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Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
I don't think it has a english version, it was very crappy. xD
Looks so, lol. Thanks! But it's a shame, the zombies don't seem to speak... If Roman zombies should come, they must speak!!!
 
I was expoſed to far too many zombie films when my tasteleſs daughter lived with me, and I totally deteſt the entire genre, only partly because zombies never ſay anything.:mad:
 

Quasus

Civis Illustris
It seems bizarre when someone talks about fluency in Latin as if supposing a possibility of a time machine. This assumption is altogether inadmissible. We just can't reason that way.

Moreover, no one aims at actual colloquial Latin. Classical Latin is a literary language with a limited colloquial register. From this point of view there's nothing wrong that there are no natives. There were no natives at the times of Ammianus, Claudian, or Erasmus. Even the Latin of the II century is different.

If one treats Latin as a fossilized language, he only should analyze authentic texts and regard any composition as a kind of faking. On the other hand, if one treats Latin not as a living language, but as a literary norm, there's no problem with fluency.
 

Matthaeus

Vemortuicida strenuus
I was expoſed to far too many zombie films when my tasteleſs daughter lived with me, and I totally deteſt the entire genre, only partly because zombies never ſay anything.:mad:
Should you find any outside your window, invite me to bash their head in!
 

Aurifex

Aedilis
Staff member
It's understandable that this topic generates controversy. It seems to me it's mainly because it's a case of so near yet so far.

If dedicated Latinists such as Erasmus, or certain people from the present day even, could go back to ancient Rome, they would certainly be pretty well equipped to get by as soon as they exited the time machine, even if at first their speech would probably be highly unidiomatic and their pronunciation bizarre by native standards. As Nikolaus suggests, though, that situation would quickly change for the better after interaction with the locals. This is the "so near" part.

The "so far" part is that none of us, however long we spend poring over our Latin books or conversing with fellow enthusiasts using a brand of Latin we have agreed upon as acceptable, can ever take even the tiniest step towards getting that essential interaction with the locals that would take us from stiff and bookish to fluent.

So to answer your question, Abb. Scr., if Erasmus had managed to get himself transported back to Cicero's day and been able to enjoy the happy experience of spending some time with the ancient Romans, then yes, he would undoubtedly have become fluent in the Latin of the day in no time at all, though it would surely have taken even Erasmus somewhat longer than 24 hours.

You probably don't need me to tell you by now that your introducing this whole hypothetical question of Erasmus going back in time, far from challenging my position on fluency, actually illustrates the very point I was making right from the outset: that to take things to the highest level, to acquire that spoken fluency that is the whole topic of this discussion, what you need, ultimately, is interaction with native speakers. If the status of the language makes such interaction unobtainable, then, short of time travel, there is simply nothing you can do to alter the situation.

I'm not certain what point you're making, Quasus. You seem to be saying that we should judge fluency in a dead language on different terms from the way we judge fluency in a living one. If that is what you're saying, did I not adequately address this question in my earlier post when I drew a distinction between fluency in Latin and fluency in Neo-/meta-Latin?
 

Misius

Active Member
I wonder how you would describe fluent speakers of Esperanto in your terms of fluency (and there are several thousands if not tens of thousands of them today and their main objective is not to read or write, or at least of most of them, but to speak, speak and speak).

I wonder how you would describe in your terms of fluency the children of two Esperanto parents which have Esperanto as one of their mother tongues and are therefore true native speakers, a new generation (and there exist reportedly over one hundred of them; they do not usually continue the generation though, it is a 'blind branch').

I wonder how you would describe in your terms of fluency children of educated parent(s) (usually of educated father) in the middle ages and renaissance who managed to make Latin one of the native languages of their children and such Latin was then 'truly' one of their mother tongues (find: Michel de Montaigne as an example).

I wonder how you would describe in your terms of fluency a potential children of two modern Latin enthusiasts, a children, who would have Latin as one of its mother tongues.

Is it not the function of a dead language to be an universal unchanging language of communication? I am not speaking just about dead languages of litterature as Old English or Old Chinese are, I am not speaking about extinct languages, I am not speaking about languages that are and were always read and read only just somewhere at the academia. I am speaking about a language that was used in its dead form in commerce, in casual conversations between those, who knew it, I am speaking about a functional dead language. How would you then call those who were able to ascend to such level that they spoke one with another without any obstacles other than fluent?

I think that a fluency in a 'functional' dead language truly is another thing than a fluency in a language that has a living community of native speakers. A functional dead language is for me a language in which new litterature is or was written by non-native speakers after its death, or vernacular litterature was/is translated to (and all the other stuff I described above).

I really believe that Latin always had been (and has been) ever since it was recognized as 'dead' a true functional dead language and therefore one could socially become fluent in it. (be it that the definition of fluency changed a bit) And I also believe that this is how Erasmus, Comenius, Des Cartes would understand it (at least Comenius and Des Cartes when they spoke with each other).
 

Aurifex

Aedilis
Staff member
Were fluency defined as dependent on interaction with native ſpeakers, then it would in no caſe be poſſible in either ſort of Latin, so there could be no diſtinction.
If you can demonstrate a way in which we might go about finding a "native speaker" of Neo-Latin, I'll take your attempt at refutation seriously. The former existence of native speakers of Latin is not in dispute; finding a native speaker of Neo-Latin is a logical impossibility, until, that is, such time as Neo-Latin begins to be spoken so widely and exclusively that it evolves into a language with native speakers, as Modern Hebrew has done.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
That Neo-Latin native speakers don't exist was in fact what AS said. His point is that, following your opinion that you can only be fluent in a langage that has native speakers, it is as impossible to be fluent in Neo-Latin as it is impossible to be fluent in "Roman Latin", since neither has native speakers now.
 

