Talk:Extinct language

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Should 'dead language' really redirect here? I mean, I think that going to Language death is more appropriate for the situation. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:53, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

philosophy and sophism[edit]

If language is a method of communication, who does the last speaker of a language speak to? 14:58, 7 March 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

To themselves, or their pets. Actually, you can speak a language (retain the ability to speak it, remember it, whatever) without actively speaking it at the moment. Otherwise you would cease to speak your language whenever you close your mouth and fall silent, or switch to another language. This is the whole point of the distinction between linguistic competence and performance: being able to speak and actually speaking. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 16:23, 29 October 2013 (UTC)

Dispute of factual accuracy[edit]

Can Ancient Greek really be called extinct? Greek has never ceased to be spoken over time and there have always been speakers of the language since antiquity. It has simply evolved into its modern form. Also, many people in Greece are able to read and comprehend the ancient writings. For instance something English speakers can relate to, would someone call Old English extinct or merely changed into its modern form. The reason the issue is important to me is because, there is always a conscious or unconscious attempt to make Greeks seems to be some extinct group of people with no relation to modern Greeks, the language issue ties with this. I won't edit the article but leave this note here for someone less biased than me to examine in detail and edit.

Unsigned comment left at 03:31 UTC, 19 April 2005, by User:

Well, someone more biased than you did edit the article to remove all reference to Ancient Greek. After a brief edit skirmish about the issue, I've decided to leave Greek out for the time being, but to put the {{disputed}} tag on the article so we can discuss it here. In my opinion, Ancient Greek is definitely a separate language from Modern Greek, just as Old English is a separate language from Modern English, or as Latin is a separate language from Italian or any of the other Romance languages. If modern Greeks can read Ancient Greek with little or no difficulty, it's because of widespread familiarity with the artificially archaizing Katharevousa variety, not because Greek has changed so little over the last three thousand years. The phonological, syntactic, and morphological differences between the Greek of Homer, Plato, and Aristotle and the language spoken on the street in Athens today are huge and certainly enough to warrant considering them separate languages. And clearly, Ancient Greek is extinct under the first meaning discussed in the article: it has evolved to such a great degree that its descendants must be considered separate languages. By the same token, dinosaurs are extinct, even though they evolved into modern birds. --Angr/tɔk tə mi 5 July 2005 08:50 (UTC)


I am referring to the comment above: Well, it is more than obvious that you ARE indeed biased. I read all your arguments about Ancient/Katharevousa/Greek and I can, without any doubt what-so-ever, say that you are 100% wrong. I did not find not even one sentence of your text that is barely acceptable. Your statements are so dogmatic and none has been supported by any valid, commonly acceptable references. It is amazing how ignorance makes it's way into wikipedia by people like you. I have to ask you if you are a native speaker of modern Greek (Demotiki) and if you studied any Ancient Greek at all. As a person of Hellenic decent, not only I speak Modern Greek as my maternal language but -without of course being fluent- I have a deep understanding of the Ancient language as well. In short here's where you are wrong and why:

1. Ancient and Demotiki are not separate languages. Demotiki is a very simplified form of Ancient Greek. Grammar, syntaxis and form of expression have definitely changed. It is however the plethora of words and expressions still used today as they were 2.500 years ago that make your argument about separate languages, simply laughable. Of course the same holds for Old/English, latin/Italian etc. If you search the Internet you will find many quotes from important scholars about Ancient Greek being the "mother" of many modern western languages. How can you reconcile this Ancient and Modern Greek being "separate"? It is simply a thoughless statement.

2. You are wrong stating the "widespread familiarity" of modern Greeks with Katharevousa. Actually, Katharevousa was never adopted by the greek people en mass. It was an artificial language, fabricated by scholars at the time 18th-19 c. AD in an attempt to cleanse the popular spoken greek after hundreds of years of ottoman occupation and latin/slavic people invasions. The reason why Greeks can understand Ancient Greek is because still today we find ancient words, expressions, etc. in greek vocabulary. As a matter of fact the modern greek language through a self checking mechanism did not bother creating new words for words from ancient times but simply imported these words into Demotiki. I say imported but trully what happened is Greeks gave up trying to reinvent the wheel and adopted a great deal from the vocabulary of their ancient forefathers.

3. "The phonological, syntactic, and morphological differences between the Greek of Homer, Plato, and Aristotle and the language spoken on the street in Athens today are huge and certainly enough to warrant considering them separate languages." Absolutely NOT! The differences are many in some areas significant. But huge is not a word that can substantiate your argyment. For every difference between Ancient and Demotiki, I can give you words and expressions that are identical in ALL the above mentioned categories. The only way to do this is to give you examples written in greek font. Are you able to read it?

4. "And clearly, Ancient Greek is extinct under the first meaning discussed in the article: it has evolved to such a great degree that its descendants must be considered separate languages." Here, I could not stop laughing! You claim that Greek is extinct and a separate language from Demotiki, based on a wikipedia article, which is clearly biased and widely disputed. So basically you're saying, it is so, because I say so (!?!) Excuse me this is not an argument, this is a joke.

5. Finally, the analogy with dinosaurs and birds is a nice one but does not cut it. Greek has a life of (well, take this with a grain of salt) around say 3-4.000 years. Dinosaurs evolved into birds (though scientifically, not a generally accepted statement) over millions of years. I believe there is a huge difference. If we are still around in say a few more billion years I will be willing to discuss this again. And BTW how come Ancient Greek is an extinct language and you in the 21 century are using the word "dinosaur" which in Greek is spelled "δεινόσαυρος", where did "dinosaur" some from, which language does it originate from?

Dimitrios P., Athens - GR (comments can be made at x w r i s o n o m a (at) h o t m a i l . c o m ) (talk) 17:30, 18 September 2010 (UTC)

The existance of extinct language families should sound alarms for philosophers and linguists. A language allows us to frame our knowledge and experience so that it may be practically reconstructed by other language users. However, the symbols will only elicit the intended thoughts if they are understood in a similar way between the reader and writer.

Presently, cultural traditions and large linguistic community bases ensure that languages grow and refine over time, however, once a language ceases to be understood by any being, it loses its capacity to transfer the knowledge, experience, and wisdom that may be concealed within its markings.

This should be a sign to linguists to begin a project to ground our language into non-lingistic forms that may serve as a starting point for reconstructing our collective linguistic efforts once they loose significance.

time for some peer review?[edit]

This whole article looks like a mess of original research. Anyone got any materials that support the assertions made herein for the definition of "extinct language"? Tomer TALK 01:21, Jun 21, 2005 (UTC)

It is a mess, as is its partner Living language. But peer review is not what's needed: from that page, "This page is for nearly Featured-standard articles that need the final checking by peers before being nominated as Featured article candidates." Extinct language is far, far away from being nearly Featured-standard! --Angr/tɔk tə mi 2 July 2005 17:15 (UTC)

The following is a quote from A Student's Dictionary of Language and Linguistics by R. L. Trask (London: Arnold, 1997, ISBN 0-340-65267-5), p. 63:

dead language A label which is applied to two quite different sorts of cases, which you should be careful to distinguish. 1. A language which was formerly spoken but which has died out completely as a mother tongue, having been abandoned by its last speakers. Examples include Sumerian, Etruscan and Cornish. 2. An earlier stage of a language which has never ceased to be spoken but whose modern forms are very different from it. Latin is a dead language in this sense: it has never ceased to be used as a mother tongue, but its modern forms, such as French, Spanish, and Italian, are so different from the language of the Romans, and from one another, that we no longer find it convenient to call them 'Latin'.

