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Language X is older than Y

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tarvos
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 Message 17 of 31
20 November 2012 at 1:31pm | IP Logged 
The fact we have no evidence in what form Old Zulu was spoken does not mean it didn't
exist.
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Марк
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 Message 18 of 31
20 November 2012 at 1:38pm | IP Logged 
tarvos wrote:
The fact we have no evidence in what form Old Zulu was spoken does not
mean it didn't
exist.

If we can't get knowledge about something, it doesn't exist for us. Like as if it were in
a black hole.
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tarvos
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 Message 19 of 31
20 November 2012 at 2:10pm | IP Logged 
Nonsense. Just because you don't know that Old Zulu existed does not mean you can
definitively state it doesn't. It could perfectly well have existed without a trace in
modern times. The most you can do is guess at a probability.

Edited by tarvos on 20 November 2012 at 2:11pm

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Arekkusu
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 Message 20 of 31
20 November 2012 at 3:07pm | IP Logged 
Марк wrote:
tarvos wrote:
The fact we have no evidence in what form Old Zulu was spoken does not mean it didn't exist.

If we can't get knowledge about something, it doesn't exist for us. Like as if it were in a black hole.

What do you mean exactly? It seems we may not be refering to the same thing.

The fact that a writing system has existed for a long time doesn't mean much with regards to the languages that use it. Latin and French are written with the same writing system, which dates back 2 or 3 millenia, but that doesn't mean they are the same language, and that doesn't mean French is an older language than say Inuktitut (writing system is about 40 years old) or any language that isn't written at all. Why would that be different for Chinese, for instance?

Edited by Arekkusu on 20 November 2012 at 3:10pm

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Serpent
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 Message 21 of 31
20 November 2012 at 5:50pm | IP Logged 
sipes23 wrote:
That said, I can see the pride of place a lot of minority-language speakers might have on their language. "It's not as well known as English (or what have you), but it's old." It's also likely that most people never give this sort of thing a
second thought.
Makes sense with what Mark says. "Our language is old" as in it's had a written form for a long time.
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Arekkusu
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 Message 22 of 31
20 November 2012 at 5:54pm | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:
sipes23 wrote:
That said, I can see the pride of place a lot of minority-language speakers might have on their language. "It's not as well known as English (or what have you), but it's old." It's also likely that most people never give this sort of thing a
second thought.
Makes sense with what Mark says. "Our language is old" as in it's had a written form for a long time.

As in "the language that was used at the time of the first written records is no longer understood by speakers of the modern language, but it has the same name"?
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Марк
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 Message 23 of 31
20 November 2012 at 6:09pm | IP Logged 
Arekkusu wrote:


The fact that a writing system has existed for a long time doesn't mean much with
regards to the languages that use it. Latin and French are written with the same
writing system, which dates back 2 or 3 millenia, but that doesn't mean they are the
same language, and that doesn't mean French is an older language than say Inuktitut
(writing system is about 40 years old) or any language that isn't written at all. Why
would that be different for Chinese, for instance?

Latin is an old language, because it is a definite, functional, real language which was
spoken two thousands years ago.
We can't talk about "Old Zulu", because it doesn't make much sense. We can talk about
some ancestor of modern Zulu and reconstruct it with some accuracy for a certain (or
uncertain) period of time.

Edited by Марк on 21 November 2012 at 8:13am

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Iversen
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 Message 24 of 31
21 November 2012 at 12:06am | IP Logged 
If the earlier stages or ancestor or whatever of a language has been lost we may be able to reconstruct some ascpects of it, and based on its relationships with other languages we may even venture a guess about its tendency to be conservative in the period before the first attested sources. But we would call never such reconstruction 'Old Something' - we would call it 'Proto something'. So in that sense Марк is right - the name 'Old' Zulu doesn't make sense.

But even a proto-language is more than a black box. There must have been some kind of language in the area where an attested language later pops up, and by combining historical linguistic methods with archeology it may even be possible to venture a guess about the kind of language it was. The problem is that the facts rarely are sufficient to lead to an uncontroversial verdict about the linguistic situation. So we may never now how far back we have to go before the language which somehow developed into Modern Zulu was something so radically different that it deserved another name. But there must have been such a stage, and somewhere in between that point and Modern Zulu there must be something which deserved the name 'Old Zulu'.

The only problem is that we won't ever know what it was like, except in very broad therms, and we may not even ever learn when such a suitable candidate was spoken.

Edited by Iversen on 21 November 2012 at 12:22am



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