to go for any one of the 3. What do you think?
Lisa: Relax?! I can't relax! Nor can I yield, relent, or... Only two synonyms? Oh my God! I'm losing my perspicacity! Aaaaa!

Homer: Well it's always in the last place you look.

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Post by Chris Weimer » Wed Mar 08, 2006 11:55 pm

Relative. Relative to Old English, Latin is a more sophisticated language. But relative to Greek, Latin is merely a barbaric tongue trying to act sophisticated. How I wish I had learned Greek first.

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Post by antianira » Thu Mar 09, 2006 3:47 pm

Chris Weimer wrote:Relative. Relative to Old English, Latin is a more sophisticated language. But relative to Greek, Latin is merely a barbaric tongue trying to act sophisticated. How I wish I had learned Greek first.
How is Greek more sophisticated? I'm not challenging the assertion, I don't know any Greek yet, just curious.

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Post by Episcopus » Thu Mar 09, 2006 4:45 pm

cweb255, how on earth is 'those the runnings on that the plain I chased (for myself) I the king the of the Xerxesakoskosbabababaroispoitoutontonaixmalotonristophaphphaanonononon' sophisticated?

~E
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Post by Deudeditus » Thu Mar 09, 2006 4:48 pm

well since the whole point of language in general is to communicate, using symbols both written and enunciated, with the latter being more important, I'd say that 'sophistication' of a language is irrelevant. And besides, it's really the 'sophistication' of a culture that determines our opinion of the sophistication of said culture's language. unless, of course, you're saying Greek grammar makes it easier to communicate, or facilitates more exact communication. then i would understand.

What makes Latin more sophisticated than Old English or Greek more so than Latin? Personally I can understand Old English far easier than I can Latin, like most anglophones, maybe that is the reason. simplicity.

if all that didn't make sense, or if the grammar you found offensive, sorry. I'm running off about 3 hours' sleep.*no emoticon for half-asleep*

1066 I loathe the year... sometimes. :)

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Post by nostos » Thu Mar 09, 2006 9:32 pm

Deudeditus wrote:What makes Latin more sophisticated than Old English or Greek more so than Latin? Personally I can understand Old English far easier than I can Latin, like most anglophones, maybe that is the reason. simplicity.
Really? I find them the other way around, perhaps because my OE teacher, about 3 or 4 years ago, was really, truly terrible. But there aren't that many Anglo-Saxonists around, so she got hired :P

Nice polish on the description you gave of culture and language.

I don't think any one language is any more sophisticated than any other. Cicero would have a hell of a time learning English ('all this stupid fuss about word order!!') That one finds extremely complex structures in a foreign language that ostensibly aren't present in their native one does not equal the higher complexity of the foreign language. English is incredibly complex, like Spanish and anything else. Most of us do things which when analysed linguistically are highly nuanced and complicated; change the position of a word slightly, or a word for one of its synonyms, and often you get either an ungrammatical sentence or at the very minimum an awkward one - but we do these things without thinking about them, and that's the ultimate point of learning language I think, to do without artificial, conscious analysis before you do.

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Post by Chris Weimer » Thu Mar 09, 2006 10:31 pm

Deudeditus wrote:1066 I loathe the year... sometimes. :)
Seconded.

I also second the notion that the culture dictates the sophistication of a language. It also differs between user and user.

I think the flexibility in Greek verbage ultimately gives it the upper hand over Latin. Furthermore, I would hazard that compounded words definitely give an air of sophistication that phrases can't seem to accomplish.

Then again, if we step back and think of it for a second, it's all personal opinion anyway.

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Post by Adelheid » Thu Mar 09, 2006 10:51 pm

Chris Weimer wrote:I think the flexibility in Greek verbage ultimately gives it the upper hand over Latin.

<snip>

Then again, if we step back and think of it for a second, it's all personal opinion anyway.
Did not the Romans have every way to express their emotions and thoughts, just like the Greeks?
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http://www.perispomenon.nl

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Post by Chris Weimer » Fri Mar 10, 2006 12:17 am

Did they, with the same force as well?