I think we can use that definition to build an encyclopedia article around, don't you? --Angr/tɔk tə mi 2 July 2005 17:26 (UTC)

I've done a major re-write. How's it look now? --Angr/tɔk tə mi 3 July 2005 08:20 (UTC)

It looks MUCH better, but I'm struck now by an entirely different idea. Would it not be a good idea to include this article as well as various other related articles into a unified article to which this (as well as living language, etc.) point[s], say something simple but concise like hmmm Language status or something where this could be covered in depth and with a decent degree of context? Tomer TALK July 3, 2005 08:28 (UTC)

Well, I've already merged Living language here; what other articles do think should be included? And what do you mean by "Language status"? Keep in mind the title of Wikipedia articles are supposed to be the names of existing concepts, not made-up terms. --Angr/tɔk tə mi 3 July 2005 08:48 (UTC)

Well, the two I had in mind, other than living language and extinct language, at the time, were language death and endangered language. I don't think this is making up a term, so much as bringing together various language states under a common (and I believe, fitting) heading. Tomer TALK July 3, 2005 08:56 (UTC)

Incidentally, I think that there is some confusion between "dead" and "extinct" languages, and that it would behoove WP, especially considering the rampant nonsense going on on Talk:Latin, to clarify just exactly what dead and extinct mean wrt languages. If they're the same concept, or different concepts, lines should be drawn or blurred accordingly, and it would probably be a good idea to cross-pollinate that discussion w/ this one, if, for no other reason than to hopefully finally ferret out the rationale of "Avitus", who persists in stating that Latin is a living vital alive and kickin' vivacious vigorous language to this day. Tomer TALK July 3, 2005 09:00 (UTC)

I suppose linguicide should go in the same group, but I'm not convinced we can cover everything in just one article. Maybe we can put these articles into a Category:Language death and endangerment or something. As to your second point, if there's a difference between a dead language and an extinct language, I don't know what it is. I can see it would be useful to have separate terms for languages with no remaining native speakers that nevertheless get used by nonnative speakers to talk to each other (like Latin and Sanskrit for sure, maybe even Old English since people use it to talk to each other on the talk pages of ang:), and languages with no remaining native speakers and also no nonnative speakers (like Sumerian, Etruscan, and Beothuk). But I don't know whether it's established practice to use "dead" for the first group and "extinct" for the second, as you seem to be doing on Talk:Latin. --Angr/tɔk tə mi 3 July 2005 11:17 (UTC)

AFAIK, it's not established practice, but at least you managed to pick up on the distinction I was making. Pictish is extinct. Old High German is dead. I just based my "definition" on the difference between the meanings of dead and extinct—if I had evidence that others make such a distinction, I would have inserted that definition into both articles. This brings me to a different somewhat related point, however, and that is this: which is more common in linguistics circles: "dead language" or "extinct language"? Tomer TALK July 3, 2005 15:50 (UTC)

"Dead language", definitely. It parallels "language death" (which I've never heard called "language extinction"). --Angr/tɔk tə mi 3 July 2005 16:00 (UTC)

That's what I thought. So why does Dead language redirect here, and why is the category Category:Extinct languages? Tomer TALK July 3, 2005 18:11 (UTC)

Don't ask me; I had nothing to do with it! --Angr/tɔk tə mi 3 July 2005 19:41 (UTC)

Is there a consensus here for a move to Dead language? Jayjg (talk) 5 July 2005 20:51 (UTC)
Well, I'm in favor of it, and Tomer seems to be too, but I don't if that's really consensus. Shall we do a formal Requested move on it? --Angr/tɔk tə mi 5 July 2005 21:24 (UTC)
Either here, or formally. Jayjg (talk) 5 July 2005 21:45 (UTC)

Against POV[edit]

someone more biased than you did edit the article to remove all reference to Ancient Greek.

You almost make me laugh. This 'someone' has made most of the contributions of the Greek language related articles. What have you done to prove that you have an idea? From what you say it appears that you don't.

I've decided to leave Greek out for the time being

Is it me, or do you have the impression that you own this article? Guess what, you don't, and hence you don't make decisions. This article is very poor and badly written as it is, I wouldn't be surprised if much of it was written by you, which is exactly where the problem lies. You don't know any Greek, from what you say it's obvious that you haven't read anything on Greek, therefore you're not in position to have a say on this. I've showed you my contributions on wikipedia and I've provided my sources, therefore I'm the person in position to make decisions on the given topic. I'm not even going to answer to your childish remarks, I've already explained you the different between a language, and a stage of a language (see Talk:List of extinct languages). Whether or not you choose to believe it is irrelevant. You can force your personal opinion on your children, but not on this article. By the way I'm aware of your false accusation (about starting an edit war on a stub article), and your failed attempts to get me banned. You managed to find an admin who was already biased against me because of a different ethnic debate, but it was not enough to shut my mouth. He's about to be reported on the WikiEN mailing-list, and so are you. Miskin

And if you keep it up, you'll find yourself banned for violating Wikipedia:No personal attacks. You've made numerous such unwarranted attacks in your edit summaries and now here on the TALK page. There is no call for this. If you can't abide by the strictures of Wikipedia:Civility, then perhaps you should seek a different medium to express your failure to comprehend Wikipedia:Neutral point of view. Take a deep breath and chill out. Thanks. Tomer TALK July 6, 2005 09:39 (UTC)

Miskin may not do so with a lot of tact, but he does point out a valid problem with this article. For a language to become "extinct", it has to undergo "extinction" at some point. An example would be the Manx language, the last native speaker of which died in the 1960s, I believe. This is radically different from an older, historical stage of a language that was never extinct. Ancient Greek is such an example. If you label Ancient Greek as an "extinct" language, each and every historical language is "extinct", i.e. Old English, Middle English, Early Modern English are all to be treated as separate, extinct languages. This doesn't make sense. You should separate "Old languages" from actually "extinct languages", i.e. languages that underwent extinction at some point in history. dab () 6 July 2005 14:08 (UTC)

The fact is that, for better or worse, for whatever inexplicable reason, there is no clear definition of what precisely "extinction" means wrt languages, as Angr and I have discussed here on this talk page previously. Even language death, which is a far more widespread term (if you agree, please comment in the relevant portion of this Talk page) is imprecisely defined. The biggest problem, however, with this article moving forward is currently a problem of personality, not of language. Tomer TALK July 6, 2005 14:29 (UTC)
There are actually two problems here: (1) the definition of "dead language", which as stated in the article is ambiguous between languages that really died out and languages that evolved into other languages, and (2) the question of whether Ancient Greek and Modern Greek are two different languages (the former having evolved into the latter the way Latin evolved into Italian, French, etc., or the way Old English evolved into Modern English), or two different chronological stages of the same language (like Early Modern English and Modern English, which I would not call two different languages). I don't have a problem with "dead language" being ambiguous, so long as the article points out that the ambiguity exists and provides clear examples of both usages. As for the second question, I firmly believe that from a linguistic point of view Ancient Greek and Modern Greek are as different from each other (and therefore as much two separate languages) as Old English and Modern English are, or as Latin and Italian are. If Ancient Greek is fairly easy for modern Greeks to read, that's because of cultural and educational influences, not because today's Dhimotiki is only slightly different from the language of Homer. --Angr/tɔk tə mi 6 July 2005 14:51 (UTC)

