Le français ne vient pas du latin
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Le français ne vient pas du latin (in English: French does not come from Latin) is a 2007 pseudolinguistics book by engineer and town planner Yves Cortez which argues that the Romance languages are derived not from Latin, but from a form of Old Italian. Unfortunately, the book fails to prove anything of the sort.
The book consists of a preface; an introduction; seven arguments against the idea that the Romance languages are descended from Latin; an analysis of why, given that Latin isn't the ancestor of the Romance languages, linguists continue to believe it is; a section dedicated to the consequences of the the theory of Latinity being disproven; a conclusion; and a glossary of linguistic terms. Curiously, there is no bibliography or list of references.
Cortez outlines his theory of the origin of the Romance languages. According to him, there were originally two languages of Rome: Latin and Italian. Spoken Latin eventually died out, and only remained in use as a written language; the Roman vernacular was Italian.[note 1] When the Roman Empire expanded, the various native populations abandoned their own languages and adopted the spoken language of the Romans, Italian. Cortez claims that linguists have attempted but failed to explain the disappearance of declensions, the neuter gender, the appearance of articles, and other characteristics of the Romance languages. He notes that Greek, German, and Russian have all retained their neuter genders, implying that therefore this should have happened to Latin as well (this is cherry picking, as will be examined in more detail below). Cortez lists a number of objections to the theory of Latin descent:
- "How is it that the same grammatical forms have disappeared in all the Romance languages?"
- "How is it that the same grammatical forms developed in all the Romance languages?"
- "How is it that the same Latin words disappeared, and the same non-Latin words appeared, in all the Romance languages?"
- "How is it that the most frequent Latin adjectives, adverbs, and verbs disappeared in all the Romance languages?
- "How is it that Latin underwent such a dramatic change in only slightly under 400 years, from the fall of the Roman Empire in 450 until the first appearance of the Roman language at the Council of Tours in 813, when linguistic stability appears to be a general law?"
Cortez notes various statements by linguist Antoine Meillet to the effect that Turkish and Arabic have remained essentially unchanged for millennia, and claims that this conservatism is also true of Greek. He attributes the similarities between the Romance languages and Latin to their common Indo-European descent and to borrowing due to the almost 2,000 years of coexistence of the spoken Romance languages and written Latin.
Seven Irrefutable Arguments You Won't Believe Revolutionize Linguistics (Linguists Hate Them!)
Humans cannot be descended from Homo sapiens, because Homo sapiens is extinct (AKA Latin has been dead since the 1st century B.C.)
|Cortez argues that Latin died out as a spoken language around the 1st century B.C. In support of this claim, he cites a quote by Naevius from approximately 200 B.C.: "Obliti sunt Romae / loquier lingua latina", which he translates as "In Rome no one speaks Latin anymore."|| These lines are quote mining. They are part of Naevius' epitaph, which in full read:
|Cortez cites a quote by Suetonius in his De Illustribus Grammaticis from approximately 100 A.D, which said that:
Cortez suggests that if delivering an impromptu speech was considered noteworthy, this implies that most orators were not fluent enough in Latin to be able to lecture without rehearsing, and that therefore they did not actually speak Latin as a native language.
The problem with this is that Cortez appears to be interpreting the verb disputare as referring to lecturing or speaking, when actually it means to discuss, debate, or argue. What exactly Suetonius meant by this is unclear, but Kenneth Quinn has suggested it may have referred to informal discussions between the teacher and students. Furthermore, improvised speeches were not at all unusual. In fact, according to A Companion to Roman Rhetoric, writing down speeches only after they were delivered "seems to have been the usual practice":
|Cortez cites statements by various modern authors to the effect that the works of certain Roman authors contain "barbarisms" (errors due to imperfect knowledge of a foreign language) or "are full of archaisms" and "imitate Virgil". Cortez says, "None of this could be explained if Latin was not a dead language that writers knew imperfectly."||
This is a very strange argument. Such "barbarisms" and "archaisms" could just as well be due to there being a gap between the fossilized high register of the language and the spoken low-register vernacular as a result of the natural processes of linguistic change, or to dialectal differences. Those English speakers who attempt to write in Old English or even Early Modern English make many mistakes, for instance; the fact of linguistic descent does not make them immune to producing ungrammatical writing in older forms of the language. Speakers of non-standard English dialects sometimes have similar problems when trying to write Standard English. "Barbarisms" certainly do not indicate that the language of the Romans was not descended from Latin.Cortez consistently ignores the profound conservatism of written language. English limps by with a ghastly orthography systematized in William Caxton's day, and mostly carven in stone by Samuel Johnson. Instruction in Latin grammar was always conducted according to the rules set down by grammarians like Priscian and Donatus, and concentrated on the intensive study of Roman authors of the first centuries BCE and CE. No wonder written Latin was conservative, while the spoken language underwent large changes. If further examples are needed, look to French. Its written norm marks grammatical distinctions that once figured in the spoken language and got into its official spelling, but which are seldom or never observed in the current spoken language.
|From the 2nd century B.C. onward, Greek and Latin were both treated as being equal. Various quotes are cited to the effect that educated Romans were expected to know both Greek and Latin. This implies that Latin, just like Greek, was a foreign language that Romans did not speak natively.||The fact that Romans had Latin as part of their education does not mean it was not their native language. Anglophone schools and universities offer courses and degrees in English, in addition to other languages, but this is not because English is a dead or foreign language. When an Australian (say) is studying to receive a degree in English, they are not learning a language they do not know, but rather are taught the literature of, and composition and writing in, their native language. One could just as well argue that the availability of both English and Spanish majors at Harvard University shows that both are foreign to Americans.|
|In one of his Satires, Juvenal notes that, "it is a greater shame for our people to be ignorant of Latin." As a person cannot be ignorant of their own native language, this must mean that Latin was not the Romans' native tongue.||
The statement that these women are "ignorant of Latin" could be satirical hyperbole. They speak Greek to such an extent, in any and all situations, to the exclusion of Latin, that Juvenal mockingly says they do not know Latin. One book explains the line thus: "This is used as a sarcasm on those who devote themselves to the study of other languages without having previously attained the mastery of their own."
On the other hand, such a situation was formerly the case with French among the European upper class. For instance, many Russian aristocrats spoke excellent French but very poor Russian. According to Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia, "[Russian nobles] were so immersed in foreign languages that many found it difficult to speak or write their own"; numerous examples are given of members of the Russian upper-class who spoke Russian poorly or not at all, of entire families that spoke mainly French among themselves, and even of cases of noble children being "forbidden to speak Russian" by their Russian families or schools. The Russian aristocracy's command of French is famously depicted in Tolstoy's War and Peace. None of this, however, proves that Russian was nobody's native language.
Furthermore, the situation of two languages having the same prestige or official recognition is not unheard of. In Canada, for instance, both English and French are official languages, and Canadian politicians are expected to speak both languages. In addition, Finland, despite its name, is officially bilingual in Finnish and Swedish.If one considers the fact that members of a society's upper class may prefer to speak a language more prestigious than that of their own ethnic group (as mentioned previously and below), and that bilingual or multilingual societies exist (see Languages of the Roman Empire), ancient references to Romans' being expected to be bilingual no longer seem so puzzling.
