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Latin's descendants

Posted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 12:52 pm
by Perry Lassiter
In today's good word, the good dr commented that French was a derivation of Latin. I wonder what made that language so different from Spanish, Portugese, and Italian. French is much more complicated and has this weird habit of losing the last syllable or two in pronunciation. Spanish is pretty straight-forward. Italian also seems fairly simple, while Portuguese picks up extra letters here and there. But French simply goes nuts. Anyone know why the dif in countries so close together?

Posted: Tue Jan 20, 2009 11:50 am
by skinem
No real idea, but, a possibility as to why the languages aren't so homogeneous...
While the countries are close together by today's standards, they weren't, as far as the average person is concerned, long ago.
There was a day when the average person did not stray far at all from their birthplace. For example, many historians have believed that during medieval times, the average person never went any further than 15 miles in any direction from their birthplace. This, of course, would lead to many variations and dialects with little mixing of peoples.
It's no wonder that it took wars to generate much language change--it was one of the few times people went very far!
Now, why French went the way it did and became more complicated versus other languages, I have no idea. I would suspect it had something to do with it's unique location in respect to other spoken languages, wars and trade.

I know, I know. Much of the above will be received with a big "Duh"... :D

Posted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 8:25 am
by Slava
skinem wrote:many historians have believed that during medieval times, the average person never went any further than 15 miles in any direction from their birthplace.


I've heard that many, if not most Americans actually have never been further than 50 miles from their hometowns. We think we move around a lot, but that's only a portion of society.

Posted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 10:24 am
by Perry
Not to show off, or anything, but I have lived in two countries and travelled in another twelve or so. I am always amused by folks who are only aware of others' accents. There are many people out there who are at first incredulous at my assertion that everyone has an accent.

Posted: Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:35 pm
by sluggo
What made French and its Latinic brethren into unique French (and Italian and Rumanian etc) was the preexisting habits of the locals who had to adopt Latin. Over time they put their own familiarities into it.

What I remember from those days is France, being largely Celtic (Gaul) put some of those habitual linguistic spins in, as did the others with their own localisms. For instance I believe French and Gaelic share the otherwise unknown practice of rendering the number eighty as "four-twenties".

Celtic language was also said to be responsible for the nasal characteristics that came into French and Portuguese, those language areas being on the western fringes of Celtic population- in Galícia (northwestern Spain), the local Spanish is said to sound closer to Portuguese than classical Spanish. Again, it's the local (western, Celtic) influence.

As for the complications of orthography and the "silent knights", it's more a question of how long ago the language was codified into writing versus how much it has deviated since. Our word knight was originally pronounced that way: "K'niccht". And as for its modern homonym night, the gh still has the guttural sound in some English-speaking areas (which IIRC can be viewed in "The Story of English" in the TV weather forecast given in Scots).

Posted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 12:48 am
by Slava
And for old-time pronunciation of knight, we need but watch "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."

Posted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 12:50 pm
by skinem
Perry wrote:Not to show off, or anything, but I have liveed in two countries and travelled in another twelve or so. I am always amused by folks who are only aware of others' accents. There are many people out there who are at first incredulous at my assertion that everyone has an accent.


Yes, it is funny.
Sounding like I'm off the set of Hee Haw, I always enjoyed it when I lived in Oregon. People would say "I just love/hate your accent!" Their response was usually one of puzzlement when I'd respond "And I just love yours, too!"

Posted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 1:00 am
by Stargzer
sluggo wrote: ...

What I remember from those days


My, you HAVE been around a while, my friend!

sluggo wrote: ... is France, being largely Celtic (Gaul) put some of those habitual linguistic spins in, as did the others with their own localisms. For instance I believe French and Gaelic share the otherwise unknown practice of rendering the number eighty as "four-twenties".