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Post by ThomasGR » Fri Mar 10, 2006 8:53 am

Greek seems to be superior in some cases, but than I wonder if it is a case of habits and that we are used to it. I'm thinking at the moment how one can build quite new words from simple roots and give to these words quite new (and very often different) meanings; e.g. theorem, theory, epitheoresis etc, words that are not so easy to translate into English. In German they made an attempt to translate "theorie" with "Anschauung" or "katastrophe" with "Unfall", but it is not the same and people continue to use "theorie" and "katastrophe". A better example is the word "problem" and the impossibilty to translate it; a word that is used in all languages of the earth. Another example might be "diabalo" that gave to all European languages the word "devil".

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Post by IreneY » Fri Mar 10, 2006 9:11 am

look, ancient Greek was/is -to my mind at least-, one of the most accurate languages (classical period one I mean). I don't know if that means it was sophisticated or not because there's the problem of defining what each one means by sophistication.

As to untranslatable words. Well, each language has some of those. Try to translate i.e. the word "fancy" with any of its meaning really. I recently had to translate this (and some other words too) for a book and 3 people digging in both modern and ancient Greek dictionaries etc could not find the translation (that, and "folly" as an 'architectural' term)

As for latin, well, I think it's just another language belonging to the group of 'well developed' ones (language barrier there, plus I still can't get my eyes to open all the way). Same goes for Greek too I guess

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Post by Sanskrit » Fri Mar 10, 2006 11:39 am

Another example might be "diabalo" that gave to all European languages the word "devil".
The Sanskrit word for god is deva and the Latin word it is deus. The first monotheistics, the Zoroastrians, said that all other gods, the deva's, are devils. I'm not sure, but deva, deus and devil could be related.

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Post by amans » Fri Mar 10, 2006 12:24 pm

ThomasGR wrote:Another example might be "diabalo" that gave to all European languages the word "devil".
How about defining the relative position of a language with a view to its impact on other languages? I mean: this would probably make Latin a superior language. All the romance languages are direct derivatives of Latin, but the terms and ideas from Latin are also found in many, many other languages. I don't think the Greek tongue had quite the same effect, though the Greek thought is not to be underestimated, of course. Just my two cents.

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Post by IreneY » Fri Mar 10, 2006 12:58 pm

Sanskrit
The Sanskrit word for god is deva and the Latin word it is deus. The first monotheistics, the Zoroastrians, said that all other gods, the deva's, are devils. I'm not sure, but deva, deus and devil could be related
I think he is referring to the verb ΔΙΑΒΑΛΛΩ from which the word ΔΙΑΒΟΛΟΣ derives (its current meaning dating from the translation of the Hebrew word Satan, in the translation of the 70 (no idea how you call that in English). The word DIAVOLOS has a sort of double meaning; DIAVALLOMAI means I am the enemy of, I feel enmity towards somoene, I am having a fight. DIAVALLO means slander, defame and that was the original meaning of Diavolos (diablo, devil etc) too

Amans
if by impact you mean how many languages are direct or indirect descendants of a language, then Greek fares quite poorly versus most languages really. In fact I am sure than only the modern Greek is derived so to speak from ancient Greek. Not a good score.

If by impact you mean how many words, terms, whatever, of one language have been incorporated and/or used to form new words in other languages, well, let's just say that Greek can give Latin a run for its money (if any of the two were sentient beings and/or interested in such a thing; which they would. At least the people who talked each as a native one would. I think.But who cares.)

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Post by nostos » Fri Mar 10, 2006 3:21 pm

IreneY wrote:But who cares.
:lol:

Amadues, why would you think Latin was primitive? (a serious question, no agenda!) Is it because it has a relatively small vocabulary?

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Post by Chris Weimer » Fri Mar 10, 2006 4:20 pm

IreneY wrote:in the translation of the 70
Septuagint?

In any case, it's still a Greek word that was used to translate HaSatan, in case any thought differently when reading your post.

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Post by Rindu » Fri Mar 10, 2006 4:27 pm

The whole premise of this conversation doesn't even make sense! All languages are equally expressive! I don't even know what it means to say that one language is superior to another.

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Post by Amadeus » Fri Mar 10, 2006 4:57 pm

nostos wrote: :lol:

Amadues, why would you think Latin was primitive? (a serious question, no agenda!) Is it because it has a relatively small vocabulary?
Haha! It seems that primitive is not a choice for anyone. Also, this has, apparently, turned into a race between Greek and Latin. Ooooh, this is gonna be a good one.