I do not think similarity or dissimilarity of Modern and Ancient Greek are an issue. At no point in history did Greek die out, therefore it is not an extinct language. It may be a "dead" language, by common use, and maybe this article should discuss these problems. But how is a list of "dead" languages even useful? All historical languages, i.e. every idiom spoken more than a generation ago, is by this definition "dead". What's the point of listing these? The interesting thing here would be language death, which is pretty well defined (death of last native speaker). Most Greek dialects however, did die out, when Koine (i.e. Attic) became successful. So we could indeed list Doric, Aeolic, Arcado-Cypriot etc. as extinct languages (or dialects), just not Greek as a whole. By your argument, Homeric Greek needs to be listed as extinct by 600 BC. Mycenaean as extinct by 1100 BC. The Koine probably went extinct around 1000 AD. That's just pointless, there is no criterion of how granular you will want to make your list. Theoretically, you could list every language, ever century or so. 12th century English: extinct. 13th century English: extinct. 14th century English: extinct .... dab () 6 July 2005 16:32 (UTC)

I agree with Dbachmann; almost all languages that ever existed, including every transitory form, are "dead" by this definition. A language which has no native speakers is something that can be defined. Jayjg (talk) 6 July 2005 17:06 (UTC)
I agree it's easier to define "dead language" as a language that has completely died off (as the "second type" in the definition on this page), but the fact is that the "first type" definition, which includes languages like Latin and Sanskrit, is widely used by linguists and laymen alike and shouldn't be ignored here. Miskin never objected to the inclusion of Latin or Sanskrit on this page, nor to the inclusion of Old English and Old Norse on List of extinct languages, even though none of those four ever died out either. So it's not the "first type" of extinct language he's objecting to, it's the idea that Ancient Greek and Modern Greek are different languages that he can't tolerate. --Angr/tɔk tə mi 6 July 2005 17:10 (UTC)
Let's please refrain from calling them "extinct languages". The term used in the vernacular and by linguists is "dead languages". Thanks. Tomer TALK July 6, 2005 17:15 (UTC)
If the definition of 'dead language' that's given in the article is not accepted or even mentioned by linguists, then the problem lies on the specific definition (POV). Instead of trying to reconstruct academic opinion on the standards of this article, maybe you should consider reconstructing the article itself, which is extremely badly written even for a stub. Miskin 6 July 2005 20:40 (UTC)
The definition given in the article is fine. It was inspired by the definition in Trask's Student's dictionary of language and linguistics quoted higher up on this page. What is not widely used by linguists is the term "extinct language", the usual term being "dead language". --Angr/tɔk tə mi 6 July 2005 21:26 (UTC)

TShilo2 when I started editing the article I was extremely polite to Angr and tried to explain to him why he's wrong. I started a discussion in Talk:List of extinct languages where other people participated and agreed with my suggestion. Angr obviously thinks he's in charge of the article, and that's the only reason he doesn't want my changes to remain. Furthermore, after he realised that he lacked the knowledge to comprehend what other people explained, instead of replying in Talk he reported me for vandalism to an admin who had a previous ethnic conflict with me. He accused me for violating 3RR and vandalising a stub article, completely ignoring all my contributions to the Greek language-related articles. As far as I'm concerned liars and cowards deserve no respect. Miskin 6 July 2005 20:40 (UTC)

Regardless of your feelings, the Wikipedia:Civility and Wikipedia:No personal attacks policies must be followed. Jayjg (talk) 6 July 2005 20:59 (UTC)
Miskin's first edit summary here was neither polite nor rude, but simply stated his position that Ancient Greek is not a separate language from Modern Greek. I reverted, also being neither polite nor rude, but simply stating my position that Ancient Greek is, in fact, a separate language from Modern Greek. His reversion of my revert included in its edit summary a sarcastic-sounding question and an implication that I am ignorant of the subject matter. That hardly qualifies as being "extremely polite" at the beginning. He seems to have interpreted my comment "I've decided to leave Greek out for the time being" at the top of this page as meaning I think I own this page. Upon reflection, I can see that it might sound that way, but that is not how I intended it. What I meant by that statement was that I would no longer continue reverting his removals of Ancient Greek from this page. I welcome his positive contributions to this page: the example of Coptic being replaced by Arabic was his, and it's a good example, so I never removed it. --Angr/tɔk tə mi 6 July 2005 21:26 (UTC)

Angr said: I firmly believe that from a linguistic point of view Ancient Greek and Modern Greek are as different from each other (and therefore as much two separate languages) as Old English and Modern English are, or as Latin and Italian are.

Again, what you firmly believe is irrelevant to what the academic opinion says. Me, Chronographos and dab have contributed on many articles regarding the Greek language, and I have provided my sources on Talk:List of extinct languages. You are the one who's refusing to accept that you don't run things around here. In fact you shouldn't even participate since you're planning to contribute in terms of what you firmly believe. We don't care, deal with it. Ancient Greek is by no academic insitution on the planet a seperate language, how difficult is to understand this? I'm not going to waste my time on trying explain to you why you're wrong, I've already tried and you failed. Istead of making a valid point by providing valid theories and their sources, you foolishly quoted from articles that were are written by, in order to "convince" me that ancient Greek has differences from Modern (as if I ever said that it didn't). According to your POV logic, extinct(X) :- ancient(X), because there is no ancient form of speech that has been preserved on a perfectly intelligible extent to the present day. What makes things more comical is that you don't have the slightest clue on the Greek language, and I'm not talking about speaking it, I talking about basic knowledge on its nature. This is plainly evident by the way you speak about Ancient Greek. Anyway, based on the academic opinion this is what the arcticles Greek language and Modern Greek currently say:

  • The morphological changes affected both nouns and verbs. Some of the changes to the verbs are parallel to those that affected the Romance languages as they developed from Vulgar Latin — for instance the loss of certain historic tense forms and their replacement by new constructions — but the changes to the nouns have been less far-reaching. Greek has never experienced the wholesale loss of word-endings that has for instance made Spanish, French and Italian separate languages from Latin.
  • Modern Greek is similar to the ancient Greek language, more so than Italian is to Latin, for example. It is claimed that an "educated" speaker of the modern language can read ancient texts, but this is surely as much a function of education as of the similarity of the languages. Still, Koinē /ciˈni/, the version of Greek used to write the New Testament and the Septuagint, is relatively easy to understand for modern speakers.
  • Modern Greek, which differs in many ways from Ancient Greek but is still recognisably the same language, is spoken by approximately 12 million speakers worldwide, most of whom live in Greece. Greek is traditionally written in the Greek alphabet.

but simply stated his position that Ancient Greek is not a separate language from Modern Greek.

