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[gothic-l] How to you propose...

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  • etsasse@acsu.buffalo.edu
    How do you propose to bring back Gothic into the realm of the living? It would take more that a bunch of people talking about etymology and creating neologisms
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 20, 1999
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      How do you propose to bring back Gothic into the realm of the
      living? It would take more that a bunch of people talking about
      etymology and creating neologisms on a listserv, it takes an actual
      community of at least two people or more, preferably involving children
      in the communication. Or is this list recognized as a 'first stage',
      with rough plans for more?
    • David Salo
      ... I think that any ideas of reviving Gothic (along the lines of, say, Hebrew) are premature; and in the long run perhaps unrealistic. The essential
      Message 2 of 2 , Aug 20, 1999
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        > How do you propose to bring back Gothic into the realm of the
        >living? It would take more that a bunch of people talking about
        >etymology and creating neologisms on a listserv, it takes an actual
        >community of at least two people or more, preferably involving children
        >in the communication. Or is this list recognized as a 'first stage',
        >with rough plans for more?

        I think that any ideas of "reviving" Gothic (along the lines of, say,
        Hebrew) are premature; and in the long run perhaps unrealistic.
        The essential preliminary for such a revival is a community of people
        capable of composing and conversing in Gothic, such as existed with Hebrew
        before its revival, or such as exists today with Esperanto and other
        auxiliary languages. You could create such a community -- at least as far
        as reading and writing goes -- on the internet, but this presupposes that
        there's more than one person with both a minimal competence in Gothic, and
        a willingness to write in it -- not necessarily perfectly, but
        comprehensibly.
        Several things hinder the use of gothic-l for this purpose, in my
        opinion. One is the policy that Gothic posts not be presented without
        translation (into English, or I imagine German); in the absence of a
        corresponding policy that all English or German posts be accompanied by a
        translation into Gothic, this requires anyone wishing to communicate in
        Gothic to expend at least twice as much time writing a Gothic post as it
        would take to post in a modern language. This is rather discouraging.
        Then there are problems relating to the rather broad reach of this
        group, which goes beyond the linguistic into historical, anthropological
        and archaeological discussion, and somewhat unenlightening discussions of
        Gothic Origins (aka "Who is a Goth?"). These have alienated some people
        who might have been more interested in the use of the Gothic language.
        And not least there are tensions between different "tendencies" with
        respect to the (largely hypothetical) use of Gothic: on the "left", we
        might say, are those who would like to inject a large body of neologisms
        and/or reconstructions into Gothic; on the "right" are those who feel it is
        blasphemous to use, say, the dative singular of a noun for which that case
        is not attested! My view, as a "moderate" is that the "left" has more
        plans for the use of Gothic than it has the patience to get a good grasp of
        the language as it exists (I admit that my Gothic has been doubtful on more
        than a few occasions!) while the "right" really frowns on anything other
        than the dissection of existing texts (with lots and lots of genuflection
        to the Great Professors in the field) -- this tends to express itself in
        irritable criticisms against any attempt to compose in Gothic. This is
        also discouraging.
        If I wanted to turn gothic-l into a community for the use of Gothic, the
        first thing I'd want to do is to assess the general level of Gothic of
        everyone who wanted to participate, from "knows not one word of Gothic but
        is enthusiastic about learning" to "speaks Gothic at home daily". Then we
        could have a small education program to address deficiencies, if there were
        any, up to the point where a reasonable number of people were able to
        participate in a Gothic conversation.
        Once there, while not abandoning the education track, we could use the
        conversations to build up vocabulary (including, where absolutely
        necessary, neologisms) and knowledge of sentence construction; with the
        participants being willing to both give and take criticism (preferably in
        Gothic) about their use of the language. Such criticism would, of course,
        have to be both non-hostile and immediately informative (e.g. "I believe it
        would be more appropriate to use a subjunctive verb in that clause
        because..." rather than "Dummkopf! Obviously you haven't read Ebbinghaus'
        article on..."), no matter how tempting aggressiveness or opacity seem at
        times!
        I would find that mode of interchange useful (to me, in my study of
        Gothic) and enjoyable (I find the Gothic language very attractive); but I
        have become painfully aware that such a programme will not under any
        circumstances emerge _spontaneously_ from this list; and I did get rather
        tired of chatting in Gothic to myself. But without that kind of community
        in existence, plans for "reviving" Gothic must remain pipe dreams.

        /\ WISTR LAG WIGS RAIHTS
        \/ WRAIQS NU IST <> David Salo
        <dsalo@...> <>
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