Nostos,

I don't think Latin is primitive in an absolute sense, but sometimes you just can't avoid comparing the perfect logic one's native tongue makes to, for example, the crazyness of the declination system :lol:

I'm thinking, now, that Latin is just like any other language....The only difference is that its words=meanings don't evolve like modern languages, so in that respect, it is superior. :roll:
Lisa: Relax?! I can't relax! Nor can I yield, relent, or... Only two synonyms? Oh my God! I'm losing my perspicacity! Aaaaa!

Homer: Well it's always in the last place you look.

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Post by nostos » Fri Mar 10, 2006 6:28 pm

Amadeus wrote:I don't think Latin is primitive in an absolute sense, but sometimes you just can't avoid comparing the perfect logic one's native tongue makes to, for example, the crazyness of the declination system :lol:
Yes at times it does seem like they're pulling declennsions out (ditis, rus, domum, vesper - make up your minds you turpissimi Romani!) from, well... But, it must have been really obvious to them. I mean there's a feeling that anyone gets for their native language, a feeling which makes it logical to them, and that feeling, collectively, guides the language's evolution I think. Maybe I'm just talking out of the same place they seemed to pull their declensions from :P

I'm thinking, now, that Latin is just like any other language....The only difference is that its words=meanings don't evolve like modern languages, so in that respect, it is superior. :roll:
Bah! That's just looking at the language synchronically! Diachronise, Amadeus!! :lol:

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Post by Lucus Eques » Fri Mar 10, 2006 7:48 pm

Amadeus et Noste,

There are many modern languages which have cases systems, including Russian whose case system is on its face more complex than that of Latin. The variety of substantive and adjective forms, which compose the case system as we call it, are liberating, not inhibiting, for two reasons: The first is aesthetic, that of the forms in all their variety each has a loveliness of its own. The second is expressive, for Latin's specificity of noun shapes permits an extremely liberal word order, free from the resultant and often illogical complexities of word position, as in some of our modern languages, that limit expression.

Amadeus, think of an Anglophone encountering the verb conjugation system of Spanish for the first time, and saying to himself, "what unnecessary complexity!" But wouldn't you argue that your language is freer and more expressive for it?

I find this article very interesting:

http://www.stoa.org/~mahoney/teaching/hale_art.html

Since it's hard to find in the webpage, I'll quote the whole section that interests me for this discussion, though I highly recommend finding the passage in the original since the color and italicizations are very helpful:
I take up now -- all books being closed -- a sentence of very simple structure, of which every word and every construction are familiar, say a certain passage in Livy2. I tell the story of the context: Two assassins have got admission, on the pretext of a quarrel to be decided, into the presence of Tarquin. One of them diverts the attention of the king by telling his tale, and the other brings down an axe upon the king's head; whereupon they both rush for the door.

In order that the interpretation shall be done absolutely in the order in which a Roman would do it, without looking ahead, I write one word at a time upon the board (as I will again do upon the board before you), and ask questions as I go, as follows : --3

Tarquinium. "What did Livy mean by putting that word at the beginning of the sentence?" That the person mentioned in it is at this point of conspicuous importance. "Where is Tarquinium made?" In the accusative singular. "What does that fact mean to your minds?"

