Language stability

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages and Linguistics (EHL)' started by . 1, Jul 7, 2006.

  1. . 1 Banned

    Ferntree Gully
    Australian Australia
    I wish to know about the stability of languages.

    English from the time of Chaucer is intelligible to a modern reader and Shakespeare is lucid.

    How far back is your language discernable to a modern reader?

  2. maxiogee Banned

    I'd argue with your use of "intelligible" - "familiar-ish" might better fit. I'm certain that many here would struggle to give the precise meaning of these four lines.

    Whan zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
    Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
    Tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
    Hath in the ram his halve cours yronne,
  3. MarcB Senior Member

    US English
    As a lad I read Beowulf, without a glossary I would not have been able to understand it.
    As for the Romance languages I speak more than one and I find it easy to understand even ones I don't speak. Old texts are not so hard to understand save a few words.
  4. gjou

    gjou Member

    French language has been stabilized around the 16th or 17th century. Rabelais (1483-1553) and Molière (1622-1663), like Shakespeare I guess, are very easy to understand. Before that, it was old french, not unreadable, but quite difficult to understand.
  5. amelesperanza Senior Member

    málaga, Spain
    French, Spanish, arabic
    I agree for Molière but not that much for Rabelais...
  6. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    With a little help, English song lyrics from around 700 years ago are about as understandable as modern lyrics:)
    Svmer is icumen in
  7. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    This is very difficult to quantify. Medieval Portuguese is comprehensible to a fair extent for a modern native speaker, but you find lots of unfamiliar words in it (words we don't use anymore), and also familiar words used with unfamiliar meanings. Another problem is the syntax, which can be considerably different from the modern one. Since we may not be used to the sequence in which the words were combined in the old days, it's easy to get lost in the middle of a sentence. To add to the problem, Portuguese literature was mostly composed of poetry, until the 19th century, and of course poetry is more difficult to follow than prose.
  8. gjou

    gjou Member

    Yes, perhaps, but this famous quote :

    "Mais parce que, selon le sage Salomon,
    sapience n’entre point en âme malivole,
    et science sans conscience n’est que ruine de l’âme,
    il te convient servir, aimer et craindre Dieu.

    Je ne bâtis que pierres vives, ce sont hommes.
    Mieux est de ris que de larmes écrire Pour ce que rire est le propre de l’homme."

    Is not so difficult to understand?
  9. gjou

    gjou Member

    And a free translation of my own for our friends english speaking :

    Because according to the wise Salomon
    science doesn't enter into a bad willing soul
    and science without conscience is only soul wrecking
    You have to serve, love and fear God.
    I only build living stones, and these are men.
    Best is to write laughs than tears, because laughing is particular to the mankind.
  10. zaby

    zaby Senior Member

    This is not the original text. He wrote :

    Mais, parce que selon le saige Salomon
    sapience n'entre poinct en âme malivole
    et science sans conscience n'est que ruine de l'âme,

    Voiant le dueil qui vous mine & consomme,
    Mieulx est de ris que de larmes escrire,
    Pour ce que rire est le propre de l'homme. (Gargantua)​

    It is understandable yet very different from Moliere's French as Amelesperanza pointed out. Conjugations and spelling have greatly evolved

    An other exemple (Pantagruel)
    Pantagruel estudioit fort bien, comme assez entendez, et proufitoit de mesmes, car il avoit l'entendement à double rebras et capacité de memoire à la mesure de douze oyres et botes d'olif.