Aurifex

Aedilis
Staff member
I wonder how you would describe fluent speakers of Esperanto in your terms of fluency (and there are several thousands if not tens of thousands of them today and their main objective is not to read or write, or at least of most of them, but to speak, speak and speak).
Fluency in an artificial language.
I wonder how you would describe in your terms of fluency the children of two Esperanto parents which have Esperanto as one of their mother tongues and are therefore true native speakers
The inherent petitio principii makes your question a non-starter, though I see it was framed as a rhetorical one anyway, like most of your others.
I wonder how you would describe in your terms of fluency children of educated parent(s) (usually of educated father) in the middle ages and renaissance who managed to make Latin one of the native languages of their children and such Latin was then 'truly' one of their mother tongues (find: Michel de Montaigne as an example).
I'd call it a disingenuous misapplication of the terms native language and mother tongue, or rather ingenuous in Montaigne's case and disingenuous in yours.
I wonder how you would describe in your terms of fluency a potential children of two modern Latin enthusiasts, a children, who would have Latin as one of its mother tongues.
I'd call it the triumph of idealism over the facts, and an even less excusable misuse of the term mother tongue.
I think that a fluency in a 'functional' dead language truly is another thing than a fluency in a language that has a living community of native speakers.
I agree entirely.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Btw, "children" is plural; "a child"; "several children".
 

Aurifex

Aedilis
Staff member
That Neo-Latin native speakers don't exist was in fact what AS said. His point is that, following your opinion that you can only be fluent in a langage that has native speakers, it is as impossible to be fluent in Neo-Latin as it is impossible to be fluent in "Roman Latin", since neither has native speakers now.
My words were: "I would never presume to deny someone the right to claim fluency in Neo-Latin if he felt it an accolade worth aspiring to." This does not constitute an assertion that Neo-Latin has native speakers, nor that fluency in Neo-Latin is of the same status as fluency in a language that does have, or did have, native speakers.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
You did say:
It's impossible to achieve fluency in a language that has no native speakers.
before you said:
I would never presume to deny someone the right to claim fluency in Neo-Latin
So this is the apparent contradiction in your words AS was pointing out.

But nevermind, I think we all get what you mean.
 

Ignis Umbra

Ignis Aeternus
It may be worth reiterating that the definition term fluency is extremely ambiguous….
 

Matthaeus

Vemortuicida strenuus
I maintain that fluency can be reached at nonetheless.
 

Misius

Active Member
Why to call it fluency in Neo-Latin? Let us call it then fluency in all the Latin that has been here since its recognized death, all those 1500 years (and maybe it has been the same as Esperanto ever since, just not with imaginary grounds but with a real natural language as its grounds). Anybody who used the language just outside of reading (preferably for communication) without difficulties was fluent. Fluency was a real thing that could get you a place in a university as a student (in fact you would not be able to study there otherwise) a thing that could get you a job in some institution. And this 1500 years period has not finished yet, which is what you think (I do not know why).

Rename then your Latin in which you said the fluency is possible.

I am not even starting comparing it with Sanskrit which is spoken even today in several 'Sanskrit' villages (see 'Mattur') and is one of the official languages of one state (Uttarakhand).
 

Quasus

Civis Illustris
I'm not certain what point you're making, Quasus. You seem to be saying that we should judge fluency in a dead language on different terms from the way we judge fluency in a living one. If that is what you're saying, did I not adequately address this question in my earlier post when I drew a distinction between fluency in Latin and fluency in Neo-/meta-Latin?
My point is that all that time machine stuff is absurd. It's the same as to judge one's proficiency in Quenia from elves' point of view. As for Neo-/meta-, you are multiplying entities beyond necessity. It's clear that Latin as the mother tongue of the Romans is one thing and Latin as a learned literature standard is another one.

Generally, the situation when a literary language is remote from actual speech is not uncommon. Think e. g. of Arabic (the literary form used in print, TV, and on official occasions represents an older stage of the language and drastically differs from vernacular dialects) or Welsh (the literary form was artificially created and does not represent any dialect ever in use), also Literary Chinese, Old Church Slavonic, etc, etc. There's no point in claiming that no Arab is fluent in fusha and no Welsh has ever been fluent in the literary form of his tongue.

Basically, one speaks fluently, if his speech kind of flows. Surely Erasmus was fluent in some thing. Personally, I wouldn't mind being fluent in the same thing (oops, there's no Erasmus to judge; well, in a similar thing). I don't think that's impossible and I see no reasons why not call it Latin.
 

jondesousa

New Member
Roberto is a good friend of mine. And used to be my teacher for while as well. He used to teach in Vivarium Novum and now is independent, I can get you in touch with him. Send me a private message.
Hi LCF - Thanks for your kind offer. I am unable to send a PM since I haven't yet posted the minimum number of posts needed to activate the PM system. Could you send me an email at johannes_sousius[at] outlook[dot]com so I can reply back? Sorry for any inconvenience this might cause.

Thanks,

Jon
 
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