--- In nostratic@yahoogroups.com, "Geraldine Reinhardt" <waluk@...>
> Hey Marco.
> I'm still around! With all this diversity happening, shortly every
list will be manned by only one person. Since I feel that all ethnic
groups have something in common (errrr, like everyone being a human
being) I like having an opportunity to converse, one with another.

Hello, Gerry!

> Let's focus for a second on the concept of language extinction.
Does the spoken word in a particular language actually disappear or
is it incorporated into another language? Latin is a dead language
but because texts written in Latin have been preserved, the language
lives forever. Some languages aren't as lucky, especially some of
the lesser known African languages, and because they are not recorded
many linguists view them as extinct when there are actual living
people who can recall a word, or concept, or feeling, in that now
extinct language.

You're a bit optimist, but I can swear that like any living thing
also words can die. When a language undergoes regular phonetic
changes during its life, it becomes finally another language. Often
things are more complicated, and a single language undergoes
different changes in different places giving origin to a multiplicity
of derived languages. In this way Latin gave origin to Italian,
French, Spanish, Sardinian, Romanian, etc...
But this is not language extinction: Latin is not really extinct.
In other instances, a languages becomes weak because another more
powerful and widespread language threaten it. So speakers adopt the
dominant language and gradually forget their own idiom. There are
hundreds and hundreds of similar cases. In Europe when a language
dies out, it is in the most cases displaced by a similar language.
When I was a child, Lombard, Piedmontese and other Gallo-Italic
languages were spoken in northern Italy. But Gallo-Italic speakers
considered their own idiom just a dialect. Nowadays there are little
remnants of the former linguistic diversity. But these languages were
in any case Romance languages, like Italian. The death of a
Piedmontese word of Romance origin is not the final vanishing of an
isolate. You should know that in the past there were languages that
underwent total extincion, and without any hope. Malta was a center
of a Neolithic culture, and wonderful Megaliths are witness of this
glorious past. We know nothing of the ancient language of that
island. Simply nothing. It was dispalced by Punic, Greek, Latin and
finally by Arab. In modern Maltese there is not a single substratum
word, and only few ancient toponyms (including Malta) remain. No
doubt that Malta's ancient Noelithic words are dead forever. In Spain
a multiplicity of strange languages was spoken. Only Basque remains.
I can only say "Euskare bizi beti!" (Basque language live forever!).
If in the future this precious language will disappear, it would be a
tremendous woe for mankind. The death of Basque would be the end of a
Mesolithic language. I have done heroic efforts in order to study its
prehistory and to find its relatives. It is very distant even from
the nearest relatives I found. If you want to see my works, I invite
you to subscribe Substratumlanguages, a group I started few months
ago. Etruscan is dead, and still I mourn for this. So are dead all
its relatives: Lemnian, Rhaetic, Camunic, Minoan (and its output Eteo-
Cretan), Eteo-Cypriote, etc... Only few Latin words of Etruscan
origin remain and rather disguised.
There are documents of mysterious languages like Novilaran, Elymian,
Sicanian, etc..., dead forever and probably forever unknown. Others
disappeared without any traces.

> Language and species are similar in formation and extinction.
Supposedly my family is about to become extinct because my father was
the last male child and his offspring were both daughters. However
my sister has a son and daughter who will carry on the family genes
and my daughter will also distribute them. My new England dialect (I
like to call it Haverhillian) has been compromised by the many
different places I've lived while my sister's has been modified by
New York's upper east side.
> I really doubt if language extinction actually occurs.
> Gerry

My family is about to become really extinct, with no genetic
continuity at all in the future. Like Etruscan, Pictish or
Maglemosian. A Fate that very few human beings easily accept.
You try to avoid the idea of the end removing it.
I try to fight against Chaos with knowledge, but it is a vain
struggle. So I'm devoted to disaster, and step by step I march
towards the Go"tterda"mmerung.

Best wishes