    Honestly, I wouldn't be courageous enough to read Rabelais' books as he wrote them (and that's why I've read them adapted in modern French, as in the lines you quoted :) )
  11. gjou

    gjou Member

    Ok you're right,
    but what about Du Bellay? 1522-1560
    Heureux qui, comme Ulysse, a fait un beau voyage,
    Ou comme cestuy-là qui conquit la toison,
    Et puis est retourné, plein d'usage et raison,
    Vivre entre ses parents le reste de son âge !
  12. tafanari Senior Member

    English, Spanish, French, and Italian
    I don't think the Shakespeare is at all easy to understand. Some parts are, but others are so phonologically, lexically and semantically different that with out footnotes, the modern reader is lost.
  13. modus.irrealis Senior Member

    English, Canada
    I think we should also distinguish between the spoken language and the written language. I doubt that any modern English speaker could have a conversation with Shakespeare, let alone Chaucer, with any real understanding, even if the pronunciation were the only difference. Our modern written language is very conservative, especially in its spelling, and reflects an older version of the language, and plus modern editions of older works often silently normalize the spellings to make it easier to read.

    I also agree with Maxiogee about intelligibility. Without looking at notes, I think I can get the gist of what Shakespeare is saying but I'm not sure I could figure out the exact meaning of it, if that makes sense.

    The other thing is what do you mean by a "modern reader," especially how much education in/exposure to the older forms of the language are they allowed to have and still be considered a modern reader? Shakespeare certainly isn't lucid on first exposure and only becomes easier with more exposure. I ask because Greek also has a very conservative spelling (to a large extent it corresponds to the pronunciation of the 5th century B.C.) so it's not hard to believe that an educated Greek could quickly learn enough to read say the New Testament in the original Greek (so roughly 2nd century AD). My grandfather can somewhat do this, although he goes to church often and so is exposed to the language, and he's familiar with the Bible so basically he already knows what he's reading and I'm sure that makes it much easier.

  14. vince Senior Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    I agree about the spoken vs. written language thing.
    Up until the 1920's, Chinese was written the same way it was for 2000+ years. So grammar and vocabulary in the modern Chinese languages did not match up with the written word. After the 1920's, the grammatical base for Written Chinese was switched from Classical Chinese to Mandarin. So now the written language is "intelligible" for modern Mandarin speakers, but not for those of other Chinese languages. But the people speaking the other Chinese languages still use the Mandarin-based Written Chinese.

    Even for English, Middle English in a way was closer to its written language than today's English. There were almost no silent letters and spelling by and large gave an indication about the word's pronunciation.

    I think written Middle English is partially intellible (~70%) to people literate in modern English, while Old English is essentially a foreign language to us, less than 20% intelligibility. Whereas even Old French and Old Spanish are partially intelligible to modern French and Spanish readers.
  15. Fernando Senior Member

    Spain, Spanish
    For Spanish, I would say that any (learned) Spanish speaker could understand:

    - From 1700: Virtually all.

    - 16th-17th century (Quixote as an example): Some weird words and phrases will not be understood, but only poetry is a real problem.

    "En un lugar de la Mancha de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme, no ha (current "hace") mucho tiempo vivía un hidalgo (1) de los de lanza en astillero (2) , adarga (3) antigua y galgo corredor"

    (1) No more "hidalgos" but easy to understand.
    (2) Uncommon expression
    (3) A type of shield.

    In the three cases the problem is that knighthood vocabulary has been lost.

    - 14th century: (example: Celestina) It must be read with extreme attention to grasp the meaning, though 90% of text is understood.

    -12-13th century (ex: Cantar del Mío Cid): Very difficult to read without knowing some Latin and some context.

    - Previous texts (from 1000 AD or so) are very difficult to read.

  16. amelesperanza Senior Member

    málaga, Spain
    French, Spanish, arabic
    when I said that I agreed for Moliere but not that much for Rabelais I meant that Rabelais is quite difficult to understand. Molière, for example is always published in its original form, Rabelais, however is often modified or naturalized to an easier french.
  17. taalewok New Member

    English - London
    I am new to this forum and just poking around, but I stumbled upon this thread and I am surprised no-one has mentioned Icelandic / Norse... If you compare 'modern' Icelandic with 'old' Norse (on a site like 'Icelandic Saga Database', for instance) you will see that the 'modern' language and the old one are still virtually identical. It was, I thought, "common knowledge" that modern Icelanders can still very easily read texts from the 1200 - 1300's with little or no recourse to dictionaries etc.
  18. killerbee256 Senior Member

