Saturday, 20 March 2010

Why Latin is a dead language: a practical lesson from History (Part 4 of 5)


Four major languages of our age, Italian, French, Spanish, and Portuguese, are derived from Latin. All four have shed the overcomplicated structure that made Latin so inefficient. The cost of maintenance became to heavy and the old construction fell apart. Like a bankrupt company, Latin collapsed under the weight of its liabilities.

The ancient language built sentences by adding affixes to adjective and names depending on their grammatical role, gender, and number. In order to create a correct sentence, each name and adjective had to be combined with the right affix. Latin had many different affixes, which varied from name to name and case to case. In contrast, modern Spanish just adds “s” for most plurals.

Speaking correct Latin required extensive training that few could afford in the Middle Ages. Even with our most advanced learning methods, languages that continue to use numerous affixes for names and adjectives demand great efforts of foreigners who wish to learn them.

To be continued in Part 5

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by MissTurner under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Why Latin is a dead language: a practical lesson from History (Part 4 of 5)


Four major languages of our age, Italian, French, Spanish, and Portuguese, are derived from Latin. All four have shed the overcomplicated structure that made Latin so inefficient. The cost of maintenance became to heavy and the old construction fell apart. Like a bankrupt company, Latin collapsed under the weight of its liabilities.

The ancient language built sentences by adding affixes to adjective and names depending on their grammatical role, gender, and number. In order to create a correct sentence, each name and adjective had to be combined with the right affix. Latin had many different affixes, which varied from name to name and case to case. In contrast, modern Spanish just adds “s” for most plurals.

Speaking correct Latin required extensive training that few could afford in the Middle Ages. Even with our most advanced learning methods, languages that continue to use numerous affixes for names and adjectives demand great efforts of foreigners who wish to learn them.

To be continued in Part 5

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by MissTurner under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]