Is Latin dead?

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Is Latin dead?

Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Sat Aug 09, 2003 8:25 pm

Salvete;

Okay, I'm asking this question in my own collegium so the answer may be a bit obvious for all you Latin buffs ;).

But question yourself: is Latin still really alive? Or has it been fossilised and kept alive artificially for centuries? I'll try to provoke you: YES, it has! Since the 6th, maybe 7th century CE, there are no more people whose mother language (let alone sole language) is Latin. The language evolved into the Romance languages and Church Latin. The old variant, which is being used here, was digged up in the Renaissance as a vernacular language between intellectuals until French assumed this place, and later English did.

The Vatican sometimes publishes lists with new words for Latin, but most of these expressions are very awkward, even if they are actually translations for terms that are partially Latin in origin.

Sure, there are meetings where Latin is spoken, and there is someone in my msn list with whom I have no other language in common than Latin, but we must all admit that former is something for bearded men and language geeks [like me] and latter is an extremely exceptional case.

Any opinions on this issue? Sure I've got loads but I don't intend on talking here all day long by myself :p.

Valete!
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Postby Tiberius Dionysius Draco on Sat Aug 16, 2003 7:56 pm

Salve frater,

of course Latin is "dead". As a spoken language that is. It is, on the other hand very much alove on the internet (our own orginisation is proof of that).

And Latin is still kept alive due to the fact that it is still being thaught to students. Minimus is also proof of that.

So Latin as a spoken language is dead, but if we're speaking about written Latin, I'd say it's alive and kicking!

Valete bene
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Ahem Again

Postby Aldus Marius on Sat Aug 16, 2003 11:39 pm

Avete amici!

> of course Latin is "dead". As a spoken language that is.

The Wolf roars:
Not within a 50-foot radius of me it isn't!!

Or else why d'you think I was teaching all those kids? It's called, "If you can't find rapping partners, make some." I knew my oral-comprehension skills sucked bicycle tires and donut holes, so I gave myself some fellow-Romans to listen to. Worked, too...at last check (summer of '99, said Latin having been laid down in '92-93), that little patch of Eastern Riverside County, CA was still Latinate, indeed!

I do agree the poor thing's been nearly-fatally embalmed; one difference between a person and a language being that a language can survive an embalming attempt. This is why I steer very, very clear of the capitally-lettered and -degreed Latinists, Classicists, Grammarians and other sorts of Academics. They fairly reek of the dissection laboratory. Sorry, formaldehyde makes my fur itch.

I worry about written Latin. I will consider it 'off the Endangered list' when the Societas starts producing original works in Latin. Rehashing the ancients doesn't count. All I have on me are some pop songs I used to sing in the car when I had one, and a wonderful stream of cuss words for swearing in traffic (and sounding edumacated while doing it). As always, It Ain't Much But I'm Willing To Share! >({|:-)

Off to drop-ship some Family Histories...
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Postby Primus Aurelius Timavus on Sun Aug 17, 2003 5:01 am

Hey Mari! I would love to read your list of traffic cuss words on this thread. To keep things decent, don't post any translations if you do decide to indulge us!
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For Use in the HOV Lane

Postby Aldus Marius on Sun Aug 17, 2003 10:38 pm

Blue.
This post has to be Blue.

As in, Cussing a Blue Streak.
Or, Cussing the Paint off a Wall.

Hadrian's Wall, maybe...which, after being trod upon and cussed around by umpteen generations of soldiers and soldiers' sons, is now definitively paintless.

But you want my Traffic Cusses. Okay...just remember, for Romans, any Gods mentioned here are Real.

Mild:
Mehercule!
Ecastor! (men)
Edepol! (women)
Stulte!
Baro!
Carissime! (said menacingly)
Cuniculae Fulminatores! (a Marius original)
Sterca!
Merda!
Stercorum pro cerebro habes!
De stella Martis vere venisti!
...et ipsum caballum tuum!

Non-Mild:
Per Deos Immortales!!
Observa quo vadis, cinaede!!
Irrumator!!
Futue te!!


