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Romance language most similar to Latin.

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Iversen
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 Message 33 of 42
30 July 2009 at 10:53am | IP Logged 
I became sufficiently intrigued to look up the corsican language "u corsu" (or whatever it is) in order to get a firsthand impression of it, and lo and behold - there is a corsican Wikipedia, whose article on Corsica looks like this:

Quote:
Corsica hè un'isula di u mare Mediterraniu, a quarta più isula grande dopu à Sicilia, Sardegna è Cipru.

Hè una culletività territuriale è una regione francese. Cumporta dui dipartimenti: a Corsica suprana (2B, Haute-Corse in francese) in nordu è a Corsica suttana (2A, Corse-du-sud in francese) in meziornu. A lingua di a populazione hè u francese poi a lingua regiunale hè u corsu.

A capitale amministrativa di l'isula hè Aiacciu (Aiaccio in Italiano), è questa cità hè dinù a prefettura di u dipartimentu di a Corsica suttana. E grande cità di u dipartimentu sò Portivechju è Sartè.

A prefettura di u dipartimentu di a Corsica suprana hè a cità di Bastia è a so agglumerazione hè a più grande di Corsica, cù e cumune di Furiani, U Borgu, Lucciana, Biguglia è Pietranera. Dinù, a cità di Bastia hè vicinu à u Capicorsu. E principale cità di Corsica suprana sò Corti è Calvi.


The corresponding (surprisingly short) article about Corsica in "sardu" looks like this:

Quote:
Sa Còrsica est un'insula de su Mesuderraniu edd'est una regione chi appartenit a sa Frantza. S'agatat a nordu de sa Sardigna e a su sud de sa Liguria e de sa Provenza. Sa capitale sua est Ajaccio. Sa limba de sa populatzioni corsa est su corsu, limba noulatina. Dae su tempus de s'intrada asuta 'e su guvernu frantzesu, is corsus tennint a limba ofitziale su frantzesu.


There is even a Piemontese Wikipedia, which has this to tell about Corsica"

Quote:
La Còrsica (Corsica an còrs e an Italian,Corse an fransèis) a l'é n'ìsola dël mar Mediterani.
A apartniss a la Fransa fin-a dal 1768. Ancheuj a costituiss un-a dle 22 Region dla Fransa metropolitan-a, bele che ufissialment a l'é dita Collectivité territoriale de Corse (Coletività teritorial ëd Còrsica).
La Còrsica a l'ha na surfassa ëd 8.680 km2 e a conta anviron 279.000 abitant.
La capital a l'é Ajaccio.

Autonomìa e sentralism
Le vajante possade autonomiste a sò interior, a së scontro da pì che 200 agn con na Costitussion dlë Stat fransèis ch'a l'é antra le pì sentraliste an Euròpa. …..


And finally the version in Occitan looks like this:

Quote:
Corsega (reg. Còrsega) (en còrs Corsica, Còrsica) es un país e una illa de la Mediterranèa occidentala e del sud d'Euròpa. Politicament ligada amb Gènoa puèi amb França, se revoltèt durant lo sègle XVII e foguèt lo primièr estat a establir una constitucion (1755).

Es administrada per e forma una region de l'estat francés.
Lo capluòc es Aiacciu.
Lo gentilici es còrs -a.


My first impression - and it is indeed my first impression - is that the Corsican version is at least as close to Italian as to anything else - though with a profusion of "u"'s that gives it an eerie similarity to Sicilian and Napolitan and other Southerly things (but also to the Catalan dialect of Alghero on Sardinia). As expected it doesn't ressemble ordinary French (not quoted here), but more surprisingly: it also seems rather distant from both Occitan and Piemontese, which represents its two neighbours towards the North.

Of course you have to be wary of using written texts for comparisons like this because they may exaggerate or hide aspects of the real pronunciation, but in this case I'm fairly sure that the relations are towards East, i.e. towards some kind of Italian. As a nonspecialist in historical lingistics I can't say whether it has participated in the sound changes that defined the separation of Italian from late Vulgar Latin, but I find it surprising to find an article "a" without the usual "l" (or "s" if you compare with Sardic). And where does the "h" in the copula verb (i.e. to be) come from?

This all illustrate the fractal character of language: left to its own devices it splits up in a bewildering multitude of dialects, but when you then examine the traits of these then there are similarities and differences that cross even the established division lines between these dialects. And when you then superimpose a 'normalizing' factor - school, TV, administration - on top of this shimmering confusion you may find that the limits of that language don't correspond with any clearly defined frontiers at the dialectal level. And that here are entities that simply don't fit into any simplified image.

To me "U corsu" seems less 'Roman' than Sardinian, but just as isolated from all its neighbours. I have to think this thing over.


Edited by Iversen on 30 July 2009 at 11:54am

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Iversen
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 Message 34 of 42
30 July 2009 at 12:19pm | IP Logged 
In the French Wikipedia I found this description of the situation which fairly clearly describes the situation with two main dialect bundles within Corsican, - one group of dialects with relations towards Tuscan and the other with influences from the South - Sardic and Sicilian. If you take the dialects and 'small' languages of the area seriously then the whole thing becomes frightingly complicated. However if you take the first plane down there you may not even discover all the complications because you as a tourist only hear French or Italian. But right under the surface you find a chaotic mess.


