Can you bring a dead language to life?

Can you bring a dead language to life?


If you follow our blogs, you already know that numerous of languages are spoken worldwide. Not all languages that once existed are still spoken. They disappear or become dead languages. Some of these languages were widely used sometime in history and have later been extensively researched. About others we know almost nothing.

Need a bona fide translation linea recta? You can! But only in a living language...

While we at Scriptware Translations do not translate from Latin or other dead languages (mea culpa), we can offer stante pede translations cum laude in virtually all living languages. Request a no-obligation quote now.

First of all, what are dead languages anyway?

A dead language is one that no one considers his or her native language anymore. The term "extinct language" is also often used, but it is actually slightly different. Extinct languages have no speakers at all and are no longer used anywhere, whereas dead languages are still used or studied in certain contexts. For example, Latin is a well-known dead language taught in schools, where students also apply their acquired knowledge of the language by translating texts. In addition, Latin is used in various branches of science, for example in medical and legal documents. Opposed to this are living languages: languages that are still spoken by people as their mother tongue, such as Dutch and Spanish.

From living to extinct or dead language

Between extinct or dead and living languages, we have another category: endangered languages. These are languages that have very few native speakers left or whose number of speakers is declining rapidly, putting them at high risk of extinction in the near future. Worldwide, there are several initiatives to protect such languages from extinction. This is because when a language goes extinct, often much more is lost than just the language: culture, traditions, knowledge, unique ideas or ways of thinking.

Is there still life in dead languages?

If we can protect endangered languages, can't we also revive dead languages? That is difficult, perhaps impossible. Not much remains of some languages, sometimes even just their names. We know more about other languages, but even then it can be difficult to recreate how they were spoken in history. Without audio material or detailed instructions, for example, we don't know what intonation original native speakers would use. Even if you can read all the individual letters of a word, the pronunciation is not always obvious. Imagine someone with no further knowledge of letter combinations or the language trying to pronounce the word "champagne" or the English "knight. You wouldn't actually be bringing a dead language to life, but creating a new language based on old sources and some guesswork here and there.

Moreover, we are dealing with numerous developments for which, depending on how old the dead language is, there is no designation at all. We can only guess what the Romans would say if they drove to the office in their electric car to get a cup of coffee from the vending machine and send a few more emails at their sit-stand desk before the scheduled video meeting with a client began. How alive is a language when it falls short in everyday situations?

Translating from or into a dead language

If you study or learn a dead language, you may also practice translating texts from that language. Unfortunately, at Scriptware Translations, we can't help you with that. Although you can come to us for all kinds of texts in almost any language combination, we do mean living languages. That is what our translators are specialized in.

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