Archive for the ‘Latin (lat)’ Category

Latin contest

1 May 2013

High schools in the US recently competed in a Latin competition that included grammar, geography, Greek derivatives and vocabulary.

The contest is called a “certamen,” a Latin word meaning “competition.”

Although this year’s contest questions have not yet been posted, you can see the questions and answers from past years at the Texas State Junior Classical League website.

For a list of many of the students and other details, see the article “Local students prove Latin is no dead language” in the Westlake Picayune.

Where Are Your Keys? – 2

29 July 2012

One of the most exciting posts on this blog was about a year ago, titled “Where Are Your Keys?” WAYK is a fast immersion learning technique invented by Evan Gardner and co-developed by Willem Larsen.

Checking in on them, I see there are two weekly WAYK events: one for Chinuk Wawa or Chinook Jargon (chn) and the other for Maidu (nmu).

Evan Gardner explains how “What’s that?” is always a great way to start a conversation:

Here’s a group session of WAYK using Western Abenaki (abe):

In this video, Dustin Rivers teaches Squamish (squ):

Earlier this month, there was also a three-day WAYK session on Latin (lat) (to prepare “for the explosion of Latin’s return as the world’s lingua franca).


Promoting Klingon

1 May 2011

As per the announcement “qep’a’ wa’maH chorghDIch,” the eighteenth annual meeting of the non-profit Klingon Language Institute will meet in Reno, Nevada, US from August 14 to 18, 2011.

Klingon (tlh) is a conlang, or constructed language, first created for “Star Trek: the Motion Picture” by actor James Doohan (Scotty) and subsequently developed for other “Star Trek” movies and shows by Marc Okrand. Other examples of constructed languages are Esperanto (epo) and Ido (ido). Esperanto is the only constructed language listed in the current version of the Ethnologue.

Readers may wonder whether a fantasy language such as Klingon has a place on this blog. There are aspects of the Klingon movement that relate to endangered languages and may be of interest to language planners and learners.

Klingon has no native speakers—though linguist d’Armond Speers spoke exclusively to his son in Klingon until he was three, his son does not speak the language today—and therefore Klingon resembles natural languages that are sleeping (also referred to as being dormant or extinct). In such situations, revitalizers rely on written or recorded materials to resuscitate the language into a spoken, living form.

Probably the most common written materials of endangered and dormant languages are Bibles and word lists or dictionaries. These are critical for language revitalization, even in cases where there are native speakers. For Klingon, canonical or official references include the books “The Klingon Dictionary (Star Trek),”  “The Klingon Way: A Warrior’s Guide (Star Trek: The Klingon Book of Virtues)” and “Klingon for the Galactic Traveler (Star Trek)” as well as audio tapes and other materials.

In many cases, a language may be spoken over a large area, such as in multiple villages, and the language varieties may differ. If each variety of language is considered valid, it is difficult to construct learning materials and dictionaries, as so many variants must be included. Doing so may also lead to confusion among learners. On the other side of the coin, selecting one variety may cause discord among those whose variety is not chosen.

Whether a word or form is considered official is referred to as canonicity. In the case of Klingon, this is an important concept. All languages change over time, and the degree to which people may coin new phrases is not set in stone. For now, anyway, adherence to the Klingon canons is a major concern in the Klingon community (culture).

Klingon is remarkable in the dedication of devotees. Its appeal to people may be of reference to language planners. Why does an invented conlang with no economic value and nearly no communicative use continue to attract learners when so many natural languages struggle with dwindling numbers? Surely, the shock value and quirky nature of learning Klingon are factors in Klingon’s popularity. The continuing popularity of “Star Trek” is doubtlessly a factor as well.

Also, the warrior culture of Klingons, perhaps tapping into the popularity of Japanese samurai, may be attractive in a way similar to how fencing, sword fighting and jousting are popular among Renaissance fair devotees. The brusque nature of Klingons—the expression “nuqneH” for hello literally means “What do you want?”—gives Klingon another unique characteristic.

