What a spoken Latin revival might look like

Monday, July 22, 2013

An article a few days ago about the Pope's Latin account and its huge following has an interesting quote:

Pope Francis' latest Latin tweet – or as Father John Zuhlsdorf has suggested, “pipatum” – reads “Domine, largire nobis gratiam plorandi indifferentem animum nostrum necnon immanitatem quae in mundo et in nobis insaeviunt.”

It is a translation of the same day's English language tweet, “Lord, grant us the grace to weep over our indifference, over the cruelty that is in the world and in ourselves.”

The rather high level of interaction with the “pipati” counters the claim that Latin is “dead,” Noone said. He noted that he and several of his colleagues can speak the language, and that other languages which had fallen into the disuse typical of Latin have actually been revived.

He noted Irish Gaelic, which was spoken by less than three percent of Irishmen in 1922, but by nearly 40 percent today; and Hebrew, which was used only by rabbis and particularly devout Orthodox Jews, but is now the national language of Israel.

He is very right about languages like Irish that are enjoying a revival, and just last week I watched a few episodes of a documentary showing what it's like to try to do things in Ireland only using Irish, no English. The star of the documentary (No Béarla) has unfortunately too much of a chip on his shoulder about the language (he constantly says that it's dead, uses far too difficult expressions with people and even rants on the street from time to time), but the reactions from the people he encounters are extremely interesting. One could imagine such encounters in a place with a high concentration of Latin speakers (imagine something like the World Congress of Esperanto), who in the beginning would not be fluent but able to communicate in varying degrees of proficiency.


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