I don't know Gaelic but yes, in French eighty is quatre-vingts (four-twenties), but ninety is four-twenties-ten and ninety-one is four-twenties-eleven (and so on), which gives some credence to the old country saying "forty-'leven," as in the lyric from the song Grandma's Featherbed by John Denver ("It was made from the feathers of forty-leven geese ..."). Here's a sample:

eighty, eighty-one, eighty-two, eighty-nine, ninety, ninety-one, ninety-two, ninety-nine

quatre-vingts, quatre-vingt-on, quatre-vingt-deux, quatre-vingt-neuf, quatre-vingt-dix, quatre-vingt-onze, quatre-vingt-douze, quatre-vingt-dix-neuf

four-twenties, four-twenty-one, four-twenty-two, four-twenty-nine, four-twenty-ten, four-twenty-eleven, four-twenty-twelve, four-twenty-nineteen (four-twenty-ten-nine)

Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 2:48 pm
by misterdoe
sluggo wrote:in Galícia (northwestern Spain), the local Spanish is said to sound closer to Portuguese than classical Spanish. Again, it's the local (western, Celtic) influence.


Ethnologue (and other language sites) show Galician, a language in its own right, as being an offshoot of Portuguese that happens to be spoken in Spain. Portuguese itself started as a particularly wayward branch of Spanish.

(BTW in most of the Spanish-speaking world, the language is specified as castellano, or "Castilian" -- the language of Castile -- rather than "Spanish.")

Re: Latin's descendants

Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 3:05 pm
by misterdoe
Perry Lassiter wrote:In today's good word, the good dr commented that French was a derivation of Latin. I wonder what made that language so different from Spanish, Portugese, and Italian.


Probably has something to do with the Normans, who settled in the North of France. They brought a Scandinavian influence to the language in the areas where they settled. Later, after they'd become more-or-less French, some traveled southward to settle in the Venezia region of Italy and the island of Sicily, leading to Venetian and Sicilian having definite Norman elements more pronounced than in "standard" Italian (whatever that is).

Latin Descendents

Posted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 12:07 am
by fmyers
I remember reading an essay by Robert Graves on this topic in which he spoke of the rise of various forms of what he called "camp Latin", as the language of the Roman army and other Roman officials mixed in with the various local languages throughout the Roman Empire. This was probably facilitated by the fact that over time in many areas the rank and file of the Roman army was made up of a mixture of locals along with native Latin speakers. These forms of "camp Latin" evolved into the Romance languages, according to Graves.

Frank

Hello.

Posted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 1:41 pm
by LukeJavan8
Have been a member for awhile: first post. Just to try
out the 'system' and see how this works. Hope to be
around for awhile.

Posted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 6:20 pm
by beck123
Well, there you have it, Luke. Welcome!

If you go to the forum index and look under the "Language" subhead, you find a link to the Rebel-Yankee forum. I've been posting in there some

Hello

Posted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 6:28 pm
by LukeJavan8
Hi Beck123
Finally found you. Have been attempting to navigate
this site all day. Have found some interesting
discussions. Will go to your reference above and
find you there. I like this site so far.
Luke

Posted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 6:36 pm
by beck123
It helps to think of language as a living thing that evolves just as much (maybe more) than any other human trait. Just as we can now trace past migrations of humans through the contents of our present DNA, so it is with language. We can trace the movements of past populations through the content and structure of today's languages. The implied outcomes are remarkably parallel, too. The evolutionary history of language has been studied seriously since the 1800s (and somebody who knows should correct me here if I'm way off the mark,) but DNA studies have only been done in the last few decades. The results of both paths of inquiry, as I've said, are remarkably similar.

I believe that language, unlike DNA, is prone to modification, even in the absence of outside influence, at a level that would appear pathological in any other biological trait. Every generation seems to put its mark on its native tongue, much to the consternation of those who seek to preserve what they feel is the "proper" way to speak a particular language. The variations among and within languages - especially in their spoken forms - offer infinitely greater resolution on the time scale than DNA studies, and in this way the two complement each other nicely.