3 of 3
3
In defence of learning dead languages
Posted: 21 September 2013 07:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2738
Joined  2007-01-31

The existence of dusk does not invalidate the concepts of “night” and “day”.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 21 September 2013 07:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4461
Joined  2007-01-03

There is a general problem with the concept of continua. People somehow have difficulty grokking that while there isn’t always a neat and clear dividing line between categories, it is nonetheless still possible to draw categorical boundaries. It is the misconception behind the “slippery slope” fallacy, a major problem with creationist arguments about evolution, and countless other examples.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 21 September 2013 11:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
RankRank
Total Posts:  79
Joined  2012-12-28

Apropos, (French/Latin):  http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/07/nyregion/07latin.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Well, this is enlightening, and I hope it endures successfully. As an Italian-- Italian being the closest language to the original Latin base--Latin and Italian have enriched my English vocabulary immensely.

I suppose Latin isn’t dead after all; it has resurged from its grave as Lazarus from his tomb.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 September 2013 04:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4461
Joined  2007-01-03

I too hope this endures. Learning Latin, or any other language, is a good thing.

But there some questionable statements in the article.

First, Latin is definitely a dead language by the standard definition. Learning a language as a reading language in school does not bring it back to life. No one is adding vocabulary or slang. The grammar doesn’t evolve. No new original works of literature are being created in it. Etc.

“It’s the language of scholars and educated people,” said Jason Griffiths, headmaster of Brooklyn Latin. “It’s the language of people who are successful. I think it’s a draw, and that’s certainly what we sell.”

It may be the reason parents enroll their children in Brooklyn Latin, but Latin is not the language of scholars, educated people, and successful people. It once was, but no longer. There are good reasons to learn Latin, but this isn’t one of them. Medievalists like myself need to read Latin to do our work, but we don’t speak or write in it. There are no academic conferences where papers are presented in Latin. You don’t hear Latin conversations in the halls of the Centre for Medieval Studies here in Toronto. (Although there are some wicked games of Latin Scrabble.)

Max Gordon, another sophomore, said that he had learned more about grammar in Latin class than in English class. And he occasionally debates the finer points of grammar with his mother, Kit Fitzgerald, a video artist who studied Latin, while washing dishes after dinner.

“In some ways, it’s really frustrating,” he said. “I’ll hear someone say something that isn’t grammatically correct and I’ll cringe.”

It is true that learning another language will teach you about English grammar. I learned most of my grammar in German class. But someone needs to instruct this kid that you can’t take Latin grammar and apply it to English.

“It’s different,” she said. “Everyone says ‘I take Spanish’ or ‘I take Italian,’ but it’s cool to say ‘I take Latin.’ ”

That’s good to hear.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 September 2013 07:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  407
Joined  2007-02-14

I learned most of my grammar in German class. But someone needs to instruct this kid that you can’t take Latin grammar and apply it to English.

Actually, you learned most of your (English) grammar before you got to school. What you learned in German class was some terminology for fragments of grammar and possibly how different languages do things grammatically.

[Corrected typo.]

[ Edited: 22 September 2013 10:22 AM by jheem ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 September 2013 09:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4461
Joined  2007-01-03

Touché

Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 September 2013 11:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
RankRank
Total Posts:  79
Joined  2012-12-28

First, Latin is definitely a dead language by the standard definition. Learning a language as a reading language in school does not bring it back to life. No one is adding vocabulary or slang. The grammar doesn’t evolve. No new original works of literature are being created in it. Etc.

I concur, but at least it has not been completely extinguished.

Latin is still used in the creation of new words in modern languages of many different families, including English, and largely in biological taxonomy. Latin and its derivative Romance languages are the only surviving languages of the Italic language family. Other languages of the Italic branch were attested in the inscriptions of early Italy, but were assimilated to Latin during the Roman Republic. [i]Latin From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It may be the reason parents enroll their children in Brooklyn Latin, but Latin is not the language of scholars, educated people, and successful people. It once was, but no longer. There are good reasons to learn Latin, but this isn’t one of them. Medievalists like myself need to read Latin to do our work, but we don’t speak or write in it. There are no academic conferences where papers are presented in Latin. You don’t hear Latin conversations in the halls of the Centre for Medieval Studies here in Toronto. (Although there are some wicked games of Latin Scrabble.)

I see your point that it is not a language of successful people,--if success is determined by financial status or social prestige--but anyone who is literate or semi-literate in Latin could be a scholar or certainly educated.  Keep in mind that Latin is still the official language of the Vatican, and there are a few groups in America, and I assume in Europe, that meet to speak in Latin.  Moreover, I would think ,but I might wrong, that Latin being a nexus to the many languages spoken that that would preclude it from extinction.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 September 2013 12:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4461
Joined  2007-01-03

Scavenging a carcass for words that can be used in other languages or scientific taxonomies does not make a language alive.

I don’t know what you mean by “Latin being a nexus to the many languages spoken that that would preclude it from extinction.” Knowledge of Latin is not necessary to learn other languages or grammatical principles. Learning Latin will help one learn other languages, but any language will do that; it need not be Latin. I’m also not sure what you mean by “extinction.” By “dead,” linguists mean that it ceases to have native speakers; it ceases to grow and change.  Latin is dead, but it’s not going to be forgotten or disappear.

Nor, from what I understand, does the Vatican conduct its business in Latin. It translates documents, pronouncements, and records into Latin, as well as a number of other languages, but day-to-day business is conducted in modern languages, mainly Italian.

No one is saying that Latin as it now exists is going away. There will be a need for people who can read it for the foreseeable future, and learning it enriches a person. That is indisputable. But the point is that there is a world of difference between perpetuating knowledge of a language that was and the vitality and growth of a living language.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 September 2013 03:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
RankRank
Total Posts:  79
Joined  2012-12-28

[

quote author="Dave Wilton” date="1379898969"]Scavenging a carcass for words that can be used in other languages or scientific taxonomies does not make a language alive.

I don’t know what you mean by “Latin being a nexus to the many languages spoken that that would preclude it from extinction.” Knowledge of Latin is not necessary to learn other languages or grammatical principles. Learning Latin will help one learn other languages, but any language will do that; it need not be Latin. I’m also not sure what you mean by “extinction.” By “dead,” linguists mean that it ceases to have native speakers; it ceases to grow and change.  Latin is dead, but it’s not going to be forgotten or disappear.

Yes, I agree. What I was trying to say was that since over 60% of all English words have Greek or Latin roots and that about 80% of the entries in any English dictionary are borrowed, mainly from Latin, that that would preclude it from extinction(no longer in use).  I don’t know of any other language, apart from Greek, that would have equal significance. Regardless, I agree Latin is not alive and it will undoubtedly never attain a resurgence of speakers.

Profile
 
 
   
3 of 3
3
 
‹‹ dildo      BL: gerrymander ››