Skip to comments.How Do You Learn a Dead Language?
Posted on 01/31/2008 10:15:54 AM PST by forkinsocket
Last week, Chief Marie Smith Jones, the only remaining native speaker of the Eyak language, died in her home in Anchorage, Alaska. Chief Jones' death makes Eyakpart of the Athabascan family of languagesthe first known native Alaskan tongue to go extinct. Linguists fear that 19 more will soon follow the same fate. Fortunately, starting in 1961, Chief Jones and five other native-speaking Eyaks worked with Michael Krauss, a linguist at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, to document Eyak in case future generations want to revive it. How would you go about learning a language that nobody speaks?
It depends. A well-documented language would have a dictionary, grammar book, a body of literature (such as folk tales or religious texts), and, in some cases, videos and recordings that a dedicated student could learn from. Eyak, for example, has all of these. Ideally, the grammar book and dictionary would spell out the sounds of the vowels (and tone, if there is any). If there isn't good documentation, linguists must reconstruct the language using whatever written stories or religious texts remain, and then borrow words, grammatical structures, and pronunciation from closely related languages, patching together their best guess at what they think the language sounded like.
In some cases, a language that's classified as "extinct" is still spoken in certain contexts. Latin, for example, is considered extinct, or dead, but is taught in schools and used in religious ceremonies. A language is generally considered extinct if it's no longer used in daily conversation. To be a livingor nativelanguage, people must use it as a primary means of communication.
(Excerpt) Read more at slate.com ...
Listen to a McCain speach?
Converse with dead people?
How Do You Learn a Dead Language?
I am sure she has been taped over the years and translated along with the other 19 mentioned.
But why would you want to learn a language no one else knows?
Obscure indian languages can be lost and perhaps leave no trace. If that were to happen, they would be extinct. But Latin, though a dead language, is not likely to be extinct while civilization remains on earth.
“But why would you want to learn a language no one else knows?”
i think it has something to do with Bush and global warming.
"You have to see them first".
>>But why would you want to learn a language no one else knows?
So nobody else can listen in when you talk to yourself. :)
I speak conservatively, which is rapidly headed for extinction. Is anyone listening? Recording? Documenting?
How Do You Learn a Dead Language?
Vanilla Ice also knows Latin:
Latin is far from dead. Actually it is being kept up to date and is in constant use in itself as well as being semi-concealed in a large fraction of English, French, etc.
I remember posting both those threads... but the Mix-A-Lot one was more fun!
Why do they fear it? After all what good is it if no one speaks it?
. How would you go about learning a language that nobody speaks?
Much more importantly WHY would you?
This might happen to English in 100+ years.
25+ if we don’t secure our borders.
The problem is right there. It is a spoken language. Or was.
Kind of reminds of the classic question in Strategic Business Management classes:
“Who bought the first telephone offered for sale? And Why?”