Me and other people tried many times to convince you that this is not just Miskin's personal opinion. It's what linguistics have said, your complaints to them. Your view on the other hand, is a personal opinion, which you should establish academically before forcing it into the article. I started being sarcastic after you characterised my changes as 'vandalism'.

included in its edit summary a sarcastic-sounding question and an implication that I am ignorant of the subject matter.

Well, aren't you? Miskin 6 July 2005 21:37 (UTC)

I notice that of the sources you provided none is more recent than 1965, and one dates back to the early 18th century; I also notice that some of them are explicitly concerned with the literary language, rather than the colloquial spoken language. Do you have sources from any linguists writing within the past decade who claim that Dhimotiki is from a pruely linguistic point of view the same language as Ancient Greek?
Are you actually suggesting that either the language or the academic opinion might have changed in the past 40 years? You're almost treating language as if it was fashion, I hope you're not being serious about this. What I've been trying to convince you is a fact, this is why I changed it so confidently, I assumed that it was a bad stub article begging to be edited. Miskin 7 July 2005 01:06 (UTC)
I am in fact suggesting both of these things. Academic opinion changes over time (linguistic theory has advanced lightyears from what it was in 1965), and since the official language of Greece changed from Katharevousa to Dhimotiki in the 1970s, the language studied by people interested in "the literary language" has changed. --Angr/tɔk tə mi 7 July 2005 08:46 (UTC)

"...the changes to the nouns have been less far-reaching. Greek has never experienced the wholesale loss of word-endings that has for instance made Spanish, French and Italian separate languages from Latin."

No, but it simplified its declension system to about the same extent that Romanian did. Modern Greek has lost the dative case and the dual number, and no longer distinguishes between nominative and accusative forms of feminine nouns.

Unless you want people to take you seriously, you can't talk about extents if you have no personal experience with the language. Nobody said that the language has not changed, that would be at least retarded, let alone physically impossible. You can't prove a point by pointing out differences from Ancient to Modern Greek, we know that they're different, in the same way we know that an 80 year old man is physically different from what he was in his 20s. Languages do change, like people grow older. It's up to linguists to determine whether a language is dead or not, and Greek is in fact determined as one of the best preserved languages. If you say that Greek is dead, then you have to say that any language which is preceded by the word 'ancient' is also dead. This is not a magical linguistic phenomenon which occurred for some strange reason in Greece, it has to do with the history of the region, its people and of course its language (which is also summarised in my articles). Miskin 7 July 2005 01:06 (UTC)

I never said Greek is dead, no one here did. I said Ancient Greek is dead, in the sense of not having any native speakers, and that's simply a fact regardless of whether you consider it a separate language from Modern Greek or an earlier stage of the modern language. --Angr/tɔk tə mi 7 July 2005 08:46 (UTC)

"It is claimed that an "educated" speaker of the modern language can read ancient texts, but this is surely as much a function of education as of the similarity of the languages. Still, Koinē /ciˈni/, the version of Greek used to write the New Testament and the Septuagint, is relatively easy to understand for modern speakers."

This quote actually supports my side as much as yours. The second sentence is only true because the orthography hasn't changed to keep pace with the phonological changes. Do you suppose a native speaker of Modern Greek who was uneducated and illiterate would understand 1st-century Koinē if pronounced with 1st-century pronunciation?
As the aricle on Koine Greek states, most of the phonological changes of Modern Greek, started taking place at an ancient time (as far as 5th century BC). That means that by the time Ancient Koine was established as a common dialect, it had acquired some 90% of the phonology that preserves today as the Modern Greek Koine. Basically, all Modern phonology was shaped in ancient times, the only exception to this is the vowel υ, which was pronounced like the french u, where as in Modern (10th century AD) it acquired the sound of I. Furthermore, Demotic is only a dialect of modern Greek. There are idioms of Demotic that all ancient accents are preserved, such as the Doric long ε as an α (Macedon) in Tsakonic and Southern Italian, υ as u, long ε as i and many others. In that respect, the Koine form of Modern Greek (which is an idiom of Demotic), has preserved the exact same phonology of Hellenistic Koine. Other idioms of Demotic have preserved phonology from other ancient Greek dialects (I brought the examples above). The language is far from dead. So what do you think the answer to your question is?? Miskin 7 July 2005 01:06 (UTC)
You're right, the article on Koine Greek does say that. However, since it does not cite its sources or provide evidence for its claims, I have no way of knowing whether that article is accurate. --Angr/tɔk tə mi 7 July 2005 08:46 (UTC)

"I started being sarcastic after you characterised my changes as 'vandalism'."

You started being sarcastic at 16:00 UTC, 4 July 2005. I didn't characterize your reversion of my reversion as 'vandalism' until 19:43 UTC, 4 July 2004. I apologize for calling it vandalism, but I did so partially because of the sarcastic edit summary, which angered me, and partially because you reverted all my changes in one fell swoop, rather than changing only the parts you disagreed with.

"Well, aren't you [ignorant of the subject matter]?"

No, in fact, I'm not. I studied classics, Indo-European linguistics, and theoretical linguistics at university, and learned quite a bit of Ancient Greek and quite a bit about diachronic language change. --Angr/tɔk tə mi 6 July 2005 22:21 (UTC)
Anyway, what I've been explaining above, is something that marks the evolution of a language, and distincts it from its potential transformation (such as the case of Latin). On my first edits I tried to give a better definition of the "extinct languages", because the word "evolution" doesn't necessarily imply a new language. Of course, you reverted it. If as you say you're interested in Keltic languages, then maybe you could help me research Gallo-Graecian. It is an ancient, extinct Greco-Keltic language that was spoken by a mixed population of Greeks and Kelts in the state of Galatia (or Gallo-Graecia) in Asia Minor (modern Turkey). The language was assimilated by Medieval Greek during the Byzantine rule of the region, and its population got completely Hellenised. It's possible that it can be traced in some dialect of Modern Greek or an idiom of Modern Greek Koine, since the ethnic Greeks of Asia Minor migrated into Greece in 1922. Miskin 7 July 2005 01:06 (UTC)
Is it attested? --Angr/tɔk tə mi 7 July 2005 05:55 (UTC)

Of course. Miskin 7 July 2005 13:30 (UTC)

According to the site you mentioned (and then deleted again, why?),, "all material is contained within texts in other languages" and according to Galatian language, "only a few glosses and brief comments in classical writers and scattered names on inscriptions survive". --Angr/tɔk tə mi 7 July 2005 13:45 (UTC)

I wanted to add it in a wiki-link. Yes it's poorly documented, this is why I mentioned the word "research". Fragments of texts do survive, but I don't think it's easy to find them on the internet. Miskin 7 July 2005 14:15 (UTC)

Instead of following the example of Decius and removing languages that are indeed dead, maybe we should restore them and improve the definition of 'dead language' on this article. Miskin 7 July 2005 14:30 (UTC)

