language birth

Yerkes, Susan SYerkes at EXPRESS-NEWS.NET
Thu Jul 29 19:42:29 UTC 2004

It seems to me that the only languages with "births" you can pinpoint
would be created ones, although they, too, are created out of something.

There could be a good argument for advancing symbol systems, such as
COBOL, perhaps, in terms of machine language, although I assume that
such symbol sets may not fit the general requirement for language --
being known to a large community. That may be changing, however, as more
people communicate through such systems.
 I assume that's true of niche "languages" as well, even if they are
thoughtfully constructed and known to certain groups (Trekkies, Lord of
the Rings fans etc.)

But what about Esperanto?

In the late 60s and 70s, Esperanto was actually an elective in my
(fairly conservative) Texas high school.
With such a constructed language, one might at least pin down a birth
point, though the universal language concept seems to be dying (or to
have died) a slow death.

Susan Yerkes

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
Of Thomas Paikeday
Sent: Thursday, July 29, 2004 2:20 PM
Subject: Re: language birth


Is the analogy of languages being born and dying like us animals correct
or useful? So-and-so may be said to have been born at 3:20 p.m. ET, July
29, 2004, according to  hospital records. Ditto for death. But can the
same be said of Latin and such "extinct" languages and "modern"
languages like Italian, French, etc.? More to the point of Dennis
Baron's question: A language could die by its speakers dying out, as it
happened to the Beothuks of Newfoundland. Even so, birth and death of
languages seem a very slow process with no clear boundaries between life
and death. An expert in Romance languages could probably tell us when
Late Latin (a vague and abstract term for what it's worth) became
differentiated and how long it took for the Romance languages to evolve
so much they became mutually unintelligible to their speakers, if that
is a good criterion of the birth of Italian et al.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Dennis Baron" <debaron at UIUC.EDU>
Sent: Thursday, July 29, 2004 2:26 PM
Subject: language birth

> ---------------------- Information from the mail
header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Dennis Baron <debaron at UIUC.EDU>
> Subject:      language birth
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> ----
> Okay, this is probably a question I should know the answer to, but I
> can't think of an example. I'm writing about English as a world
> language and I want to say that one option for the future of English
> could be what happened to Latin, ie not death but a segue into a group

> of related new languages. Sure, it's unlikely, but my question is
> this: are there examples of language birth, like that of the Romance
> languages, only more recent?
> Dennis

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