Latin languages

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Sat May 22 01:23:44 UTC 2004

> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]On Behalf
> Of Jesse Sheidlower
> Sent: Friday, May 21, 2004 8:29 AM
> Subject: Re: Latin languages
> On Fri, May 21, 2004 at 08:19:54AM -0700, Arnold M. Zwicky wrote:
> >
> > both the computer usage and khader's show a language/script confusion,
> > but they come at it from different directions: the computer usage is
> > intended to pick out scripts (namely, the ones that are troublesome for
> > the  most common encoding schemes) by referring to the languages that
> > use those scripts, while khader's aims to pick out languages (namely,
> > the ones not associated with the religion islam or with arab culture)
> > by referring to the scripts those languages use.  a subtle difference,
> > perhaps, but i think a very important one.
> >
> > lexicographers: would this difference merit two subentries for LATIN
> > LANGUAGE?  if so, how would the two subentries be distinguished in
> > their definitions?
> While I agree that the difference is important, I think that it is one
> that can't be adequately treated in a dictionary entry.
> I also note that OED, at _Latin_ n. 2.a., includes the lemma _Latin
> letter_ 'a letter of the Latin alphabet', and this does seem to be
> the sense we're discussing.

I wouldn't assume that. I've heard English described as a "Latin language,"
meaning a language descended from Latin, a Romance language. While this is
incorrect by most categorizations of IE language families, it is fairly

In this case, I think a more accurate statement of what was intended would
be "Western languages." Khader is clearly evoking a cultural, not a
linguistic, difference.

--Dave Wilton
  dave at


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