    American English
    At this point what your trying to read is closer to vulgar or late Latin then Castilian. Do you think knowing related languages like Catalan, Portuguese or even Italian or French helps understand older texts?
  19. Roel~ Member

    Nederlands - Nederland
    This is a part from a Dutch medieval book, Beatrijs:

    Van dichten comt mi cleine bate.
    Die leide raden mi dat ict late
    ende minen sin niet en vertare.
    Maer om die doghet van hare,
    Die moeder ende maghet es bleven,
    Hebbic een scone mieracle op heven,
    Die God sonder twivel toghede
    Marien teren, diene soghede.
    Ic wille beghinnen van ere nonnen
    Een ghedichte. God moet mi onnen
    Dat ic die poente moet wel geraken
    Ende een goet ende daer af maken
    Volcomelijc na der waerheide
    Als mi broeder Ghijsbrecht seide,
    Een begheven Willemijn.
    Hij vant in die boeke sijn.

    If I try to read this without a translation, this is what I can understand, after this, let's see what I have correct (I included not only English but Dutch too so that you can compare modern and old Dutch too if Dutch isn't your first language):

    Van dichten comt mi cleine bate.

    From near comes my little.......
    (Van dichtbij komt mijn kleine ....)

    Die leide raden mi dat ict late

    He advised me to not do it (it's very hard to understand this part.)
    Hij adviseerde mij om het te laten..

    ende minen sin niet en vertare.

    And to not try to push my will. (vertare, is not a present-day Dutch word, so this sentence doesn't make sense to me.)
    en mijn zin niet (door te drijven?)

    Maer om die doghet van hare,

    Maar vanwege die ..... van haar. (doghede too, isn't present in modern-day Dutch.)
    But because of the ...... of her.

    Die moeder ende maghet es bleven,

    Die moeder en maagd (eens?) blijven,
    This mother and virgin can stay. (This sentence is actually still quite readable if you realise that 'maghet' is 'maagd' maagd = virgin, in Dutch.)

    Hebbic een scone mieracle op heven,

    Ik heb een mirakel om naar voren te brengen,
    I have a nice miracle (magic story) to bring, (Although 'op heven' in this way isn't present in modern Dutch, I can understand what this sentence wants to say because of the rest.)

    Die God sonder twivel toghede
    Marien teren, diene soghede.

    Die God zonder twijfel (tot stand bracht?) vanwege Maria, diens ....Which made God without doubt to honor Maria, his ..... (I have no idea what Soghede means.)

    Ic wille beghinnen van ere nonnen
    Een ghedichte.

    Ik wil beginnen, afkomstig van eervolle nonnen, een gedicht.
    I want to start/begin from glorious nuns a poem. (Most words are very similar to modern Dutch.)

    God moet mi onnen
    Dat ic die poente moet wel geraken
    Ende een goet ende daer af maken
    Volcomelijc na der waerheide
    Als mi broeder Ghijsbrecht seide,

    God moet mij verzekeren
    Dat ik het punt moet bereiken
    En een goed einde ervan maak
    Volkomen naar de waarheid
    Zoals mijn broer Ghijsbrecht zei,God has to assure me,
    that I will come to the point
    and I have to make a good ending out of it,
    Completely in accordance with the truth,
    like my brother Ghijsbrecht said,

    Een begheven Willemijn.

    Een begeven Willemijn.A broken Willemijn.

    Hij vant in die boeke sijn.

    Hij zal vinden het boek zijn.
    He will find in the book (the Bible?) that which belongs to him.

