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Old November 19th, 2012, 05:03 AM   #21

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Originally Posted by Sankari View Post
Oops, I misread your post. Yes, I know what Aramaic is. I still don't think it's as historically important as Latin and Greek. Jesus most likely spoke Greek and Aramaic.
I don't think Aramaic can be compared to Latin (as we all know) and this is because languages which descended from Latin later became the languages promoted by the European colonizers across the world. But it is most probably on par with Greek. Need I remind you that across the vast expanse of western Asia there were loanwords from Aramaic in nearly every single literary language? And their script gained widespread use. As an interesting case the Brahmi script is also theorized to be an adaptation of Aramaic and this would make it one of the three most used scripts in the world.

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No, not really.
I do not think Arabic was the most important language, but it was quite influential. 60% of the Persian language Thesaurus is Arabic in origin and you can add to this the family of Turkic languages, Urdu and of course many languages in south Asia and north Africa.

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Old November 19th, 2012, 08:19 AM   #22

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By "Thesaurus" I meant "lexicon".
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Old November 19th, 2012, 08:40 AM   #23
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Under these standards the answer for the OP couldn't be any more obvious, arbitrary, relativistic and ethnocentric.

It couldn't be any more elementarily evident that let say either the Inuit or the San people of Ancient times (among myriad myriad examples) couldn't have considered any less important (historically or in any other way) Latin, Greek, Aramaic, Chinese or absolutely any other ancient language but theirs.
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Old November 19th, 2012, 09:50 AM   #24

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Originally Posted by sylla1 View Post
Under these standards the answer for the OP couldn't be any more obvious, arbitrary, relativistic and ethnocentric.

It couldn't be any more elementarily evident that let say either the Inuit or the San people of Ancient times (among myriad myriad examples) couldn't have considered any less important (historically or in any other way) Latin, Greek, Aramaic, Chinese or absolutely any other ancient language but theirs.
Actually it is not that Arbitrary and POV. A language is more important by these criteria: The number of people who are influenced by the language, the period of time in which the language remained in use, and probably the amount of literary works done in that language.

By those standards Latin is definitely the most influential, as its daughter languages are spoken by nearly a billion people worldwide and it has been in use for at least 2500 years. Even today its influence is growing, as its script is becoming the standard script for nearly all the languages across the globe and words with Latin roots are still being invented (or sometimes rediscovered) and introduced to languages which are not basically members of the Romance family of languages, such as English.
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Old November 19th, 2012, 10:53 AM   #25

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No, not really.
As a medieval language Arabic is extremely important, if not by sheer volume of the material alone.
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Old November 19th, 2012, 12:52 PM   #26
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If we're considering these languages in terms of not only their body of work and influence, but also the influence of the languages that descend from these, shouldn't we really be looking at the ancestor languages to all of these to determine importance? Wouldn't the ancestor of the Indo-European languages be by default more important than any one of the languages which descended from it simply because the influence of all of the descendent languages can be projected onto the ancestor language?
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Old November 22nd, 2012, 02:33 PM   #27
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What is the most important ancient language?
Considering the language you asked the question in (and that the other people posting here speak) I don't see how it could be any other than PIE - aka proto-Indo-European.

Both Latin and Greek are descended from PIE.

Circa 3500 BCE, PIE was spoken by the people living in Central Asia who at that time would have been an ethnologically identical people (blue/green eyes and light colored hair were prominent.

By 1500 BCE these people had evolved into the Celtic, Germanic and "Indo-Persian" aka Scythian peoples and were soon to become the Greeks, Illyrians, Latins and Iranians who at first included the "Aryan" people of South Central Asia ("Aryan" being just another spelling, or translation of "Iran") and later provided the bulk of the population who are known as "Slavs."

A host of other peoples were also spun off from the above groups which are too numerous to mention; certainly by 1500 BCE these peoples were no longer "ethnologically identical" as they had absorbed and been absorbed by others in various times and places. Of course, in the 21st century being a speaker of an Indo-European language no longer has any relation to ethnicity whatsoever.

It seems to me that PIE could only be matched in "importance" by those (ancient) Asiatic languages which contributed to the development of the Sinitic languages.
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 07:44 AM   #28

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Originally Posted by Dzung View Post
Considering the language you asked the question in (and that the other people posting here speak) I don't see how it could be any other than PIE - aka proto-Indo-European.

Both Latin and Greek are descended from PIE.

Circa 3500 BCE, PIE was spoken by the people living in Central Asia who at that time would have been an ethnologically identical people (blue/green eyes and light colored hair were prominent.

By 1500 BCE these people had evolved into the Celtic, Germanic and "Indo-Persian" aka Scythian peoples and were soon to become the Greeks, Illyrians, Latins and Iranians who at first included the "Aryan" people of South Central Asia ("Aryan" being just another spelling, or translation of "Iran") and later provided the bulk of the population who are known as "Slavs."

A host of other peoples were also spun off from the above groups which are too numerous to mention; certainly by 1500 BCE these peoples were no longer "ethnologically identical" as they had absorbed and been absorbed by others in various times and places. Of course, in the 21st century being a speaker of an Indo-European language no longer has any relation to ethnicity whatsoever.

