What would be the best name for chess in Latin?

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annis
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Post by 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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Post by 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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Post by 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.
Last edited by Gonzalo on Wed Aug 15, 2007 9:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by 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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Post by 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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Post by 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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Post by 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.
IPHIGENIE: Kann uns zum Vaterland die Fremde werden?
ARKAS: Und dir ist fremd das Vaterland geworden.
IPHIGENIE: Das ist's, warum mein blutend Herz nicht heilt.
(Goethe, Iphigenie auf Tauris)

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Post by 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:
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 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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Post by bioluminescence » Thu Aug 16, 2007 12:31 pm

God, I love this forum! :)

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Post by 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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Post by 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!

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

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Post by 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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Post by Amadeus » Thu Aug 16, 2007 2:48 pm

Hmmm... Interesting points, Maxime. I shall ponder them some more. :)
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 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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Post by 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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Post by 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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Lucus Eques
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Post by 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.
L. Amadeus Ranierius

SCORPIO·MARTIANVS

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