Most beautiful language

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Avatar, Mar 1, 2007.

  1. Orleander OH JOY!!!! Valued Senior Member

    both my grandparents spoke Scottish Gaelic. They didn't teach it to any of their kids. They only spoke it to each other and rarely when they came to America.

    And if anyone brings up a language created for a movie (elvish, klingon) I'm fond of the language LeeLoo speaks in Fifth Element
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  3. Omega133 Aus der Dunkelheit Valued Senior Member

    Would how Yoda speaks count as a language? Cool, I think it is.
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  5. nirakar ( i ^ i ) Registered Senior Member

    Catalan is my favorite Indo-European European language to listen to. I also prefer Catalan to all Asian, Native-American and semitic languages.

    Some African languages sound very nice in music and I have liked listening to some Nigerian immigrants in the USA. It is possible that I might prefer some African languages to Catalan.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2010
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  7. krazedkat IQ of "Highly Gifted"-"Genius" Registered Senior Member

    Czech/Slovak both rock.
  8. ScaryMonster I’m the whispered word. Valued Senior Member

    I concur! But I like Brazilian Portuguese the best it sounds like a Samba.”
  9. Norsefire Salam Shalom Salom Registered Senior Member

    Spanish, in my opinion, is one of the least attractive languages. Though that is probably because I hear it so much here; though like dragon says, it is repulsive.

    Most beautiful language? Probably Latin, Gaelic, or Russian
  10. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    No one knows how Latin sounded. Of course we know the phonemes but there were no tape recorders to give us any more than that.

    The way Latin is pronounced today by priests and scholars is a travesty. They don't even get the phonemes right, overlaying them with the "foreign accent" of their own native language.

    By reconstructing Latin phonetics from the phonetics of the Romance languages that descended from it, and from the pronunciation of words borrowed from Latin into unrelated languages, we know that in Classical Latin:
    • V was always pronounced W
    • R was flapped, not liquid
    • G and C were always "hard"
    • QU was always pronounced KW, never K
    • S was always pronounced S, never Z
    • U was always a monophthong OO, never a diphthong YOO
    • J was always pronounced Y
    • Vowels were all cardinal, although a few had long and short versions
    For example, vere was pronounced way-ray with a British R, not vee-ree with an American R.

    I don't think the Pope can get through two sentences of a speech before he blows one of those phonemes.

    But there's more to it than that. You can get all the phonemes right and still not sound right. Look at the vast difference between the British and Indian dialects of English, which pronounce all the phonemes the same way but still don't sound like the same language.
  11. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    That's a shame. I had the same problem: My mother didn't teach me Bohemian. (We call it Czech now because it's easier to pronounce and spell.)

    In those days a lot of people thought it was a handicap to grow up bilingual. Can you imagine that??? It gives you a tremendous advantage, because you have two ways of thinking and it makes it easier to spot your own bullshit before it leaves your mouth.

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  12. krazedkat IQ of "Highly Gifted"-"Genius" Registered Senior Member

    Fraggle, you're from Bohemia? (Which in the the czech rupublic, right?)
    My family (part of it) comes from the former Czechoslovakia area.
  13. Orleander OH JOY!!!! Valued Senior Member

    they wanted to be all things American. My grandmother even changed her name to something more American.
  14. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    The Romans named an area (which comprises the majority of the modern Czech Republic) Bohemia, because at that time a Celtic tribe, the Bohumil, lived there. The Slavs had not arrived in central Europe yet. The Balts and Slavs were the last of the Indo-European tribes to show up in Europe. Unlike the Western Indo-European tribes (the Celtic, Germanic, Hellenic, Italic and Albanian peoples), who came straight up from the ancestral homeland in the Anatolia-Georgia region, the Balts and Slavs are an Eastern Indo-European tribe more closely related to the Indic, Persian, Kurdish and Armenian peoples, and they came up the long way, after first stopping off in India.

    The ancestors of the Czechs and Slovaks (presumably a single tribe at that time since their modern languages could be considered merely dialects of the same tongue) found their way into Bohemia and evicted the Bohumil around 300-400CE. By then the name Bohemia was established and it was used by all the western and southern Europeans clear up into the 20th century, e.g. German Böhmen. It didn't help that the Czechs named the place Čechy, after themselves, and no one else could spell or pronounce it.

    When the Czechs and Slovaks united their countries after WWI, it was natural to call it Československo, running the two names together with proper grammatical inflections. The rest of the continent used the Polish form of that name, Czechoslovakia, presumably because it doesn't require the use of diacritical marks.