...These are all the ones I've actually used. As you can tell from the categories, I'm a pretty mild cusser. Several entries come from Henry Beard's Latin for All Occasions, which, for Latin insults, is the best phrasebook around; it is still widely available in the Foreign Language section of most bookstores.

In amicitia (which you'll need if you're going to take some of the above suggestions),
>({|;-)
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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Sat Aug 23, 2003 3:34 pm

Returning to the original topic, I was going to add the following but my busy life kept me from posting...

I think Latin is still alive, in a way. There are lots and lots of Latin words in many Western European languages, words which are similar in many languages and of which I predict that they will be used even more often in the future to ease communication between peoples.

The linguist D. Nettle claimed in one of his articles that Latin only lived on and subsequently fractured in the areas of the Roman Empire where the romanisation had been the most profound. While this is true, I think he forgot that the impact of Latin was also considerable on a large number of neighbouring languages and cultures: not enough to romanise them completely but enough, from Antiquity up until the Renaissance, to alter and modify their literature and expand their lexicon. Also, a language like Rumanian definitely is a Romance language but it didn't originate in an area that had been profoundly romanised.

Latin itself is dead. Even though some may still speak it, even if not all of them are professors who can just as well choose another mutually intelligible language to communicate in, Latin doesn't change anymore (I don't consider mangling up Latin as a form of change since these are usually no systematic deviations but random errors, before anyone dares to use this as an excuse to escape my latinate wrath ;)). A living language is, essentially, one that gradually changes. De Swaan remarked that no one can salvage a language on his own. Hebrew was successfully revived, but that was due to a cooperation of many people who were immigrating to Israel. For Latin, this will not happen unless all Romans-in-spirit were to unite and live at the same location (or form actual communities).

These were roughly my thoughts about Latin.

Valete,
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Postby Anonymous on Wed Sep 03, 2003 2:39 pm

It is a shame that such a beautiful and noble language as Latin is considered dead. I am interested in learning Latin for my own knowledge (not that you'll use it much in a career in IT I guess). I believe that all Southern European (or all European for that matter) students at secondary level should learn the Latin language, and I would have very much liked it, unfortunately here they don't teach it unless you choose it and back when I chose my languages I was more interested in a language I could use in an occupation.Unfortunately most people decide in such a manner.
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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Wed Sep 03, 2003 6:52 pm

Well, there is some (if little) study material for Latin available at the collegium pages of collegium Latinum, compiled by Marius noster and myself. I hope it will help you, even if a little bit.

Vale,
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Postby Quintus Marius Primus on Thu Jan 29, 2004 4:51 pm

Salvete!

Is Latin dead? Well from a Linguistics point of view it is and it isn't! Just like a lot of things with human languages things aren't always as simple as we'd like them to be! Let me (try to) explain.

What determines whether a language is dead or living is simply whether there are any native speakers of the language alive and still able to use it (if there's only one speaker of a language left alive then the language is effectively dead as there are no spheres where the language can be used), so in this sense the language that we know as (Classical) Latin is dead.

Not withstanding the fact that the written language of the Roman empire that we learn was even then a partly artificial written ideal that even the educated top brass didn't speak in their normal daily lives. It should also be rememebered that all living languages change over time, and this includes the spoken Latin of the Republic and the Empire (in fact, one thing that marks a language as living is the fact that it does change - as soon as it becomes static and unchanging marks it as a dead language). It wouldbe quite interesting from a lingusitic point of view to see how much the spoken language of the 4th century AD differed from the written language!

On the other hand, Latin is still alive and kicking, only we do not know it by that name. Latin didn't die out just as the language of the Etruscan language did, or Cornish or Manx did in the 20th century in Britain. It changed. As I alluded to above, all living languages change, and this happened to the Latin spoken in the different provinces. Where it survived, it eventually changed over time into what is today known as French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Romanian, plus a variety of other dialects and languages (e.g. Catalan, all the Italian dialects, Romansch, Langue d'Oc).

So on one hand Latin is dead, but it does live on purely for doing what all languages do over time - by changing!

Valete

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