A mailing list provides a way for people interested in Klingon to interact and ask questions. Since January 1, there have been a little over 300 messages on the list, averaging out to about 900 messages a year. Also, members of the Klingon Language Institute can download Klingon fonts as well as gain access to members-only materials about Klingon. (Membership is only USD 10 per year.)

Facebook has pages on Klingons and a page was started with the goal of getting Facebook to add Klingon as one of the Facebook interface languages. The request was granted, and nearly 7000 phrases have been translated. If you have a Facebook account (membership is free), go to account settings > language and select “tlhIngan Hol” for a Klingon interface. (Beware: Make sure you can set your language back again!) You can also help translate the remaining 32,000 phrases at the translation project page.

People are also tweeting in Klingon. Daily Klingon Word is active and klingons provides a list of Klingon tweeters.

Another aspect of Klingon that makes it attractive is that it has a literature. Translating children’s stories and other literature into an endangered language may provide a means of drawing people to the language. “Winnie Ille Pu (Latin Edition)” (the Latin version of “Winnie the Pooh”) and “Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Latin edition)” (the first “Harry Potter” book) are just two examples. Similarly, “Gilgamesh:: A Klingon Translation” (Gilgamesh) and “The Klingon Hamlet” are available, making it enjoyable to learn Klingon while reading something familiar.

And then is the conference, mentioned at the start of this post. Introductory lessons will be provided and Klingon grammarians will be on hand to assist those learning the language. Other activities include socializing, language games and performances.

Together, these activities and resources provide a community and an infrastructure for learning and using Klingon in a fun way. Perhaps some of these ideas may be of help in the revitalization of natural languages.

See also “taH pagh taHbe‘” on Talking Alaska on Klingon and endangered languages.

News in Brief: Minderico in Portugal, SLA Delays Dementia, Speaking Latin

15 March 2011

Among the wonderful findings in the 2009 HRELP conference Langauge Documentation & Linguistic Theory 2 is a paper on Minderico, a language in Portugal. Titled “Minderico: an endangered language in Portugal,” the paper by Vera Ferreira and Peter Bouda describes the origin of Minderico as a way to keep secrets from others during business dealings. The article notes that with the pressures of Portuguese, there were only a few hundred speakers as of around 2006. One of the points of the paper is that there are languages still unknown even in Western Europe, where the status of languages is generally thought to be well understood. Indeed, the Ethnologue does not have a listing for Minderico. See also Languages of Portugal for dialect details of Portuguese and Portuguese Sign Language (psr).

A large percentage of the world’s population speaks at least two languages. Research now shows that in addition to increasing one’s ability to communicate with others, bilingualism may have the health benefit of delaying dementia. See more at the Telegraph: Speaking a second language could delay dementia by five years. It is not clear whether this talk is available. Although there was a talk scheduled by Ellen Bialystok in February at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the recordings from that conference have only one item by her, with a different title and other authors.

Latin (lat), the language of the ancient Romans, developed into Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian and all of the other Romance languages. Monks and others in the Catholic Church continued using Latin as a written and religious language, and it underwent changes through those uses as well. For generations, pupils have been told that Latin is not for speaking, but that is no longer the case. For one resource, see Septentrionale Americanum Latinitatis Vivae Institutum. Their next large immersion gathering, Rusticatio, will take place in the eastern US state of West Virginia from July 9 to 16. The cost for everything except transportation to and from is USD 825. This news item was inspired by the blog post “Finding a ‘dead language’ alive and well in the Eternal City.”

Additional note on Latin: Check out the FAQ page of the Septentrionale Americanum Latinitatis Vivae Institutum. To get started in speaking Latin, their advice is to start by speaking. They say, “Make simple sentences with the words you already know – ‘Habito Baltimorae’ (I live in Baltimore), ‘Sunt mihi duo fratres’ (I have two siblings).” Although not complete by any means, two great resources for finding Latin words are Wikipedia and Wiktionary. For example, go to the Wikipedia entry for London, and find the Latina entry in the left column. This option is available for the London entry on Wiktionary as well, but also note there is a translation section that shows the Latin translation if you click on the “Show” button.