Language Learners' Library

I. camēlopardus, pl. camēlopardī (m2)
II. rhīnocerōs, pl. rhīnocerōtēs (m3)
III. bisōn, pl. bisōntēs (m3)
IV. elephās, pl. elephantēs (m3)
V. leō, pl. leōnēs (m3)
VI. hyaena pl. hyaenae (f1)
VII. crocodīlus, crocodīlī (m2)
VIII. phoenicopterus, phoenicopterī (m3)
IX. The Romans probably considered it a leopard (leopardus).
X. leopardus, leopardī (m2)
XI. cynocephalus, cynocephalī (m2)
XII. oryx, orygēs (m3)
XIII. There seems not to be a word. However, we can try adopting the giant anteater’s scientific name Myrmecophaga (ant-eater) and treat it a first-declension feminine noun. So myrmecōphāga, pl. myrmecōphāgae.


English giraffe from Arabic zarāfa, from Persian
English wildebeest from Afrikaans wildebees, from Germanic roots
English flamingo from Spanish flamengo, from Latin
English cheetah from Hindi cītā, from Sanskrit
English gazelle from Arabic ḡazāl

Found this on the front page of Wikipedia today, looks cool.

… would be surprised if we were to find Roman traces in South America.

Anyway, all these words are of greek origin, where some of them are loanwords from Semitic or Egyptian languages. There aren’t many crocodiles and elephants in Italy. rhinoceros means nose-horn, hyaena means she-pig, phoenicopterus means ‘with wings like a phoenix’ or ‘phoenix-coloured wings’, cynocephalus means dog-head. Incidentally, there was a myth that in some far away country there lived people with dog-heads, who were also called cynocephali. myrmecophaga fits perfectly well. First declension is alright, but it needn’t be feminine. nauta, poeta and the like are masculine, too. In animals’ names, you can use often use both genders. You can say canis bonus or canis bona depending on the specific individuals sex, I believe. As a general rule, all nouns denoting living beings are either masculine or feminine or both, but never ever neuter.

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Woops, I thought the giant anteater was in Africa…

If you’re bored for half an hour, read through this.

Edit: I’ve been completely marvelling at this table. To think that every one of the listings is an entire script, representing an individual language, fills me with wonder. There are 150 scripts on here! To even know a couple is an achievement.

Short grammar challenge?

  1. I bought a horse.
  2. I tried riding the horse.
  3. The horse was slow, though.
  4. I whipped the horse.
  5. The horse ran faster.
  6. The horse tired and stopped.
  7. I fed the horse some hay.

This is a wiki.

bugcat's Latin translation
  • Interestingly, the use of equus instead of ecus dates this translation to Imperial Rome.

I. Equum comparāvī. (horse - I bought)
II. [I don’t know this structure yet.]
III. Sed equus cūnctābat. (but - horse - it was dawdling) [Not quite what I wanted to say, but I’m trying to rely on verbs more.]
IV. Equum verberāvī. (horse - I whipped)
V. Equus citius cūrrit. (horse - faster - it ran)
VI. Equus dēfatīgāvit et quae cōnsīstit. (horse - it tired - and - it - it stopped)
VII. Equus culmum adēscāvi. (horse - hay - I feed to)

Open invitation for @RubyMineshaft to stop in; you were learning Chinese, right?

Really good, I’m quite impressed. I have to look up the proper construction for ‘trying’. Sometimes, but only sometimes, the imperfect ‘was doing’ can be translated with ‘was trying to do’, but it’s not the go-to way to describe that.

In sentence VI. I don’t see why you would want to put a pronoun, and why exactly the relative pronoun in a feminine or, even worse, neuter plural. That makes negative sense. Just say equus defatigavit et consistit. If you want to know personal and demonstrative pronouns of the third person (he, she, it, they them, this, that, these, those and so on), I’ll maybe put something here tomorrow.
In VII., the nominative makes no sense unless the horse is speaking about itself. “I, the horse, fed hay!” But to whom? That’s were a grammatical case for the receiver of a benefit would come in handy, wouldn’t it?

On a side note, up to Cicero’s time, the spelling for words ending with -uus, -uum and so on (even if the u is a v, as in naevus) were spelled -uos, -uom and so on. So Cicero would be accustomed to see equos in the nominative singular.

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yay, I did ok and learnt stuff c: In XII I guess the hay would in the accusative and the horse would be in the dative.

Today I flipped through Kennedy’s Latin Primer in the pub. There were some interesting points, for instance that for every number there’s a distinct cardinal, ordinal, distributive, and numeral adverb form. I’ll take the time to check it before language challenges from now on.

PS. It’s also fun to see English-language Latin books resort to dated terms like whither to provide equivalents to Latin forms.

Yea, the only thing unusual here is the distributive. The others ase like English two, second, twice. Distributive is something like ‘in pairs’. I have trouble with that, too.

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I’m learning Esperanto. Ive gotten a bit lazy with it lately though :sweat_smile:


Yea, as a Germanian, I do sometimes use whither and whence and the like in English, because I feel like Latin lacks a lot of nuances. Incidentally, that’s why there was this deep cultural break between the Eastern Roman Empire and the western parts. Greek is a language with many nuances and details and a large vocabulary; still, Greek church tradition likes to keep many things in the vague, and can easily coin new words for new, mystic concepts. Latin, however, has far fewer words in general, but a strong legalistic tradition of explaining every aspect of a philosophical/theological matter strictly logical while assigning existing words to new concepts, which puts new concepts into a drawer with many other things that happen to be called the same, even if, in fact, they are different things. So today, the orthodox church doesn’t like the latin church because they’re uptight and want jurisdiction over everything and really don’t understand the importance of meditation; the latin church however has no problem with the orthodox per se and just wants them to accept papal jurisdiction.