Here most of them are somewhat dazed, not being used to that word meaning, the very word that ought constantly to be used in dealing with syntax, or so-called "parsing." So I very probably have to say, "May it mean the duration of time of the act with which it is connected?" They say, No. I ask, "Why not?" Somebody says, Because the name of a person cannot indicate time. I say, "Give me some words that might indicate time." They give me dies, noctes, aetatem, etc. Then I ask, "May it mean extent of space?" They say, No, give me similar reasons for their answer, and, upon my asking for words that might indicate extent of space, they give me, perhaps, mille passuum, tres pedes, etc. Then I ask, "May it indicate the extent of the action of the verb, the degree to which the action goes?" They say, No, for a similar reason. But when I ask for words that might mean the degree of the action, they commonly cannot tell me, for the reason that, strange to say, the grammars do not recognize such a usage; though sentences like he walks a great deal every day (multum cottidie ambulat) are even more common than sentences like he walks three miles every day (cottidie tria milia passuum ambulat), and the accusatives mean essentially the same thing in both sentences. Then I ask, "May it mean that in respect to which something is said, -- as regards Tarquin, -- the accusative of specification?" To a question like that, I am sorry to say that a great many always answer yes, for students get very vague notions of the real uses of the accusative of specification. Somebody, however, may be able to tell me that the name of a person is never used in the accusative of specification, and that in general the use of the accusative of specification, in the days of Cicero and Virgil, was mostly confined to poetry. "What words were used in the accusative of specification in prose?" Here I never get an answer, although the list is determinate, short, and important. So I have to say, "I must add to your working knowledge a useful item; write in your note-books as follows: partem, vicem, genus with omne or a pronoun (quod, hoc, id), secus with virile or muliebre, hoc and id with aetatis, the relative quod and the interrogative quid, are used in Latin prose in all periods as accusatives of specification. Here, then, is a bit of definite information which may enable you, when you first meet one of these words again (you will do so quite early in your first book of Livy), to walk without stumbling through a sentence where you would otherwise trip." Then I go back to Tarquinium. "May it be," I ask, "an accusative of exclamation?" They say, Possibly so. I say, "possibly yes, though in historical narration you would hardly expect such an exclamation from the historian." Next I ask, "May it be a cognate accusative?" To that they answer, No; telling me, perhaps with some help, that the name of a person cannot be in any sense a restatement of an act, -- cannot mean an activity. "Well, then, what does this accusative case mean?" By this time a good many are ready to say: Object of a verb, or in apposition with the object. But I ask if one thing more is possible, and some one says: Subject of an infinitive. "Yes," I answer; "and one thing more yet?" Predicate of an infinitive, someone suggests.

"Now," I ask, "what have we learned from all this? Given the name of a person or persons in the accusative with no preposition, how many and what constructions are possible?" All are ready now to answer, Object of a verb, or subject or predicate of an infinitive. "Good," I say. "Keep those possibilities always fresh in your mind, letting them flash through it the moment you see such a word; and that having been done, WAIT, and NEVER DECIDE which of these possible meanings was in the mind of the Roman speaker or writer until the rest of the sentence has made the answer to that question perfectly clear. Now tell me what constructions are possible for an accusative like hiemem." They answer, duration of time, apposition, object of verb, subject or predicate of an infinitive. "For an accusative like pedes?" They answer, extent of space, apposition, object of verb, or subject or predicate of an infinitive. "For an accusative like multum?" Extent of action, apposition, object of verb, or subject or predicate of an infinitive. "For an accusative like vitam?" Cognate accusative, apposition, object of verb, or subject or predicate of an infinitive. Now I ask, "Can any one tell me what constructions we may expect if the verb turns out to be some word like doceo or celo?" They all give the answer, and therewith I have already passed in rapid review practically the whole matter of the accusative constructions; and, what is more, -- and this is vital, -- I have done it from a very practical standpoint. I have not asked a student to "parse" a word after seeing its full connection in the sentence (an exercise which loses four-fifths of its virtue by this misplacement), but I have demanded anticipatory parsing, -- I have put my questions in such a way that my students have learned for all accusatives what instantaneous suggestions of the possible parts a word is playing in the sentence they may get, at first sight of the word, from the very nature of the word.

Then I pass on. "We have our King Tarquin before our eyes, as the person on whom the interest of the sentence centres, and we know that he is the object of an action, or the subject or predicate of an infinitive action; or, possibly, in apposition with such an object, subject, or predicate. To proceed, the next word, moribundum, is what and where made?" Adjective, nom. sing. neut., or acc. sing. masc. or neut. Don't smile at all this. The habit of getting a young student to think all these things out, even where he could not go astray if they were not asked of him, saves many a getting lost in difficult places. "What is probable about moribundum, as we have it in this particular sentence?" That it belongs to Tarquinium. "Right. Now keep that picture in mind: Tarquinium moribundum, the King, breathing his last, acted upon or acting. Now for the next word: Tarquinium moribundum cum. What is cum?" Some say, with perfect readiness, preposition, some say conjunction.4 "But," I answer, "if you are used to the right spelling, you know with an instant's thought that no Roman that ever lived could tell at this point whether it was preposition or conjunction. In order to tell, you must wait for -- what?" Ablative or verb, they answer. Then we go on, "Tarquinium moribundum cum qui. What does qui at once tell us about cum?" Conjunction. "Right. What do we know now, with almost absolute certainty, about Tarquinium? What part of the sentence does it belong to?" Here, I grieve to say, a chorus of voices always answers, Main verb; for, in some mysterious way, students arrive at the universities without having learned that the Romans delighted to take out the most important word, or combination of words, from a subordinate introductory sentence, and put it at the very start, before the connective, -- a bit of information worth a great deal for practical reading. That habit of expression I now tell them, and then ask, "Given a sentence beginning with mors si, what do you know?" That mors is the subject or predicate of the verb introduced by si. "Given a sentence introduced by Hannibali victori cum ceteri?" That Hannibali depends on something in the cum-sentence.