Quote:

La langue corse actuelle est un ensemble de dialectes romans (c'est-à-dire issus du latin, comme l'italien ou le français), subdivisés en deux groupes dialectaux principaux, le cismuntincu (appellation traditionnelle : cismontano), très "proche" du toscan, et le pumuntincu (appellation traditionnelle : oltramontano), qui présente des caractéristiques communes avec les parlers de l'Italie méridionale, mais aussi avec le sarde et surtout la langue sicilienne. Cet ensemble de dialectes corses présente une unité réelle, en ce sens que des règles au niveau de l'écriture permettent, par exemple, de passer de l'un à l'autre (langue-toit). Cette coexistence de l'unité et de la variété a donné naissance au concept sociolinguistique de langue polynomique.




Edited by Iversen on 30 July 2009 at 12:20pm

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JW
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 Message 35 of 42
30 July 2009 at 5:58pm | IP Logged 
Iversen wrote:
I became sufficiently intrigued to look up the corsican language "u corsu" (or whatever it is) in order to get a firsthand impression of it...

Very interesting analysis. Those concepts « langue-toit » and « langue polynomique » are quite intriguing. Here is futher color on the langue polynomique concept:

http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Langue_polynomique

Quote:
Le concept de langue polynomique désigne un ensemble de variétés linguistiques présentant certaines différences typologiques (sur le plan de la phonétique, de la morphologie ou de la syntaxe) mais considéré par ses locuteurs comme dotées d'une forte unité. Il articule donc des phénomènes typologiques (la variation) et des phénomènes de représentation sociolinguistique.
Ce concept a d'abord été élaboré par le linguiste Jean-Baptiste Marcellesi pour décrire la situation particulière de la langue corse, mais a été sans peine adapté au cas d'autres langues minoritaires.

Here is a forum in Corsu:

http://foru-corsu.forumactif.com/premiu-2008-prosa-f2/

And here is a thread with links to songs in Corsu. Check out the second link in the first post (Manc'un addiu) It has subtitles in French:

http://projetbabel.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=13942

Edited by JW on 30 July 2009 at 6:00pm

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Iversen
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 Message 36 of 42
05 August 2009 at 1:38pm | IP Logged 
I just found a Wikipedia page about Mozarabic, an extinct Romance language spoken on the Iberian Peninsula during the Moslem occupation. There are not many samples of this language left, but it seems that there are some archaic traits in it. In the article there is a table with the same text in Mozarabic and several other Romance languanges. The Mozarabian version below dates from the 11. century:

Mio sîdî ïbrâhîm
yâ tú, uemme dolge!
Fente mib
de nohte.
In non, si non keris,
irey-me tib,
gari-me a ob
legar-te.

Latin:

O domine mi Ibrahim,
o tu, homo dulcis!
Veni mihi
nocte.
Si non, si non vis,
ibo tibi,
dic mihi ubi
te inveniam

Notice for instance "nohte" (Latin "nocte"), - in other Romance languages -ct- was palatalized (as in Spanish) or changed into -t- (as in Catalan). Furthermore (quote) "some examples of these more archaic features are the preservation of the Latin consonant clusters CL, FL, PL, and intervocalic P, T and C (K) as voiceless, as in the Mozarabic words lopa (she-wolf), toto (all) and formica (ant)."

The population in question apparently referred to their language as "Latin", which became "ladino", and this name was also used by the Sephardic jews who fled the peninsula after the Christian take-over. But a large portion of the Mozarabs had been expelled to North Africa by the Almoravids already in 1126, and the Christian church including the Catholic church was very hostile to the Mozarab liturgy. So basically the whole thing had been wiped out already around 1300. However according to this page there is still ONE Mozarabian chapel with its own priests in Toledo, - though they probably speak ordinary Spanish now.

I doubt however that you can say that these archaic traits makes Mozarabic the closest thing to Latin while it existed, - after all the extant specimens suggest that Mozarabic had absorbed a heavy dose of Arabian vocabulary. So Sardic is probably still the most relevant contender for the title, and it has the added bonus of being alive today.

Edited by Iversen on 05 August 2009 at 1:51pm

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William Camden
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 Message 37 of 42
06 August 2009 at 4:03pm | IP Logged 
Mozarabic was often written in Arabic script, which did not indicate short vowels. This has made it difficult to be certain about the sounds of the language. Encyclopaedia Britannica described it as appearing to be a conservative Spanish dialect.
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tritone
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 Message 38 of 42
08 August 2009 at 4:05am | IP Logged 
In my unqualified amature opinion, NONE of them are.

Romance languages are very closely related to each other, but not so much with latin. The only thing I notice is the roots of some words, but the structure of the language seems to be entirely dissimilar; latin comes off as a different kind of language entirely.







Edited by tritone on 08 August 2009 at 4:07am

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hombre gordo
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 Message 39 of 42
12 August 2009 at 1:39pm | IP Logged 
I have read that lexically Italian is closest. Grammatically Romanian is the most conservative and so is the closest in that area.
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Iversen
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 Message 40 of 42
12 August 2009 at 3:47pm | IP Logged 
Romanian has a neutrum, but it is a composite of masculine and feminine forms and has nothing to do with the Latin neutrum. And the verbs have some quite idiosyncratic expressions instead of a proper future tense. The infitive has a very restricted use which is closer to Greek and other Balkan languages. All in all Romanian is not nearly as close to Latin as sometimes said.


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