Can an artificial language...

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Can an artificial language...

Postby Delodephius » Mon 15 Jun 2009 11:34 pm

Can an artificial language be placed under a living language group? Like for example Esperanto being an artificial Indo-European language? First we would need to determine whether a language group means common origin or common features. I vote for the latter. In such a context I think Esperanto can be called an artificial IE language. I mean, it has standard European grammar and most of its vocabulary is European. Call me a heretic but I think it's possible.
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Re: Can an artificial language...

Postby linguoboy » Mon 15 Jun 2009 11:45 pm

Delodephius wrote:Can an artificial language be placed under a living language group? Like for example Esperanto being an artificial Indo-European language? First we would need to determine whether a language group means common origin or common features.

Except that common features can--and are--frequently borrowed. That doesn't mean we shouldn't ever use them as criteria for groupings, but that it's probably misleading to apply the term "family" (which implies direct descent from a common ancestor) to such groupings.
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Re: Can an artificial language...

Postby pittmirg » Thu 02 Jul 2009 9:30 am

Delodephius wrote:Can an artificial language be placed under a living language group?


Sure, this is called an "a posteriori language/conlang".

Like for example Esperanto being an artificial Indo-European language?


Esperanto does derive its roots from IE languages, I wouldn't call it a naturalistic a posteriori language, though, i.e. one that might have evolved naturally from some IE language in theory.


linguoboy wrote:Except that common features can--and are--frequently borrowed. That doesn't mean we shouldn't ever use them as criteria for groupings, but that it's probably misleading to apply the term "family" (which implies direct descent from a common ancestor) to such groupings.


I'll add that the term "Sprachbund" is usually applied in case of such unrelated languages that have become somewhat similar to each other due to borrowing of vocabulary and grammar, i.e. convergention rather than common descent.
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Re: Can an artificial language...

Postby linguoboy » Thu 02 Jul 2009 2:51 pm

pittmirg wrote:I'll add that the term "Sprachbund" is usually applied in case of such unrelated languages that have become somewhat similar to each other due to borrowing of vocabulary and grammar, i.e. convergention rather than common descent.

Sprachbünde can include languages both with and without a common ancestor. The most famous of them all, the Balkan Sprachbund, only involves Indo-European languages. They are similar to each other due both to convergence and common descent.
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Re: Can an artificial language...

Postby pittmirg » Thu 02 Jul 2009 7:53 pm

linguoboy wrote:Sprachbünde can include languages both with and without a common ancestor. The most famous of them all, the Balkan Sprachbund, only involves Indo-European languages. They are similar to each other due both to convergence and common descent.


True. But of course the convergence is the decisive factor which makes them a Sprachbund.
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Re: Can an artificial language...

Postby formiko » Fri 03 Jul 2009 1:54 am

Hebrew is artificial, created almost 100% by Ben-Yehuda.
The main difference between Esperanto and Hebrew is Esperanto originated with one man, Hebrew was primarily a committee.
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Re: Can an artificial language...

Postby linguoboy » Fri 03 Jul 2009 3:07 am

formiko wrote:Hebrew is artificial, created almost 100% by Ben-Yehuda.
The main difference between Esperanto and Hebrew is Esperanto originated with one man, Hebrew was primarily a committee.

Nonsense. Hebrew never ceased to be a community language among the Jews of Europe. The pronunciation of Modern Hebrew was taken directly from living varieties--consonants as in Ashkenazic Hebrew (with the exception of /t/ for ת) and vowels as in Sephardic. No new grammatical constructions were introduced, though certain ones were generalised at the expense of others (chiefly on the basis of similarity to phenomena in Western European languages). There's simply no comparison to a language which had no existence at all until one man stitched it together out of parts he had lying around.
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Re: Can an artificial language...

Postby formiko » Fri 03 Jul 2009 3:25 am

Actually, I've asked people who speak Hebrew, and they can read the OT, but they would rather read it in Modern Hebrew. Many of the grammatical tenses are simplified. I don't know all the details. I read Biblical Hebrew, and I can rarely read anything modern. I also know that Jews spoke Hebrew only for religious services in the 1800s. Hebrew was for religion, Yiddish was for every day talk. Like you said, it was from parts lying around. So was Esperanto for that matter. Esperanto is not an a priori language like Klingon. Hebrew was not spoken as a vernacular until Israel was created and they chose Ben Yehuda's retooling of Ancient Hebrew.
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Re: Can an artificial language...

Postby linguoboy » Fri 03 Jul 2009 4:39 am

formiko wrote:Actually, I've asked people who speak Hebrew, and they can read the OT, but they would rather read it in Modern Hebrew.

And English-speakers can read Shakespeare but they'd rather read Reader's Digest.

Many of the grammatical tenses are simplified. I don't know all the details.

Essentially, where Biblical Hebrew had aspect, Modern Hebrew now has tense. The perfect has been reanalysed as a past tense and the imperfect as a future, with the former present participle supplying the present tense. Shifts like this aren't unusual; aspect was more prominent than tense in Ancient Greek as well, but nowadays the past/non-past contrast is more salient (as is the case in neighbouring languages as well). Since all Mediaeval Hebrew speakers were bilingual in other languages, most of which used tense-prominent systems, this shift may well go back centuries.

I also know that Jews spoke Hebrew only for religious services in the 1800s.

Speaking is not the only measure of the vitality of a language. The Jews continued to write poetry in Hebrew from ancient times to the present day. Under the influence of the 18th-century Haskalah movement, they began using it write about a wide variety of non-religious subjects including politics and culture. Even before then, tracts on philosophy, medicine, philology, and so forth were written in Hebrew. This is the reason why when Ben Yehuda went about fashioning Hebrew vocabulary for modern life, he didn't have to start from scratch. He had centuries worth of coinages to draw upon already.

Hebrew was for religion, Yiddish was for every day talk.

Only in parts of Central and Eastern Europe. Keep in mind that there were Jews in every nation of Europe by that time, not to mention throughout North Africa, the Middle East, and as far away as India (the Cochin Jews) and China (the Kaifeng Jews). Just as the Christians of mediaeval Europe relied on Latin for intercommunication, Jews from disparate regions wrote and spoke to each other in Hebrew.

Like you said, it was from parts lying around.

No, it was from a coherent whole. Hebrew didn't have to be cobbled together from a dozen different languages; it just had to be recodified.

So was Esperanto for that matter. Esperanto is not an a priori language like Klingon. Hebrew was not spoken as a vernacular until Israel was created and they chose Ben Yehuda's retooling of Ancient Hebrew.

The use of Hebrew as a vernacular predates the creation of the State of Israel by at least thirty years.
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Re: Can an artificial language...

Postby formiko » Fri 03 Jul 2009 9:08 pm

You have a lot of information on Hebrew. Are you Jewish? From what I know as a non-Modern Hebrew speaker is that Hebrew now is more of a IE language than a Semitic language. Modern Hebrew was revived after it hadn't been spoken as a daily vernacular for more than 1000 years. Most Jews of the diaspora spoke IE based languages. (Ladino, Yiddish, etc) That's why many scholars contend that although modern Hebrew's morphology is absolutely Semitic and is heavily influenced by biblical and Misnaic Hebrew, its syntax is very similar to Indo-European languages. But again, what do i know?
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