Now we go back to our sentence, and the word qui. "What part of speech is it?" Relative, they say. "Or what else?" I ask. Interrogative. "Where is it made?" Nom. sing. or plur., masc. "If it is a relative, where in the sentence as a whole does its antecedent lie?" They should answer, Inside the cum-clause. The cum serves as the first of two brackets to include the qui-clause. "If, on the other hand, it is an interrogative, what kind of a question is alone here possible?" Indirect, and in the subjunctive, they answer. "In that case, what kind of a meaning, speaking generally, must the verb introduced by cum have?" It must be able to imply asking of some kind. "Rightly said; perhaps we may have such a sentence as, When everybody inquired who these men were -- Cum qui essent omnes quaererent; or perhaps we shall find that qui is relative. The next word is circa, -- Tarquinium moribundum cum qui circa. What part of speech is it?" Adverb. "What then may it do?" It may modify a verb, an adjective, or another adverb.

We proceed: Tarquinium moribundum cum qui circa erunt. "What, now, about circa?" It modifies erant. "What was the number of qui?" Plural. "Was it relative or interrogative?" Relative. "How do you know?" Because erant is not subjunctive. "Right. Now qui circa erant is as good as a noun or a pronoun, -- an indeclinable noun or pronoun, in the plural. Think of it in that way, as we go on. Tarquinium moribundum cum qui circa erant excepissent. I don't ask to-day the meaning of the mode of excepissent, because the world is in so much doubt about the question of the history and force of the cum-constructions. But what was Livy's meaning in writing the accusative Tarquinium?" Object of excepissent. "Yes, and what was the subject of excepissent?" The antecedent of qui. "Yes; or, looking at the matter more generally, the subject was qui circa erant."

"Before going on, what picture have we before us? What has the sentence thus far said? This: See Tarquin, dying! See the bystanders! See them pick him up! Our curiosity is stimulated by the very order. The next word is illos, -- Tarquinium moribundum cum qui circa erant excepissent ... What does the position of illos, first in the main sentence proper, tell us?" That the people meant by it are of special prominence at this point. "Who do you suppose these illos are, these more distant persons, thus set in emphatic balance against Tarquinium, each leading its clause? The assassins, the whole class say. "What do we know about Livy's meaning from the case?" Now they all answer in fine chorus and completeness, Apposition, object of main verb, or subject or predicate of an infinitive.

