Would a time-traveling Plato be understood in today's Greece?
January 7, 2013 2:04 PM Subscribe
What languages have seen minimal linguistic drift over the last few centuries, or even millennia? Which ones have changed dramatically? I'm also hoping for accessible, layman's answers rather than deeply technical resources. Help?
posted by scaryblackdeath to Writing & Language (23 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
This is for a bit of fiction writing, so it doesn't have to be super-technical, but I would like it to at least recognize the issue of linguistic drift. I have a character who gets in tune with his many past lives, to the point of remembering languages (and being able to read, in the few lives that involved literacy). I plan on throwing in a couple of completely dead/useless languages, but it would be cute if this led to some language skills still useful in the modern era.
In particular, I'm interested in how far things have changed for Greek since the Persian Wars, how much French has changed since the Crusades... and after that, things are malleable.
Are there good examples of languages that have been very consistent over long periods of time? I would imagine that Latin is Latin, regardless of time frame, right?
I've given myself a lot of leeway with regards to what languages the character spoke when, so I can jump around with it a bit. I'm happy to go outside of Western cultures, too.