First off: Please, PLEASE, can we nail down the two meanings of “language-change”.
Shakespeare wrote Hamlet in a particular language; by the time he came to write The Tempest, that language had changed. By a little bit, in an incremental fashion, by fully documented steps, within a reasonably discrete population. Let us hereinafter call this phenomenon “change IN a language”.
If Shakespeare, in between writing Hamlet and The Tempest, had decided to write a sonnet to the Dark Lady in French, that would be a case of “change OF language”. Similar words, different phenomenon, n’est-ce pas?
Since my book is about the second type of language-change, I basically couldn’t give a monkeys about the first type (except, as I explained, that Orthodoxy makes the same classification error that you seem so prone to do though for much darker purposes).
It’s true, as Nonconformist urges, that I would benefit greatly by studying Shakespearean English at my local college or university but the book wouldn’t. Unless I intended to bring out an Iambic Pentameter edition. I don’t know…is there the market?
That takes care of the first two-thirds of Nonconformist’s effusion (except for a diabolic liberty with Middle English but that can wait).
So we get on to the Romance language stuff. Now here I am in a genuine difficulty. What you say, Nonconformist, is in complete contradiction to everything I’ve always understood the Orthodox position to be and if it really has changed as radically as you say, I am amazed that I haven’t heard about it.
The way you put it is:
"The Romance languages were languages that were related to Latin, not derived from it but like Latin derived from a previous spoken language (for which we have no records) at the same time that Latin was the official language of the Empire."
This is utterly baffling. You are saying that the Gauls, the Celtiberians, the Siciliotes and everyone in between were, during the period c300 BC to c 300 AD, NOT speaking Celtic languages as we were all brought up to believe (and as confirmed for us in our Asterix comics), NOT speaking Latin learned from their Roman masters (as we were all brought up to believe, though admittedly there was nothing in the Beano to confirm it) but a Romance language of which we have no records.
Well, I must confess, that I am not up to speed on the most hyper-modern trends in palaeolinguistics so I can only appeal to the wider community of the GHMB for help with this and tell the publishers to have the pulpers at the ready.
Now to the ever-lively topic of dead languages. Nonconformist, I have to reprove you for some fairly deliberate chicanery on the subject of “Latin, its Uses and Variants”.
You know as well as I do what Ecclesiastical Latin is and it is nothing more (nor less) than a mish-mash of conveniences, conventions and shorthand that busy people writing to one another both invent for themselves and emulate from others. Ironically enough we are doing it ourselves right now with LOL and AFRAIK and TOERAG.
You say I should go study it at university, you also say there probably won’t be a course in it and you’re dead right; the only point in knowing about it all is that it is useful in Medieval Palaeography to sort out out where and when and by whom a particular document was composed. The same dudes of course used proper Classical Latin when not scribbling notes to one another.
However, I do concede one point: I was guilty of lack of precision when talking about dead languages. For the record this is the position as I understand it:
DEMOTIC LANGUAGE: a language spoken by a discrete, general population as a mother-tongue for all purposes
DEAD LANGUAGE: a language no longer spoken or written for any purposes
NON-DEMOTIC LANGUAGE: a language that is not spoken by a discrete population as a mother-tongue but may be spoken and/or written by a particular group of people for professional purposes or by a general population in restricted and temporary circumstances.
I’ll leave the Middle English issue for another time as I see that somebody else has brought it up. However I am glad to see you’re busy stretching it towards Shakespeare, because the entirely mythical language of Middle English is one of the most elastic concepts that Orthodoxy has ever had the cheek to foist upon an unsuspecting public.
Whoops, I see events have overtaken this...