Decius didn't remove languages that are indeed dead, he removed languages that have never stopped being spoken. --Angr/tɔk tə mi 7 July 2005 15:31 (UTC)

When a language stops being spoken, it is dead. I've already discussed this with Decius. Latin has definitely stopped being spoken in all of its periods, this is why it's regarded as dead. I'm not personally familiar with linguistic opinion on Old Norse and Old English so I can't really tell. On the other hand the link of the British university that I gave you lists them as dead. I think the previous definition is better, why did you remove it? And I still don't see a reason to doubt Language death. In fact I don't see a reason for keeping an article Extinct language separately from language death. Miskin 7 July 2005 16:04 (UTC)

What do you mean Latin has stopped being spoken in "all of its periods"? It never stopped being spoken; people just started calling it Italian, or French, or Spanish, or whatever. --Angr/tɔk tə mi 7 July 2005 16:15 (UTC)

As your probably know, the Latin language had its historical periods (early, classic, late etc). In that respect, 'Latin' is a language one 'early Latin' is one of its stages. If Late Latin was still in use somwhere, we wouldn't say that 'Latin' is a dead language. As it is known, the history of the Latin language dies at late Latin. Romanian, Italian, French etc belong to the Romance family, whose root is Latin. To make an equivalence, 'Greek' is a language (like Latin) and 'ancient Greek' is a stage (like 'early Latin'). "Modern Greek" is a stage of Greek equivalent "Late Latin" for Latin. "Modern Greek" is living, therefore the Greek language is living, "Late Latin" is dead, therefore the Latin language is dead. The Romance languages have a heritage from Latin, but they're not a late stage of Latin. By the way don't let the word modern mislead you into thinking that Modern Greek is something contemporary. Modern Greek has in fact its starting point in the middle ages. Its original name was Neo-Hellenic, 'modern Greek' is just a corrupted translation. This is analysed in Talk:List of extinct languages. Miskin 7 July 2005 16:39 (UTC)

Decius has a contradicting logic and his reverts are POV. I'm reverting back to the old version as it was agreed with dab and chronographos. The criterion here is not the clear definition of 'dead language', it's what the majority of linguists believe. After having Latin and Old English back in the list, we should compose a better definition of this aricle, adding back the example of Latin. Miskin 7 July 2005 17:01 (UTC)

First, "dead language" is not an academic term; "extinct language" is much more widely used by linguists. Second, I can certainly see an argument for distinguishing languages that are extinct without issue (like Galatian, Etruscan, or Meroitic) from languages that are extinct only because they were replaced by their own descendants (such as Ancient Greek, Latin, or Sanskrit; but consistency is necessary. Either Latin and Ancient Greek are both alive, or they are both extinct; the only difference in their states is that Latin has diversified more than Greek has, though even for Greek Tsakonian has sometimes been seen as a separate language. - Mustafaa 7 July 2005 18:30 (UTC)

I am in total agreement with Mustafaa: it is counter-productive to try to make a distinction between dead and extinct languages. No such distinction is made in linguistic terminology, and they should be considered to be equivalents. There are fascinating issues here about language death as a feature of language development: one stage of the langauge becomes extinct in giving birth to the next. In comparative linguistics, we are aware of the fuzzy boundaries between language and dialect, and perhaps the same fuzziness should be applied to the stages of language development. I think it would be wholly appropriate to say the Old English is an extinct language: it is not natively spoken, even though its progeny, Modern English, continues to thrive. After all, similar factors are involved in language death and language development. --Gareth Hughes 7 July 2005 19:21 (UTC)

Latin never ceased to exist, just like Greek in Middle Ages the people used to talk a popular language and the clergy used the classical language. At some time, with the arouse of states in late Middle Ages people start giving names to them, firstly names based on differences, Dante talks about "oïl", "oc" and "si" language (the names of yes in Middle French, Provençal and Italian), in the Iberian peninsula there were the "fala" and the "habla" (the names of "language" in portuguese/galician and in Spanish), and only much later names of countries were used to languages such as French, Italian (this is even later), Portuguese, Castillan (later Spanish), and so on. Classical Latin is a literary construct much different from the popular usage of the time, just like the Attic Greek of say, Plutarch, is different from popular speech of his time. The change is quite similar to what happened in Greece. As an educated Portuguese speecher, I could understand much of the vulgata before learning Latin, so I can't see where lie the difference between Greek and Latin Bruno Gripp 22:20, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

Reading all of the above posts, I get the sense we are sort of bickering here. Let's have a cup of tea and discuss 'dead languages' or whatever the 'perfectly' correct term is. I think that the definition given - having to living speaking members - is a good one. However a distinction should be made clear between old and truly dead. Also, don't know if this is right or not, but it says "Normally this occurs ... " -- but what about other exceptions? Just some thoughts ... Dolphinn 03:02, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

Making the distinctions[edit]

There are a number of different situations that are both useful and difficult to distinguish:

  1. An inferred language like Proto-Indo-European, which exists only as a hypothetical reconstruction.
  2. An unknown language, like some ancient manuscript obviously written in a real language at the time, but undecipherable.
  3. A language that has died out and being replaced by a unrelated language, as happens in some small ethnic groups.
  4. Latin, which first has a few dialects, classical/vulgar/medieval, and second although no longer a mother tongue in any community, is used in a some special circumstances for orginal documents, and is even sometimes spoken.
  5. An old language, like, say, Anglo-Saxon, which is not spoken in any reasonably recognizable form today, but people can study and decipher if they invest the effort.
  6. Something like Shakespearean-era English, which is not spoken, but could probably be understood by modern English speakers, and is more or less readibly understood in written form.

Latin and Ancient Greek are problems: neither qualify as living languages, but they're not exactly extinct either. (I've heard Ancient Greek compared to Shakespearean English; from the (very) little I know of modern Greek, I would guess probably going back a little further than Shakespearea.) Peter Grey 7 July 2005 19:55 (UTC)

Hebrew a once dead language?[edit]

I don't think it is correct to say that Hebrew ever died. --Josiah 03:02, July 10, 2005 (UTC)

It never stopped being used as a liturgical and literary language, but it stopped having native speakers around 200 CE. The first native speaker of Modern Hebrew is generally considered Eliezer Ben-Yehuda's son Itamar Ben-Avi, who considering Ben-Yehuda's dates was presumably born at the end of the 19th century. --Angr/tɔk tə mi 08:26, 11 July 2005 (UTC)
I second that, he was like the father of the revival. Enlil Ninlil 03:52, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

last speakers section from endangered language[edit]

copied last speakers section from endangered language. it obviously has my bias of being north america-heavy, so someone please balance it if you have time. peace – ishwar  (speak) 18:32, 2005 July 19 (UTC)

While I can't add it myself, apparently, I expected this section would include Juana Maria, the last speaker of the Uto-Aztecan language Nicoleño (Niminocotch), who was the inspiration for the novel "Island of the Blue dolphins". Eeyore tim 17:45, 17 February 2007 (UTC)


"the success of these attempts has been subject to debate, as it is not clear they will ever become the common native language of a community of speakers." comes a little out of the blue, as the first sentence only mentions "no longer has any native speakers." What about the people who teach their children Latin or Ancient Greek? That would technically make them not extinct, but wouldn't change anything in a real sense.--Prosfilaes 17:29, 29 September 2005 (UTC)

Recently dead[edit]

Can we use another term rather than family? Isn't family a larger unit than many of the items in this list? I.e. Indo-European is a family, but Romance or Germanic is a group or sub-family or branch or something else. To say an entire language family is extinct is much different than to say that a branch of the family died out.