|The fact that the non-Roman language of Greek was so influential and widespread in the Roman Empire must indicate that it, like Latin, was a foreign language to Romans. "The Romans did not adopt Greek because they were subjugated by Greek literature and arts, but because Greek and Latin had the same status." If the conquering Romans really spoke Latin, then how is it that the non-Latin foreign language of the conquered was in such wide use among them? "Has there ever been an empire which welcomed a foreign language with such benevolence, whether ancient (Egyptian, Assyrian, Chinese) or contemporary (British, Spanish, French, Russian)?" Cortez appears to imply it would not make sense for the Romans to place a foreign conquered language on an equal or even superior footing with their own native conquering language, but it would be reasonable for them to consider two non-native languages to be of equal status. In the latter case, the Romans' use of Greek instead of Latin would simply mean switching one foreign language for another.||Greek was widely used by Romans, despite being a foreign and conquered language, because of its prior prestige. There are many other examples of conquering peoples making wide use of the languages of the conquered. For example, when the Goths conquered Italy and Iberia, they, despite their dominance, assimilated into the culture of their subjects and did not impose Gothic, because Latin was more prestigious. (The Visigothic Code, for instance, was written in Latin.) The Franks and Bulgars assimilated into the cultures of those they ruled. The Turkic Timurid dynasty generally wrote in the prestigious languages of Arabic and Persian, and only rarely in Turkish. Similarly, Arabic and Persian were also prestigious and widely used in the Ottoman Empire, including by the Ottoman elites. The Dutch did not attempt to impose Dutch in Indonesia, preferring instead to administer it through Malay, but it would be absurd to conclude that therefore the Dutch did not actually speak Dutch.|
|Cortez notes that Suetonius "Tells us that Julius Caesar organized in Rome 'different shows: gladiator fights and plays performed in all the neighborhoods of Rome by actors who spoke the three languages.'" He notes that in Pierre Klossowki's 1990 translation, Klossowski explains that these three languages were "Latin, Greek, and Oscan (the language of popular theater)". Cortez says, "So then was Oscan still around during the time of Caesar, and did the people attend theater in Oscan? Is there a single mention in Latin literature of Oscan being spoken in Rome at that time? In reality, it is probable that only the educated Roman elite could understand Greek and Latin, and the people spoke a different language."||
|The Council of Tours of 813 use the term lingua romana rustica to refer to Romance. The only explanation for the fact that the noun is in the singular and that the language is referred to as "Roman" rather than "Latin" is that Romance was fairly homogenous and not descended from Latin.||
First of all, the use of "Roman" to refer to Latin predates the Council of Tours by several hundred years. Pliny, in his Epistulae, uses the term lingua Romana while speaking about people who can understand Latin poetry:
|In Algeria people speak dialectal Arabic, but if future archaeologists were to excavate Algeria, they would find only inscriptions in Classical Arabic and French. They would then conclude that 21th-century Algerians spoke Classical Arabic and French, when in reality they spoke neither. In Algeria, Classical Arabic and French are written, but almost nonexistent as vernaculars. Similarly, if future archaeologists excavated in Latin America, they would find no trace of the widely used indigenous languages of Quechua and Guarani. "The confusion of written language with spoken language is a serious and consistent error made by numerous linguists."||
It is true that there is always some difference between written and spoken language, but one cannot simply make up vernaculars as one wishes. The fact that Quechua has many speakers does not mean that nobody speaks Spanish. The arguments Cortez gives throughout the book that the spoken language of the Romans was not Latin are flawed, as we will see.Furthermore, we do have a wealth of graffiti and other written sources of the language the lower classes actually spoke and they – including their misspellings – tell us a great deal about the pronunciation and vocabulary then in common use. Imagine future linguists debating whether "they're" and "there" were pronounced the same or not in 21st century Britain – one look at YouTube comments or tweets from that era settles that question.
If humans are descended from monkeys, then why don't humans have fur? (AKA Romance's basic vocabulary is not Latin)
|Cortez notes that the apparent similarity of Romance to Latin does not necessarily prove descent, since lexical similarity can be due to borrowing. He gives examples of English sentences which are almost identical to their equivalents in French: "The grammatical structure of the language has changed enormously," "La structure grammaticale de la langue a changé énormément." Similarly, Romance may have borrowed many words from Latin, but that does not mean Latin is its ancestor. He notes that due to borrowing, "The Romance languages have thousands of Latin words, but these are almost never words used in everyday life."||
It is true that mere similarities of vocabulary do not prove descent. But it is also true that borrowing does not necessarily imply lack of descent. It is possible for the Romance languages to have both inherited and borrowed words from Latin simultaneously.
Also, there are many very common and basic Latin words with Romance descendants, such as vedere, sapere, habere, et, essere, cantare, sine, and many more.
|Old Italian and Latin were very similar, but this is due to their common Indo-European origin, just as English and German are similar because they are both Germanic.||
Later on in the book, Cortez claims that the mainstream theory, according to which Latin lost all of its cases in under a millennium, is extremely improbable, because such dramatic and rapid case erosion has not happened in other languages. Instead of Romance being descended from the heavily inflected Latin, in which case one would have to account for the (to Cortez inexplicable) rapid loss of so many cases, Romance must be derived from a case-free language, Old Italian.Of course, Proto-Indo-European itself had many cases. All the ancient Indo-European languages (Hittite, Sanskrit, Latin, Gothic, Old Church Slavonic, etc.) were highly inflected, having as many as eight cases. Later in the book, Cortez acknowledges that his proposed Old Italian must have undergone enormous changes in the transition from Proto-Indo-European to Old Italian, but, in accordance with his idea that languages evolve slowly, suggests that this period lasted approximately 20,000 years rather than just a few centuries.
|Loanwords have two main characteristics: most of them belong to a developed area of activity, such as law or philosophy, and they are mostly unaffected by phonetic or semantic changes (that is, they are almost identical to the original language from which they came). Cortez lists a number of words that are essentially the same in Latin and French, such as honestus/honnête, horribilis/horrible, and inscriptio/inscription. He notes that these words are almost identical (generally the last syllables of these words are different) and almost all of them have literary, technical, or educated connotations. It is necessary to separate borrowed (formal/academic) words from inherited (everyday) words.||
So if borrowed words are identical, does that mean inherited words must be very different? Or are both borrowed and inherited words phonetically the same as their original source? Cortez doesn't clarify.
In any case, linguistics already has a reliable way of distinguishing between inherited and borrowed words, which makes use of sound laws demonstrated by means of the comparative method. Sound changes are regular. For instance, the Latin ct regularly corresponds to ch in Spanish, pt in Romanian, and tt in Italian in inherited words. The Latin noctem is noche in Spanish, noapte in Romanian, notte in Italian, and nuit in French; octo corresponds to ocho, opt, otto, and huit; coctus corresponds to cocho,, copt, cotto, and cuit; factus corresponds to hecho, fapt, and fatto; and pectus corresponds to pecho, piept, and petto. With this sound law, we can determine, for instance, that the Spanish words contactar and estructura are loanwords because they contain the sounds /ct/; if they were inherited, they would contain the affricate /tʃ/.Cortez does not give any indication that he has ever even heard of the comparative method, which is extremely strange, given the fact that it is linguists' basic tool for establishing genetic relationships and the foundation upon which the field of historical linguistics is based.
|Similar words in Latin and Italian may be due to their having a common Indo-European origin, and do not prove that Italian is descended from Latin. The base vocabularies of English and German are much more similar than those of Romance and Latin; "How is it possible for German and English, which are 'sister languages', to be closer to each other than Latin and Italian, which have a relationship of direct descent?"||
The base vocabularies of German and English, though similar, present significant differences. For instance, compare the German personal subject pronouns ich, du, er, sie, wir, Sie, sie, with the English "I, you, he, she, we, you, they." Consider, too, that no English speaker who has not studied German could tell you what ihn and Ihnen might mean.
Furthermore, it is noteworthy that Cortez claims German and English are very close, when many of the differences Cortez cites in favor of the supposed non-Latin origin of the Romance languages also exist in English and German. For instance, cases, genders, and word order, all aspects which Cortez cites in favor of Romance being extremely different (and hence not descended) from Latin, are also very different in English and German. German also has separable verbs and one-word infinitives, neither of which exist in English. If German and English are "very close", despite all this, then by the same token Latin and Romance are as well.In any case, if it were true that German and English were lexically more similar than Romance and Latin, this this is irrelevant to questions of linguistic descent. German and Dutch are "sister" languages and are extremely similar; Old English is the "mother" of English, but the difference between the two is enormous. Whether two languages are related by direct descent or familial ties (so to speak) does not necessarily have any hard-and-fast implications as to their similarities or differences.
