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Trolling for languages

Sej Mac skring at banet.net
Fri Jul 3 12:34:20 EST 1998


soledad at mindless.com wrote:

> On Thu, 02 Jul 1998 14:56:48 -0400, Sej Mac <skring at banet.net> wrote:
>
> >
> >French adoptions in "English" are largely of Latin origin; indeed, French the
> >"single language" of today is really the remnant of a pidgin of Frankish and Latin.
> >I don't know even roughly how many words of a purely Frankish origin remain in
> >French  (doesn't seem worth the study), but the many "English" words adopted from
> >French are ultimately Latin---like _language_, _ garbage_, and all the other _-age_
> >words claimed to be French (_-age_ comes directly from IE, some form of it appearing
> >in virtually all IE tongues), for example.
>
> How does this prove that Latin is required for the sciences?

Is the issue that Latin is required for the sciences the original basis of this thread?
I don't think so; I think when I came in the thread was headed Trolling for Geniuses.
Then someone changed it to Trolling for Geniuses--Language, and finally someone bothered
to change this decreasingly neuroscience-related topic to Trolling for Languages.  So,
unless I am mistaken, you are beginning a whole new topic, of whether or not (the study
of) Latin is required (to participate in) the sciences.

For what it is worth (and to complicate the matter even more :-\), IMO the formal study
of Latin as a classical language is NOT necessary to participate in the sciences. Nor the
formal study of classical Greek, which is also pervasive in scientific nomenclature
today.  These two "dead" languages are now integral to "English," so a high level of
literacy in "English" should provide one with the semantic foundation of Latin and Greek
terms along with the semantic foundation of  the terms adopted from all other languages
found in "English," including, of course, "English."

>No. Radio is a medium, one radio station is a member of the media.

You are absolutely correct, of course.  Now tell that to, er, "the media."

>The word 'media' has come to take on two meanings, but both are plural and
>one has no one-word singular. Media is either the plural of medium (as
>in 'type of communication") or the term given to all members of
>'modern information disseminators.' Only thing are the first, only
>people or organizations of people are the second. The singular of the
>first is 'medium', the singular of the second is 'member of the
>media.'

A very interesting analysis!  I have heard it nowhere else, and, alas, hearing the
written and spoken uses of _media_, I can tell you that few if any live up to these
criteria (another plural used for singular referents).  But I certainly agree that this
make a justified rationale.

>
>
> >The German and Slavic tongues of today are also filled with Latin (and even Greek),
> >but the former is of West Germanic stock, the latter of East Germanic stock, and
> >both from the root language Germanic, as are Angle-ish and Saxonese, which comprise
> >whatever is left of bonafide English.  So I eliminate these when claiming that
> >English is largely composed of the "dead" languages, Latin and Greek.
>
> Wait, wait, let me translate for the more prole audiences at home:
> "These things that weaken my argument are obviously irrelevant to this
> debate."
>
> >My only point
> >was that these languages are far from dead.  We can scarcely utter a sentence today
> >which does not have some Latin and Greek in it, even in common parlance, and
> >bionet.neuroscience, the name, illustrates this, not to mention the subjectmatter!
> >The more scientific the subjectmatter of a sentence, the more "living" the Latin or
> >Greek.
>
> How does this prove that Latin is required for the sciences?
>
> All I hear you saying is that Latin terms are useful and that Latin
> derivatives are unavoidable. Latin itself remains superfluous. The
> position taken in our language by Latin could have been taken by any
> other language, Latinate or non-Latinate. Latin has no characteristics
> that make it uniquely suited for scientific research or communication.
> I can easily generate you a whole set of scientific terms which owe
> nothing to Latin and can be used in exactly the same manner.
>
> Furthermore, the system by which your Latin scientfic terms are
> delivered owes very little to Latin. English grammar is unquestionably
> Germanic, but there's no talk about Germanic languages being essential
> to the sciences.
>
> >> The notion of a language being static is not supported by
> >> many people (and IMHO laughable) as language is dynamic, just as its users
> >> (ie: you and me) are similarly dynamic.
> >>
> >
> >True enuf, but this is an irrelevant copout (usually defensively raised by the
> >linguists themselves); it would take a million posts and thrice the number of years
> >to point out all that is *missing* from this simplism.
> >
> >But your point raises an interesting facet I never tho't of before:  Greek and Latin
> >*are* "dead" languages insofar as they cannot change as drastically as those we call
> >"English," "French," etc.  But they do change, even so---both in phonology and
> >semantically---thanks to us idiots.
>
> "Only living things change. Latin changes. Therefore Latin is living."
>
> Even if it were true, it still doesn't mean that Latin is required for
> the sciences.
>
> > A parallel
> >example from Latin is _medium_.  In its plural form, this word has come to be almost
> >the proper name of modern information disseminators: newspapers, mags., radio, TV.
> >One radio station or one magazine is, today, "a media."
>
> No. Radio is a medium, one radio station is a member of the media. The
> word 'media' has come to take on two meanings, but both are plural and
> one has no one-word singular. Media is either the plural of medium (as
> in 'type of communication") or the term given to all members of
> 'modern information disseminators.' Only thing are the first, only
> people or organizations of people are the second. The singular of the
> first is 'medium', the singular of the second is 'member of the
> media.'
>
> Or, in shorter terms, you're wrong.
>
> >Ever wonder how language , er, "evolves"?
>
> Of course. But how does that prove that Latin is required for the
> sciences?
>
> Cro, wirklich.






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