Can Latin truly be revived as is? / Comparison of Occidental, Latin, Sambahsa-mundialect, Interlingua and English

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Yesterday on a thread in Auxlang Olivier Simon, the creator of sambahsa-mundialect, translated a well-known quote from M. Pigal, one of the proponents of Occidental about the biggest problem with reviving Latin as an international language as is. He writes:

In fact, the problem with Latin is neither its conjugation, nor its declensions.
Its conjugational system may be simpler than, for example, Spanish. Most
Middle and Eastern European languages have declensions and Latin endings
are easy to master. The problem lies within the vocabulary: Shall we use old-
fashioned words to name modern things?

Read what M.Pigal, one of Von Wahl's followers, wrote:
(and then proceeds to provide translations in Latin and sambahsa-mundialect with the original Occidental quote as well. I then added my own translations in Interlingua and English below those three in a new table, because it's fun.)

Occidental Latin sambahsa-mundialect
"li international comprensibilità del parols dev esser direct, i'mmediatmen sensibil por omni educat homes mem sin latin studies preparatori, ne solmen por docti latinistes. Departiente solmen del latin on poss nequande arrivar ad un modern international lingue, quel conten adminim un ters de vocabuls non-latinic. Circa un demi' de omni latin parols es mort por sempre e ne plu poss esser revivificat. Li rot del historie ne torna a retro. Nequande plu li antiqui signification de copia (stock, multité), charta (paper), lapis (rocc, petre), classis (flotte) etc poss reviver". "Internationalis intelligibilitas vocabulorum directa, statim sensibilis omnibus institutis hominibus etiam sine latinis studiis preparatoriis, non solum doctis latinistis esse debet. Solum a latino nunquam ad modernam internationalem linguam veniri potest, quae minimum tertiam partem vocabulorum non latinorum complectitur. Circiter dimidium omnium latinorum vocabulorum in perpetuum mortuum est ac non amplius ad vitam revocari potest. Rota historiae retro non volvitur. Non jam significatio antiqua copiae, chartae, lapidis classisque etc revivere potest". "Id international pretabilitat iom werds dehlct ses direct, fauran kheisstible ab vasyens eduquet menscens hatta aun preparator latin studyes, ne tik ab muallim latinistens. Gwahnd-ye tik ud Latin khact ses aiw arrivet ad uno moderne international bahsa, quod includt minst-ye oin tridel non-latinen werds. Circa id dwodel vasyen latin werds est mohrno pro semper ed neti
ghehdt ses oiscriscen. Id rot os historia ne rollt retro. Neti aiw id antique maynen om copia (kowp), charta (papier), lapis (petra, rock), classis (flotte)
etc. ghehdt regwive".

Interlingua English
Le international comprehension del parolas debe esser directe, inmediatemente sensibile pro omne educate homines mesmo sin latin studios preparate, non solmente pro docte latinistes. Partinte solo del latin on nunquam posse arrivar a un moderne lingua international, que contine un minimo de un tertie de vocabulos non-latin. Circa un medie de omne latin parolas es morte in perpetuitate, e non plus pote esser resuscitate. Le rota de historia non rota a retro. Nunquam plus le antiquate significantia de copie (multitude), charta (papiro), lapis (rocca, petra), classis (flotta) etc. pote revivescer. The international comprehension of words should be direct, immediately sensible for all educated men even without preporatory studies of Latin, not just for educated Latinists. Going only from Latin one can never arrive at a modern international language, that contains at least a third of non-Latin words. About half of all Latin words are dead forever, and cannot be revived any longer. The wheel of history does not turn back. Never again can be revived the ancient meaning of copie (multitude), charta (paper), lapis (rock), classis (fleet), etc.

Back to the subject of the thread, I agree that this is probably Latin's biggest problem. There is quite a bit of discussion on the Latin Wikipedia all the time about what the Latin term for (insert word here) should be, such as Grave Metallum for Heavy Metal.

On the other hand, it's precisely a community like Wikipedia where a revival of this nature could occur, as everybody puts their heads together to come up with new Latin words for modern terms. For all we know the day might come where they've finally succeeded in creating a new Latin term for absolutely everything one needs in a modern language, and then it will be perfectly usable once again.


Barcodex said...

Having Russian-English-Estonian-Swedish-Ido background, I was able to understand only Interlingua text.

The Bent Branch said...

This really isn't the problem - the problem with Latin is that there are not enough speakers who are fluent. If there were a community of fluent speakers, then they would coin and use words and the language would expand once again, as it did, for example, during the renaissance, when there was such a community of speakers.
Latin is, however, reviving as a spoken language - the tools for this are increasingly available. More and more Latin audio is available online. There is now a latin language facebook type network, as well as vikipedia, which also has its uses in promoting the written form of the language.
Take a loof at
which are part of a language revitalisation effort that is currently in progress. Thousands are using Latinum, and are once again learning spoken Latin. The real time chatroom on schola gets bust a couple of times a day. Thus, web 2.0 is being very useful for Latin.

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