We proceed: Tarquinium moribundum cum qui circa erant excepssent, illos fugientes ... "What part of speech is fugientes?" Participle. "Which one?" Present active. "Then you see a running-away going on before your eyes. What gender?" Masc. or fem. "What number?" Plural. "Then you see some two or more men or women running away. What case?" Nom. or acc. "On the whole, do you feel sure you know the case?" Yes; accusative. "Belonging to what?" Illos. "Why?" Because of course the assassins, the illos, would run away. "Yes," I say; "but it cannot possibly mislead you to wait until there isn't a shadow of a doubt. We will go on: Tarquinium moribundum cum qui circa erant excepssent, illos fugientes lictores ... Here you have another set of people, the king's body-guard. In what case?" Nom. or acc. plural. "Which?" They do not know. "Well, then, can illos agree with lictores, if you consider forms alone?" Yes. "In that case, fugientes would have to go with illos lictores, wouldn't it?" Yes. "But would the lictors run away?" No. "Would the assassins?" Yes. "Certainly. Then fugientes does not belong with lictores, and does belong with illos; and illos seems to be, just as we suspected at first sight of it, the assassins. However, we must ask ourselves one more question, Is apposition possible between illos and lictores?" No; for they are very different people. "Is any relation of a predicate possible between them? Can the one be the predicate of an infinitive of which the other is the subject?" No; because, as before, they are very different people. "Still it is possible that lictores is accusative. If it is, it may be object, in which case illos is necessarily subject, for, as we have seen, they cannot be in apposition; or, it may be subject, in which case, for the same reason, illos must be object. In either case, they must be in direct opposition to each other, one of them (we don't yet know which) being subject, the other, object; while, if lictores is nom., you still have the same relation, only you know which is subject and which is object. In any event, you see they are set over against each other, together making subject and object. Now keep the results of this reasoning ready for the countless cases in which such combinations occur. Given two nouns like bellum Saguntum: what are the constructions?" One is the subject of a verb, and the other the object, and we can't yet tell which. "Right. Now I will give you a still more involved combination, but of a very commonly occurring kind, -- quae nos materiem. What do you make out of that?" Some clever boy will say, Nos must be the subject of a verb, either finite or infinitive, and quae and materiem are object and predicate-object. "Good. Then what kind of meaning does the verb probably have?" One of calling. "Right. The words are from Lucretius, and the verb he used was vocamus. Treasure up that combination and the meaning of it."

"Now we go back to the assassins who are running away, and the king's body-guard. I will inform you that there is just one more word in the sentence. What part of speech is it?" Verb. "Active or passive?" Active. "Right. What does it tell?" Tells what the lictors do to the assassins. "What mode, then?" Indicative. "What two tenses are possible?" The perfect and the historical present. "Right. Now the situation is a pretty dramatic one. Which of these two tenses should you accordingly choose, if you were writing the story?" The present. "So did Livy. Now tell me what you think the verb is." Interficiunt, somebody says. Capiunt, says another, hitting the idea but not the right word, which is comprehendunt, get hold of them well, -- nab 'em; or, as our tamer English phrase might put it, secure them.
The following paragraph demonstrates the awesome effectiveness of Latin communication, and how its linguistic liberty can describe in a single sentence an entire series of complex events without resorting to more simply contrived ("modern") means of expression:
"Now let us render into English the sentence as a whole, translating not merely Livy's words, but the actual development of the thought in his mind. Tarquinium, there's Tarquin; moribundum, he's a dying man; cum qui circa erant, you see the bystanders about to do something; excepissent, they have caught and supported the king; illos, you turn and look at the assassins; fugientes, they are off on the run; lictores, there are the king's body-guard; we hold our breath in suspense; -- comprehendunt, THEY'VE GOT 'EM! So, then, that Latin order, which looks so perverted to one who is trained to pick the sentence to pieces and then patch it together again, gives us the very succession in which one would see the actual events; weaves all the occurrences together into a compact whole, yet keeping everywhere the natural order; while any order that we may be able to invent for a corresponding single sentence in English will twist and warp the natural order into a shape that would greatly astonish a Roman."

"Finally, with the understanding and sense of the dramatic in the situation, which we have got by working the sentence out as Livy wrote it, compare the perversion of it, which we get by working it out correctly on the first-find-your-subject-of-the-main-sentence-and-then-your-predicate, etc., method: the lictors secure the assassins as they run away, when those who were standing by had caught and supported the dying Tarquin. The facts are all there, but the style, the soul, is gone."
L. Amadeus Ranierius

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Post by nostos » Fri Mar 10, 2006 9:18 pm

Lucus Eques wrote:Amadeus et Noste,

There are many modern languages which have cases systems, including Russian whose case system is on its face more complex than that of Latin. The variety of substantive and adjective forms, which compose the case system as we call it, are liberating, not inhibiting, for two reasons: The first is aesthetic, that of the forms in all their variety each has a loveliness of its own. The second is expressive, for Latin's specificity of noun shapes permits an extremely liberal word order, free from the resultant and often illogical complexities of word position, as in some of our modern languages, that limit expression.
I quite agree with the aesthetics.

