Language Learners' Library

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.

Grammar challenge time, specifically for @bugcat!

It’s going to be all about participles.

The stealing man runs
The man buys a stolen vase
The man bought a stolen vase
I catch a man stealing
I stopped the man who had stolen a vase
The merchant will not buy the stolen vase
I protect the vase that will be stolen
I hit the man with a stolen vase
The man hid jewels inside the stolen vase

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yay c:

Sad thing is that participles are not really as interesting in Japanese as in Latin…


What are the interesting grammatical structures in Japanese? I remember travelling being quite the can of worms.

Politeness is a major hurdle, and for us used to Indo-European grammars, there are some things that are very different. I’ll have to look into some interesting grammar later to give some concrete examples.

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No japanese is my top choice in language, I just keep getting confused in duolingo when it turns into sentences.

I can say a few words, but when it turns to phrases I get lost. Would you recommend a different language? I kind of want to learn one of those asian languages, but it is so hard since they use a different alphabet then we do. I know that the easy way out is spanish, but I really don’t care about spanish or french really.

I think the problem is grammar. I’ve seen a bit of Duolingo’s Japanese, and it just gives you full sentences without any proper explanation. Try Tae Kim’s guide or if you’re comfortable with a bit of linguistics Imabi.

Duolingo also has some problems with the pronunciation of individual words being different than it has to be for the full sentence. It’s pretty annoying…

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