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View Diary: ÍslensKos: The Icelandic Language (Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Lingustic Complexity) (183 comments)

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  •  Your first examples (0+ / 0-)

    I don't think qualify as "natural languages."

    As for your last paragraph, no. Both English and Icelandic can be traced back to proto-IE. Hence, they are just as old. Does Modern Icelandic preserve more features from its earlier history than English? Sure.

    Lamentablemente, por ahora, los objetivos que nos planteamos no fueron logrados en la ciudad capital. - Hugo Chávez, 1992

    by Anak on Tue Sep 27, 2011 at 07:57:45 PM PDT

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    •  Vedic Sanskrit and St Jerome's Latin (0+ / 0-)

      were never "natural languages"?

      Certainly they were always more likely to be informed by even more classical forms but the idea that they weren't closer to the then current vernaculars than their modern written and spoken descendants is just nutty. St. Jerome didn't translate the Bible to Latin so that it WOULDN'T be understood .

      Maybe you are trying too hard.

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      by Bruce Webb on Wed Sep 28, 2011 at 06:42:28 PM PDT

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      •  Amigo, it is you who is trying too hard and who (0+ / 0-)

        had to put on your  pendantic hat in order to make some irrelevant point!

        Icelandic is just as old as English. English is just as old as Icelandic. That was the point.

        If some educated classes preserve an older state of a language, of course that older state is older. If you and I decided to chat using Old High German, of course we would be using an older language than Modern German. No seas pendejo, carajo!

        Lamentablemente, por ahora, los objetivos que nos planteamos no fueron logrados en la ciudad capital. - Hugo Chávez, 1992

        by Anak on Wed Sep 28, 2011 at 07:19:06 PM PDT

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        •  Thank you for conceding the poster's point (0+ / 0-)

          icelandic is in an older state than modern English in relation to the forms of the respective languages as they were spoken in the 10th century. As is evident on inspection of the records of both languages. And for the same reasons that Church Latin in by and large, because literacy was more widespread in meideval Iceland than elsewhere and helped  fix the language in place, just as the Medieval Church's relation to the Bible served to freeze Church Latin in place. Once you have 'correct' speech typified in written form actual speech only drifts so far because now being exposed to explicit norms.

          I was responding to claims about Hebrew being the "oldest" language and debunking thereof to point out that when measured in terms of linguistic drift it isn't a nutty claim at all.

          Plus I spent most of my adult life working towards being a pedant, i.e. a teacher, things just didn't fall out that way. So 'pedantic' doesn't have the sting you want it to. Sometimes you are forced to talk down to people who don't know quite enough about what they are talking about and part of that process requires showing that you in fact do know more about the subject at hand. Which tends to have the listener call you things like 'smarty-pants', or if they like to preserve their dignity a little 'pedantic'.

          Well you can bring those 'insults' on, water off a duck.

          Basta.

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          by Bruce Webb on Thu Sep 29, 2011 at 05:23:00 AM PDT

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          •  Bruce, you are wrong. Sorry. (0+ / 0-)

            And I spent most of my adult life as a teacher as well. Interesting, though not surprising based on what I've read of your posts, that you assume that you occupy some sort of higher, teacher position compared to your interlocuter.  

            In short, you are not tallking down to me, that's the problem. You are attempting to. But, since in this case you don't know what you are talking about, you're trying to talk down to me is kinda annoying,  ¡carajo!

            I have no idea what you are talking about in your first paragraph. Why are you talking about the 10th century? And who is "the poster"? The diarist? The diarist was talking about modern Icelandic. Saying it was some sort of fossil. That is totally wrong. It is just as old as English. See what the great historical linguist R. L. Trask has said about the myth of "older languages."

            Or are you saying Icelandic hasn't changed at all since the 10th century? Wow! That would indeed be interesting. Lol.

            Lamentablemente, por ahora, los objetivos que nos planteamos no fueron logrados en la ciudad capital. - Hugo Chávez, 1992

            by Anak on Thu Sep 29, 2011 at 09:41:06 PM PDT

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            •  Dictionary (0+ / 0-)

              Living fossil:

              an organism that is a living example of an otherwise extinct group and that has remained virtually unchanged in structure and function over a long period of time, as the coelacanth and the horseshoe crab.

              Insert into my phrase, "living-fossil of a language".  You'll find it to be a perfectly apt usage of the term.

            •  To further this: (0+ / 0-)
              Or are you saying Icelandic hasn't changed at all since the 10th century? Wow! That would indeed be interesting. Lol.

              Are you saying that the Coelacanth is likewise unchanged from the Devonian?  And the Horseshoe Crab from the Triassic?  "Living fossil" does not, and never has meant, "hasn't changed at all", and nor did I describe Icelandic as "hasn't changed at all".

              •  I was replying to Bruce (0+ / 0-)

                Bruce is saying that your "point" was that one could say that Modern Icelandic is older than Modern English. Is that what you are saying?

                If you are merely using "living fossil" as a metaphor for "retains many features now lost in other North Germanic languages," ok. Notice that I wrote various comments on your diary, but I never replied directly to your diary on this, because this reading of "living fossil" I don't find too problematic. Though, one could also then say that Dutch "appel" is a living fossil because it didn't undergo the Second Sound Shift like in German. Is Modern Dutch a living fossil compared to German because it retains pre-SSS forms? But, anyway, yeah, I wasn't arguing against this reading of the phrase.  

                Lamentablemente, por ahora, los objetivos que nos planteamos no fueron logrados en la ciudad capital. - Hugo Chávez, 1992

                by Anak on Fri Sep 30, 2011 at 01:57:42 PM PDT

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          •  Ok, sorry, I see now that you wanted to be (0+ / 0-)

            a teacher but it didn't work out? The phrase, "things didn't fall out that way" isn't part of my dialect," so I misread it.

            Lamentablemente, por ahora, los objetivos que nos planteamos no fueron logrados en la ciudad capital. - Hugo Chávez, 1992

            by Anak on Thu Sep 29, 2011 at 09:44:44 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Ok, let's see where we are having a problem... (0+ / 0-)
            just as the Medieval Church's relation to the Bible served to freeze Church Latin in place

            As I said, of course Church Latin represented a freezed state of Latin. Chinese literature was frozen like this for centuries: it was only until Lu Xun in the 1930s that someone finally decided to write as Chinese actually speak.

            So, again, of course there existed an older Chinese that was used for several centuries. But this Chinese was totally artificial and unnatural. It was the language known by a tiny elite, while for centuries the Chinese spoken by all the rest of China went largely unrecorded, until the 1930a.

            I agree with what you said about Church Latin. But this has nothing to do with the age of modern, living, natural languages. ALL modern, living languages are of the same age. None is older than any other. But, as I said yesterday, uh, yeah, of course, if we decided to speak Old English to each other, that would be an older language than Modern English.  

            Has this helped to bridge our misunderstandings?

            Lamentablemente, por ahora, los objetivos que nos planteamos no fueron logrados en la ciudad capital. - Hugo Chávez, 1992

            by Anak on Thu Sep 29, 2011 at 11:39:14 PM PDT

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