The Death of languages
By Tom Colls
An estimated 7,000 languages are being spoken around the world. But that number is expected to shrink rapidly in the coming decades. What is lost when a language dies?
. . . .
"Most people are not at all interested in the death of languages," he says. "If we are not cautious about the way English is progressing it may eventually kill most other languages."
According to Ethnologue, a US organisation that compiles a global database of languages, 473 languages are currently classified as endangered.
. . . .
"You've got smallest, weakest, least resourced communities trying to address the problem. And the larger communities are largely unaware of it," says Ethnologue editor Paul Lewis.
"We would spend an awful lot of money to preserve a very old building, because it is part of our heritage. These languages and cultures are equally part of our heritage and merit preservation."
6 And the LORD said, "Behold, they are one people,
and they all have the same language. And this is
what they began to do, and now nothing which they
purpose to do will be impossible for them."
7 "Come, let Us go down and there confuse their
language, that they may not understand one
8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from there
over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped
building the city.
9 Therefore its name was called Babel, because
there the LORD confused the language of the whole
earth; and from there the LORD scattered them
abroad over the face of the whole earth (Genesis
Nah we won't all be speaking one language again.
Which prompts a rather interesting study into prophecy to see if there is anything to indicate a unification of language into rightspeak.
Originally Posted by Rockntractor
Whew! I'm safe. I don't speak any other language, and English is here for good! Let em go!
time for doublethink and Newspeak
dont forget about internet speak, lol
Originally Posted by fettpett
Natural selection. That's just the way of it.
I don't hear anyone weeping for Latin. IIRC the most spoken languages in the world are(in no order):
All have derivatives of themselves as well. But languages come and go and evolve. The English we speak isn't totally the same as the English spoken in the UK which isn't the same as the English spoken in Chaucer's time. There are several different styles of Spanish. And from French we get Creole. Does anyone speak Hebrew anymore outside of a synagogue?
Oh, and Doublespeak and Newspeak is already here.
Good post, although Hebrew is widely spoken in Israel, and was at least partly resurrected from obscurity by Zionist activists prior to and as a part of the founding of the state. It was seldom spoken outside of synagogues until 1948, but is now one of the official languages of Israel ... in other words, it was rescued, and millions now speak it who otherwise would not have done.
Originally Posted by NJCardFan
It's also interesting to note that some hard core orthodox Jews have an issue with this, as they do not think it should be used at all outside of a religious context.
The usage and evolution of languages, and particularly our own English language, is of great interest to me. I think that all languages deserve, as a part of humanity, some respect and protection from both abuse and misuse.
Try reading a little Nick Hudson !
Originally Posted by NJCardFan
'What Do Words Mean?'
Editor and publisher Nick Hudson ponders the changing meanings of words, such as gay, forensic, decimate and gourmand. Have these words acquired rich new meanings, or are they simply being used incorrectly?
When Latin was the Key to Success...
Last week Nick Hudson recalled his first four years of Latin at prep school in England during the war years. At the time, Latin was the key to success: first at primary school, then, as Nick recalls in this program, at secondary school, university, and even beyond.
James Hankins on Petrarch's view of language
Petrarch's belief in the ephemeral nature of Italian poetry seems paradoxical given his modern reputation, but it made perfect sense in the context of his time. In Petrarch's youth, after all, the vernacular languages of the Italian peninsula had been used for literary purposes for little more than a hundred years.
Literary Tuscan was barely fifty years old. The Tuscan dialect, like other Italian dialects, was still highly unstable from generation to generation, lacking as it did any authoritative grammars or dictionaries. Correct usage was uncertain, and there was only one canonical figure: Dante.
Moreover, the Tuscan language was well known only in an area of central Italy roughly the size of Massachusetts. Other parts of Italy had their own dialects: more than thirty major ones.
Outside of Italy Tuscan was known only among scattered colonies of traders. No, if an author hoped for a fame that could spread throughout the world and outlast his own time, he would have to write in Latin. Latin had already lasted more than a thousand years.
It had been the language of the most successful empire (Petrarch believed) the world had yet seen. It was the language of the Holy Church, founded by Jesus Christ and destined to last to the end of time. It was the tongue used in diplomacy, on inscriptions, and in permanent government records, and it was the medium of communication for all the learned professions: law, medicine, theology.
All science and all philosophy was written in Latin. University statutes required that it be spoken in classes and official meetings. Latin's timeless classics--the writings of Virgil, Horace, Cicero, Seneca, Sallust, Livy, Terence, and many others--were, and had always been, the basis of literary education in Christendom.
Latin stood for all that was noble and civilized. The vernacular speech, by contrast, despite Dante's attempt to "ennoble" it, was all too close to the loose, gabbling talk of ordinary people. It stank of the street and the shop. It was impossible to use with precision and elegance. Or so most people thought in Petrarch's time.
Petrarch believed he would have to write in Latin to secure immortal fame, but the times were hardly propitious for the man who wished to make a reputation as a writer of great Latin prose or poetry. The Latin-speakers in the late medieval world Petrarch inhabited--lawyers, doctors, clergy, bureaucrats--spoke an efficient but flat and graceless jargon that he hated.
It was full of ugly technical terms of recent coinage; its sentences were flaccid and broken-backed. It lacked the syntactical and lexical richness that permitted one to express intimately one's mind and heart. Like many Italians, Petrarch believed that the refined and civilized speech of the Romans had been corrupted by contact with barbarians from the North such as the Gauls and the Germans. Even Italian, after centuries of barbarian invasion, had turned clumsy, distorted, opaque.
Petrarch longed to master the language the ancient Romans had spoken: copious, precise, lapidary; grave and elegant by turns. Latin had once been an imperial language, a language of timeless beauty, spoken by beings of superior wisdom and virtue.
It was a language bursting with potency, able to fire cold hearts and elevate base spirits. That language was now lost. If, as Petrarch and his followers hoped, the strength and civilization of the ancient Romans could have a second birth, that Renaissance would have to begin with a rebirth of the Latin language. A renewal of the ancestral language and literature of Italy was the key to the return of her ancient greatness.
Source: James Hankins: "A Lost Continent of Literature"