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https://www.duolingo.com/Prgmstr

Rules for dead languages?

Prgmstr
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One of the key rules to contributing to a course is being fluent in both languages. How does this apply to dead languages like Latin or Greek?

I would like to help make a course for Koine Greek later on, but I'm not sure what level of proficiency is necessary.

2 years ago

18 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/michikade

A dead language just means there aren't any native speakers but it's still in use for certain events and occasions (like Latin is used still for certain things). Just because there aren't native Latin speakers doesn't mean that we have no record of the written language and spoken language and there are many people who do speak the language fluently, even if they aren't a native speaker.

You may be confusing a dead language with an extinct language, which is a language with no speakers and without any use in any circumstance, spoken or written (like many tribal and regional languages that may not have had a written form and now there are no native speakers living so it fades from memory unless any people who speak it as a second or other language, if they do exist, bring it back).

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Synthpopalooza
Synthpopalooza
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The first example that comes to mind for me, is an extinct Scottish language called Norn. Very similar in grammar and structure to the other Nordic languages (Icelandic, Swedish, etc.) it was spoken in the northern Orkney Islands until sometime in the 18th century, having been replaced by Scots and Gaelic. The last native speaker died in the late 1700's, I believe.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Prgmstr
Prgmstr
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Yah it isn't too terribly hard to find fluent Latin speakers, but fluent Koine speakers don't exactly exists yet... or should I say no longer exist...

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dcarl1
Dcarl1
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Classicists are fluent in Latin. Fluency doesn't mean active use by a culture.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/kubelnaby
kubelnaby
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Also, they should decide how to pronounce it. If they adopt the pronunciation of Greek schools, where sheep go "viiii" instead of "beeeee", it isn't even worth the time and effort. The traditional Erasmian pronunciation would be a lot better.

I don't know if someone has ever tried to teach it with a completely accurate pronunciation, where for example some of the "ei"s are pronounced "ee".

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Prgmstr
Prgmstr
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Randal Buth has constructed a pretty good pronunciation system that would be very very close to that era's pronunciation. So were a course like this made it would be modern pronunciation or Buth's because although Erasmian is popular in America it is absolutely unfounded.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TheHockeyist

Well, I think there might be a team working on Modern Greek.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Prgmstr
Prgmstr
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Right, but Modern Greek and Koine Greek are EXTREMELY different. Koine Greek was being used 2000 years ago and is the language of the New Testament in the Bible. Similar vocabulary, but greatly different grammar.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mizinamo
mizinamo
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I think Modern Greek and Koine Greek are less different than Modern English and Old English even half as long ago.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Delta1212
Delta1212
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That's a fairly low bar to clear.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Prgmstr
Prgmstr
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There is actually a much wider gap than that. For instance a modern Greek speaker will be able to understand the general idea of the ancient text, but there is a lot of grammar missing from the Koine era like the entire dative case or the conjugated future tense.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Delta1212
Delta1212
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A wider gap than between Modern English and Old English?

Can you give me the general idea of the first couple of lines of Beowulf?

Hwæt! Wé Gárdena in géardagum þéodcyninga þrym gefrúnon hú ðá æþelingas ellen fremedon.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Prgmstr
Prgmstr
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Oh okay, I thought you were talking about later english... Yah Koine and Modern are not mutually inteligable so it is considered a different language - like portugues and spanish, they might understand a lot of each other, but they are too different to be considered the same.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Delta1212
Delta1212
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That's Old English as it existed about 1,000 years ago in the time frame minizamo specified.

You need to fast-forward a couple of hundred years to late Middle English in the 14th century before it becomes even remotely intelligible (from the Canterbury Tales):

Wepyng and waylyng, care and oother sorwe I knowe ynogh, on even and a-morwe,' Quod the Marchant, 'and so doon oother mo That wedded been.'

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/D_..
D_..
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Koine and Modern Greek are actually very much mutually intelligible. Sometimes Koine is even easier to understand than Katharevousa. Some things definitely get lost on the way, but depending on the character of the text Koine can be very close to Modern Greek. Especially, as you mentioned the New Testament, until very recently (about 15 years ago) only the ancient text of the New Testament was read in the Greek Orthodox church. Then a new archbishop came along and introduced a modern translation.

I don't know how a non native modern Greek speaker would cope with Koine, but I cannon believe a native would have serious trouble. Sure, a natural love for languages and 5 years of compulsory Ancient Greek lessons in secondary education can work wonders, but that could be said for native speakers of modern languages too. :) So unless you're talking about a very exact, professional-level translation, it can vary a lot from someone being able to just get "the general idea of the ancient text" to "this is very clear, but, jeez, so old fashioned!" :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/kubelnaby
kubelnaby
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If they ever decide to do an Ancient Greek course, I'd rather like to have it in Attic Greek, the one spoken by Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles and so on.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/danielmount
danielmount
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There's no reason they couldn't eventually do both. There are plenty of people who want to read Homer and plenty who want to read Luke. I'd probably take both courses.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Prgmstr
Prgmstr
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Not to mention that for seminary (basically Bible college) you have to learn Koine (aka Biblical) Greek, and this would be a great way to learn it instead of just stuffing your head in a book.

2 years ago