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I’m gonna talk about four things in this post to save some space.

  1. Vocabulary Challenge: The Tools of the Trade
Tools of the Trade
  1. the farmer’s plough
  2. the soldier’s spear
  3. the butcher’s knife
  4. the baker’s oven
  5. the builder’s shovel
  6. the scribe’s ink
  7. the jester’s balls
  8. the merchant’s coins
  9. the musician’s flute
  10. the scholar’s books
  1. Grammar Challenge: The Imperative
The Imperative
  1. Come over here.
  2. Go away.
  3. Drink the potion.
  4. Boil the water.
  5. Be quiet.
  6. Write this down.
  7. Tell me more.
  8. Speak up!
  9. Answer truthfully.
  10. Don’t complain.
  1. I notice that so far, judging by the header table, the languages we have fluency in are English, Italian, Russian, Czech, and Chinese and the languages we’re trying to learn are Chinese, Japanese, Latin, and Esperanto. So we only overlap on Chinese.

  2. Ramble:

About writing systems

I’ve been reading about writing systems on Wikipedia a bit lately, and that’s got me thinking. The first writing system was Sumerian cuneiform, which was invented, obviously, by the Sumerians. They spoke a “language isolate”, a language that cannot be reliably shown to have relationships to others. It gradually transitioned into Sumo-Akkadian cuneiform, under the influence of Akkadian which was a Semitic language.

There are then two tenuous connections which may or may not exist. Cuneiform might be the ancestor of Egyptian hieroglyphs, and it might also be the ancestor of Chinese characters. But also, it could be only one or neither case. Cuneiform existed in many different versions until about the second century CE. Hieroglyphs (representing Egyptian, a non-Semitic Afro-Asiatic language) went off and did their own thing, becoming first Hieratic and then Demotic, which still survives to some extent in Coptic church writings. However, hieroglyphs also evolved into an alphabet, used by the Phoenicians to represent their Semitic language.

The Phoenician alphabet was phenomenally successful, spawning the scripts of the other Semitic languages Hebrew and Arabic. It also spread west to become the Greek and, indeed, the Latin alphabets, which were used to transcribe Indo-European languages. In the modern world many more languages have adopted the Latin script, from language families in the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Oceania.

The Phoenician script even formed the basis of the Nagari alphabets of India, which were used with Indo-European and Dravidian languages.

I made a set of tables to show how the spread of writing may have moved across linguistic boundaries.

Script Language Language family
Sumerian cuneiform Sumerian Isolate
Sumo-Akkadian cuneiform Akkadian Afro-Asiatic
Egyptian hieroglyphs Egyptian Afro-Asiatic
Phoenician alphabet Phoenician Afro-Asiatic
Latin alphabet Latin Indo-European
Latin alphabet, later Many languages Multiple families
International Phonetic Alphabet Every language All families
Script Language Language family
Sumerian cuneiform Sumerian Isolate
Sumo-Akkadian cuneiform Akkadian Afro-Asiatic
Egyptian hieroglyphs Egyptian Afro-Asiatic
Phoenician alphabet Phoenician Afro-Asiatic
Nagari Indian languages Indo-European, Dravidian
Script Language Language family
Sumerian cuneiform Sumerian Isolate
Sumo-Akkadian cuneiform Akkadian Afro-Asiatic
Egyptian hieroglyphs Egyptian Afro-Asiatic
Hieratic Egyptian Afro-Asiatic
Demotic Egyptian Afro-Asiatic
Script Language Language family
Sumerian cuneiform Sumerian Isolate
Sumo-Akkadian cuneiform Akkadian Afro-Asiatic
Chinese characters Chinese languages Sino-Tibetan
Kana Japanese Japonic

In summary, I just find it cool that, if hieroglyphs and Chinese characters were both descended from or influenced by some stage of Sumo-Akkadian cuneiform, almost everyone in the world (apart from the Koreans) uses a writing system influenced to varying degrees by Afro-Asiatic languages. I wonder if there are any common remnants of the language structures of that family in our modern scripts.

Vocabulary challenge answers

I. arātrum agricolae
II. tēlum mīlitis
III. culter laniī
IV. furnus pistōris
V. rutrum strūctōris

VI. ātrāmentum scrīptōris
VII. pilae caulatōris
VIII. nomismata mercātōris
IX. tībia organicī
X. cōdicēs philolōgī

Grammar challenge answers

I. Accēde.
II. Dēcēde.
III. Decoctum bībe.
IV. Aquam coque.
V. Quiesce.

VI. Hoc scrībe.
VII. Ūltra narrā.
VIII. Clārior loque!
IX. Vērāciter respondē.
X. Nōn quere.

For purposes of a fluent speaker to be teacher to the learners, I hope I suffice. If not, ask me again in a year when I’ll’ve got me qualifications.:sunglasses:

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You didn’t add yourself to the header table, I explicitly said that I was referring to that. I wasn’t at all bashing your Latin skills.

As for Japanese, although I’m not fluent myself by far, I have access to a fluent speaker on a daily basis.

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@Sanonius @Vsotvep @stone_defender @RubyMineshaft

Would any of you like to make a vocabulary or grammatical challenge?

I’ve run out of ideas.

What about a Person of the Day?

Today’s person is Saint Aldhelm (ca. 639 – 709); English bishop, scholar, Latin poet, and pioneer of the hermeneutic style.

Cool thing I just learnt: in the 7th century, the Pope twice offered an African Berber the position of Archbishop of Canterbury. He refused it out of modesty but still took up a religious role in Canterbury.