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Trolling for languages

soledad at mindless.com soledad at mindless.com
Fri Jul 3 08:23:47 EST 1998


On Thu, 02 Jul 1998 14:56:48 -0400, Sej Mac <skring at banet.net> wrote:

>Richard Kerr wrote:
>
>> At 12:53 1/07/98 -0400, you wrote:
>> >In article <35996492.9D430F09 at banet.net>, skring at banet.net wrote:
>> >
>> >> Bryan J. Maloney wrote:
>> >>
>> >> > Mentipoo, I "grok" the Latin you used just fine.  I also consider Latin to
>> >> > be useful for historians and antiquarians.  It's dead.  No natural
>> >> > scientist needs it these days.
>> >> >
>> >> > If you consider how many words in most modern Western languages are
>> composed
>> >> > of Latin or Greek, you would not call either a dead language.  If anything,
>> >> > English is an almost dead language, as there is very little Angle-ish left
>> >> > in it.
>> >>
>> >> (Sorry; just couldn't resist this iconoclasm)
>> >
>> >
>> >I did not write the second paragraph, and whomever claims that most words
>> >in English are "composed of Latin or Greek" is only showing off his utter
>> >ignorance of English, indeed, he is only showing off his utter ignorance
>> >of northern European languages.
>>
>> . . . .Also, there is a second subtext
>> here.....English is a language that has very little Angle-ish left in it, I
>> agree, as it has a lot (or even 'many') words with French, German or even
>> Slavic origins (although I admit I can't think of an example for the last
>> one right now).
>
>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?

>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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