|Cortez describes a threefold classification of Romance words: Indo-European words (words that are essentially the same in all Indo-European languages); borrowings from Latin (words that are the same in Romance and Latin, but appear in no other Indo-European groups); and inherited words from Old Italian (words that are found in Romance but not Latin).||In order to explain the existence of Romance words not found in Latin, Cortez assumes there must be some non-Latin mother language from which these words–and languages–sprang. In other words, because Romance and Latin do not coincide exactly as far as their lexicons are concerned, they must therefore not have a relationship of descent. But one could apply this reasoning to any and all languages. For instance, the words boy, girl, and hike are all of unknown origin, and are not attested in Old English. The Norwegian word blings (an extra thick slice of bread) is similarly of unknown origin. Could it really be said that therefore English cannot be descended from Old English, and Norwegian cannot be descended from Old Norse? Of course not. New words pop up all the time, and it would be ludicrous to discard established genetic relationships based on demonstrated sound laws simply because these words are often of unclear provenance.|
|Cortez lists a number of words that he claims exist only in Latin and not Romance, some of which are as follows: foedus (treaty; cf. tratado, tratato); bellum (war; cf. război, guerre); cladus (cf. dezastru, desastro); pugna (fight; cf. lotta, luptă, lutte); cras (tomorrow; cf. demain, domani); saxum (stone); sinus (bay); sagitta (arrow); litus (beach); ater (black); ingens (huge); and acer (sour). There are also a number of words existing in Romance and not Latin, such as jaune/giallo/galben (yellow; Latin flavus); gris/grigio/gri (grey; Latin pullus), rouge/rosso (red; Latin ruber), bleu/blu (blue; Latin caerulus), fier/fiero (proud; Latin elatus), franc/franco/liber (frank; Latin sincerus), important (important; Latin magnus), froid/freddo/rece (cold; Latin frigidus), large/largo/larg (wide; Latin latus), gros/gross/gros (big; Latin crassus), gentil/gentile/amabil (nice; Latin venustus), and appeler/chiamare/llamar (to call; Latin vocari). Since the Romance languages use other words to indicate these concepts, this must mean they are not derived from Latin.||
Let us examine these more closely. Foedus became the French words fédéral and (via its derivative foederatio) fédération. Tratado and similar words are derived from the Latin tractare. Pugna is derived from pugnus (fist), which resulted in the Romance words pumn, poing, and pugno. In addition, the words lucha, lutte, lotta and luptă are all derived from the Latin lucta (fight). (A similar phonetic shift of ct to pt, tt or t can be found in the change of Latin coctus (cooked) to cotta in Italian, copt in Romanian, and cuit in French; compare also the words otto, opt and huit, from Latin octo.) Cras exists in Portuguese (as an archaic term), Spanish (also as an archaic term), and Sardinian, and demain and domani come from the Latin de mane or de e mane, which are attested in Martial and the Vulgate. Saxum became the Italian sasso and the Portuguese seixo. (Compare the phonetic changes in the Italian frassino and Portuguese freixo, from the Latin fraxinus.) Sinus (which could mean "bosom" in addition to "bay") became the French sein, Portuguese seio, Romanian sân, and Spanish and Italian seno. Sagitta became saetta in Italian, săgeată in Romanian, and sajetta in Romansch. Litus resulted in the Italian lido (which indicates a beach in place names such as Lido di Jesolo) and also, via its derived form litoralis, in the Spanish litoral, Italian littorale, and French littoral. Ater became the Italian atro and French âtre, and the Romance words for black are derived from the Latin niger. Ingens became ingente in Spanish and Italian. Acer became the Italian acre and Romanian acru, among other words. Bellum has survived in the words rebelle, ribelde and others, from the verb rebellare (to rebel, revolt), which is derived from re- and bellare (to wage war, from bellum). Galben is from the Latin galbinus. Jaune may be from the Latin galbinus or a Germanic loanword. Rouge and rosso are from the Latin rubeus and russus. Bleu, blu, and gris are Germanic loanwords. Fier is from the Latin ferus. Franc is from the French for "Frank", and originally referred to free men; it later evolved to mean someone who could speak freely. Important is derived from the Italian importare, which is from the Latin importare. The adjectives froid and freddo are indeed from the Latin frigidus, and Romanian has the word frig, which means "cold". Large is from the Latin largus. Latus exists in Romance as the Italian/Spanish lato and Romanian/Catalan lat. Gros is from the Latin grossus. Crassus became the words crasso, crasse, and others. Amabil is from the French aimable, which in turn is from the Latin amabilis. Liber is from the French libre, which derives from the Latin liber. Magnus became the Spanish maño and Portuguese manho. Chiamare and llamar are from the Latin clamare, while vocari became the Italian vocare, Old French voucher, and Spanish bogar, among others. Appeler is from the Latin appellare.
Hence many of the words alleged to be exclusive to Latin do exist in Romance, either as a word or a morpheme, and many of the alleged "non-Latin" Romance words actually are derived from Latin, albeit often via borrowing. (The fact that Cortez managed to get such a large number of etymologies so spectacularly wrong does not inspire confidence in his scholarship or linguistic knowledge. What Cortez is doing is the equivalent of saying that the verb "to begin" is anfangen in German, while neglecting to mention that German also possesses the verb beginnen.)
As for the words that have not survived in Romance, it is to be expected that some words would disappear or be created over the centuries. There are several ways lexical replacement or creation could happen. Latin may have had several synonyms for the same concept, and some of these survived while others fell into disuse. Some words may have undergone semantic shift.[note 2] Some words could have been replaced by borrowings at some point in the past from some other unknown, unattested, or unidentified language (or, in the case of many of Cortez's examples, a language that is definitively known). There are many basic words in English that are French or Latin borrowings (and that oftentimes, though not always, displaced basic words of Germanic origin), such as very, person, people, large, because, actually, decide, cause, color, compare, beauty, face, different, stomach, stuff, mountain, memory, remember, and round, among many others. Some words may originally have been multi-word phrases or compound words that eroded until the original elements became indistinguishable or forgotten, as in "bye" (from "God be with ye"), aujourd'hui (today), dumnezeu (God; from domine deus), usted (you; from vuestra merced), jetzt (now; from ie and zuo), "about" (from the Old English compound word onbutan; it replaced the Old English ymb), woman (from the Old English wifman; literally, woman-man), and (to a lesser extent) "gonna" or "finna" (from "going to" and "fixing to"). As linguist Guy Deutscher explains in his book The Unfolding of Language:
There are in short other possible explanations as to the origin of these words that do not require assuming the existence of a completely new mother language and discarding a relationship which is amply supported by many sound correspondences.
In addition, with such an argument one could argue against any language being descended from any other language. One could list Germanic words that exist in various Germanic languages but not in English to "prove" that English isn't a Germanic language. Similarly, one could list words that are completely different in the Romance languages (such as chico, garçon, ragazzo, băiat, moço (boy), chica, fille, ragazza, fată, garota (girl), malo, mauvais, cattivo, prost, ruim (bad), equivocado, faux, sbagliato, greșit, errado (wrong), izquierda, gauche, sinistra, stânga, esquerda (left), and ahora, maintenant, adesso, acum, agora (now)) to argue that they cannot possibly have the same ancestor.If Cortez's line of reasoning were valid, then no language could be descended from any other language unless their lexicons were identical – which is, of course, ridiculous.
|Cortez now demonstrates his own homegrown method of linguistic reconstruction, according to which "if a word is almost identical in three different languages of the same family then it must be present in the languages' ancestor." He gives as examples the words rocher, roccia, and roca, and reconstructs the Old Italian roca; he also gives plaja as the Old Italian ancestor of the French plage, Italian spiaggia, Spanish playa, and Romanian plaja. His methodology: "My method aims to find a word that is the most similar to its descendants. The errors will be negligible, since the Romance languages are very similar to each other."||Cortez's methodology appears very subjective and unsystematic. He seems to compare similar words and then arbitrarily pick one of them as being closest to the "original" word (sometimes he changes his reconstruction slightly for some unknown reason never clearly explained.) Furthermore, it does not take borrowing into account. For example, the Romanian word plaja is a loanword from French; there was a significant influx of French words into Romanian in the 19th century. His idea that a word must have existed in Old Italian if at least three Romance languages have it is also very arbitrary. Why three? Why not one? Or five?|
|Cortez gives a table consisting of similar Romance words, Cortez's reconstructed Old Italian forms, and the equivalent terms in Latin (which are invariably completely different). "Isn't it surprising that the Romance languages haven't inherited anything from Latin to describe surroundings and domestic life?" How could it possibly be that people said *bahia, *plaja, *roca but wrote sinus, litus, and saxum?||For one thing, sinus, litus, and saxum do indeed exist in Romance (as noted earlier), so this entire train of thought is nonsensical. For another, Cortez is yet again using the fact that Romance and Latin are not exactly identical as an argument against the idea of Latin descent. Yes, some words appear to come out of the blue, with no apparent relationship to anything preceding before. But this does not mean that the genetic nature of the language as a whole must therefore be completely different. It would be absurd to completely overhaul the genealogy of English every single time a new word like "job", "OK", or "dude" popped up out of nowhere.|
|Cortez lists cardinal numbers in Romance, reconstructed Old Italian, and Latin, and states: "The numbers are also proof of Indo-European, and not Latin, descent."||This is Cortez's rather odd way of saying, not that Latin isn't Indo-European, but that he believes the Romance languages are of non-Latin Indo-European descent. Of course, the fact that the Romance numerals have non-Italic cognates does not prove that they are not derived from their Latin equivalents.|
|The numbers from one to ten are fairly similar in Romance and Latin, but from eleven onwards, they are very different. For instance, while French, Italian and Spanish have onze/undici/once, douze/dodici/doce, treize/tredici/trece and so on, the Latin equivalents undecim, duodecim, tredecim, have the ending -decim which do not exist in Cortez's reconstructed Old Italian onze, doze, and treze.||Actually, Romance has indeed preserved the suffix -decim. It is quite clearly visible in the words ondeci, ondici, undeci, undis, ondaze, indesch, and the mentioned undici (loss of final m is very common, and also reflected in other numerals, like septem/sette and novem/nove). The ending also exists in Romanian; the numerals from 11 to 13, for instance, are unsprezece, doisprezece, and treisprezece (literally, one-over-ten, two-over-ten, etc.) Onze and once are just forms of the word which have eroded to the point that the original morphemes are no longer clearly distinguishable. Taking into account all these forms, even if one were to follow Cortez's dubious method of reconstruction, the resulting proto-numerals would be much more similar to the Latin ones than Cortez's proposed *onze.|
|Cortez lists various Latin conjunctions and prepositions that do not exist in Romance. He asks if such drastic differences can be found in other languages and answers, "Of course not." He then lists a number of words in Ancient and Modern Greek that are basically the same.||
German and English, which Cortez holds up as examples of "extremely similar" languages, have several conjunctions and prepositions that are very different (as will be shown below shortly).
