Dead or Fictional Languages

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Editor || ᴋɪssᴇᴅ ʙʏ ғɪʀᴇ . ♔
Joined: 08.09.2014
Pending moderation

Hello once again. I'm here with a question for you.

Would you ever learn a fictional or a dead language, like Klingon or Sindarin or Ancient Greek or Latin respectively? Why or why not?

And if you already have, what motivated you to do it? How was the process of learning and what did a seemingly useless language give you in return?

There is a very specific reason I am asking this. I'd be really glad to hear your experiences and thoughts.

Editor and Incorrigable
Joined: 03.06.2016

Latin is an absolute requirement in the medical field, in science, many ancient writings, illuminated manuscripts, references to the past, history, and historical monuments, (Monty Python's - The Meaning Of Life), all are not fully comprehended without it. It is the mainstay of Romanian, French, Italian, the Romantic languages, et al..
Ancient Greek is also very important in the understanding of the classics, history (archeology), Cyrillic has roots there as well.
Both Latin and Ancient Greek are alive in their descendants used today. They span all continents.
Sindarin is an invention of J. R. R. Tolkien, it is a fictional language as is Klingon (from Star Trek series). They have to no influence nationally in the world and do not have the influences or art, culture, linguistic intervention (interweaving and influence) that Latin and Greek have. I am pragmatic. To have knowledge of them is fine. To base your beliefs, conduct, or life's purpose on fictional language is not wise.
What's missing? The human element and introspective into the continuity of human behavior. To see that. Look at the idioms. What was true in Latin or Ancient Greek still holds true today. There are cultural changes but overall people are still people. Still bound to the trials, victories, learning, and follies that were back then. William Shakespeare's English should not be forgotten, nor his work into the human psyche. He was an expert in human drama.
Language has culture and human behavior in its being. I see translations treated as mathematical equations. Word for word mechanical. No feeling. No human intuition. Poetic license is then not their concern.
Since Klingon is actually created by humans and not by alien beings it is of human creation so it is tainted if you are a purist. Sindarin is fantasy based not of realistic values. There are an infinite amount of very real and historical artifacts, and cultural and linguistic in dire need of attention that need interpretation so that we can better understand ourselves individually and as a group. Fictional languages might be a nice diversion but there is plenty of work out there for the nonfictional ones.
Some insight you asked for. For me Latin opened a doorway to languages, to the world, to the understanding of art, to the care and continuum of life in my hands. It taught me to look outside (and within) myself, that my way learned wasn't the only way, and that people long ago lived through the same things that I have faced. It has a direct influence on my translations from it, and learning the Romantic languages was greatly eased by it. The same goes for Ancient Greek. Both made reading, art, tactics, life and learning so much more. They should never be casually discarded. Homo doctus in se semper divitias habet (A learned man always has wealth within himself). Everything you learn in life has value...everything.

Moderator of Romance Languages
Joined: 31.03.2012

I've learned Latin and other dead languages along the way (Latin I can say has been with me since childhood).

It wasn't my idea nor intention to learn it, it was kind of just pushed on me. It was a little easier because I was a child, and it's useless to me outside of the medical field (I'm sure there's other fields, but this is the field I chose to pursue). I use it mostly when I use any terminology, when reading texts from the bible or whenever I come across anything interesting like buildings/monuments that have phrases in Latin.

Moderator and Scholar of a Dark Age
Joined: 16.02.2011

Most languages I know are dead ones. Latin, Ancient Greek, Middle/Old High German, Old Norse, a bit of Old English, Sanskrit (well, it's only half-dead) and Sumerian ...

I started with it due to it being obligatory in school (Latin - well, could have chosen French instead) and university (Middle High German). But I've come to be fascinated with it, and also with how languages change over time. Also, there is a lot of literature written in many of the languages I mentioned, and if I want to know more about the culture or time, learning the language is very helpful at the least. I even know songs in all those languages.

I'm also interested in learning a bit of reconstructed Indo-European. Both from a scientific point of view, and because it might be helpful for learning some of the languages derived from it.

A completely fictional one I haven't learned so far. I'll check out the Duolingo-course on Klingon when it's finally published. I'm not even a treky, it just sounds interesting. But besides that I have no plans regarding such.

