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Re: Linguistic and Biological Systematics

In a message dated 6/4/01 9:11:34 AM Pacific Daylight Time,
tmk@dinosauricon.com writes:

> Cladistically speaking, Latin still exists in the form of its descendant
> languages Italian, French, Spanish, and so forth; likewise ancient Greek
> the form of modern Greek. Just as dinosaurs still exist in the form of

Not really; a language is more comparable to a species, and a language
family comparable to a clade. Romance still exists, but Latin doesn't
(except in academia and religion), just as _Dinosauria_ still exists, but
the ancestral dinosaur species doesn't.

It's important to remember here that Italian, Romanian, French, Spanish,
Catalan, Portuguese, etc., are _not_ direct descendants of the Latin used by
Cicero in his orations.  

The Latin Plautus used for his plays a couple of centuries earlier is much
closer to their direct ancestral line, but after this time Latin split into a
highly conservative, cultivated "Classical" form and an everyday "Vulgar"
form that eventually gave rise to the modern Romance languages.

Thus, Classical Latin is more the "aunt" of modern Romance than the "mother",
though subsequent borrowings from Classical Latin into modern Romance
languages have perhaps muddied this relationship a bit.

--Nick P.