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Historical Linguistics / Re: Was Latin ever a spoken language?
« Last post by LinguistSkeptic on September 12, 2017, 01:00:27 AM »
So, how do you translate that?
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Historical Linguistics / Re: Was Latin ever a spoken language?
« Last post by Daniel on September 12, 2017, 12:20:45 AM »
It might not look quite like English but yes you can translate that. I'm not sure what you mean. Latin was spoken, although not exactly in the style it was written.
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Historical Linguistics / Re: Was Latin ever a spoken language?
« Last post by LinguistSkeptic on September 11, 2017, 10:01:23 PM »
I meant, if it was really a spoken language, its grammar would be consistent enough to allow sentences such as "Heroes are never forgotten.". And it isn't, right?
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Historical Linguistics / Re: Was Latin ever a spoken language?
« Last post by Daniel on September 11, 2017, 01:31:26 PM »
Yes. And no. It depends on which more specific question you are asking.

So-called "Vulgar Latin" was indeed a spoken language, no question about it. There is historical evidence as well as the evidence shown by the modern languages today (that they come from a common ancestor).

Classical Latin however was not a spoken language. As you read it, it is a highly stylistic version of Latin used as a literary language. Some more formal or poetic speakers may have presented themselves in a manner similar to that but it would be like speaking formally/stylistically today, not average daily language.

As for "complexity", no, it is not more grammatically complex than various spoken languages. It is simply different from your expectations and probably simpler in some other ways you might not have noticed such as lacking articles (the, a). So stylistically, no, Latin never was used quite like what you see written. But grammatically, more or less, yes, people did speak in that "complex" (=different) way, and speakers of many languages still do today (for whatever specific grammatical feature you want to pick or, however you want to count them, about the same "number" of such features too). Try Russian for example if you find the cases confusing. Or some Australian languages with even more flexible word order (which can be also used stylistically but also naturally in many ways). Latin is not an outlier grammatically.
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Historical Linguistics / Was Latin ever a spoken language?
« Last post by LinguistSkeptic on September 11, 2017, 10:30:44 AM »
So, what do you think, is it possible that Latin was ever the spoken language as the mainstream history claims? I think that its grammar is too hard for a human being to learn. Besides, its grammar also seems not to allow making statements that you would expect a truly natural language to allow, like "Heroes are never forgotten." What are your thoughts on this? I am not an expert in anything related to the field.
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Yes, you can have intuitions in a second language, but they vary from intuitions in a first language. For example, as you describe, they are not "complete". Arguably you are "fluent in the basics" (even nativelike?) and have intuitions for that, but for other things you don't necessarily have intuitions. And even if you do, they usually differ from native speakers, at least in some ways. Very few learners who started as adults reach levels indistinguishable from native speakers, and even in terms of processing research has shown that first and second languages function different cognitively in some ways. Partly it is because second language learners tend to form and 'interlanguage' that at least in some ways mixes features of the two languages, and that doesn't usually completely go away even after fluency or even reaching nativelike levels (still not quite 'native'). There is much more research, of course, in the fields of first language acquisition and second language acquisition, more than I can even summarize here.
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Postings / Re: Vocab-Make your own vocabulary
« Last post by FlatAssembler on September 09, 2017, 08:36:53 AM »
Do you have some evidence that it actually helps?
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You know, it's not like you don't have any linguistic intuitions when you speak a foreign language. When I speak English, I can't say the likes of "You is smart." with a straight face without effort. Yes, when I make complex sentences, and want to be sure they are grammatical (which I almost never do), I have to pay attention to the consecutio temporum. But I am pretty sure that, in common speech in Croatian, there is a completely free alternation between the perfect and pluperfect after the particle "već" (already).
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Outside of the box / Re: Croatian toponyms
« Last post by FlatAssembler on September 08, 2017, 12:09:41 PM »
Well, true, there are folk etymologies that make sense logically, but those are rare. If you replace an unknown element with a similar-sounding one, chances are, that new element wouldn't make sense logically. The only counter-example I can think of is the folk-etymology of Poreč being derived from "porječje" (river bank), but it takes only a basic knowledge of Croatian dialectology to understand why it can't be correct ("porječje" would be pronounced "poriče" in the Istrian dialect). Also, we know its ancient name, it was called "Parentium" in antiquity. Though, for all we know, "Parentium" could have meant "river bank" in Illyrian. You know, from PIE *por-h1ey-nt-y-om. Though this etymology is quite shaky. Given the other toponyms, it would probably give, by regular sound changes, something like *porintium or *parintium, and not "Parentium".
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Outside of the box / Re: Croatian toponyms
« Last post by Daniel on September 06, 2017, 08:51:29 PM »
Folk etymologies can be plausible or implausible but actually often seem right intuitively so that's why they catch on. Generally they're made by non-experts guessing (and yes sometimes can be easily shown to be false) but often they are clever or apparently correct.

Yes, falsifiability is important and can sometimes be applied usefully but there are still many possibilities that cannot be definitively decided in that way (when evidence is lacking as with ancient toponyms).
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