Re: Fluency and an Epigraphic Language

From: B.J. Williamson (
Date: Tue Jun 06 2000 - 17:04:42 EDT


Regarding this note:

>We want to read written texts fluently, but human beings are pre-wired >to
>function with spoken language. Most everyone who has learned to >speak a
>language comments on what a significant positive effect that >has on
>reading. This is true for modern languages, even for old >languages. we
>haven't begun to tap in on this.

Matthew responds:

>I agree. No one speaks French well from the study of french literature >or
>newspapers alone. Language production or compentence in performance
> >develops through interaction with native speakers. There are no
> >Hellenistic shop keepers for us to buy our bread and cheese from >though
>(du pain et fromage s.v.p!).

I would simply call attention to this "interaction with native speakers." I
quite agree. And to take this to the next step, we must be mindful that
"speaking" a language, no matter how fluently, will not ipso facto bring
about the more desired goal of understanding the "culture" of the native

It is this baptism into another's culture, with its daily routines and
social interactions, that give words and phrases life.

I suppose that if we could reproduce any first century language, and
reproduce it with total phonetic accuracy, we would have achieved a rather
shallow victory, having recreated the language without its inherent cultural


B. J. Williamson

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