In addition, Cortez's theory itself requires Old Italian to have regionally lost quite a large number of prepositions in the process of diverging into Romance, since there are many prepositions in Romance that exist only in a narrow subset of languages, such as avec, jusque, dans (with, until, in) in French, hacia, hasta (towards, until) in Spanish, spre, până, pentru (towards, until, for) in Romanian, and fra, finché (among, until) in Italian, among others. Conjunctions such as siquiera (if only) in Spanish, dar (but) in Romanian, donc/dunque (therefore) in French and Italian, du coup in colloquial French, and quindi (therefore) in Italian, and many more, are similarly restricted in terms of the regions in which they are used. Even if we assume Romance is not descended from Latin, Proto-Romance must have either possessed or lacked these words, meaning that the daughter languages lost or created them, respectively — the same type of lexical change Cortez is arguing could not have happened.In addition, English has also replaced many of its conjunctions and prepositions. For instance, the words ac (but), ymbe (around), ġehende (near), sīþ (after), and swilċe (as if) have all disappeared. One could just as well cherry-pick words that emphasize the similarities between Latin and Romance, and the differences between Modern and Ancient Greek.
|Cortez lists many similar words in English and German (along with their French equivalents), to demonstrate that related languages must have similar vocabularies, and drive home the point that this is not true of Romance and Latin. He concludes, "It is abundantly clear that the conservation of words across the centuries is true for all language families."||
It is interesting to note that Cortez does not provide the Latin equivalents this time. If he did, many of them would be very similar to the French words listed, such as dormir, venir, vivre, voir, and so on. Cortez's conclusion also seems to be based on a fairly small sample size; it is hardly possible to extrapolate from Germanic, Hellenic, and Romance to all language families.
Cortez earlier cherry-picked dissimilar words in Latin and Romance to show how very different they are, and now he is cherry-picking similar words in English and German to show how similar they are and to emphasize the very unusual nature of the large differences between Latin and Romance. The flaw in this is obvious. One could just as well selectively list words that are the same in Latin and Romance, and extremely different in English and German, and conclude that therefore there is a universal tendency for languages to change and that Romance and Latin are unusually similar, as in the following two lists:
|By cherry-picking words this way, one can "prove" absolutely anything.|
|Cortez asks how anyone could possibly believe that there could be two separate vocabularies for speaking and writing. "In what other language could such a strange thing exist?"||
If you will recall, Cortez himself earlier provided an example of exactly that phenomenon: Arabic. Closer to home, there is always French. In colloquial French, the conjunction donc (so) is usually replaced by the phrase du coup. Formal written French even has a tense and set of inflections that does not exist in the standard spoken language, the passé simple. It's not like the concept of register is particularly alien to English, either. The vocabulary and even grammar of formal written English can differ from that of colloquial speech. For instance, a native English speaker would not say "I commenced the process of manufacturing a cylindrical receptacle" in everyday life, but rather "I began making a can," "commence" and "receptacle" being mainly restricted to formal contexts. Consider, too, the sentence "They're gonna be in a lotta trouble if they don't fess up," which contains numerous colloquial elements that are not used in formal writing, such as the contractions "They're", "don't", "gonna", and "lotta" (whose full form "a lot of" is also informal), and the phrasal verb "fess up". A formal "translation" of this sentence might be, "They will be in a very difficult situation if they do not confess," or, more freely, "They will be obliged to face the dire consequences of their actions if they do not confess." And this is to say nothing of dialectal English.
In summary, Cortez's arguments are that Romance cannot be descended from Latin because Romance's basic vocabulary has words not found in Latin and vice-versa, and because other related languages (German-English, Ancient Greek-Modern Greek) are more similar to each other than Romance is to Latin.
The first argument suffers from the fact that many of the words Cortez claims not to be present in Romance actually are, and can be demonstrated to be inherited through sound correspondences. But even ignoring those mistakes, and focusing only on those words that really are exclusive to Latin, the argument is unconvincing. English has words not found in Old English, Norwegian has words not found in Old Norse, and French has words not found in Old French — and vice-versa. If this argument were valid, no language could be descended from any other, since words disappear or are replaced as a consequence of the natural processes of linguistic evolution.
The second argument is based on cherry picking. Cortez lists Romance and Latin words that are different, and German and English words that are similar, and declares that therefore as a whole, Romance and Latin are different, while German and English are similar. As noted previously, one could list words to attempt to "prove" the exact opposite.The only way to prove genetic relationships is to demonstrate the existence of regular sound changes by means of the comparative method; conversely, the only way to prove that two languages are not related is to demonstrate that similar words in the two do not follow regular sound laws. Cortez does not attempt to do this, and indeed appears to be completely unaware that the comparative method even exists, despite the fact it is the basis of historical linguistics.
If humans are descended from monkeys, then why don't humans have tails? (AKA Romance's grammar inherited nothing from Latin)
|Cortez argues that it is improbable that the Romance languages evolved from Latin, given that Latin (1) had a significantly extensive case system, while the Romance languages either have no cases at all or (in the case of Romanian) a very reduced case system, (2) had three genders, while the Romance languages only have two, and (3) had no articles.||
There are many examples of languages losing both cases and genders, as well as developing articles.
Among the Romance languages, Old French did indeed have a case system (albeit a very reduced one), consisting of subject and oblique cases. In the course of the evolution of Old French into Middle French, the distinction between cases was lost "towards the end of the 13th century". (Romanian also has two cases: the nominative-accusative and genitive-dative.) A similar phenomenon may happened on the Iberian Peninsula.. Italian and Romanian preserve Latin neuter gender nouns in a way that French does not; these are conventionally described as 'masculine in the singular, feminine in the plural'; e.g l'uovo (singular), le uova (plural) in Italian, and un ou, două ouă in Romanian, "egg, eggs" (compare Latin ovum, ova). Asturian, likewise, preserves a neuter gender. Spanish preserves a relict of a neuter pronoun in "lo" which can be interpreted as the dative or accusative form (i.e. it is never used as the subject of a sentence) of what English speakers would call "it".
In addition, there are several examples in the Germanic languages of loss of cases and gender. The gradual disappearance of case and gender in English is well documented. (Indeed, Cortez even mentions the fact that English, unlike German, has no cases, but, bizarrely, makes nothing of it.) Old English had three genders, four cases, and dual personal pronouns. In Early Middle English, the distinction between genders was only "partially kept up", and the personal pronouns lost two of their cases, as well as their dual forms. In later forms of Middle English, the nouns "lost nearly all traces of grammatical gender", as well as the rest of the cases, which now occurred only rarely. And this radical transformation from Old English to Middle English occurred in a relatively short period of time, just a few centuries. Among the North Germanic languages, Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian (though not Icelandic), have all lost the case inflections of Old Norse, and spoken Faroese has almost completely done away with the Old Norse genitive case. In addition, Danish has only two genders, compared to the three of Old Norse.
Another example would be Bulgarian. Modern Bulgarian is unusual among the Slavic languages in that, unlike all other Slavic languages, it has definite articles, no infinitive, and lacks cases. However, this was not true of Old Bulgarian, a much more typical Slavic language, with 7 cases, an infinitive, and no articles. In Middle Bulgarian, we see these features eroding, with "a general confusion of letters, inflexions, forms", the loss of the dual number, and the development of the definite article. Finally, the cases and infinitive became absent in modern Bulgarian, a process occurring over a period of approximately five centuries. So here we have, in the Slavic languages, almost an exact parallel to the transformation of Latin to Romance, exhibiting both a shedding of a large number of cases and the development of articles.
|There are two types of Romance plurals. The first, in Italian and Romanian, consists of -i for masculine nouns, and -e for feminine ones. The second, in Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan, Occitan, and Rhaeto-Romance, consists of adding -s to all nouns (this is similar to English, whose plural is different from that of other Germanic languages). Neither of these have anything to do with Latin.||Once again, Cortez mentions English but does not seem to make the connection that it is a counterexample to his claim. Old English plurals could end in -as, -a, -u, -e, or -an, but this system has evolved to leave just -s. Additionally, it is preposterous to claim that either set of Romance plurals has nothing to do with Latin, since their equivalents are both present in the grammatical system of Classical Latin, as can be esily demonstrated by the declension paradigms of the five basic nominal declensions.|
|"Third argument: articles. Spontaneous generation!" Latin had neither definite nor indefinite articles, but all the Romance languages have both (with Romanian having suffixed definite articles). Cortez criticizes the conventional etymologies which derive Romance articles from the demonstratives ille (masculine) and illa (feminine). How is it that the plurals of the Romanian and Italian definite articles resemble the nominative plural of the demonstratives (illi, illae), but those of Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, and Occitan resemble the accusative plural (illos, illas)? Did the Romans bring the nominative to the East and the accusative to the West? The real explanation must be that these two groups are descended from two separate dialects of Old Italian, and the type of article depended on which dialect the particular group of Roman colonists spoke.
In addition, Cortez notes that in other language families, there is variation in the types and presence of articles. In Scandinavian, definite articles are added to the ends of words, German has declined articles, and English has undeclined articles. Bulgarian has suffixed definite articles, while Russian has none. Since there are so many possible ways for articles to evolve within the same family, it is therefore improbable that Latin evolved in exactly the same way across all the entire Romance area. Rather, the language (Old Italian) that was spread across Europe already contained articles and did not evolve them.