    Now let's get a translation:

    (Translation by André G. Vanstraelen)

    1. Van dichten heb ik weinig baat;
    2. men raadt mij aan dat ik het laat,
    3. niet nutteloos mijn geest bezwaar...
    4. Maar om de deugdzaamheid van haar
    5. die Moeder is en Maagd gebleven,
    6. heb 'k dit mirakel opgeschreven
    7. dat zonder twijfel God gedoogde
    8. om Maria te eren, die Hem zoogde.
    9. 'k Wil u vertellen van een non
    10. het mooi verhaal. God geve, ik kon
    11. dit alles schrijven goed en raak;
    12. dat ik voltooie deze taak
    13. geheel en al van leugens vrij,
    14. zo als 't mij broeder Ghijsbrecht zei,
    15. een Wilhelmiet, een vroom asceet,
    16. die 't van uit zijn boeken weet,


    1. From near I don't have a lot of advantage;
    2. People advice me to not do it,
    3. Not useless, the obstacle of my spirit...
    4. But because of her virtue
    5. Which has stayed mother and Virgin,
    6. I have written this mystery/miracle
    7. Which God tolerated without doubt
    8. To honor Maria, who nursed/suckled Him.
    9. I want to tell you about a nun
    10. the beautiful story. Because of God, I could
    11. write this all, good and right; (I don't know how to translate 'raak', but 'raak' is like: hit the mark)
    12. that I will accomplish this thing
    13. Completely without lies,
    14. Like my brother Ghijsbrecht said,
    15. A Wilhelmite, a pious ascetic,
    16. who knows from his books,

    Comparing some of the translation with my own translation:

    Begheven meaning ascetic is completely unrecognizable, 'vant in die boeke sijn' meaning 'know from the book' is also unrecognizable. This looks like the modern Dutch: 'van het in het boek zijn', 'from being in the book', but I couldn't even recognize 'vant' as 'van het', I thought it was: 'has found'. This isn't readable for a modern reader.

    This part however, is completely recognizable for a modern reader:

    Volcomelijc na der waerheide
    Als mi broeder Ghijsbrecht seide,

    The words: 'volkomen', 'waarheid', 'broeder', and 'zei' are still recognizable in these old words: 'Volcomelijc', 'waerheide', 'broeder' and 'seide'.

    God moet mi onnen ==> Not recognizable. Onnen doesn't look like: 'toestemming geven' or 'toestaan' (give permission/ allow).

    Die God sonder twivel toghede
    Marien teren, diene soghede.
    As I know the translation, I can now actually see that 'toghede' looks like the modern: 'toogde', which means: 'to bring up' or 'nurse'. Without translation, I can't read this, but with it, I can recognize this word. 'soghede' would be the modern word 'zoogde'.
    Die moeder ende maghet es bleven, ==> the word 'es' is problematic, I had no idea what this means. Looking at the translation, 'es' seems to mean: is. But it could have been read as 'if' or 'like' too, by a modern reader.

    It looks a bit like Afrikaans, but in an older version and not comprehensible for a native speaker of Afrikaans.
  20. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    At the other end you have Norwegian. The plays of Henrik Ibsen written between 1858 and 1906 are actually too diffcult to read by pupils of secondary schools today.
    For theatrical purposes the language is often adapted to modern ears. Even if you compare informal writing of today with that of the 1960's you will see very large differences in vocabulary and grammar. This rapid change is mostly due to political changes in education like abandoning of normative language teaching and of teaching literature at schools and abandoning of editing of newspaper texts..
  21. bazq Senior Member

    Hebrew is divided to 4 eras essentially:
    - Biblical Hebrew (no definitive knowledge on the period in which spoken, roughly 1000BC - c. 200BC
    - Mishnaic Hebrew (1st century - 4th century, some argue even later)
    - Medieval Hebrew (vague term referring to the Hebrew used from the time Mishnaic Hebrew ceased to be spoken, up until the revival of the language in the 18th-19th century.)
    - Modern Hebrew (18th/19th century - today)

