Saturday, October 19, 2019

Three QQ on Comparative Linguistics (quora)

Two More QQ Specifically on Proto-Indo-European · Three QQ on Comparative Linguistics (quora)

Why did the Proto-Indo-European language go extinct but not other ancient classical languages? Was there no grammar, literature or inscriptions of that language?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
amateur linguist
Answered 4m ago
Proto-Indo-European is not a classical language.

A Classical language means a langage that is taught as second language for the sake of prestige literature and is no longer a native language.

Classical languages therefore by definition are written languages.

Proto-Indo-European, provided it existed and provided it was different from Hittite (Pyysalo is making a reconstruction so close to Hittite that written Hittite could be a stylised version of it), was not written.

Any language has a grammar, but non-written languages don’t preserve their grammars intact. The written ones that do, eventually do so only in the shape of Classic languages (see above) no longer spoken as native languages.

Many written languages also don’t preserve their grammars, because they don’t have a literature people like to return to, they just write sporadic inscriptions stylising whatever is spoken right then.

Lots of written languages known from inscriptions, and non-written ones known from proper names preserved in Latin or Greek texts (Gaulish and Etruscan for one, Isaurian and Dacian for other) have gone down in the Roman Empire.

Because Proto-Indo-European does not exist in writing, it is difficult to prove it existed as a unitary language. It is not difficult to prove that several “branches of IE” share such and such a word which therefore is older than its presence in all of the ones sharing it (usually for each word fewer than all nine or ten), but since any two “branches” in all documented forms are not mutually intelligible, one cannot prove any of them were genetically related, even though borrowed words obviously are so.

For instance, Italic and Celtic have not been shown at stages when they were mutually intelligible, as they were certainly not in documented times, and neither have Slavic and Baltic.

So, instead of going extinct Proto-Indo-European may have simply never existed as a unitary language.

But if it did, it considerably changed and split up. Either before any written records, or leaving Hittite hieroglyphs or cuneiform as the one record.

Is there a common root of all languages today, or did they develop individually?

Answer requested
by Daniel Reynolds

Hans-Georg Lundahl
amateur linguist
Answered 20m ago
You neither have each “developing” individually with no common ancestries (definite one for Romance languages in Latin) nor one identifiable common ancestor language of all languages.

According to the Bible with ancient traditional commentary, this situation is fairly normal, since after Babel (Genesis 11) you had 72 (mostly) unrelated languages, including the one spoken before reduced to presence in Hebrew ancestral line.

I don’t know what you mean by “developing”, if you mean language change, I don’t see any real use in calling it “development” or “evolution” and if you mean “developing” from non-human communications like animal sounds or gestures, there is no evidence anywhere of that happening at all.

What are some languages that are not genetically related but have considerable mutual intelligibility due to excessive borrowing?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
amateur linguist
Answered 38m ago
I don’t know what you mean by “considerable” mutual intelligibility.

I don’t think English and French are mutually intelligible, but many words can be picked out. Since I know both, I can’t put myself for real in the position of one who only knows one and tries to follow a conversation in the other, except that when I started learning French, I had already a fairly good grasp of English, and French was certainly not intelligible to me without the study.

In other words, when two languages have actual mutual intelligibility, they are genetically related.

Note, languages can also be genetically related without having such mutual intelligibility.

For the words time, tide, cloathes, one can make paradigms for Swedish, German and English.

Sw: timma, Gm -, English: time
Sw: tid, Gm: Zeit, English: tide
Sw: kläder, Gm: Kleider, English: cloathes.

But note, “timma” means hour and for next item English is unique in using tide as abbreviation for the composite tidewater (water changing with the time). So, English has changed the words for hour and time into words for time and tidewater.

However, as you may notice, German lacks the gloss “timma” totally and instead uses “Stunde” and overall there are really too many words that are not the same for this to suffice for mutual intelligibility, though it is certainly a good help in learning the other languages.

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