In actual fact, the amount of variation of articles within Germanic and Romance is roughly the same. If you take Old French into account (which did decline its articles), then both Germanic and Romance have suffixed articles, declined articles, and undeclined articles. Even ignoring Old French (as Cortez does), the argument makes no sense. Germanic has three types of articles (declined, non-declined, and suffixed), Slavic has two (suffixed or none at all), and Romance also has two (suffixed and non-declined), so therefore... Romance articles are not as diverse? This is a very strange line of reasoning, and it is unclear how it is supposed to prove anything, let alone Romance not being Latin.In addition, there are many examples of languages developing articles from demonstratives (contrary to Cortez's mocking subtitle of "Spontaneous Generation!") For example, Bulgarian's definite articles evolved from Old Bulgarian demonstratives. Another example would be Egyptian. In Egyptian, the demonstrative "this" and the numeral one evolved into definite and indefinite articles in later stages of the language.
|Cortez notes that Latin did not have T-V distinction, while all Romance languages do.||Greek, Dutch, English and other languages also developed T-V distinction that did not originally exist in the older forms of those languages. Linguists believe that the distinction developed late in Latin's history during a time when there were two Roman Emperors on the throne. People doing business with even just one of the emperors would still address him in the plural. This feature then filtered down to other powerful figures and spread across Europe, outside of the Romance family and even into non-Indo-European languages like Basque or Hungarian.|
|Cortez derives the words vous, você, and usted (you) as being from the Old Italian *voste and dismisses as ridiculous the etymology of usted as being derived from the phrase vuestra merced (your grace).||Actually, despite the rather substantial phonetic dissimilarity between usted and vuestra merced, this is an etymology that is abundantly supported by the evidence: There are many attested transitional forms between vuestra merced and usted, including vuesarced, vuesasted, voarced, vuasted, vusted, uced, and ucé. Similarly, você is a contraction of vossa mercê. Vous (vos in Old French) is derived from the Latin vos. In Spanish vos (plural vosotros) survives in some parts of South America (this is referred to as voseo in Spanish). Vos is almost universally used in Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay and considered a polite form of the pronoun in other parts of the old Spanish empire. This is because the transition from vos/vosotros to usted/ustedes was still underway in Europe while the colonial empire was being established and direct contact with Spain was more difficult in some parts of the Spanish empire than others.|
|Cortez criticizes the idea that the Latin language degenerated and was simplified as a result of being spoken by the "vulgar" people. As a counterargument, he notes that Latin has one auxiliary verb essere, while Romance languages have two (essere and avere in Italian, être and avoir in French), and Spanish even has two forms of "to be", ser and estar.||
Linguists say nothing of the sort. While laymen may express opinions to the effect that words shifting semantically or new expressions and phrases coming into use is degradation (for example, in the 18th century, one author decried the developing use of "you" to refer to only a single person as being "corruption" and "debasement" of the English language), linguists vigorously criticize such opinions as being unscientific. Language change is neither bad nor good; it just happens.Also, it is entirely possible for a language to be simplified in some aspects, while becoming more complex in others. One does not exclude the other.
|Cortez quotes the preface of Emil Littré´s dictionary, which states that the Latin adverb-forming suffix -ter was completely discarded, and speakers of Latin therefore were obliged to replace it; they used the word mente (mind – used as if it were a Latin ablative, thus translating to "with an [adjective] mind")[note 3] to mean "manner, way" in compounds, and this eventually became a suffix. But how can this be, when -ter has disappeared completely in all Romance languages? How could this have happened in the same way in all Romance languages? Also, what kind of bizarre idea of language change is this, where languages "completely abandon" suffixes, and then "are obliged to create" new ones?||If languages can replace their prepositions, conjunctions, and even discard their cases and genders, then surely they could also replace their suffixes. That said, Littré's conception of the loss of the suffix -ter is indeed odd; what probably happened was that the suffix -mente developed as a synonym to -ter and over time gradually eclipsed it. In addition, the loss of case and gender in the English dialects was (like that of -ter in Latin) also total, yet English is unquestionably descended from Old English.|
|The Latin future tense of the verb amare contains the consonant b (e.g., amabo), while those of the Romance languages (except Romanian, which is very different) all contain the consonant r (e.g., aimerai, amerò, amaré). It is very improbable that b became r in all the Romance languages, and in addition there is no phonetic change by which b could become r. There is no trace of the Latin third-person future tense in Romance. Cortez dismisses the idea that the Romance future tenses could be derived from the Latin imperfect subjunctive or periphrasis of the infinitive. The Latin preterite likewise does not exist in Romance (cf. the Latin amavisti, and the French, Italian, and Spanish aimas, amassi, amaste; how strange that the syllable av mysteriously disappeared in all forms of Romance).||
In Western Romance "b" did not "become" "r". The explanation is a bit more complex. Western Romance initially tacked a conjugated form of the auxiliary "to have" onto the infinitive (e.g. Spanish "amar+he" -> "amaré"), which ultimately became the "r" form Cortez so conveniently misunderstands. In fact, in Western Romance languages, the future tense suffixes are identical to the corresponding verb forms of the present indicative of "to have", as in the following examples (keep in mind that h is silent): aimerai/ai, aimeras/as, aimera/a (French), amaré/he, amarás/has, amará/ha (Spanish), amerò/ho, amerai/hai, amerà/ha (Italian). This development is amply attested in written documents, and is exemplified in Old Spanish sentences where the future tense is expressed as the infinitive followed by a conjugated form of aver, such as Matarlos emos a todos (modern Los mataremos a todos; "We will kill them all").
In addition, the loss of the future tense is also implied by Cortez's theory, since the mentioned Western Romance future tense suffixes do not exist in Romanian. As it happens, Romanian's future tenses are all analytic, formed by placing o să or the corresponding conjugation of the verb a vrea before the verb. If Cortez's theory were true, then Old Italian would have had either one way of forming the future tense that was replaced completely by these analytic forms in Romanian, or two ways that were lost selectively depending on the region. According to A History of the Spanish Language:
|Latin had a verb-final (SOV) word order, while Romance has an SVO word order.||
Actually, Latin's word order was a bit more flexible than SOV although it was the general trend. This is because its extensive inflection system did much of that work - a speaker or reader would always know if a word was a subject or an object based on how it inflected, not where it was in the sentence (a modern example of this type of grammar would be Russian). Old French preserved the SOV order in some situations, such as subordinate clauses and prepositional phrases. "In addition, word order in Old French allows for more variation and it is only later that sequences such as Complement + Verb + Subject disappear. The word order patterns observed in Old French remind us of those in today's German or Dutch. These languages, as well, are shifting from an earlier SOV to an SVO system."
|Complements in Latin come before the noun (e.g., naturae opus, "the work of nature"), whereas in Romance they come after it, with the word de inserted the two.||Such word order is also attested in Old French, in phrases like le rei gunfanuner (the standard bearer of the king), and also "in formulaic expressions (e.g. la Dieu merci), in expressions including autrui (e.g. l'autrui joie 'the joy of another person') and in early texts (e.g. li Deo inimi [the enemies of God] Eul. 3). With time the sequence 'element in possession' + 'possessor' only spread, with the exception of a few lexicalized items." Not to mention the fact that Cortez himself quotes a Romance passage later in the book which contradicts his assertion regarding Romance complements.|
|Possessive adjectives are placed after the noun in Latin (e.g., pater meus, mare nostrum), but not in Romance.||Actually, possessive adjectives are also placed after the noun in Romanian, as in tatăl meu (my father), marea noastră (our sea), and casa mea (my house).|
|Cortez concludes by reiterating that many Latin grammatical features do not exist in Romance, and stating that this means it is improbable that Romance is descended from Latin. Latin could not have changed so fundamentally, in such a short time, in the same way, all the way from Portugal to Romania.||Many of the features listed by Cortez are indeed parts of Romance, as demonstrated above. And Romance did not evolve in the same way everywhere. Some Latin features (such as cases, genders, and word order) have been preserved to a greater degree in some Romance languages than others. Old French preserved a number of features from Latin that have since disappeared, including cases (which are also found in Old Occitan), verb-final word order (partially), and brace constructions. Latin's speed of transformation is also not unusual; English and Bulgarian also changed in a relatively short period of time.|
Horseshoe crabs have barely evolved, so why would other animals be any different? (AKA Languages change very slowly)
|The transformation from Latin to Romance was not only far-reaching, but also is claimed to have occurred in a very short period of time, from the 3rd-4th centuries to the 9th-10th centuries. But this is unprecedented in the history of the world's languages. The Italian of today is essentially the same as that of Dante and Boccaccio, and the same is true for modern French and the French of Molière, and in both cases the languages are separated by centuries. Yet Latin is completely different and unintelligible to any speaker of Romance. Greek, in its thousands of years of existence, has only lost two cases. English has also changed little; the beginning of the Canterbury Tales can be easily understood by any speaker of English:
Also, the Oaths of Strasbourg, the oldest Romance document, are far more similar to Romance than they are to Latin:
There follows a list of words from this passage that are more similar to Romance than Latin:
In addition, Latin itself was conservative; the Latin of Plautus, writing in 200 B.C., and of Juvenal, writing in 120 A.D. were pretty much the same. Languages' basic vocabulary and grammar never change rapidly.