    Texts from all of these periods are intelligible to a Modern Hebrew speaker at varying degrees.
    The "Biblical Hebrew" used in the Hebrew Bible is understood quite well, though can be immediately noticed as different from Modern Hebrew.
    We usually start with commentary but we abandon it around the age of 13-14. We still need it sometimes to understand complicated or literary verses. Sometimes we think we know what a verse means, but find out we were wrong.
    Texts from the Mishnaic period and the Medieval period are noticeably closer to Modern Hebrew in syntax and other aspects, but contain influences of Aramaic, Greek, Latin, Arabic (according to the author's place of origin and time). The morphology of Mishnaic Hebrew is heavily influenced by Aramaic, but we still use several of these morphology patterns in Modern Hebrew.
  22. asanga Member

    I'm afraid you've misunderstood the modern Dutch. It means:

    1. Writing poetry gives me little benefit;
    2. People advise me to leave it aside,
    3. and not pointlessly burden my soul...

    Begeven is the past participle of the verb begeven, meaning "to send [to the monastery]". Compare modern Dutch "zich begeven". Nowadays, you'd say "een toegetreden [broeder] Wilhelmiet".

    You were right. Vanstraelen's translation preserves the rhyme and meter, so it isn't very literal. Hij vant in die boeke sijn = Hij vond het in zijn boeken.

    onnen = gunnen. moet = moge.
    Actually Middle Dutch togen is Modern Dutch tonen, although the modern form is descended from another West Germanic dialect.

    Using Modern Dutch spelling, with a few clarifying particles and glosses, it's quite readable:

    Van dichten comt mi cleine bate.
    Van dichten komt mij kleine baat.

    Die leide raden mi dat ict late
    De lieden raden mij [aan] dat ik het laat

    ende minen sin niet en vertare.
    en mijn zin [=hart, ziel] [er] niet in verteer.

    Maer om die doghet van hare,
    Maar om de deugd van haar,

    Die moeder ende maghet es bleven,
    Die moeder en maagd is gebleven,

    Hebbic een scone mieracle op heven,
    Heb ik een schoon mirakel op [=omhoog] geheven,

    Die God sonder twivel toghede
    Dat God zonder twijvel toonde

    Marien teren, diene soghede.
    [om] Maria te eren, die hem zoogde.

    Ic wille beghinnen van ere nonnen
    Ik wil beginnen van [een] eerbare non

    Een ghedichte. God moet mi onnen
    een gedicht. God moge mij gunnen

    Dat ic die poente moet wel geraken
    Dat ik het punt wel [=goed] mag raken

    Ende een goet ende daer af maken
    en een goed einde daar [aan] af [te] maken.

    Volcomelijc na der waerheide
    Volkomen naar de waarheid

    Als mi broeder Ghijsbrecht seide,
    zoals mijn broeder Ghijsbrecht zei,

    Een begheven Willemijn.
    een begeven [=toegetreden] Willemijn.

    Hij vant in die boeke sijn.
    Hij vond het in zijn boeken.
  23. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    There is a big difference between “language stability” and resurrecting a book-language that had not been used as a spoken vernacular for 2000 years. We need to leave Hebrew out of this discussion.
  24. origumi Senior Member

    Yep, the Israelites could revive the Aramaic language (which was spoken almost as many years as Hebrew), leaving Hebrew alone in its sacrilegious position, and then Israeli Aramaic would have held the world record.

    Standard Arabic has some 1400 years of attested stability, spoken in parallel to the local dialects. Is this the longest running of all languages in regard to stability?
  25. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    Again I would maintain that Standard Arabic is not a spoken language, but a liturgical/literary language, like Latin, Sanskrit, Classical Chinese etc. etc.
  26. tFighterPilot Senior Member

    Israel - Hebrew
    I think English is also kind of a problemish case, as before the Norman invasion it was pretty much a completely different language, it wasn't a natural evolution.
  27. francisgranada Senior Member

    I think yes, but not significantly.