Some languages might be looked over[edit]

Greek and Latin aren't necessarily dead languages. Latin is used all the time through different references- religious terms, political terms, medical terms, scientific terms, etc. Latin is also the major language of most academic works before the 19th-20th century (think Principia). Greek and Ancient Greek are extremely close, if you compare the two. As well, Latin is definitely coming alive again- about 1,000,000 students worldwide took the National Latin Exam. Obviously, I don't know much about the subject (other than being a Latin student) myself, so I won't edit the article.

A language is extinct if it is no longer spoken natively. Latin and Ancient Greek of course are two famous and misunderstood examples. Neither language died - in the way that,for example, Hittite language or Gothic language did - but simply continued to evolve into modern day Greek language and Romance languages. siarach 17:35, 2 February 2007 (UTC)


"Some debate that a language may already be dead/extinct because of mutations by the time that only one speaker remains" Can anybody kindly explain what is meant by "mutations" here?Unoffensive text or character 08:16, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

Well Latin was mutated or changed into the romance languages, in word structure, pronounciation, grammatical structure, foreign additives etc, it really isnt one thing. To explane the phenomenon would need an article itself, which im sure there is. Is this what is meant? Enlil Ninlil 03:57, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
Ok so by the time a language is classed as dead, it would have mutated and the decendant language died out leaving doth languages dead. Enlil Ninlil 04:07, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
I am still at a loss. One could argue that the last speakers, through lack of practice, lose their proficiency over the years and that the language they speak (if ever they do speak it) is only the shadow of its former self (cf. Nancy Dorian's works on a moribund Gaelic dialect). But as this does not become clear from the sentence as it stands, I would prefer to delete it. Unoffensive text or character 09:25, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
Go ahead and delete it it is a non-informative phrase in any way.·Maunus· ·ƛ· 09:43, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

Latin extinct language?[edit]

The article says that an extinct language has no native speakers, then says that Latin is not extinct just dead. Surely Latin has no native speakers? The Latin article on Wikipedia certainly claims it does not. There's a difference between fluent speakers and native speakers.--Santahul 12:49, 11 June 2007 (UTC)

Native speakers says that "the person is defined as a native speaker of the first language, although one may also be a native speaker of more than one language if all of the languages were learned without formal education, such as through cultural immersion before puberty". And, yes, there are a number of people who have cooed to their infant children in Latin.--Prosfilaes 13:17, 11 June 2007 (UTC)
The article fist says that Latin is not an extinct language but merely a dead one, then it goes on to say that Latin is an extinct language, is Latin considered an extinct language or not? I notion for not, but I studied basic Latin and still think it isn't dead.Queso Loco 00:23, 11 July 2007 (UTC)


I propose that this article be set up in the same way that List of languages by name is. Therefore: Language (Language Family) (other information) I believe that this will help with all further edits and any person who is doing research on the topic. It will also prevent things such as putting a language near the top of the article when it begins with the letter "Y". Mynameisnotpj (talk) 11:42, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

I agree. But not about the sorting. As it's only a list about the recently extinct languages, it might be helpful to sort it by year. And we should define "recently" (as in 'since 1950' or 'since 1980' or 'in the last 30 years' or something)... — N-true (talk) 12:37, 26 March 2008 (UTC)
Can I also suggest adding the geographical area in which the languages existed ? For people who just wander onto this page, without being an expert or looking up each page for each language, there's no way of knowing. Or some sort of table, like the one at List of most expensive films, which allows the reader to re-order the columns however they wish (by clicking the button at the column top) The Yeti (talk) 12:40, 15 May 2008 (UTC)
I agree about sorting the languages by family or geography. The sheer numbers of American Indian languages on this page makes it very difficult non-American-Indian languages. (talk) 22:37, 21 July 2008 (UTC)


I was very surprised by this phrase in a sentence: Latin; an extinct (and dead) language. Why would you need to go out of your way to double state this. This seems like just another part of what many are beginning to believe is a hate fill conspiracy against the Latin language. It is like you want to add insult to this instead of just stating a fact. Now, you all can have your definition of what language death or extinction is but I can tell you for my part, I spoke only Latin in my home with my father until I was of the age of 11. Outside my home I spoke Latin with some other kids but with most I spoke French (which was not allowed at home). I did not learn English until I started school at age 11. Now according to your definition, that would make me a native speaker of Latin so I do not see how it could be true that Latin is dead or extinct or whatever. You all seem to need to get your words straightened out by the way. Now, if any of you are going to write to me after this to tell me that my father was a child molestor for teaching me Latin, I have already heard it. You are crazy. All three of my children speak Latin as well as my wife. It is the language of our home and when someone enters my door it is the only language allowed. You Americans can call me a nut or a religious freak (how speaking a language sets you firmly into one religion is beyond me but we do happen to be Catholics) if you want to but you are wrong. I leave society alone to speak whatever language you want, the least you could do is leave me alone and let my family speak whatever language we want in our home. We do have freedom of speech after all do we not. All I ask is that whatever insult was intended to be directed at Latin that you retract it and show some respect. I do not go around bashing English. Ok, I do sometimes, but not like this. I can also tell you that I know I am not the only person who was raised as a Latin speaker. The odds that I am the only one, that somehow I am so unique make it impossible. I guess the question needs to be asked, How many native speakers are needed before you reconsider your insulting words against my language? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:46, 17 April 2008 (UTC)