There are many examples of languages changing in relatively short time frames, one of which Cortez has himself mentioned: English. Cortez cherry-picks an intelligible text in Middle English, but Old English, which predates it by just a few centuries, was completely different. No modern English speaker could make heads or tails out of a text like:
As mentioned previously, Old English lost its cases, genders, and was radically transformed in general, over a period of just a few hundred years — about the same as the posited development of Latin into Romance. Since then, however, English has remained more or less stable (especially in its written form if one disregards major pronunciation changes like the Tudor vowel shift), remaining essentially the same. In other words, English changed completely in a relatively short period of time, then stabilized and remained mostly unchanged for centuries — exactly the scenario hypothesized for Latin and Romance. There are other examples of radical language change. Bulgarian developed articles and lost its 7 cases and infinitive over a period of approximately 500 years. Old Norse had four cases, three genders, and its verbs inflected for person and number, while modern Scandinavian has no cases, no person or number inflections for verbs, and Danish has only two genders; this happened over the course of a few centuries. Afrikaans lost the case inflections, genders, and even verb inflections of Dutch in just a few hundred years. It might seem reasonable to take the attested conservatism of Romance and extrapolate a thousand years earlier to antiquity, but there are very good reasons to believe that, like English, Romance underwent a period of rapid transformation before settling down and becoming more conservative, in a manner reminiscent of Stephen Jay Gould's punctuated equilibrium.
Furthermore, time is only one factor in language change. Several dialects of "colonial" languages have been brought from Europe to the new world around the same time, yet they drastically differ in the amount they diverged from the original form and/or their sister dialects. American English is much more similar to British English than Brazilian Portuguese is to European Portuguese, despite the fact that both separated from each other roughly the same time ago. Contact with other languages – all Romance languages encountered previous non-Latin speaking populations as well as later non-Romance immigrants and conquerors – also tends to speed up language change through loanwords and influence on pronunciation. (This is thought to be the reason for the simplification of Afrikaans.) To put it in layman's terms: Teach English to a hundred non-English speakers and watch how they speak a generation later – it will differ from a hundred children of native speakers.
And, of course, Romance itself and Cortez's proposed caseless Old Italian contradict the idea that all languages evolve at roughly the same rate, since they are both more different from Proto-Indo-European than any of the other Indo-European languages Cortez mentions.
In addition, there are two significant problems with Cortez's reference to and interpretation of the Oaths of Strasbourg.
First, the quoted extract contradicts one of the points he made in the previous section. Cortez claimed that pre-noun complements do not exist in Romance, but the cited passage from the Oaths of Strasbourg (which he does claim to be Romance) does indeed exhibit this feature in the phrase Pro Deo amur (for the love of God).Second, the words he claims to be exclusive to Romance also exist in Latin. Adiudha is from the Latin adiutare (to help). Cada is from the Latin cata, and forms like chacune are due to a combination of quisque and cata, as can be clearly seen in the Old Spanish words quiscadaùno, cadascuno, cascuno. Cet and questo are from combinations of ecce and istum/ille, while este is from iste. Cosa is from the Latin causa; this is an example of the regular Latin-Romance phonetic shift au>o, as in paucus>poco and pauper>pobre. Dreit and the rest of the cited Romance words are all from the Latin derectus, and have the same sound correspondences as mentioned near the beginning of this article; compare derectus, derecho, drept, diretto, and droit. Eo is from the Latin ego. Nuestro, nostro and so on are from the Latin nostrum. Salut, sauver, and salvación are from the Latin salutem, salvus, and salvatio. So once again, Cortez's proposed non-Latin words are indeed Latin.
Biology textbooks are full of lies (AKA The entirety of mainstream French etymology is made up)
|The mainstream etymologies of French words are completely arbitrary and pseudoscientific. They say that the word travail (work) is from tripalium (an instrument of torture), that sanglier (wild boar) is from singularis (alone), and that the word esclave (slave) is from slavus (slave), and many other things that have never ever been proven.||
There are very good reasons to believe travail is derived from tripalium. For one thing, the semantic evolution from "torture" to that of "work" is well documented. In Old French, travail could mean "torture," "pain," "labor" (as in pain of childbirth), "fatigue," and "effort."
For another thing, the phonetic development is an expected outcome of Latin-Romance sound changes. Consider the Latin word and its equivalents in Romance: tripalium, travail, trabajo, trabalho. As it happens, there is a similarly pronounced word in Latin, alium, which means "garlic." Comparing the Latin and Romance words for garlic, we notice the same change: alium, ail, ajo, alho. In other words, the alium in the word tripalium and the word alium have evolved in exactly the same way in Romance. A similar phonetic shift can be found in alienus, ajeno, alheio. The voicing of p intervocalically (as in tripalium>travail) is also a known sound correspondence; for instance, the Latin sapere became savoir in French and saber in Spanish. The change of /i/ or /e/ to /a/ is also known in examples such as mirabilia > maravilla and vervactum > barbecho. Thus the phonetic shift from tripalium to travail is completely to be expected.So though this derivation of a noun meaning "work" from a quite dissimilarly pronounced noun referring to an instrument of torture at first glance seems absurd, it is actually very reasonable once one considers the semantic evolution of the word and Latin-Romance sound correspondences. It appears Cortez hasn't.
|There are three rules that are part of conventional etymology: French is descended from Latin; when a Latin origin for a word can't be found, etymologists make up a theory of borrowing from another language; base research entirely on written texts.
Cortez describes several examples which he believes demonstrates linguists' unflinching and irrational impulse to find a Latin origin for French words. One is the word épice (spice). Whereas dictionaries derive it from the Latin species (type), Cortez divides it into é-pice. He considers pice to be based on the root PS; PS is a modified form of PT, which in all Indo-European languages is used to describe food, such as in the words pizza, pie, and the Russian pit' (to drink). É means outside, and therefore é-pice is something that is outside the food, or seasoning.
|Beyond the fact that Cortez provides no explanation whatsoever for this bizarre methodology of taking only words' consonants, or for his arbitrarily deriving the consonants PS as having originally been PT, this explanation fails because épice originally had three consonants, being initially espice. In addition, "pie" does not have /t/ or /s/, and neither do words like manger, comido, or mânca.|
|Cortez presents a strawman of how linguists came to derive travail from tripalium: they found the word tripalium, a word that sort of looked like travail, and concluded the ancients considered work to be torture.||This demonstrates only that Cortez has no clue how historical linguistics works. Indeed, you don't even have to go back to Latin; it is a documented fact that travail meant "torture, pain" in Old French.|
|Cortez now attempts to provide his own explanation for the origin of the word travail. All long words, he says, are compound words, and therefore the first step is to figure out how to divide the word. Travail could be divided into tra-vail or t-ravail. The latter is the right one, and let us analyze the syllables ra-vail. Vowels change fairly often, while consonants change very slowly and always in the same way, so let us take the consonants RV. R often changes into L, just as B and V are interchangeable. Therefore, the root RV can also be encountered in the forms LV, LB, and RB. In other Indo-European languages, there are words that are related to work that have the root RB, such as Arbeit and rabot. The Italian and Latin words lavoro and labor (work) are based on the root LB, which is the same thing as RV. The T of t-ravail is an Indo-European prefix meaning exclusion, and therefore those that travail are excluded from ravail, or noble labor. Travail is then the work of servants, as opposed to more noble activities.
Similarly, the word "trivial" is not derived from trivium (three ways), but from T-RB, meaning something that is excluded from noble work.
This method of taking consonants and inventing roots, of course, is Cortez's invention. It fails on several grounds.
First of all, Cortez just ignores consonants and words that don't fit his theory; Arbeit and rabot have the consonants RBT, not RB, and words like "work" or muncă (work) don't fit this RB consonant structure. And what about words like "rabble", "rabid", "rabbit", "ribbit", "rob", "rub", "rib", or "arbitrary"?