    Here is a Spanish example from around 1000 Anno Domini (it's not not pure Castilian, rather Navarro-Aragonese):

    Cono ayutorio de nuestro dueño dueño Christo, dueño Salbatore, qual dueño yet ena honore e qual dueño
    tienet ela mandacione cono Patre cono Spiritu Sancto, enos siéculos de los sieculos. Facanos Deus omnipotes tal serbicio fere que denante ela sua face gaudiosos seyamus. Amen.

    In theory, in this text the knowldge of related languages could help us to understand better e.g. the words "fere" (today hacer, it. fare) and "siéculo" (today siglo, it. secolo).
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2013
  28. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    There are also words reminding of Portuguese and Italian (facanos / serbicio, -one endings)
  29. francisgranada Senior Member

    Yes, but these similarities does not always or necessarilly help "too much".

    A propos, also cono < con o reminds the Portuguese (com o). But this is due to the Navarro-Aragonese (or mixed?) character of the text, as in the old Castialian I should expect *con elo (in the Aragonese the artcles are o/a as in Portuguese).
  30. Hulalessar Senior Member

    English - England
    One cannot but agree with that, except perhaps to query the word "natural" since it is perfectly natural for languages to borrow and merge to a greater or less degree.

    However, it remains a fact that Old English is virtually a foreign language as impenetrable to a native English speaker as, say, Dutch. On the other hand anyone with a good knowledge of French can make at least something (even if not a lot) of the Chanson de Roland and anyone with a good knowledge of Spanish can make something (even if not a lot) of the Cantar de mio Cid. Much less "spade work" is needed for someone knowing French or Spanish to understand the earliest stage of French or Spanish than for someone knowing English to understand the earliest stage of English.
  31. francisgranada Senior Member

    I do agree. Here is a fragment from Cid (I think not too difficult to understand):

    Mio Çid Roy Díaz por Burgos entróve,
    En sue compaña sessaenta pendones;
    exien lo veer mugieres e varones,
    burgeses e burgesas por las finiestras sone,
    plorando de los ojos, tanto avien el dolore.
    De las sus bocas todos dizían una razóne: ...

    exir = salir, from ex + ir
    finiestra = ventana
  32. Roel~ Member

    Nederlands - Nederland
    Do you have Dutch as your native language too? You seem to understand this text better than me.
    I tried to read it without translation, but sometimes I have problems with the interpretation of a text, as you see, and some words are only recognizable for me when you explain them. I think it depends on who the modern reader is too, somebody with a lot of linguistical knowledge will be better able to read it than a complete layman.
  33. Roel~ Member

    Nederlands - Nederland
    I wonder if the development of the English language to adopting so much elements from Romanic languages can be compared to the Romanian language which actually quite lately adopted a lot of words from the French language and other Romanic languages. I know that Romania was romanized by the romans, but because of their isolated state I wonder in how far the Romanian language was really a Romanic language in the medieval ages. I read though that it doesn't have a lot of Slavic influences.

    It is politically dependent too actually.... the Maltese language was first considered a Romanic language, but nowadays it is considered as a Semitic language, actually the only semitic language which is a national language spoken in Europe. Sometimes it's really difficult to categorize a language if it adopted a lot of elements from another group or if it is a real mix. I think the politics often decide too. I can see why the British never wanted to categorize themselves as Romanic, because in their origin they were a bunch of Germanic tribes.
  34. tFighterPilot Senior Member

    Israel - Hebrew
    Romanian Grammar is Romance, the Slavic influence only came later and mostly just added more words (much like Norman words in English). In some ways, it's even closer to classical Latin than the western Romance languages.
  35. Ihsiin

    Ihsiin Senior Member

    Except, of course, Aramaic continues to be a living language, so revival would have been unnecessary.
  36. origumi Senior Member

    For Jews "Aramaic" is the one spoken about 1500-2000 ago, totally different of the living neo-Aramaic dialects. There were of course Jewish neo-Aramaic speaking communities but they are irrelevant to such process.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2013
  37. Hulalessar Senior Member

    English - England
    I think Latin beats it. If we start with Classical Latin, Latin was in continuous use from around 75 B.C. until roughly 1700 when it started to fall out of favour. If we add Old Latin at the beginning and Church Latin at the end that extends the period.

