Many languages have "high" and "low" layers of vocabulary. But in most other languages, the two sets are drawn from the same source. By contrast, contact between Old English and French, Dravidian languages and Sanskrit, Japanese and Chinese, Persian and Arabic, and other pairings around the world have created fascinatingly hybrid languages. These mixed lexicons are, for linguistic and social historians, akin to the layers of fossils that teach paleontologists and archaeologists so much about eras gone by.
Some people even think English is descended from Latin, or Kannada from Sanskrit. That’s frustrating not only because it’s wrong, but also because the reality is far more interesting.
- The Economist, Unlikely parallels
posted by beisny
on May 15, 2013 -
"We certainly cannot follow the example of Odysseus and, going down to Hades, tempt with a bowl of blood a representative sample of native speakers to label particular areas of the standard Munsell color continuum ..."
David Wharton's Latin Color Bibliography
collects quotations from ancient literature and modern research on how languages classify colors, and tries to work out the meanings of color words in classical Latin. [more inside]
posted by nangar
on Jul 18, 2011 -
From 1864 to 1904, the Russian Empire tried to quelch the nationalism of Lithuanians by ordering all Lithuanian texts to be printed with Cyrillic characters instead of in the Latin-derived Lithuanian or Polish alphabets. But they didn't count on the Knygnešiai - the Booksmugglers
. [more inside]
posted by mdonley
on Jul 12, 2009 -
See the evolutionary progression of alphabets through time and cultures. Examples include Cuneiform, Phoenician, Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, modern Cyrillic and the Latin character sets. The Latin is the best documented character set and requires a wide screen to see all the evolutionary events (especially Y and Z)
posted by Irontom
on Oct 7, 2003 -
Quanto putas mihi stare hoc conclave ?
That's "How many prostitutes does it take to change a lightbulb?" in Latin. No, actually it's "How much do you think I paid for this apartment?". Here's hoping, in the wake of the BBC's superb The Roman Way
series, written and presented by David Aaranovich, that good old Latin is on its way back, albeit in an Internet, soundbitey way. Those intending to smuggle some into MetaFilter should definitely start here
. The owner, for instance, might find Ne ponatur in mea vicinitate
useful - "Not in my backyard". And Nihil curo de ista tua stulta superstitione
- "I'm not interested in your dopey religious cult" should prove popular in the God threads. Vale
posted by MiguelCardoso
on Feb 3, 2003 -