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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/18/2014 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,586 times Debate No: 52823
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)




I would like to argue that Latin is not a dead language.


I accept.

Oxford dictionary definiton of dead language: "A language which is no longer in everyday spoken use, such as Latin.". [1]

Debate Round No. 1


Although it seems obvious that Latin is no longer used in everyday conversation, I don't believe that to be true. If you go by the by-the-book definition it is, but, upon closer inspection, you will find that Latin never truly died, it was just reincarnated in the modern Romance languages, such as Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, and Romanian, which are all really just continuations of the ancient Latin language. Therefore, if you look at Latin in this way, you stating that Latin is a dead language strays from your provided definition, which is, "A language that is no longer in everyday spoken use." Looking at the list of Romance languages, I would say we use quite a bit of Latin, or at least Latin principles, in everyday communication.


There are as my opponent correctly stated several extant languages that either have Latin routes or considerable Latin influence however these languages are not themselves Latin.

Here is a picture of a member of the species Homo Heidelbergensis [1], one of these would be humanities last common ancestor (because we have some percentage of Neanderthal DNA and Homo Heidelbergensis appears the common ancestor of "us" and Neanderthals). Do we say that because we, ancestors of Heidelbergensis are living Heidelbergensis lives today?

Just because languages that come from Latin are spoken today doesn't mean Latin is spoken today in the same way that just because there is a species that come from Homo Heidelbergensis living today doesn't mean that Homo Heidelbergensis is living today.

Addressing your point about us using Latin words in everyday language the mandarin word for mother (ma/ma ma) is phonetically similar to ours, the ancient Hittite word for water (watar) is phonetically similar to ours. That doesn't mean we speak Mandarin Chinese or ancient Hittite it simply means we have some words in common, the fact that someone who speaks French or Italian cannot understand someone who speaks Latin (although no such person exists because no one knows how to pronounce Latin also showing it to be a dead language) shows that they are distinct languages not dialects of one and this is what you would have to argue if you want to pursue your argument that we use Latin in everyday language (as we do German, Norse and French).

Debate Round No. 2


I apologize. I probably should have worded my initial argument differently. Although I can see and fully acknowledge that Latin is, in the literal sense of the word, a dead language, I believe that Latin still has great influence. As I probably should have stated initially, Latin is not an extinct language. As I stated in my previous argument, many modern languages are based off of, if not extensions of, ancient Latin, and Latin has great influence in Vatican City and the Catholic Religion. I am sorry for any confusion, and I do acknowledge that Latin is a dead language, though it is not yet extinct, nor do I think it will go extinct in the foreseeable future.


First we need a definition of extinct language, here's the one I found: "An extinct language is a language that no longer has any speakers, or that is no longer in current use"

Influence is not a measure of existence, for instance the most influential language's are the ones that almost no one knows about. Proto-Indo European is the base from which most European, west Asian and north African languages come from [1] and yet Proto-Indo European has no speakers (linguists have made theoretical reconstructions [2]) and can most certainly be considered dead.

Now Latin does have speakers, or does it? As I mentioned last time no one knows how to pronounce Latin and hasn't for some time, this went completely unchallenged and so I assume you accept that also. The only basis we have for pronouncing Latin is the letters the words are made up with to show how problematic this is I will use the example of Scots Gaelic. In Scots Gaelic the word for welcome (or at least the word that roughly translates as welcome) is spelt "failte" try to think how that is pronounced for a minute and then click on this video [3]. Now was that how you thought "failte" was pronounced? Unless you already speak some Gaelic I assume you got the pronunciation totally wrong and that is because there are different rules of how to pronounce letters and the words the make up in Gaelic as opposed to English there are also different rules in French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.

We can see that the rules of pronunciation vary both over geographical distance (like Gaelic and English) and over time, we can see this in the changing rules of pronunciation in English over the last few hundred years. Of course the rules for Latin were vastly different unfortunately we don't know the rules for Latin and hence forth cannot speak it. If you disagree try and pronounce this sentence "A' chaisg sona", remember it has rules you don't know. This is the same as what we do with Latin.

We can still read Latin, I can't argue with that, but is only being able to read and write a language enough to say you speak it? A person who speaks Mandarin Chinese can write and read Cantonese Chinese but can't (necessarily) speak Cantonese Chinese.

In a hypothetical situation if everyone who spoke Cantonese Chinese suddenly keeled over and died and every bit of information about Cantonese Chinese was eradicated would Cantonese Chinese be extant because there were still people who could read and write it? According to me no in this hypothetical Cantonese Chinese would be extinct because in order to know a language you need to be able to do four things:

1. Be able to read it to a reasonable standard.

2. Be able to read it to a reasonable standard.

3. Be able to speak it to a reasonable standard.

4. Be able to listen and understand it to a reasonable standard.

With Latin we can do the first two (although there is a lot of symbolism we can't understand because we don't understand all the implications of some Latin words) but we can do neither of the second two, at least to the standard required meaning no one actually speaks Latin any more.

As for Latin's continued use which is now really resigned to fundamentalist Catholics and a few professional archaeologists none speak it (I think I have already shown this) and Latin is no longer used as a language but instead as a tool for either uncovering the past or bamboozling "flocks". Because of this Latin no longer fits the second part of the definition because Latin is no longer used as a language.



Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by wtfisthatkid 7 years ago
Looks like con got to the definition first. Have fun guys.
Posted by wtfisthatkid 7 years ago
You are aware what a dead language is aren't you?
You'd better provide a definition before your opponent provides one first that supports his side, since it wouldn't be very hard..
Latin is a dead language so you're about to have a hard time with this one bud.
Unless of course you don't really know what a dead language is, and are mistaking it for an extinct which case, once again, better provide a definition asap.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by The_Scapegoat_bleats 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro basically conceded he phrased his resolution wrong and admits Latin to be a dead language, there's nothing to add.

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