    When the two countries split up again after Perestroika, the Slovaks retrieved their original name for their country, Slovensko, and we call it Slovakia using the Latin model for country names. However, the Czechs could not call their half by the original name Čechy, because that name only describes the homeland of the Czechs, Bohemia itself, whereas the country also encompasses Moravia--a region with its own history which we'll leave for another time. So they call it Česka Republika, "the Czech Republic."

    My mother's parents emigrated from Bohemia about 120 years ago, after first trying a couple of other places including Yugoslavia and Australia. She was born in Chicago, grew up speaking Czech until she went to school, but never visited the old country. I was also born in Chicago but I celebrated my 30th birthday in Praha.
    What could be more American than a northwestern European surname??? The English, Scots, Dutch and French founded this country! Today Irish (Kennedy) and German (Bush) surnames are also regarded as completely American.
  15. Orleander OH JOY!!!! Valued Senior Member

    she changed her first name. My grandparents came over here as Angus and Agnes. They died as Angus and Dixie. Most American name she could think of.
  16. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    How funny. Agnes is a perfectly unremarkable female name in any anglophone country. It's Angus that is so Scottish that you can hear the bagpipes playing. Nobody had to tell us that AC/DC's mooning guitarist Angus Young was born in Scotland!
  17. Norsefire Salam Shalom Salom Registered Senior Member

    That's just accents, though, isn't it? It's like saying Australian English is 'wrong' because it doesn't sound like American English, but neither of them is 'wrong'. So if you pronounce Latin correctly, is it still 'wrong'?
  18. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    To some extent. But an accent is really one of two things: dialect pronunciation that varies from the national standard, or a foreigner changing unfamiliar sounds into similar, more familiar sounds from his native language--often not quite consciously.

    With a dead language we don't know precisely what the original phonemes sounded like. Sure, we can reconstruct Latin phonetics so Caesar or Ovid could understand us without a bit of trouble, but they would still say, "Your Latin is really odd; where are you from?" So to that extent, a true scholar of linguistics who is trying to pronounce Latin as closely as possible to authentic, and fails only because he has no precise record of what authentic Latin sounded like, would be said to have an accent.

    But with modern Latin there's something beyond that. Most people really don't try to make it sound like the Latin of Ancient Rome. They change the pronunciation of letters into something that's simply incorrect, because it matches the familiar spelling rules of their own language. People pronounce Latin V as V instead of W not because it's hard to say, but because they're following the rules of their own language.

    The only people who could almost be called modern native speakers of Latin are the clerics in Vatican City who speak it among themselves. And they speak it as if it were a dialect of Italian. They pronounce ecce as ECHE, the way a word spelled like that would be spoken in Italian. It's supposed to be EKKE. This is not a foreign accent or a regional dialect, this is simply doing it wrong because they never learned what little we actually do know about Latin pronunciation, or because they did learn it but don't give a damn.
    No. Those are just dialects of English, like British English or Southern American. No one except a fairly unsophisticated person would insist that a dialect other than his own is "wrong."

    The way most people speak Latin is more like the way people butcher the names of foods on a foreign menu. They're not really trying because they have no idea what they're doing.
    I don't know what you mean by "pronounce correctly." As I've pointed out, we don't know what "correctly pronounced" Latin sounded like, since they didn't have tape recorders.

    Still, we could pronounce it as correctly as possible, given what we know about it, for example by saying EKKE instead of ECHE. That would make our Latin "right" enough that we would not be regarded as oafs in Ancient Rome. There were lots of foreigners there; a modern linguist might be able to pronounce Latin better than many of them, especially newcomers.
  19. Orleander OH JOY!!!! Valued Senior Member

    Yeah, not a single grandchild was named after Dixie, but there were several Anguses.
    What our ancestors were ashamed of, we researched the crap out of. Then we took what we found and slapped it all over ourselves.
  20. Norsefire Salam Shalom Salom Registered Senior Member