Furthermore, following Cortez's methodology, one could make any word be related to pretty much any other word. For instance, /r/ often becomes /l/, which often becomes /w/, which often becomes /v/, which often becomes /f/, which often becomes /h/. Similarly, /b/ often becomes /v/, which often becomes /f/, and so on. One could therefore say that all words that contain the consonants RB, LB, WB, VB, FB, HB, LV, WV, VV, FV, HV, RF, RH, and so on have the same origin. In reality, phonetic and semantic shift mean that a word may change radically in sound and meaning. Unrelated words that were originally pronounced very differently may coincidentally come to resemble each other, such as the English much and the Spanish mucho, which mean more or less the same thing, and originally similar words may diverge drastically, as in the Portuguese chão (meaning flat or ground) and the Spanish llano (meaning flat or plain). In addition, sound change cannot be adequately described when ignoring vowels, as how a consonant changes over time may be conditioned by the vowels around it. For instance, the Latin phonemes /k/ and /g/ evolved differently depending on the vowel that followed.In addition, if one compiles a list of all words in a language that contain certain consonants, then out of the hundreds or even thousands of resulting words many will turn out to be semantically similar just by chance (and this is especially true if you do this for an entire language family).
|Linguists take the Latin translation of a French word, and arbitrarily declare that the latter is derived from the former. For instance, dictionaries derive eau (water; pronounced /o/) as being from the Latin aqua, but they don't even have a single sound in common. Instead, eau must be an abbreviated form of the Proto-Indo-European word OD/OT, which also left traces in "water", voda, goutte, and outre.||
This objection is irrelevant, since words that share no sounds can be related. In addition, it ignores the historical evolution of the word. The Old French form of the word was egua, so Cortez's whole structure collapses.
|Manger (to eat) is said to be from the Latin manducare, but these words are very different from each other. Instead, manger must be from the Proto-Indo-European root MS (cf. "mouth", "meat", mjaso (meat), mensa (a table on which meat is eaten)).||Neither meat, nor mouth, nor manger contain the consonant /s/. How does this even remotely make any sense? In addition, manducare also exists in Italian.|
|When linguists can't find any word in Latin that could work for their etymologies, they make up words and call them "Vulgar Latin". For instance, the word changer (to change) is said to be from the Vulgar Latin cambiare, which in turn is from Gaulish. But cambiare doesn't exist in any Classical Latin documents, and where did linguists get the ridiculous idea that it's from Gaulish, when there are no Gaulish texts?||
|Dictionaries derive the word même (same, -self) from a proposed (i.e., made-up) Vulgar Latin metipsimus, the superlative form of the Vulgar Latin metipse, which in turn is supposedly from the Classical Latin egomet ipse; the ego was later (or so linguists say) dropped. Linguists further invented a superlative form to account for the second m in même. Of course, the idea that metipsimus became the completely different même is ridiculous.||
There are transitional forms in French between metipsimus and même, such as medisme, meïsme, and mesme. In addition, other Romance languages have many forms of the word that show the varying degrees of erosion of the word: medesimo, medesmo, medesem, medêṡum, matéssiu, medemo, and mede.Are there etymologies which are speculative? Certainly. But that does not justify throwing out the baby with the bathwater and dismissing all Romance linguistics as being based on lies. This is like cherry-picking some speculative hypotheses regarding some uncertain details of physics and concluding that therefore the laws of Newton and thermodynamics should be thrown out altogether. There are many other etymologies based on firm ground which demonstrate Romance to have inherited words from Latin.
If humans are descended from cells, then why are humans more similar to animals than cells? (AKA The Romance languages are practically identical)
|Cortez lists a number of words (e.g., rocher (rock), chat (cat)) that are identical in all Romance languages and that do not exist in Latin, and mentions again various grammatical features that do not exist in Romance, such as cases and the neuter gender.||
Some of the words listed do exist in Latin, and those that don't are not uniformly present in all Romance languages. For instance, the Romanian for "rock" and "cat" are piatră and pisică. There are also a number of other words that are not at all homogeneous in the Romance languages, such as chico, garçon, ragazzo, băiat, moço (boy), chica, fille, ragazza, fată, garota (girl), and visage, cara, face (face).
It is also not unusual for words to be borrowed across a very large area by many different languages. For instance, the word "interesting" is very widespread, and is found in Germanic, Romance, Slavic, Baltic, and even Turkic languages. The same is true for words like "degradation", "normal", "natural", "real", "leader" and many others. Similarly, many of the non-Latin words common to many or all Romance languages (such as chat/gato) may be due to borrowing. Borrowing tends to occur more frequently with languages that have "contact", i.e. speakers either being in physical contact or speaking to one another or – better yet – one person speaking several languages. The attested history of Europe since the fall of the Roman Empire makes language contact a very plausible scenario and we should expect words to be borrowed frequently through most of Europe as there were intensive trade, scientific and military contacts across language and political borders.
In addition, Romanian does have a neuter gender, and cases exist in both Romanian and Old French.
|Cortez lists a number of Latin sentences which have a radically different syntax from their Romance translations.||Yeah, and Old English is radically different from modern English. Big deal.|
|In one of the listed sentences, Certus sum me alicujus rei oblitum esse (I am sure I've forgotten something), esse (to be) is used as an auxiliary verb, and Cortez notes that all of the translations in French, Spanish, Italian and Romanian use the verb "to have" instead.||"To be" can also be used as an auxiliary to form the past tense in Romance in some situations, as in je suis arrivé and sono arrivato (I have come). Even if "to be" as an auxiliary had disappeared, this would not be unusual. For instance, in English, constructions like "The Lord is come" are no longer in use.|
|No Romance language forms the comparative synthetically (e.g., facilis>facilius); instead, Romance uses adverbs like plus/più or más/mai.||These adverbs are derived from the Latin plus and magis, respectively. Magis also became máis and mais in Portuguese and Galician. The loss of /g/ can also be observed in the development of the Latin vagina (sheath) into the Spanish vaina, Portuguese bainha, and Catalan beina.|
|If the Romance languages were descended from Latin, one would expect some of them to have preserved the neuter gender, the passive, and some of the cases. But all the Romance languages have evolved in exactly the same way.||The Romance languages did not change identically. Romanian does have a neuter gender, and both Old French and Romanian have cases. Old French preserved traces of the Latin verb-final word order that other languages did not. Western Romance places possessive adjectives before nouns, while Romanian has preserved the post-noun order.|
If humans are descended from cells, then why are early humans more similar to neanderthals than cells? (AKA Old French is more similar to Italian than to Latin)
|Cortez lists a number of words in modern and Old French, Italian, and Latin, in which the Old French words are closer to Italian than the modern French ones, and completely different from the Latin (e.g., aide, aiude, aiuto, auxilium). Old French words can be closer to Latin and Italian, but there are no situations in which the Old French words are closer to Latin but not Italian. The implication is that as you go further back in the past, French is more and more closer to Italian. Old French is a transitional form not between Latin and French, but between Italian and French.||
First of all, the noun aide (help) is derived from aider, which is in turn from the Latin adiutare.
Furthermore, Old French is not only closer to Italian, but, as mentioned previously, it preserves a number of Latin features that do not exist in other Romance languages, including Italian.It is not necessarily the case that a language must be descended from one to which its archaic stages are increasingly similar, since related languages that descend from a common ancestor may be conservative or innovative in different aspects. Consider a hypothetical language X, and its daughter languages Y and Z. X has seven cases and three genders; Y has lost all the cases and preserved the genders, while Z has lost the genders and preserved the cases. If one looks at the development of the case system of Y over time, we find that its similarity to that of Z increases as time goes backwards. From this perspective, it might seem as though Y inherited its case system from Z. However, comparing the historical development of the genders in the two languages, we find that the genders of Z tend to become more similar to those of Y as one goes backward in time. Thus, in one aspect Y appears to be diverging from an original Z, while in another it is Z that appears to be diverging from an original Y. A similar argument might be made of vocabulary; while some archaic words of Y might resemble their cognates in modern Z, the reverse might be true as far as other pairs of cognates are concerned. Hence, it is possible for the archaic stage of one language to appear to converge to another language (at least as part of its features or vocabulary is concerned), without the former being descended from the latter. In any case, though two contemporaneous languages may share a common past ancestor, a language cannot be descended from any of its contemporaries.
|Cortez notes that the Old French "cases" consist of a single s, which only appears in nominal masculine nouns, and only in nouns and adjectives that end in consonants. He scoffs at the idea that this puny single-letter suffix, which is furthermore used only in a limited number of situations, could have anything to do with the vast cast system of Latin.||A similar situation happened in Middle English, which reduced the Old English case system to basically the endings -s and -n.|
Why do scientists continue to believe in the dogma of Evolutionism? (AKA Why do linguists continue to believe in the dogma of Latinism?)