I should second this comment... Latin is even broadcasted by a radio station in Finland... they even sing Elvis songs in Latin, for Christ's sake. It can't get any more lively than that. Someone in here seems all too eager to act as a language undertaker... but for the life of me I can't figure out why--Giorgos Tzimas (talk) 17:24, 22 May 2008 (UTC)
...BTW it's a bit funny but there is even a Latin version of Wikipedia... LOL probably in the brink of extinction as well...--Giorgos Tzimas (talk) 18:08, 22 May 2008 (UTC)
I believe 'extinct' implies the lack of native speakers, ie people who learn Latin as their mother tongue (no, id est doesn't count!). No doubt there's plenty of interest in the language and many folks become proficient in it, but how many learn it as a mother tongue? Same applies to Classical Greek. Of course, both languages have descendants but they, themselves aren't spoken natively anymore, right? Anon's story above is quite interesting, though. 3rdAlcove (talk) 22:01, 22 May 2008 (UTC)
The thing is that the term "extinct" and the way it is used and defined in this article leaves a lot to be desired. After a rather hasty search I did not manage to find a consistent definition of what an extinct language is. There are in fact several usages of the term scattered around and this article seems more preoccupied with establishing an arbitrary terminology rather than describing an already existing one. "Native speaker" is also a term in need of further description but that has been left unchallenged so far (what does it mean to be a native speaker of Esperando for instance? And mind you the language is considered quite alive. Who were the first native speakers of the revived Hebrew language if it was already dead or "extinct"? etc.). If you ask me (though personal views do not belong in wikipedia) a language used in broadcasting, translations of comics and modern literary works -or even in internet forums- is pretty alive. If you have a look in the latin Vicipedia you will find out that neologisms are coined everyday and the vocabulary gets constantly enriched with new terms or usages. On top of all that latin syntax and grammar deviations are already becoming canonical and these (believe me) are all signs of language vitality. The language is even spoken! In no "extinct" language changes of this sort would ever be possible. I won't try to insert any suggestion that Latin is not a dead language -I know better than that- but I really can't understand why the mostly unsourced definitions in this article are any more factual than my own OR. It has been around for quite some time now, why hasn't anybody bothered to provide proper citations and settle the matter once and for all? Some very serious arguments have been put forward in earlier discussions but they went almost unnoticed--Giorgos Tzimas (talk) 22:59, 22 May 2008 (UTC)
You certainly make some good points but I'm no linguist, either! Perhaps a prof. wikipedian should have a look. 3rdAlcove (talk) 23:12, 22 May 2008 (UTC)
...BTW if you have a look at the definition of native speaker you will see how shaky the ground of this article is. Hopefully this thread will persuade somebody to come forth and provide some decent citations.--Giorgos Tzimas (talk) 23:27, 22 May 2008 (UTC)

Just a quick note: I'd recommend being a bit careful about distinctions like that between "extinct" and "dead". Terminology out in the real world is rather messy and there are a lot of competing and often rather ill-defined usages. I have no doubt the distinction as currently proposed in the article is made somewhere in the literature, and it may actually be quite a useful one, but we shouldn't present it as if it was the sole truth. I'd recommend using phrases like "according to some definitions...", "according to some authors..." etc quite a lot in this article. Same for the terminological treatment of the (at least) two different processes that lead to a language becoming extinct (or "dead", for that matter), i.e. replacement/language shift/physical extinction on the other hand and linguistic evolution into daughter languages on the other. Latin may or may not be a "dead" language today, but independently of that, whether the process that made it what it is should be called "language death" is yet a different question; many authors reserve "language death" to the other type. This is where our biological metaphors really lose their value: it makes perfect sense to say that Latin or Old English are now "dead", but that they never "died". Fut.Perf. 14:40, 23 May 2008 (UTC)

I couldn't agree more. But I am amazed by the fact that the Bibliography section of this article is almost longer than the main body of the article itself. Surely some inline citations can be provided with such an impressive body of literature. Why hasn't anybody provided the citations so far? The situation is similar in a series of related articles. The way they are now presented looks as if somebody has simply copypasted the bibliography from a general work. This article has been around for years and I just added the first referenced footnote! Please if you know anything about it provide sources because this has been mirrored in internet pages disseminating thus dubious and unsourced information. The unsourced, previous definition of "Extinct Language" can now be found throughout the internet because of this page!!!--Giorgos Tzimas (talk) 14:47, 23 May 2008 (UTC)
I kept wondering why this article was looking so different than what I remembered, and when it could have been changed so much since I last looked – until I noticed this is quite a different article than the one I was thinking of. We have language death somewhere else. Should we merge these two articles, possibly rewriting both? Fut.Perf. 14:56, 23 May 2008 (UTC)
Also, it seems there are some better versions back in the history. I randomly looked at this and find it's actually not too bad. Haven't yet worked out when it was spoiled. Fut.Perf. 15:07, 23 May 2008 (UTC)
Apparently, this edit went unchecked for almost a year. Fut.Perf. 15:10, 23 May 2008 (UTC)
I trust your judgement on this one. I am no expert in the field but I was taken aback when I first saw this article. My so far limited experience has taught me that one needs to be bold in order to attract attention and start a proper discussion. Bottomline: Your proposals are fine with me --Giorgos Tzimas (talk) 15:18, 23 May 2008 (UTC)
Oh...just a question. Since the opening sentence in the older version defines an extinct language as one with no native speakers and native speakers are very loosely defined what's the point of including it without any further clarification? What is the source for that? I am not saying that my proposal was better, but at least it was sourced. I am asking out of pure curiosity because I really cannot comprehend it and the issues raised with this native speaker thing are quite perplexing--Giorgos Tzimas (talk) 15:26, 23 May 2008 (UTC)
Heh, gotcha. Good point. I guess definitions may differ in detail, and I couldn't off-hand quote a treatment of it in the literature, but (personal-OR-wise) I'd say a definition suitable for this topic would involve that the language has been acquired by means of natural, unguided language acquisition through exposure to natural communication in the spoken medium. This is a bit more loosely defined than other notions of "native speaker", where you'd specify that it must be acquired by most of its speakers during early childhood. "Spoken" and "unguided" is important to distinguish it from competence in a language learned at school or in similar formalised settings (like the way some people learn to speak Latin today.) "Early in childhood" makes an important difference insofar as it's generally assumed that perfect acquisition to full native competence is only possible then; thus, a language that would be acquired by all or most of its speakers in adulthood (for instance, as an informal "lingua franca") might still be "living", in some sense, but it would only have a shadowy life because none of its speakers could possibly be perfectly competent in it, and thus it could never uphold a well-defined, naturally developing common grammar. Fut.Perf. 15:43, 23 May 2008 (UTC)
Very nice and much more logical. I think I am beginning to see the light at last hehehe.... Is there now any way to incorporate some of this information into the article? Do you think you could find some sources because your points make perfect sense. I can't imagine that nobody has ever tried to properly formulate a similar approach in a published medium--Giorgos Tzimas (talk) 16:02, 23 May 2008 (UTC)

It also irritates the hell out of me when people describe Latin as a dead language. If Latin had died then Quebec, considerable chunks of the United States, the entirety of Central and Southern America, Southern and Western Europe and Romania would be very, very quiet places indeed. siarach (talk) 16:10, 23 May 2008 (UTC)

This is another source of confusion. I believe the term dead reflects the "fossilized" state of Classic Latin but indeed the Romance languages are evolutions of the various regional vulgata forms, so is it extinct in the same way that Tocharian, Etruscan, Hurrian, Eteocretan even worse, Minoan or Meroitic are? I am asking because I find the terms dead and extinct confusing. One could argue that Latin, Ancient Greek, Old Church Slavonic, Avestan, Old English, Sanscrit may be dead phases of living languages. I' ve seen contradicting approaches by linguists but can't decide if there is a universally accepted view on the topic--Giorgos Tzimas (talk) 16:31, 23 May 2008 (UTC)
There is no single universally accepted view, except (I guess) that linguists are generally aware that all these biological metaphors are of very limited value and trying to get a precise definition for their usage is really moot. Speaking of "death" or "dying" or being "dead" presupposes a metaphorical view of a language as a single, bounded individuum with a biological lifespan. In reality, languages are nothing of the sort. They are much more analogous to biological species than to biological individuums that can "live" or "die". But the life/death metaphor in all its different shades is so deeply entrenched in our everyday way of talking about languages that we can't really avoid it. Thus, linguists informally use such terms, just like laypeople do, without really implying much with it. – Yes, according to mainstream usage, Latin is "dead" - but saying that it is implies having made a decision that Latin is a different entity from its daughters. That cutoff decision is essentially arbitrary, it's a product of our retrospective perception and historical classification only. Most people would agree that the language of Alfred the Great is "dead" (there are no native speakers of it, despite this amusing diversion). The language of Chaucer is likewise "dead". So is that of Shakespeare. So is, strictly speaking, that of Swift, Jane Austen, even that of Churchill (nobody today speaks natively exactly like he did). Why we draw a line of calling it a different system after Alfred but not after Churchill is a matter of degree and partly of convention, not of essence. Fut.Perf. 17:49, 23 May 2008 (UTC)

