Difference between revisions of "Languages"

From Cunnan
Jump to: navigation, search
m (adds)
(added a lot of stuff)
Line 3: Line 3:
 
Languages change over time and there exists the opinion that schools should follow this change. In fact the opposite is true, schools should help slow or arrest changes to languages as lingual consistency makes communication with our past possible (albeit that communication is one way). The article on [[Old English]] gives some example of the gradual changes to [[English]].
 
Languages change over time and there exists the opinion that schools should follow this change. In fact the opposite is true, schools should help slow or arrest changes to languages as lingual consistency makes communication with our past possible (albeit that communication is one way). The article on [[Old English]] gives some example of the gradual changes to [[English]].
  
''See also''
+
== Language Groups ==
 +
 
 +
There are two main language groups found in [[Europe]], and several smaller groups, or isolated languages.  The main groups are:
 +
 
 +
* The [[Indo-European]] language group.
 +
* The [[Finno-Ugric]] language group.
 +
 
 +
Other languages found in Europe during the [[Middle Ages]] include:
 +
 
 +
* The [[Western Mediterranean]] language group.
 +
* The [[Semitic]] language group.
 +
* The [[Hamitic]] language group.
 +
* The [[Caucasian]] language group.
 +
 
 +
=== [[Indo-European]] languages ===
 +
 
 +
The [[Indo-European]] language group, or more properly group of language groups, comprises the following sub-groups:
 +
 
 +
* [[Teutonic]] languages, such as [[Norse]], [[German]], [[English]] (including [[Old English]], [[Anglo-Saxon]], etc), [[Danish]], [[Swedish]], etc.
 +
* [[Celtic]] languages, such as [[Breton]], [[Welsh]], [[Gaelic]], etc.
 +
* [[Italic]] and [[Romance]] languages, such as [[Italian]], [[French]] and its dialects (including [[Waloon]], [[Provencal]], etc), [[Spanish]], etc.  Most of these languages are derived from [[Latin]] or its ancestral [[Thraco-Phrygian]] languages.  Also included in this group is [[Romanian]] -- it's interesting to find an essentially western european language hiding in eastern Europe, but there's a story to that.
 +
* [[Greek]] and [[Illyrian]] which are also off-shoots of the same [[Thraco-Phrygian]] language group that gave birth to [[Latin]] and the [[Romance]] language groups
 +
* [[Hittite]], an [[ancient]] language of [[Asia Minor]] which is also a descendant of the [[Thraco-Phrygian]] languages.
 +
* [[Baltic]] languages, such as [[Lithuanian]] and [[Latvian]] or [[Lettish]] (but not [[Estonian]]).
 +
* [[Slavonic]] languages, the most widespread throughout eastern europe, including [[Russian]], [[Polish]], [[Serbian]], [[Croat]], [[Ukrainian]], etc.  The [[Baltic]] and [[Slavonic]] languages are distantly related, but distinct enough to form separate language groups.
 +
 
 +
There are enough similarities between all of the [[Indo-European]] languages to tie them together -- for example they are all [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inflected_language Inflectional languages], which means that the structure of a word changes form to indicate its grammatical function.  e.g. in [[English]] ''who'', ''whose'', and ''whom'' are inflected nominative, genitive, and accusative forms of the same word (although [[English]] is not a highly inflectional language -- most of the [[Slavonic]] languages are much more inflectional).
 +
 
 +
=== [[Finno-Ugric]] languages ===
 +
 
 +
The [[Finno-Ugric]] language group is a much smaller group than [[Indo-European]].  It evolved from the ancient [[Finnish]] languages which have existed from the stone age in the forests of Finland and northern Europe.
 +
 
 +
The main languages in the [[Finno-Ugric]] group are:
 +
 
 +
* [[Finnish]]
 +
* [[Hungarian]] (or [[Magyar]])
 +
* [[Estonian]]
 +
 
 +
Yes, the spread of these languages is interesting.  The [[Magyar]]s were originally a northern steppe tribe descended from the Finns
 +
 
 +
The [[Finno-Ugric]] languages are all [http://en2.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agglutinative Agglutinative language]s, which mean that they use prefixes and suffixes to indicate the grammatical role of the words.  Note that the [[Turkic]] and other [[Steppe]] languages such as [[Mongol]]ian are also agglutinative and have many similar grammatical structures, which seems to indicate a connection between these language groups, possibly a very [[ancient]] connection.
 +
 
 +
=== [[Semitic]] and [[Hamitic]] languages ===
 +
 
 +
It is worth considering these together as they almost form a combined group.  The [[Hamitic]] languages are as closely related to [[Semitic]] as they are to each other.
 +
 
 +
The main languages in these groups are [[Hebrew]], [[Arabic]] and in earlier times [[Aramaic]] and the various north [[Africa]]n and [[Egypt]]ian languages.
 +
 
 +
The common theme amongst these languages is that they all exhibit a pattern of root words consisting of three consonants, with vowel changes, prefixes, and suffixes used to inflect them. For instance, in Hebrew:
 +
 
