Get Classical Language essential facts below. View Videos or join the Classical Language discussion. Add Classical Language to your PopFlock.com topic list for future reference or share this resource on social media.
Old language with established literature or use
A classical language is a language with an independent literary tradition and a large and ancient body of written literature. Classical languages are typically dead languages, or show a high degree of diglossia, as the spoken varieties of the language diverge further away from the classical written language over time.
When we realize that an educated Japanese can hardly frame a single literary sentence without the use of Chinese resources, that to this day Siamese and Burmese and Cambodgian bear the unmistakable imprint of the Sanskrit and Pali that came in with Hindu Buddhism centuries ago, or that whether we argue for or against the teaching of Latin and Greek [in schools,] our argument is sure to be studded with words that have come to us from Rome and Athens, we get some indication of what early Chinese culture and Buddhism, and classical Mediterranean civilization have meant in the world's history. There are just five languages that have had an overwhelming significance as carriers of culture. They are classical Chinese, Sanskrit, Arabic, Greek, and Latin. In comparison with these, even such culturally important languages as Hebrew and French sink into a secondary position.
In this sense, a classical language is a language that has a broad influence over an extended period of time, even after it is no longer a colloquial mother tongue in its original form. If one language uses roots from another language to coin words (in the way that many European languages use Greek and Latin roots to devise new words such as "telephone", etc.), this is an indication that the second language is a classical language.
The following languages are generally taken to have a "classical" stage. Such a stage is limited in time and is considered "classical" if it comes to be regarded as a literary "golden age" retrospectively. Thus, Classical Greek is the language of 5th to 4th century BC Athens and, as such, only a small subset of the varieties of the Greek language as a whole. A "classical" period usually corresponds to a flowering of literature following an "archaic" period, such as Classical Latin succeeding Old Latin, Classical Sumerian succeeding Archaic Sumerian, Classical Sanskrit succeeding Vedic Sanskrit, Classical Persian succeeding Old Persian. This is partly a matter of terminology, and for example Old Chinese is taken to include rather than precede Classical Chinese. In some cases, such as those of Arabic and Tamil, the "classical" stage corresponds to the earliest attested literary variant.
^Ogloblin, Alexander K. (2005). "Javanese". In K. Alexander Adelaar; Nikolaus Himmelmann (eds.). The Austronesian Languages of Asia and Madagascar. London dan New York: Routledge. pp. 590-624. ISBN9780700712861.
^K. Ramachandran Nair in Ayyappapanicker (1997), p.301
Nair, K. Ramachandran (1997). "Malayalam". In Ayyappapanicker (ed.). Medieval Indian Literature:An Anthology. Sahitya Akademi. ISBN81-260-0365-0.
Ashdowne, Richard. 2009. "Accidence and Acronyms: Deploying electronic assessment in support of classical language teaching in a university context." Arts and Humanities in Higher Education 8, no. 2: 201-16.
Beach, Adam R. 2001. "The creation of a classical language in the eighteenth century: standardizing English, cultural imperialism, and the future of the literary canon." Texas Studies in Literature and Language 43, no. 2: 117+.
Coulson, Michael. 1976. Sanskrit: An Introduction to the Classical Language. Sevenoaks, Kent: Hodder and Stoughton.
Crooker, Jill M., and Kathleen A. Rabiteau. 2000. "An interwoven fabric: The AP latin examinations, the SAT II: Latin test, and the national "standards for classical language learning." The Classical Outlook 77, no. 4: 148-53.
Denizot, Camille, and Olga Spevak. 2017. Pragmatic Approaches to Latin and Ancient Greek. Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Eschbach-Szabo, Viktoria, and Shelley Ching-yu Hsieh. 2005. "Chinese as a classical language of botanical science: Semiotics of transcription." Kodikas/Code. Ars Semeiotica: An International Journal of Semiotics 28, nos. 3-4: 317-43.
Gruber-Miller, John. 2006. When Dead Tongues Speak: Teaching Beginning Greek and Latin. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hymes, Robert. 2006. "Getting the Words Right: Speech, Vernacular Language, and Classical Language in Song Neo-Confucian 'Records of Words'." Journal of Song-Yuan Studies 36: 25-55. https://www.jstor.org/stable/23496297.
Koutropoulos, Apostolos. 2011. "Modernizing classical language education: communicative language teaching & educational technology integration in classical Greek." Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge 9, no. 3 (2011): 55-69.
Tieken, Herman. 2010. "Blaming the Brahmins: Texts lost and found in Tamil literary history." Studies in History 26, no. 2: 227-43.
Watt, Jonathan M. 2003. "Classical language instruction: A window to cultural diversity." International Journal of Diversity in Organisations, Communities, and Nations 3: 115-24.
Whitney, William Dwight. 1971. Sanskrit Grammar: Including Both the Classical Language, and the Older Dialects, of Veda and Brahmana. 12th issue of the 2nd ed. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.