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Old 2020-02-28, 17:41   #21
xilman's Avatar
May 2003
Down not across

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Originally Posted by Dr Sardonicus View Post
One reason often given for the prospects of a Latin revival being dim is, Latin grammar is complicated. And so it seems. I have heard people complain about grammar being difficult, and they were complaining about English grammar. As my education progressed, I developed the attitude that, if someone thought English grammar was complicated, I knew a sure cure: German grammar!

German is an "inflected" language, with declensions for four grammatical cases, three grammatical genders, singular and plural. And of course, tenses. Mark Twain, in The Awful German Language, complained that "It is as bad as Latin." But Latin has more grammatical cases than German. Never mind number and the tenses...

This got me to thinking: Why is it that older languages seem to have more complicated grammar than newer ones? A bit of searching on line turned up discussions on this topic.
Colonization, whether military or cultural, is an important influence. Pidgins and creoles are invariably simpler than their parent languages. Afrikaans is essentially Dutch with a greatly simplified grammar and augmented vocabulary. Middle English is simplified Old English with a very extensive admixture of Norman French. We see the same thing happening today where English is a second language to people who need to communicate with English speakers who can't speak Hindi, or Spanish, or whatever.

The evolutionary trend is clear: relatively isolated languages tend to die out because no-one wants to learn them. Ubiquitous languages thrive (for a millennium or two) because everyone wants to use them to speak to others. Grammatical simplification makes the learning process, well, simpler.
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