    It is also possible to make out cases for Sumerian, Egyptian and Sanskrit.

    The problem is of course that you have to decide whether the variety in use at the beginning of the period you choose is sufficiently similar to the variety at the end of that period to justify an assertion that it shows "stability". I know very little about Arabic, but clearly the language of early literature cannot be exactly the same as that used in a modern newspaper when discussing traffic problems in Cairo.
  38. Perseas Senior Member

    Athens - GR
    The epic poem "Διγενής Ακρίτας" (Digenis Akritas) is considered to be the first written monument of the early Modern Greek literature. It was written in early demotic Greek in ~1000 AD and was further developed in the 12th century. An average Greek can understand almost everything in this poem.
  39. killerbee256 Senior Member

    American English
    I can read most of that, enough to see it's a religious text. Siéculo is almost Identical to modern Portuguese, seculo and ie where portugues has e is common between the two languages. Granted this is quite common as Portuguese's (formal) writting system is some what archic, many portuguese words resimble the old spanish forms more then the modern spanish.
    I'd argue with you on that, the local "dialects" are just as diverged from classical Arabic and each other as Latin and the Romance languages. Islam however creates a cultural unity, tellingly the one dialect seperated from Islam is considered an independent language.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2013
  40. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    From the epic poem Digenis Akritas, Perseas has posted:

    Verse 32:
    10th c. Demotic (i.e. vernacular) Greek
    Εὐθύς ἐκαβαλίκευσαν, 'ς τὸν κάμπον κατεβαίνουν
    Latin transliteration:
    Ephthýs ekavalíkephsan, 's tòn kámpon katevénoun
    English translation (literal):
    At once they mounted, to the battlefield they descend

    Modern (vernacular) Greek
    Ευθύς καβαλικέψανε, στον κάμπο κατεβαίνουν
    Latin transliteration:
    Efthís kavaliképsane, ston kámbo katevénoun
    English translation (literal):
    At once they mounted, to the battlefield they descend

    My clumpsy attempt for Koine Greek
    Ἰθύς ἐφιππεύσαντες, πρὸς τὸ πεδίον ἀπίασι
    Itʰús ĕpʰĭppeúsantĕs, pròs tò pĕdíŏn ăpíasĭ
    English translation (literal):
    At once having mounted, to the battlefield they go
  41. Sempervirens Senior Member

    Io come persona di modesta cultura non incontro particolari difficoltà nella lettura e comprensione della Divina Commedia, XIII secolo, o del Cantico di Frate Sole del XII secolo.

    Quello che viene chiamato Indovinello veronese, datato tra il VII e il IX, un misto di volgare e latino, potrebbe forse impegnare quei parlanti che hanno pochissime basi di latino.

    Credo che sbaglierei di poco nel dire che l'italiano di otto o nove secoli fa rimane a tutt'oggi ancora leggibile e comprensibile alla maggior parte degli Italiani miei contemporanei.
  42. francisgranada Senior Member

    The language of the Indovinello veronese (Veronese riddle) is hard to classify, as it is neither Latin nor does it correspond to the supposed vernacular spoken in Veneto in the 9th century. The proper document that containts the Indovinello originates in Spain (probably in Toledo). It is supposed that the riddle was written on the margin of the document later by a monk in Italy (Veneto).

    Se pareba boves
    alba pratalia araba
    et albo versorio teneba
    et negro semen seminaba

    From the point of view of the comprehensibility, I think, a Spanish speaking person could understand it as well as an Italian (if not even more easily: boves - sp. bueyes, it. buoi; negro semen - sp. negro semen; it. nero seme, araba - sp. araba, it. arava).
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2013
  43. francisgranada Senior Member


    I think the main problem with reading the oldest Hungarian texts (from the 11th century) consists on the lack of the diacritical signs (and exact orthographical rules in general) e.g. ü,ö,ó,ú,ő,ű,á,é, as omitting them may totally change the meaning of the words. Otherwise they are understandable to a relatively high degree.