 +
* gdl means "big" but is no part of speech and not a word, just a root
 +
* gadol means "big" and is an adjective
 +
* gidel means "he magnified"
 +
* magdelet means "magnifier" (lens)
 +
 
 +
The languages all have alphabets (eg: the [[Hebrew]] alphabet, or alef-bet), which contain a set of consonants, with the vowels written around, under, following, or above the consonants.  They are written right-to-left, rather than left-to-right as in [[English]].
 +
 
 +
=== [[Western Mediterranean]] languages ===
 +
 
 +
Probably the most interesting group of languages from a scholar's point of view, but the least widespread, the [[Western Mediterranean]] language group ''arguably'' includes the following languages:
 +
 
 +
* [[Basque]]
 +
* [[Etruscan]]
 +
* The language in use on the isle of [[Lemnos]] in the [[Aegean]] sea.
 +
* Old [[Caledonian]]
 +
 
 +
There are many theories on the relationship between these languages, and many difficulties involved in analysing them (mostly because nobody speaks [[Etruscan]] or the [[Aegean]] language any more, and we can't read the surviving inscriptions in this language).  It is possible that the language group was more widespread in neolithic times, but was pushed out by the arrival of the [[Indo-European]]s.
 +
 
 +
=== [[Caucasian]] languages ===
 +
 
 +
Another interesting one to study -- the main surviving language of this group is [[Georgia]]n.  It is also interesting to note that [[Georgia]]n has very similar language structure to [[Basque]], indicating that [[Georgia]]n and the other (minor) [[Caucasian]] languages were originally part of the [[Western Mediterranean]] group -- indicating a further fragment of the ancient tribe that  was dispersed by the [[Indo-European]]s.
 +
 
 +
== See also ==
 +
 
 
* [[French]]
 
* [[French]]
 
* [[German]]
 
* [[German]]

Revision as of 13:33, 30 November 2003

There are a few Languages that are of interest to people in the SCA. Most notably French, Old English and Latin. Most members of the SCA speak English.

Languages change over time and there exists the opinion that schools should follow this change. In fact the opposite is true, schools should help slow or arrest changes to languages as lingual consistency makes communication with our past possible (albeit that communication is one way). The article on Old English gives some example of the gradual changes to English.

Language Groups

There are two main language groups found in Europe, and several smaller groups, or isolated languages. The main groups are:

Other languages found in Europe during the Middle Ages include:

Indo-European languages

The Indo-European language group, or more properly group of language groups, comprises the following sub-groups:

There are enough similarities between all of the Indo-European languages to tie them together -- for example they are all Inflectional languages, which means that the structure of a word changes form to indicate its grammatical function. e.g. in English who, whose, and whom are inflected nominative, genitive, and accusative forms of the same word (although English is not a highly inflectional language -- most of the Slavonic languages are much more inflectional).

Finno-Ugric languages

The Finno-Ugric language group is a much smaller group than Indo-European. It evolved from the ancient Finnish languages which have existed from the stone age in the forests of Finland and northern Europe.

The main languages in the Finno-Ugric group are:

Yes, the spread of these languages is interesting. The Magyars were originally a northern steppe tribe descended from the Finns

The Finno-Ugric languages are all Agglutinative languages, which mean that they use prefixes and suffixes to indicate the grammatical role of the words. Note that the Turkic and other Steppe languages such as Mongolian are also agglutinative and have many similar grammatical structures, which seems to indicate a connection between these language groups, possibly a very ancient connection.

Semitic and Hamitic languages

It is worth considering these together as they almost form a combined group. The Hamitic languages are as closely related to Semitic as they are to each other.

The main languages in these groups are Hebrew, Arabic and in earlier times Aramaic and the various north African and Egyptian languages.

The common theme amongst these languages is that they all exhibit a pattern of root words consisting of three consonants, with vowel changes, prefixes, and suffixes used to inflect them. For instance, in Hebrew:

  • gdl means "big" but is no part of speech and not a word, just a root
  • gadol means "big" and is an adjective
  • gidel means "he magnified"
  • magdelet means "magnifier" (lens)

The languages all have alphabets (eg: the Hebrew alphabet, or alef-bet), which contain a set of consonants, with the vowels written around, under, following, or above the consonants. They are written right-to-left, rather than left-to-right as in English.

Western Mediterranean languages

Probably the most interesting group of languages from a scholar's point of view, but the least widespread, the Western Mediterranean language group arguably includes the following languages:

There are many theories on the relationship between these languages, and many difficulties involved in analysing them (mostly because nobody speaks Etruscan or the Aegean language any more, and we can't read the surviving inscriptions in this language). It is possible that the language group was more widespread in neolithic times, but was pushed out by the arrival of the Indo-Europeans.

Caucasian languages

Another interesting one to study -- the main surviving language of this group is Georgian. It is also interesting to note that Georgian has very similar language structure to Basque, indicating that Georgian and the other (minor) Caucasian languages were originally part of the Western Mediterranean group -- indicating a further fragment of the ancient tribe that was dispersed by the Indo-Europeans.

See also