Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Dead languages? from Hugo

Dear Word Spy,

Guess what I got for Christmas? "Return of the Word Spy" and a typewriter!!!!!!!

Just out of curiosity, do you know any dead languages that haven't been used in a long time?

from your fellow word spy,


Dear Hugo,

Well happy Christmas, and now it's happy New Year too, to you! What very excellent gifts - PERFECT for a word spy. I was lucky enough to get some alphabet -shaped almond biscuits. Delicious AND informative!

Now, as for dead languages, you know, I can never quite believe a language is dead. They just CHANGE if you know what I mean. 

There is an English poet called Shelley who lived nearly 200 years ago and he wrote a beautiful poem about clouds  - from the point of view of the cloud. (!)  At one point he says:

                    "I change but I cannot die"

and I think languages are a bit like that, like clouds that change shape but don't disappear. So Latin, for example, which often people say is a dead language, isn't really dead, it just changed into lots of other languages, like Italian, French, Spanish, Romanian etc etc etc

yours, cloudily,

The Word Spy

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