    Later texts, let's say from the 15th-16th century are almost normally readable and understandable.
  44. olaszinho Senior Member

    Central Italian
    Hi Francis.

    Could you please tell me the main differences in morphology and syntax between contemporary and ancient Hungarian. Did old Hungarian have more or fewer verb tenses, for instance? What about the "cases"? As for vocabulary, did Hungarian use so many Slavonic loans in the 11th century?
  45. francisgranada Senior Member

    Szia Olaszinho.

    I have answered your question in a new thread, the "History of Hungarian".
  46. Sempervirens Senior Member

    Ciao, Francis! Infatti! Chi ha poche basi di latino , chi non ne ha ( non soltanto gli Italiani quindi) difficilmente potrà comprenderne appieno il contenuto.

    P.S Scusami ma non ho capito bene se, menzionando tu stesso la parola language (of the indovinello veronese), ti riferisci alla lingua di quel tempo o al linguaggio usato nel siffatto documento? Non per togliere meriti ad una lingua prestigiosa e ricchissima di vocaboli come quella inglese ma sono talmente affezionato a questa lista di termini (distinti) ;lingua; linguaggio; parole;langue;idioma; parlata; che il troppo polisemico language mi confonde le idee, visto appunto il contesto.

    Francis, il latino boves è altresì reso in italiano con il vocabolo bove. Non abbiamo bovaro e carne bovina in italiano? Nell'Indovinello no, non vedo particolari e numericamente consistenti spunti per affermarne vantaggi nella comprensione da parte di parlanti spagnoli nei confronti di quelli italiani (includendo i Veronesi). Ma posso anche sbagliarmi.


    Last edited: Sep 23, 2013
  47. francisgranada Senior Member

    Volevo dire questo: il linguaggio del indovinello veronese non è indentificabile né come lingua latina né come una lingua (regionale, vernacolare) allora parlata nel Veneto, a differenza p.e. dei "placiti cassinesi" che presentano indubbiamente un volgare italo-romanzo.
    Sì, ma bovino esiste anche in spagnolo. Io mi riferivo al plurale in -es (non a bov-), un tale plurale non poteva esistere nel volgare parlato nel Veneto (secondo me). Se invece avessimo per esempio "Se pareva bovi .... negro seme seminava", allora il carattere italo-romanzo del testo sarebbe convincente ...

    Il problema è che il testo è troppo breve e isolato da analizzare. In teoria si potrebbe trattare anche solo di un "gioco" da parte dell'autore e non di una lingua/linguaggio davvero esistente o usato.

    Szívesen :)
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2013
  48. Sempervirens Senior Member

    Adesso ho capito meglio, Francis. Sai, qui si parte a scoppio ritardato. :)

  49. franknagy

    franknagy Senior MemberÓmagyar_Mária-siralom

    Here is a passage of a Hungarian verse from the 13th century "Mary is mourning Jesus".
    Its spelling is strange because the presently used vowel and consonant symbors were not used.
    There are some exticts words but the essence is understandable.

    Original spelling: Modern spelling: Translated to present Hungarian
    Volek Syrolm thudothlon Syrolmol Sepedyk. buol ozuk epedek Volék sirolm tudotlon. Sirolmol sepedik, Búol oszuk, epedek. Valék siralom tudatlan, Most siralom sebez, Bú gyötör, epeszt.


    P. S.

    Is there a reader from Rumania? Can he/she read 250 year old Rumanian texts written by Cyrillic letters?

  50. franknagy

    franknagy Senior Member

    Consider the fact that Slavonic were servants making the agricultural works but more and more hUngarians declassed and had to do it instead of adventures to Western Europe. Look after the Russian word мука and the Hungarian word munka.


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