Thursday, April 3, 2008

Quidquid latine dictum sit altum videtur (or, Random internet discoveries in lexicography)

I recently did some research (of the most scholarly kind) on the topic of Romance languages. If you're interested in such things, check out the fascinating Table of Lexical Similarities at Orbis Latinus. You'll see that all modern romance languages seem to share at least 71% of their features. French and Italian share a surprising 89% while Spanish and Italian share 82% and French and Spanish share only 75%. This at least explains my sudden ability to understand French. Not sure if this gives me an excuse for lack of Italian fluency yet.

Latin may be dead, but it took a impressively long time in dying. (At least according to Orbis Latinus) vulgar Latin evolved into various regional romance languages and then further changed as classical Latin was added to make it sound more prestigious. Apparently people have always added Latin to what they're saying to sound more impressive!

It seems history has chosen English as the universal language for our globalized world, but I still think it would be nice to have an auxiliary language or two available for everyone to use (a little less hegemonic that way). I myself have recently become a fan of Modern Latin, an additional language for speakers of any language in the Latin family which can "be understood almost entirely at be understood almost entirely at first glance or hearing and without previous learning." Have a quick look. (See, way better than Esperanto! And reading it feels kind of like that excellent dream I had once where I picked up the guitar for the first time and played it perfectly.) 


Remush said...

Mi rigardis, sed ne trovis multon novan kompare al interlingua. Dum la novaj lingvoj bazitaj sur la latina aŭ sur la angla (ekzemple Esata) batalas inter si, Esperanto progresas.

mankso said...

You seem to have rejected non-ethnic, non-territorial Esperanto for some unstated reason(s). I'm wondering whether this is just a gut reaction or whether you have seriously looked into it? All its roots come from ethnic languages after all.

Also I'm wondering why you didn't mention Romanian, since it is probably the most fascinating of the presently spoken Romance languages, having taken in words from a wide variety of different language families (including Slavic, Germanic and Turkish). In fact, it is rather reminiscent of an E. European dialect of Esperanto.

Swiss Ms. said...

Thanks for your comments, Esperanto fans. I can't claim to have fully research the subject before coming to my conclusions, so I admit to having a rather uninformed opinion, more of a gut reaction (or attraction). I'm still intending to spend some more time on the subject, hopefully somewhere other than on the Internet. I'd be obliged for any book recommendations on the subject of auxlangs and/or Esperanto, if you have any.


jenicrob said...

I'm always surprised at the number of
"bloggers" out there who peruse the sites of people they don't know and even comment. Especially those who have critical commentary. It always raises my eyebrows. Maybe I'll get used to the phenomenon eventually.