|How is it that all these completely obvious and irrefutable demonstrations of the non-Latin descent of Romance haven't attracted the attention of linguists? Well, after the civil wars and barbarian invasions, the Romans remained in the collective memory of Europe as being the civilizers of Europe, and it was simply assumed that Romance came from Latin — an assumption which from then on was never questioned.||Or maybe — and this is admittedly a crazy idea — the linguists responsible for the past couple hundred years of scientific research aren't total idiots.|
|Cortez heaps scorn on Antoine Meillet, and particularly his book Esquisse d'une histoire de la langue latine. Cortez quotes two statements by Meillet to the effect that Turkish and Arabic have stayed the same for thousands of years, and draws the conclusion that this is proof of a universal tendency for languages to be conservative. Cortez then notes that, according to Meillet, Latin both changed radically (contrary to the Law of Linguistic Conservatismtm) and remained stable for about 800 years, and accuses Meillet of special pleading.||
This supposed "universal law" was made up by Cortez on the basis of a very small number of cherry-picked examples. As explained earlier, linguistic evolution can be both slow and gradual and in fits and starts. As linguist Henry Sweet noted in his book The History of Language:
|Why do linguists continue to believe this nonsense? Well, because of an inability to question dogma. In order to become professors, students must practice their teachers' religion, worship the ancients, and adhere to the official dogma, or else risk not being initiated into the club.|
|Romance borrowed thousands upon thousands of words from Latin, but this does not mean Romance is descended from Latin. Descent can only be established by carefully analyzing the base vocabulary of Romance, and excluding Latin loanwords.||Historical linguistics is most certainly not based on merely looking at the number of similar words. Quite the opposite. It relies on sound laws demonstrated by means of the comparative method. For instance, Classical Armenian had a large number of Iranian words and was for a long time considered to be an Iranian language, but with the development of the comparative method in the 19th century, linguist Heinrich Hübschmann could demonstrate that these Iranian words were borrowings and that Armenian was a separate branch of Indo-European. It is likewise through sound correspondences that linguists are able to determine which words in Romance are inherited from Latin and which ones are borrowings, as described earlier. Cortez never gives even the slightest indication that he has any idea what the comparative method or comparative linguistics actually are. Despite his continuous whining about those mean "mainstream" linguists, Cortez apparently does not even know what "mainstream" linguistics even is. He is attacking a chimerical straw man of what he imagines historical linguistics to be.|
|There are many examples of diglossia, where groups speak one language but write another. For instance, when Canada was colonized by the French, Standard French was used for all documents, while the spoken language was regional French; there is no trace of dialectal French words in written documents.||
Earlier, Cortez objected that "whoever heard of people using some words for speaking and others for writing?" yet now he is giving an example of exactly that.Again, few languages exhibit a greater gulf between written and spoken forms as contemporary Metropolitan French. Leaving aside the extreme conservatism of French spelling, which marks grammatical distinctions that seldom or never are spoken aloud, and the presence of entire inflection sets present in the written but absent in the spoken norm, the syntax of modern colloquial French differs vastly from the written standard.
The extraordinary consequences of the refutation of the theory of Evolutionism (AKA The extraordinary consequences of the refutation of the theory of Latinism)
|Cortez claims there are two fundamental assumptions on which French linguistics is based: research can only be based on written texts; and comparison of grammar must take precedence over comparison of vocabulary. The first is flawed, because there is often a very large difference between written and spoken language. The second (comparative grammar) is based on comparing aspects like conjugations, declensions, and morphology, and is also erroneous, because in reality vocabulary must also be taken into account.||Again, just because written texts are not necessarily an indicator of the spoken language does not mean one can invent whatever vernacular one wishes. Also, the formulation of sound laws through the comparative method is indeed based on vocabulary.|
|Supposedly, the spellings of French words indicate their origins. But French orthography was deliberately and artificially Latinized, and wrongfully so, since French is not actually descended from Latin. For instance, the phrase nous aimons (we love) is actually pronounced nous aimon, and the t in ils aiment (they love) is silent; these silent letters are added Latinisms. Cortez then lists several other examples of words whose spellings were changed to be closer to Latin.||Yes, these spellings are all lies! If French is descended from Old Italian, that is. But it's probably not.|
|Taking into account the conservatism of Arabic, Greek, French, Italian, and Latin, the huge difference between Old Italian and Latin could only have been the result of at least 20,000 years of evolution. Proto-Indo-European diverged not in 6,500 B.C., but in 20,000 B.C.||Umm, yeah, no. German and English (despite Cortez's bizarre claim that they are infinitely more similar than Latin and Romance) are also extremely different in terms of both vocabulary (including pronouns, conjunctions, and prepositions) and grammar (cases, word order, separable verbs, conjugations, infinitives, genders, etc.), but they are obviously not separated by 22,000 years of linguistic change; many of these differences demonstrably came about in only a few hundred years.|
|Italian is not only very close to French, but it is the mother of French.||That's not how evolution works. It's like saying humans are descended from monkeys. Humans are not descended from monkeys; rather, they both share a common ancestor that lived millions of years ago. Similarly, Italian and French share a common ancestor, which one might term Proto-Romance, but in no way could it be said that French is descended from Italian.|
|The words Romanian and Romansch are derived from Roman, not Latin. Why would they name their languages Roman, if not because they weren't descended from Latin?||By the same logic, French cannot be descended from Italian (as Cortez claims) because it is not called italiano. Such names can change over time. The Old Norse name for itself, Norrœnt, does not exist in the North Germanic languages, which instead call themselves svenska, norsk, dansk, and so on. On the other hand, one of the Rhaeto-Romance languages spoken in Switzerland preserves the name Ladin.|
|Given that languages evolve very slowly, the "Roman language" mentioned in the Council of Tours didn't just miraculously appear in 813. Instead, it must have been spoken for hundreds of years before that, and over time became the various Romance languages.||Give one example of someone ever claiming Romance spontaneously came into being one day.|
|This section opens with a quote by Galileo. Cortez engages in some self-congratulatory pontificating about how he's discovered The Truth, mainstream linguists are all fools, and dictionaries will all have to be rewritten to match this newly discovered Truth, etc., etc. There are vested financial interests against Cortez's revolutionary new idea, such as dictionary editors.[note 4] Just like Copernican heliocentrism, his theory will be heavily attacked by those who base their conclusions on superficial resemblances of Latin and Romance words. Cortez urges those who have an open mind to admit that the earth isn't flat and that it isn't the center of the universe.||Cool story, bro.|
|"Don't believe anything without proof. Do your own research. Make up your own mind."||Is an English teacher capable of "making up his own mind" about celestial mechanics or quantum physics, let alone completely overturning them? Probably not. Most people could not prove that the earth is round, that Caesar existed,[note 5] that the speed of light is 299,792 km/s, or that evolution is real, but it would be unreasonable for a layman to refuse to believe the scientific consensus regarding anything for which he personally does know not the evidence. Human lifespans just aren't long enough for a person to learn enough to become an expert about everything.|
- Le Français ne vient pas du latin! by Yves Cortez, a book review by Patrick Redeinbaugh (in English)
- Sobre el Origen de las Lenguas Romances, a refutation of some of Cortez's claims by Alex Gahr (in Spanish)
- A forum thread (in French)
- CORTEZ, Ives. Le français ne vient pas du latin! Essai sur une aberration linguistique. Paris: L’Harmattan, 2007, a book review by Brian Franklin Head (in Portuguese)
- „Nu venim din latină”, a refutation of the book No venimos del latín, which is inspired by, and uses many of the same arguments as, Cortez's book (in Romanian) although its author Jimenez Huerta makes them about Spanish.
- Erreseina-No venimos del latín, Ander Ros Cubas, another refutation of No venimos del latín (in Spanish)
- Mainstream linguistics holds that Classical Latin is the literary register of the unattested spoken ancestor of Romance, termed Vulgar Latin. The two were originally quite similar, but between the classical antiquity and the Middle Ages, the written standard remained frozen, while the spoken register underwent significant grammatical and lexical changes, such as the loss of its case system and the postpositive conjunction -que, among other things, transforming from a synthetic language into a vastly different analytic one ("synthetic" here does not mean "artificial"; see Synthetic language and Analytic language).
Cortez, on the other hand, claims that Classical Latin is not a formal written register of a spoken vernacular (think of the difference between written academic English and colloquial English), but rather a separate branch of Italic. He believes that Romance (specifically, its ancestor, which he calls Old Italian) underwent the synthetic-to-analytic transformation gradually during a millennia-long period prior to the classical period, with Latin being a separate, synthetic, Italic language that coexisted with Romance for a time, but died out in the classical era before ever becoming analytic.
Essentially, historical linguists hold that Romance changed dramatically in less than a millennium, while Cortez claims that this process took place much more slowly over many thousands of years.
- Words' meanings can sometimes change in the most unexpected ways. For instance, as a result of Portuguese merchants traveling far and wide to sell oranges, many languages call not only the fruit, but also the color orange some form of the word "Portugal"! In many languages, words for the bird "turkey" are named after various countries, such as "Turkey", "Hindi", "Peru", "France", and others.
- For instance, felicemente (happily), literally: "with a happy mind."
- The malevolence of Big Dictionary is well known.
- How do you know the works attributed to Caesar were really written by him? How do you know the ancient works mentioning Caesar refer to an actual person and not a myth? Are there any surviving manuscripts of these works dating to Caesar's time? If so, how do you know they're not forgeries? If not, how do you know they weren't really works of fiction written centuries later? Odds are, you can't answer any of these questions. That does not, however, mean there do not exist people who can.
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- See this article, which describes the attempt (and failure) of some translators to correctly render Early Modern English. The xkcd comic "Period Speech" is also relevant. (Could you tell the difference between, or produce, non-anachronistic English sentences with features characteristic of the 15th and 17th centuries?)
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- Henry Sweet, The History of Language, page 86.
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- Emily Monaco, 10 French Slang Phrases You’ll Never Learn In School, fluentu.com
- George Orwell Versus the Flat Earth