It seems to me that PIE could only be matched in "importance" by those (ancient) Asiatic languages which contributed to the development of the Sinitic languages.
The reconstructed PIE might not have even been a concrete and singular language in its time. It is merely an interpolation of all surviving Indo-European languages, and even today (after all the refinement) we have a number of possible "readings" when applying the comparative method to the data at hand. And why stop there? We have evidence of Pre-PIE and Eurasiatic superfamilies which include PIE; so you can follow that kind of reasoning to absurdity.

Latin is an ancient language which still lives through its descendants (just like the postulated PIE), but that's not the only point. It is a(n attested) full-fledged language capable of expressing all kinds of ideas (and world views), and it has literature, folk tales, calendars and all the other cultural phenomena associated with a natural language. In other worlds Latin presents a civilization, something we will never have with PIE.
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 08:27 AM   #29

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I believe ancient language discussions should include the simple fact that virtually no writing anywhere survives from the invention of writing up until about 2000 BC. We know that the media for writing can survive longer because a blank papyrus roll survives from 3000 BC Egypt and clay cylinders survive from Sumeria. None of the writing from these earlier times that survives is sensible to modern people and is forced into the story of Gilgamesh or interpreted as utter nonsense like the Pyramid Texts. The story of Gilgamesh is really from later times and is not supported by the oldest scrolls just as the book of the dead and the legend of Osiris are from later times and are not supported by the Pyramid Texts.

I believe the simplest explanation is there was actually a "mother tongue" but that this "language" had numerous different versions that were spoken world wide. The vocabulary was exceedingly compact and grammatical rules were virtually identical everywhere. This language expressed meaning in context like a computer code and is misunderstood today.

It's likely that all words in all language are derived through a tortuous path through the sounds initially assigned to things seen in nature. They are all filtered through the ancient computer code.

Modern people have the absurd idea that change and evolution in language is beneficial while all it really does, for the main part, is add to the confusion and separate us further from our ancestors. Certainly the invention of new words for specific processes and objects is a necessary and beneficial practice but most changes just complicate and obfuscate. The suppression of new words based on the language of their origin might be even worse.

People need to embrace the simple and obvious fact that we are each a product of our time and place. We are distinct from the thinking of our ancestors even if we weren't intentionally hiding the facts through language. Why should we simply assume we understand people from even 100 years ago when we so rarely understand each other?

I don't know the answer to the question posed and am not certain it's even a valid question at all. I would suggest that the most direct route to the first spoken words will pass through Egypt and end in Africa. But, then, there are a very great number of words now days. It seems quite obvious that words like "ma" were first spoken nearly unchanged by a baby 40,000 years ago. It might have actually meant "milk" or "breast" initially but very soon it was the individual who cared for the baby (and still is). The 'language of nature" is the most important, probably, because this was the basis of all words and it was the basis of the ancient language. We've merely confused this language to such an extent it is unrecognizable.
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 12:51 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by cladking View Post
I believe ancient language discussions should include the simple fact that virtually no writing anywhere survives from the invention of writing up until about 2000 BC. We know that the media for writing can survive longer because a blank papyrus roll survives from 3000 BC Egypt and clay cylinders survive from Sumeria. None of the writing from these earlier times that survives is sensible to modern people and is forced into the story of Gilgamesh or interpreted as utter nonsense like the Pyramid Texts. The story of Gilgamesh is really from later times and is not supported by the oldest scrolls just as the book of the dead and the legend of Osiris are from later times and are not supported by the Pyramid Texts.

I believe the simplest explanation is there was actually a "mother tongue" but that this "language" had numerous different versions that were spoken world wide. The vocabulary was exceedingly compact and grammatical rules were virtually identical everywhere. This language expressed meaning in context like a computer code and is misunderstood today.

It's likely that all words in all language are derived through a tortuous path through the sounds initially assigned to things seen in nature. They are all filtered through the ancient computer code.

Modern people have the absurd idea that change and evolution in language is beneficial while all it really does, for the main part, is add to the confusion and separate us further from our ancestors. Certainly the invention of new words for specific processes and objects is a necessary and beneficial practice but most changes just complicate and obfuscate. The suppression of new words based on the language of their origin might be even worse.

People need to embrace the simple and obvious fact that we are each a product of our time and place. We are distinct from the thinking of our ancestors even if we weren't intentionally hiding the facts through language. Why should we simply assume we understand people from even 100 years ago when we so rarely understand each other?

I don't know the answer to the question posed and am not certain it's even a valid question at all. I would suggest that the most direct route to the first spoken words will pass through Egypt and end in Africa. But, then, there are a very great number of words now days. It seems quite obvious that words like "ma" were first spoken nearly unchanged by a baby 40,000 years ago. It might have actually meant "milk" or "breast" initially but very soon it was the individual who cared for the baby (and still is). The 'language of nature" is the most important, probably, because this was the basis of all words and it was the basis of the ancient language. We've merely confused this language to such an extent it is unrecognizable.
So, are you saying it would be easier to communicate if we had no past or future tense, no conditional, no subjunctive? Maybe no articles, no prepositions?

I don't think you would have been able to communicate half of what you just did without these changes you seem to think only confuse things. Go back through what you wrote, and change all your verbs to present tense; remove all the past and future tense, all the conditional, all the subjunctive, etc. Take out all the prepositions, the adverbs, adjectives. Then, see if what you wrote still means what you intended it to mean.
We need complicated language to be able to communicate complicated ideas.
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