Translator/Interpreter
Joined: 14.10.2016

Well, I'm a native speaker of Greek already, and I've begun studying some Ancient Greek in my spare time to try and compare the two. Some words carried over, but quite a few are totally different. I will say that it's fun in a strange way to learn the ancient form of my native tongue.

Editor
Joined: 06.02.2016

Languages dont really die, nations are like people, they get born, flourish, get old and die to give birth to something new. When i learned hebrew i focused on modern, and contrary to the scholarly babble its the same language they spoke 4000 rs ago. Only some grammaticul difference. Latin in school was a must. I love how pontius pilate speaks latin in mel gibsons passion of the christ. It sounds so authentic. Sumerian was spoken until well after christ by the scholars of their time as a standard. It is dfferent from most semitic languages. Sanskrit is a must for everyone interested in the baghavad geeta and all things india. I just started learning the devanagari alphabet and made me some ponies to get all the letters dialled in and it was rather simple. Unlike russian and arabic which alphabets i struggle with a lot. I repeat myself but languages dont really die. And with a little bit of effort its fun how much time you can bridge with just a bit of discipline.

Moderator and Scholar of a Dark Age
Joined: 16.02.2011
Quote:

Sumerian was spoken until well after christ by the scholars of their time as a standard. It is dfferent from most semitic languages

That sounds like it were a Semitic language, but it isn't; it's an isolated one like for example Basque. It shares a few loan words with Semitic languages, but also with some Indo-European ones.

Also, there are lot of languages which have died and of which we know so little that we can't even tell whether they had any descendants or influences on other languages, and many more languages that died of which we know nothing at all anymore, not even for sure that they ever existed.

Editor
Joined: 06.02.2016

learning a language is always rewarding. its like entering a new universe each time.
learning an old language is worth it if you need it for historical research or dealing with ancient texts. or are an actor playing historical roles. not all texts get passed on in our history. the bible writes king solomon had written 1000 songs. of which probably less than 5 are in the psalms. we don't know what these songs were cause they have vanished. some people like witches also make up their own alphabets and languages that are completely unknown outside a small inner circle.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theban_alphabet

I personally learn languages for usefulness and if they "entice me". i first go for the big ones, before i tackle the small ones. sometimes you also can learn an alphabet without learning a full language, only to have a rough idea.

Moderator and Scholar of a Dark Age
Joined: 16.02.2011

That Theban alphabet you mention might have been intended for only a small group of people, but nowadays it's pretty widespread - I've seen it used by several metal bands without even searching for it explicitly.

Btw, nice to hear you are also starting with Sanskrit Regular smile Or do you wanna only learn the alphabet? I found devanagari not very difficult to learn either (except for the ligatures), but Cyrillic and Greek seem far easier since their letters are similar to the Latin ones - or maybe it's just because I learned those at a much younger age.

Editor || ᴋɪssᴇᴅ ʙʏ ғɪʀᴇ . ♔
Joined: 08.09.2014
Ww Ww wrote:

I see translations treated as mathematical equations. Word for word mechanical. No feeling. No human intuition. Poetic license is then not their concern.

And you just desrcibed the perfect recipe for what a translation should never be.

Editor || ᴋɪssᴇᴅ ʙʏ ғɪʀᴇ . ♔
Joined: 08.09.2014
Sciera wrote:

Most languages I know are dead ones. Latin, Ancient Greek, Middle/Old High German, Old Norse, a bit of Old English, Sanskrit (well, it's only half-dead) and Sumerian ...

I started with it due to it being obligatory in school (Latin - well, could have chosen French instead) and university (Middle High German). But I've come to be fascinated with it, and also with how languages change over time. Also, there is a lot of literature written in many of the languages I mentioned, and if I want to know more about the culture or time, learning the language is very helpful at the least. I even know songs in all those languages.

I'm also interested in learning a bit of reconstructed Indo-European. Both from a scientific point of view, and because it might be helpful for learning some of the languages derived from it.

A completely fictional one I haven't learned so far. I'll check out the Duolingo-course on Klingon when it's finally published. I'm not even a treky, it just sounds interesting. But besides that I have no plans regarding such.

Old Norse is just fascinating. I love the sagas and the Poetic Eddas, generally everything that has to do with Viking culture. Same with Sanskrit.

I've seen the Klingon course on Duolingo too and I think it'd be a nice addition, but there is still a lot of work to be done with that site. As far as fictional languages go, I'd like to learn Sindarin Elvish, being a huge fan of the Tolkien legendarium.