I am always amazed by your unrelenting and exquisite eloquency...LOL. However -admiration aside- I was not wrong to feel that the semi-authoritative statements in this article should be further scrutinized and elaborated (not to mention properly sourced) in the first place, was I? All these issues should be confronted instead of being presented in a simplistic extinct-not extinct-dead-alive-undead-resurrected manner--Giorgos Tzimas (talk) 18:11, 23 May 2008 (UTC)

HAHAHAHAHAHA, just seen the "amusing diversion", rather impressive though! What a death rattle! We should devise a new term. Probably something in the lines of Language Death-Trance. It would be lovely to have it along with linguicide, language death and the lot.--Giorgos Tzimas (talk) 18:26, 23 May 2008 (UTC)

Nicola Athapaskan/Stuwix[edit]

There is currently no separate article for the Nicola Athapaskan language, and the Nicola (people) article needs splitting as it is, because "Nicola" (commonly used by linguists) has a more modern context as the name of the alliance/merger of Nlaka'pamux and Okanagan peoples in the same area and both contexts are currently in that article; once it's been split a stub is all that's really available in the way of content for the Nicola Athapaskan language which I guess has to be the article-name - Nicola language perhaps but again the confusion with today's Nicola people (see Nicola Tribal Association) remains. Stuwix language I don't think has ever been used - Stuwix is a Nlaka'pamux or Secwepemc name for these people ("the strangers", it means). I think there may be some marginal information in J. Teit (Jesup Expedition) in the "History of hte Okanagan people" part of his studies; some placenames around the area are thought to be Stuwix in origin. I guess I'm just dropping notice of this here and will launch the stubs and split sometime in the next few days; if someone here has a suggestion for a preferred name of the titles suggested, or another maybe (?), please let me know.Skookum1 (talk) 14:24, 11 June 2008 (UTC)

Does Manx still belong?[edit]

Manx has been revived and now has about 2,000 speakers and is being taught in schools in the Isle of Man so it is no longer extinct. Does it still belong on this page. I don't think it does. (Bentley4 (talk) 05:01, 19 October 2008 (UTC))

I don't believe so. Wouldn't it fit in better among the 'dead languages' group - languages which are still spoken but not as a first or native language? Manx did become extinct but it certainly isn't anymore as activity on GV Wikipedia shows (it's not exactly EN Wikipedia but it's not a wikipedia version that's likely to be removed anytime soon). Revival of the languages in Manx schools and its continual use by Tynwald for official announcements on Tynwald day show this too.--Xania Flag of Italy.svgtalk 21:27, 5 February 2010 (UTC)

I am confused[edit]

I say that, not as an expert who knows enough to edit and correct this article, but as a Wikipedia user who came to this article looking for answers and left it more confused than when I came. Indeed, I will say that I learned more from reading the Talk page than I did from reading the article (which IMHO is not a good thing). The article makes a distinction between Dead Languages and Extinct Languages but does not provide a very clear understanding of what that distinction is. After reading the comments above, I am not even sure if Linguists make this distinction at all. To me there seem to be several options (1) Linguists define the terms differently and generally agree on what the terms mean (in which case the article should so state, (2) There is a current dispute between linguist on the use of the terms and on what the definitions of the terms is to be (in which case the article should describe that dispute in NPOV terms) or (3) Linguists use the terms interchangeably but have disagreements on the exact definition of the broad generic term (in which case the article should so state, or (4) Linguist use the terms interchangeably but Wiki editors feel that a distinction would be useful and therefore are trying to create one (in which case the article would seem to contain original research). It is my hope that those that know more can edit this article to make it clearer and more informative for Wikipedia users. Franklin Moore 16:12, 7 April 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Alexnovo (talkcontribs)

As far as I am aware, no distinction between the terms exists, at least I've never seen anyone make or even propose a consistent distinction outside Wikipedia. The expressions dead language and extinct language are for all intents and purposes exactly synonymous. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 17:41, 29 October 2013 (UTC)

Neo-native speakers[edit]

Apart from the old conundrum about diachronic language stages qualifying as "extinct" or not, the problem of neo-native speakers is a very much real issue and a veritable headscratcher. I, too, know a married couple who habitually converse in Classical Latin and this obviously keeps spurring semi-serious remarks about them raising children with Latin as their native language. These hypothetical children would be prime examples of neo-native speakers. However (and I don't even want to get into the muddle about standard languages probably always being to some extent deliberately archaising and artificial), when the temporal gap is much shorter, there is even more uncertainty about whether the new native speakers get to count or not. Cornish? Manx? Coptic? Worse, Hebrew? Irish has both traditional and neo-native speakers, a very important distinction, because the traditional speakers of the Gaeltachtaí employ (typically rural) Irish dialects and don't really accept the (typically urban) neo-native speakers with their standardised, artificial-sounding schoolbook Irish as genuine. When it comes to really exotic languages such as Native American languages, the issue can become even more difficult and muddled and additionally politicised. Check Eyak language for an example, still a relatively clear-cut one. But there are cases where it's not even clear if a person who claims to be a native speaker is really one in the traditional sense or has gleaned their knowledge from written sources. I remember reading about exactly such a controversial case, but can't recall the name of the language anymore. But what about intentional revival/revitalisation of indigenous languages along the lines of Hebrew? Will the revived speakers get to count? --Florian Blaschke (talk) 17:37, 29 October 2013 (UTC)

Will the revived speakers get to count?
I would say so, but not as speakers of the original language, which is dead and gone, but as speakers of a new language created on the basis of the extinct one, as is the case with Hebrew.Unoffensive text or character (talk) 09:39, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
What if some of the "new" speakers still learn the language from the last "traditional" speaker or one of the last remaining speakers, perhaps even in their youth or childhood, enough to become fluent, but the teacher is not their parent or foster parent or even grandparent or uncle or anything, but a stranger whom the "new" speakers accept as a teacher? Quite independently of Ausbau processes. Some random person somewhere in the world with no personal connection to Ireland could get a nanny for their children who has a traditional Irish dialect as her native language and speaks it with them, for example, thus raising new native speakers of that dialect. I'm not sure if there is a clear demarcation possible; it seems to me that there are arbitrary many shades – intermediate scenarios – in between the textbook case of native transmission (you belong to the ethnic group and learn their traditional language from your biological parents, who are fluent, possibly even monolingual, native speakers themselves) and neo-native revitalisation. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 19:26, 31 October 2013 (UTC)