Sunday, January 04, 2009

Writing in an extinct language

When new texts are written in an extinct language, it is highly academic if what is written is correct, useful and understandable. Often there are several ways of writing a language because languages evolve over time and the orthography change with it. It may even be that the script changed as well. Given that there are no living people who use the language for their daily communications, there is no final word on what is right or wrong.

There are several Wikipedias in truly extinct languages and I am not impressed with what I have seen so far. I recently learned about a dispute in the "Anglo Saxon" Wikipedia where people are fighting about the use of specific characters. When you read about this, you learn that the language used a different script anyway. it is also about the validity of a book on the subject from the 1970's.

With a transliteration to another script, with the use of extended Latin script, I wonder if people who read the texts of the Anglo Saxon Wikipedia actually learn something that helps them understand old original texts.
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