Artificial descendants of Latin. By Alan Libert. Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2004. Pp. 140. ISBN 3895868183. $76.16.
Reviewed by Edmund P. Cueva, Xavier University
Artificial descendants of Latin is a survey of the multitude of languages that have been created using elements from Latin. Libert’s book includes a preface, a list of abbreviations, and six chapters; there is also a short bibliography on printed and internet resources. In Ch. 1, ‘Introduction’ (1–8), L briefly presents the ALBLs (artificial languages based on Latin) that he covers in the text: Carpophorophilus’s language, Kosmos, Latino Moderne, Latino sine Flexione, Latinulus, Linguum Islianum, Mundelingva, Myrana and Communia, Nov Latin, Reform-Latein, SIMP-LATINA (SPL), Universal-Latein, Uropa, Weltsprache (Eichhorn), and Weltsprache (Volk and Fuchs). These languages are known as a posteriori since they are mainly ‘based on one or more natural languages’ (1) and are, of course, different from the natural descendants, the Romance languages. The ALBLs are consciously created and based on Latin.
The initial presentation of each language in Ch. 1 follows a somewhat set paradigm: year presented, medium used for presentation, author, extent of development of language, and a few secondary scholarly references to the language. For example, Carpophorophilus’s language was first presented in 1732 in vol. 15 of the Deutsche Acta Eruditorum; the author is unknown; it is not a completely developed language; and reference is made to Histoire de la langue universelle published in 1907 by Couturat and Leau, and Drezen’s Historio de la mondolingvo published in 1967. Another example is Latino Moderne, which was created by David Stark in 1987 or 1994; is available only on the World Wide Web (references are made to Stark’s URLs available on the internet); and no mention is made of the extent of development, except to say that a grammatical summary, lessons, and dialogues of the language exist.
Ch. 2, ‘Phonetics’ (9–20), is divided into subchapters on sound inventories and orthography, suprasegmentals (stress and intonations), and phonotactics. Ch. 3, ‘Lexicon’ (21–25), focuses on the Latin noun forms that the ALBLs borrow, their modifications, and terms for modern concepts. Ch. 4, ‘Morphology’ (26–116), is divided into subchapters on nouns (number, gender, definiteness and articles, case, and nominal derivational morphology), pronouns (personal pronouns and possessive pronouns, adjectives, demonstrative pronouns and adjectives, reflexive and reciprocal pronouns, interrogatives, relatives, indefinitives, and quantifiers), numerals (cardinal, ordinal, and other types), adjectives (agreement on making adjectives, comparison of adjectives), adverbs, verbs (person/number agreement, tense and aspect, mood, infinitives, participles, gerunds, gerundives, supines, voice, and irregular verbs), prepositions, conjunctions, participles, and interjections. Ch. 5, ‘Syntax’ (117–35), discusses word order in several subchapters. The first is ‘Word order in the sentence’, in which L comments on Latino Moderne (subject–verb–direct object), Latino sine Flexione (flexible word order), Latinulus (normally subject–verb–direct object), SPL (usually subject–verb–direct object–indirect object), and Uropa (subject–verb–direct object is most common). The other languages are basically of the subject–verb–direct object category. The other subchapters cover ‘Word order in the noun phrase’, ‘Binding and the use of reflexive pronouns’, ‘Pro-drop’, and ‘Absolute constructions’. Ch. 6, ‘Semantics’ (136–38), briefly covers ambiguity and homonymy, synonymy, idioms, and generics.
Although brief, Artificial descendants of Latin is an excellent introduction to an interesting facet of linguistic research, and readers will be pleased with it.