The word order, however, is just as logical in English or any natural human language; we don't get the final picture of the story or whatever in the exact order that we read it. At least I don't think so. Anyway what you said to Amadeus was precisely what I was trying to say: To a native of that language (whichever it may be), the 'complexities' (of conjugation, declension, word order, or whatever), i.e., the standard, unthought of use of the language which just seems right, make perfect sense; to a non-native approaching it for the first time, these things don't, and hence they are not perfectly sensical but complex. If the language is old enough and venerated enough, people mistake these perfect-sensicals for the language being 'superior' only because these uses have been pointed out.

Most people don't realise that in their own native language, there are just as many subtleties as well as variations (compare the English irregular verb system with over 200 of those nasty little things, which to a native, seem natural; now try and figure out the uses of 'wanna' to expressly state them, when you can and can't use it; though its something most of us do every day, the actual rules for its usage are much more complex than one woud immediately think)

The correlative of these in a forgein language would be things like the Spanish system of verb conjugation or the Latin irregularities or etc etc. But this, I think we'd agree, adds character to the language, makes it stand out. That's the problm with artificial langs like Esperanto I think - they're so (stupidly!) regular and perfect.

I don't know that I'm making myself too clear but I've had very little sleep in the past few days (I'm running on caffeine, too) and very much essay writing so please do forgive if this is jibberish. Perhaps tomorrow! :)

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Post by Lucus Eques » Fri Mar 10, 2006 9:57 pm

Do sleep, my friend! it's Spring Break! or at least it should be.

I would refer you again to the segment of that webpage I quoted, in particular the conclusion. For it is very much the case that Latin's free word order (freer even than Greek, I am told) is not only an aesthetic virtue but also incredibly effective in communicating information. The Livy example on the previous page is exemplar: as the author said, the English translation, quite a Frankenstein when compared with the original, although retaining the facts, has none of the style and the soul of the Livy. Latin allows events to be described punch-by-punch, without resolving and dissolving the whole situation into a non-linear and anachronistic simplification.

Esperanto deeply offends me; I wholely concurr with its condemnation.
L. Amadeus Ranierius

SCORPIO·MARTIANVS

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Post by Amadeus » Fri Mar 10, 2006 10:25 pm

Lucus Eques wrote:Esperanto deeply offends me; I wholely concurr with its condemnation.
Hi, Lucus

I'm reading your source little by little, as I too need eye rest :cry:

Speaking of Esperanto, have you heard of another artificial language called Salveto? IMO, a proper language must come from the masses, that is, from the bottom, and not the other way around. (Btw, I know that may sound communistic, but I can assure you I'm not a communist :lol: )
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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Post by GlottalGreekGeek » Sat Mar 11, 2006 2:44 am



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Post by Lucus Eques » Sat Mar 11, 2006 3:24 am


L. Amadeus Ranierius

SCORPIO·MARTIANVS

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Post by IreneY » Sat Mar 11, 2006 3:37 am

Chris Weimer wrote:
IreneY wrote:in the translation of the 70
Septuagint?

In any case, it's still a Greek word that was used to translate HaSatan, in case any thought differently when reading your post.
yes thank you. Sorry for the very poor English but what with proofreading the translation of a book from the Dune series for work, reading W. Irving's "Life of Mohammed" for pleasure, and helping some Brits and French with moden Greek, my lingusitic skills have hit the bottom and are currently drilling to reach new depths.

the case system is indeed liberating. I also i.e. bemoan the fact that the use of infinitive in modern Greek has been restricted to stock-phrases and participle is not as widely used, for the more different types of words a language has, the more easily and -more importantly- more laconically can it express complex meanings.

However, I can tell you for certain that it's not only poetry (that everyone agrees iis really 'untranslatable') which is hard to really 'render' in another language.

Try translating Oscar Wilde or even Jane Austen in either Latin or ancient Greek. Even B. Russel's writings can give one heaps of trouble and Asterix in ancient Greek is not all that funny really.