    Fraggle, what about Medieval and Classical Latin? What is the difference?
  21. I would say it's son Italian. I enjoy it's daughter Spanish though.
  22. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    To use the paradigm in Wikipedia for the development of Latin:
    • Old, Early or Archaic Latin was the language prior to the Classical period, a date set at 75BCE.
    • Classical Latin evolved from Old Latin, with no clear demarcation. It was, in a sense, an artficial language like R.P. (Received Pronunciation or "Oxford/BBC English") devised by scholars, poets, orators and the upper class to deliberately establish a formal, stately, nuanced language for affairs of state, theater, etc. Bearing in mind that literacy was exceedingly rare before the invention of printing, Classical Latin might be regarded as a standardized written language that was only spoken by educated people, a conservative dialect retaining grammatical subtleties and eschewing developments evolving in the speech of the common folk, but nonetheless a rich and flexible living language used among friends, family and colleagues. This is the language that has been passed down to us in writing, so it is what most people think of as the Latin of Caesar's and Virgil's time, even though it is more properly the Latin of Caesar and Virgil.
    • Late Latin is the written language of Rome after the Classical Period, from the 4th century CE to the fall of the empire. It is the standardized written form of a spoken language suitable for an Empire full of foreigners. It contains words and grammatical forms from Vulgar Latin, and it levels differences among the burgeoning regional dialects.
    • Vulgar Latin is the vernacular spoken language of this period, the language of the common, illiterate people. Up until the 6th or 7th century they could still understand Classical Latin, but their speech was showing the changes that would be passed down into the Romance languages, such as caballus instead of equus for "horse" and parabolare instead of loquere for "speak."
    • Medieval Latin is a written language, preserved by the scholars of the post-classical period (starting with the fall of the Empire) who no longer spoke Latin as their native language as French, Italian and the other Romance languages evolved. It borrowed words extensively from Greek, the Germanic languages and other sources. It was a conservative language, holding off the changes that defined Vulgar Latin and the Romance languages, but the downfall of the Empire left no authority in place to standardize it, so writers often injected grammatical and syntactical features from their native languages. It is most easily identified by orthographical changes, such as the U/V and I/J distinctions, replacement of T by C in endings like -tionis to reflect pronunciation, collapse of diphthongs like ecclesia for aecclesia and some switching of single for double letters and vice versa. Medieval Latin survived until about the 13th century. Since most of its writers were Christian monks and scholars, it the basis from which Church Latin was derived.
    • Renaissance Latin was a corrected form of Medieval Latin, arising as literacy and secular scholarship were spread by the printing press and the availability of non-religious education. It was the language of scholarship in Europe until democratization and universal literacy supplanted it with formalized written national languages in the 19th and 20th century.
    • Now that Latin is not only dead but obsolete except in the Catholic Church and among a shrinking community of scholars, this paradigm is losing its rigor. The term Church Latin is sometimes used for the language spoken in Vatican City and kept on life support by Papal decrees and other church documents. And New Latin is the language used by scholars after the church's influence on the language in secular life declined. Modern Latin is a term used in dictionary etymologies for words coined by scientists and other scholars using the elements of Latin supplemented by Greek roots. It is not really a language, just a goldmine of lexical contributions. But when we see Modern English words like "television," "plutonium" and "antiproton" that contain not a shred of Anglo-Saxon vocabulary or syntax, we can't help feeling like Latin is still alive. I don't mind.
    • The Romance languages cannot be ignored in this paradigm, since it can be argued that they are the true "Modern Latin." A set of standardized, official languages is identified with the nations of Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and Romania, each of which is clearly different from the others and bears little or no intercomprehensibility with them. Yet a closer look reveals a continuum of dialects that echo the speech of the subjects of the far reaches of the Roman Empire. Catalan bridges the gap between Portuguese and Spanish and can be understood with some struggle by both. Occitan (a whole family of dialects including Provençal) does the same for French and Italian. In the ancestral region of Latium where Latin first rose, an assortment of dialects such as Sardinian still exists, many of whose speakers prefer to call them languages. It is arguably no easier for a Venetian to understand Sicilian than it is for a Spaniard to understand Catalan. Yet at the same time all Sicilians speak fluent Italian and all Catalonians speak fluent Spanish.
  23. nirakar ( i ^ i ) Registered Senior Member

    I think Catalan is the prettiest of Latin's surviving children. Catalan may not survive for long.

    I felt Catalan was closer to Italian than it was to Spanish French or Portuguese. I did hear the sound of all four Languages in Catalan and felt that Catalan was in between them all. It has been 20 years since I have been to Catalonia so I can't be sure I am remembering correctly. I found some web site where Catalan speakers also backed the viewpoint that Catalan was closer to Italian than it was to the other major languages. For me I just meant the sound of the language not the vocabulary or grammar.

    The people at the web site were basing their opinion on being able to understand each other. Some Italian guy said understanding bits of Catalan is easier than understanding bits of Spanish for him.

    Occitano-Romance languages
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    The Occitano-Romance branch of Romance languages encompasses the dialects pertaining to the Occitan and the Catalan languages situated in France (Occitania, Northern Catalonia), Spain (Catalonia, Valencian Community, Balearic Islands, La Franja, Carche), Andorra, Monaco, parts of Italy (Occitan Valleys, Alghero, Guardia Piemontese), and historically in the County of Tripoli and the possessions of the Crown of Aragon. The existence of this group of languages is discussed both in linguistic and political basis.

    According to certain linguists Occitan should be included in Gallo-Romance, and according to others both Occitan and the Catalan should be considered Gallo-Romance. However, other linguists consider Catalan as part of the Ibero-Romance languages.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2010

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