Monday, May 9, 2016

Research Book Post #12

May 9

Book: Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World by Nicholas Ostler

Section: Chapter 8 - Chapter 10(Page 320 to 350)

Languages By Sea & The Second Death of Latin

     With the rise of colonialism, a pattern of European dominance over natives of other lands and the enforcement of their language on natives began to appear, resulting in the six colonial languages all being part of the ten most spoken languages in the world. With this came the dethronement of Latin as a language of Christianity, resulting as its death as a language used in any form of real communication and innovation. This came with the rise of a mass market in printed books due to the creation of the printing press. Almost at once comes the Protestant Revolution, which is no coincidence, as information and religion finally broke the language and education barrier. This second death was much harder than the first, as it did not just lose its common use as it had before, but it lost all of its purpose.
     One of the most important daughters of Latin, Spanish, is actually a merger of three different dialects that came with the union of Aragon and Castille. The country of Spain has Galician (similar to Portuguese) in the West, Castilian in the center, and Catalan in the east (more similar to Occitan than Castilian). In the end Castilian would be the most influential, and is what is considered "Spanish" today. Spanish would really shine with the discovery of the New World. Spanish colonists would bring disease that would kill massive amounts of native population, aiding in Spanish domination due to shortening the gap in numbers between the Americans and colonists. Three things aided in the Spanish conquest, first was disease that wiped out natives, second was the surprise of newcomers from across the sea, and third was that the conquest was performed by a ton of adventurers acting independently in the name of their king, meaning that areas of land were taken for little to no effort by the Spanish country. Spanish success in the Pacific, primarily the Philippines, in regards to language, were less successful, as there was no decimation of natives from disease and the Spanish were disinterested in really spreading their culture to the area due to its distance, which is why English overtook it quickly after the Spanish-American War.
     In the Americas, despite the Spanish Conquest of areas such as Peru, little effort was made to spread Spanish, as there was no need. There was no Roman military to spread the language, and monasteries were few and far between, meaning the only way Spanish really spread was when Spanish colonists (mostly male), came to the Americas and took native wives, meaning that the next generation would learn both languages from the parents and become bilingual. This was really the only way the language spread, at least early on, and this interracial marriage was so common that despite being born out of wedlock and with heathens, the Catholic Church recognized all children born this way as legitimate heirs. The first language learning books came out of this time, as Spanish friars needed a way to teach native tongues to new recruits due to the fact that there were too many natives to attempt to teach them all Spanish. The main obstacle to the Spanish was the sheer volume of language diversity in the New World, with 2000 in the Americas at the time and 350 in Central America. Some languages, however, such as Nahautl which was spread by the Aztecs, would act as good auxiliary languages for the spread of Spanish, as they would be used to intermediate due to their common use by many peoples of South America. In fact, the use of these intermediary languages would lead to the development of successful colonies by the Spanish at least a century before Portugal, France, or Britain.

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