So, in a nutshell; Latin is certainly not primitive. It is not a "superior" language either for I don't think any language is. Just more complex (ancient Greek beats it hands down in complexity by the way) which, to my mind, is a plus but then I am prejudiced because of my own native language. Learning either Latin or Ancient Greek is a good thing however, because, althoughh they are "just another language" , great works of literature have been written in both and it's always better to read such in their original language. (ok, so scratch the nutshell)

P.S. I, to tell you the truth, found the lack of cases etc quite confusing when I started learning English (I was prepared when I started French though; only trouble there was the lack of a neuter :) )

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Post by nostos » Sat Mar 11, 2006 2:43 pm

Lucus Eques wrote:it's Spring Break! or at least it should be.
It should be, but at the University of Western Ontario (where I go) Spring Break, known officially as Reading Week, was between Friday 24 Feb and Sunday 5 March; I spent the entire week working on a first draft of my thesis, and all of this week I had essays galore etc.
IreneY wrote:It is not a "superior" language either for I don't think any language is. Just more complex (ancient Greek beats it hands down in complexity by the way) which, to my mind, is a plus but then I am prejudiced because of my own native language.
This is my point! Except backwards. Most people think their native tongue ain't more complex, you do. I think I agree with the liberatingness of cases. Then again I think it's just different; I mean liberties in one way of doing things (cases) nullifies liberties in the other (word order) and vice-versa.

Anyway I'm just talking hot air. We all agree it's a beautiful (stupid word!) language. Why say anything more?

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Post by swiftnicholas » Sat Mar 11, 2006 3:22 pm

Lucus Eques wrote:For it is very much the case that Latin's free word order (freer even than Greek, I am told) is not only an aesthetic virtue but also incredibly effective in communicating information.
I don't know Latin, but I've always heard the opposite; maybe somebody can clarify this. My impression is that while Latin is very free, that it has strong tendencies for word order (or at least the verb), which generally isn't true of Greek.

I would imagine (if that is correct) that, in Latin, deviating from those preferences could produce a poetic effect.

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Post by IreneY » Sat Mar 11, 2006 5:11 pm

well, my first impression when I first learnt Latin was "boy! did they like things orderly or what?" My mother who knows Latin very well swears that their is a language that shows their 'practical' side (cases etc included). However this is perhaps because we are both more used to Greek that makes full use of the different ways you can formulate a sentence.

I am talking about prose of course since I never did study latin poetry really and now I am back to making sure I remember the right syntactical forms when using the various 'cum' :oops:


nostos what can I say? having seen other languages it would be absurd to claim mine is not complicated just because it's my native one. I am not sure I understood the comment about 'clashing' liberties


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Post by nostos » Sat Mar 11, 2006 6:54 pm

IreneY wrote:having seen other languages it would be absurd to claim mine is not complicated just because it's my native one.
indeed. I'm saying no language is 'superior' to another; though more and less complicated, I think I agree to that. I'm just out of finishing several papers, and my head don't wanna think about it long enough to come to any real position on the matter yet

I am not sure I understood the comment about 'clashing' liberties
see above; I'm not sure I understood it either! :roll:

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Post by Democritus » Sat Mar 11, 2006 8:15 pm

nostos wrote:Amadues, why would you think Latin was primitive? (a serious question, no agenda!) Is it because it has a relatively small vocabulary?
I am curious about this question -- the relative size of vocabulary of Latin vs. Greek. Do any of you happen to have any references on this question?

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Post by Deudeditus » Mon Mar 13, 2006 3:59 pm

There are many modern languages which have cases systems, including Russian whose case system is on its face more complex than that of Latin.
Don't forget Suomea, my friend! She is the wind's song through breath mundane, truly a work divine to be savored sweet, I count the days till I hear it spoke' again.

If Finnish isn't a case of how the seemingly 'complex' nominal declension system still survives to this day, I don't know what is... except for Russian, that is... :)

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Post by Amadeus » Wed Mar 15, 2006 11:29 pm

Its been quite a ride. But it seems the 'latin is just like any other language' wins. In concur. No one chose primitive language, and rightly so, and about 40% said latin was superior, but their voices were kinda absent from the debate... I would've loved hearing their side. Ah well, thanks to everyone who voted. :D
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Post by Episcopus » Wed Mar 15, 2006 11:58 pm

I voted it superior. English seems neutral to me, that is, in my own accent, as normal as can be expected. I can not help this as it is my mother tongue. However, from the handful of languages I have thus far played with, Latin is the one which I have already picked to write in, and it doesn't seem very foreign to me sometimes. This does not apply to Apuleius/Suetonius texts but for Cicero and the couplets of Ovid provided that I have come across all words there, it seems as if it is an old friend from the past. All those who know me well, though not at all multitudinous, consent that I am an extremely critical person, therefore Latin must be far superior.

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