Latin is easier to native Americans than to Spaniards

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Speakeasy
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Re: Latin is easier to native Americans than to Spaniards

Postby Speakeasy » Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:24 pm

I recognise that this represents a departure from the primary subject; however, I find myself wondering whether or not the author of this article has conflated the lack of resources devoted to the teaching of Latin to the natives, a language with which very few of the Spanish Colonial administers themselves would have been fluent, with the reasons for the Catholic Church’s official policy on restricting access to the holy scriptures. Please note that, in bring up this point, I wish to remain within the realm of languages and the policies towards the teaching of them (in this case, historical).

The article goes on to say: “It is a most dangerous to teach science to the Indians and still more to put the Bible and the holy scriptures into their hands ... Many people in our Spain have been lost that way, and have invented a thousand heresies. Teaching Latin bred insolence and, worse, exposed the ignorance of European priests.”

It may have been true that many European priests were themselves ignorant of the holy scriptures. However, even though the author of this book provided the necessary quote (“have invented a thousand heresies”), it is possible that lack of resources allocated to the teaching of Latin had nothing to do with the language in which the Bible was published in Western Europe during this period, nor was it necessarily an effort to disguise the priests’ ignorance, but that it had everything to do with shielding the faithful from the contradictions and ambiguities within the scriptures which, if read in the absence of a guiding hand, could lead to interpretations well beyond those officially adopted by the church and, as a consequence, to the founding of different, rival churches. In other words, the Catholic was not against the teaching of Latin; on the contrary, for numerous reasons (sound to them), Church officials were dismayed by the rise and increasing popularity of the "vulgar" languages.
Last edited by Speakeasy on Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Latin is easier to native Americans than to Spaniards

Postby zenmonkey » Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:45 pm

aokoye wrote:
ASEAN wrote:When the non-Spanish speaking indigenous Latin American children start school in the United States, they are placed in bilingual education classes taught in Spanish and English, so they grow up speaking three languages poorly.

Just responding to say that not all (or most - most likely) children from Latin America, Spanish speaking or not, end up in bilingual education classes. They do frequently end up in English as a Second language classes, but I don't think that bilingual classrooms in most of the US have been the norm and where they have been it's been subtractive bilingual classrooms (with some notable exceptions like historically NYC). Additionally how well or not well they do in terms of learning English has a lot to do with their socioeconomic status and how old they were when they came to the US. This is true of other immigrant groups as well though.

There's a lot of information on this specific subject in the second part of the book New immigrants in the United States: readings for second language educators.


I don't want to go off too much on this tangent but the "so they grow up speaking three languages poorly..." part is a too simple view into bilingual education. As a person from LatAm that moved early to the US and was educated in an "dedicated ESL on top of everything else" program, I grew up in an environment that was so rich in English that today the only thing that shows that I am not from NorCal is that I tend to have a vaster vocabulary than the average monolingual (yo, super cognates, dudes!). I also know people that attended full-bilingual American programs that allowed them to master 2+ languages.

I would guess that this too is related to the Latin for Native Americans evaluation - lots of salt and probably socio-economic influences that allowed for group selection and educational focus not available to other groups. If my family and I getting food was the result of my learning a language, I'd probably study a little more.

Or maybe they all learned Latin better because they come from LATIN America. It's obvious, right ?!
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ASEAN
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Re: Latin is easier to native Americans than to Spaniards

Postby ASEAN » Mon Nov 13, 2017 3:16 am

zenmonkey wrote:
aokoye wrote:
ASEAN wrote:When the non-Spanish speaking indigenous Latin American children start school in the United States, they are placed in bilingual education classes taught in Spanish and English, so they grow up speaking three languages poorly.

Just responding to say that not all (or most - most likely) children from Latin America, Spanish speaking or not, end up in bilingual education classes. They do frequently end up in English as a Second language classes, but I don't think that bilingual classrooms in most of the US have been the norm and where they have been it's been subtractive bilingual classrooms (with some notable exceptions like historically NYC). Additionally how well or not well they do in terms of learning English has a lot to do with their socioeconomic status and how old they were when they came to the US. This is true of other immigrant groups as well though.

There's a lot of information on this specific subject in the second part of the book New immigrants in the United States: readings for second language educators.


I don't want to go off too much on this tangent but the "so they grow up speaking three languages poorly..." part is a too simple view into bilingual education. As a person from LatAm that moved early to the US and was educated in an "dedicated ESL on top of everything else" program, I grew up in an environment that was so rich in English that today the only thing that shows that I am not from NorCal is that I tend to have a vaster vocabulary than the average monolingual (yo, super cognates, dudes!). I also know people that attended full-bilingual American programs that allowed them to master 2+ languages.

I would guess that this too is related to the Latin for Native Americans evaluation - lots of salt and probably socio-economic influences that allowed for group selection and educational focus not available to other groups. If my family and I getting food was the result of my learning a language, I'd probably study a little more.

Or maybe they all learned Latin better because they come from LATIN America. It's obvious, right ?!


It is going off on a tangent. I am speaking specifically about indigenous people from Latin America - people that have lived in Spanish-dominate countries for hundreds of years yet never learned to speak Spanish well and sometimes not at all. It is not an indictment of bilingual education. I was just trying to point out that contrary to what the book said about Indians picking up Latin easily in the 16th century, these Indian groups have shown no special language acquisition ability in the 21st century.

I know that there is no set standard for bilingual education or English as a Second Language -- it varies from state to state and sometimes from school district to school district, but if support services are provided in a non-English language for indigenous children from Latin America, then it will most likely be in Spanish, a language that the children often do not speak well. https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch ... t-children

Socioeconomic factors do matter in school performance, but if the indigenous parents from Latin America live in the US and can't speak English or Spanish, it is obvious that there is little chance of them being anything else but poor. The 16th century Indians in the book we are discussing were poor too, but according to the author, "took to Latin more easily than Spaniards."

I will never, ever mention bilingual education on this forum again because it is nothing but a thread derailer.
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Re: Latin is easier to native Americans than to Spaniards

Postby aokoye » Mon Nov 13, 2017 5:36 am

ASEAN wrote:I will never, ever mention bilingual education on this forum again because it is nothing but a thread derailer.

That's a shame because it's really a fascinating subject (says the one with three books specifically on bilingual education within 5 feet of him) and thread drift is a thing that happens on the internet. It's also a subject that does come up from time to time in the context of threads started about it.
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Re: Latin is easier to native Americans than to Spaniards

Postby yong321 » Mon Nov 13, 2017 8:23 pm

> I was just trying to point out that contrary to what the book said about Indians picking up Latin easily in the 16th century, these Indian groups have shown no special language acquisition ability in the 21st century.

I doubt the 21st century native Americans primarily speak one of the complicated native languages (which might help them learn Latin). Secondly, even if they do, a fair comparison would still be a measurement of the ability to learn Latin, not English, between them and the people in Spain or America. An ethnic group or race by itself has no special talent in language. A people speaking a specific language may have.
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Re: Latin is easier to native Americans than to Spaniards

Postby DangerDave2010 » Mon Nov 13, 2017 8:56 pm

They might have been free of a cultural barrier to learining, such growing up being told that Latin is so damn hard.
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Re: Latin is easier to native Americans than to Spaniards

Postby vonPeterhof » Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:20 am

yong321 wrote:> Were Native Americans polyglots? Did they use a multitude of languages regularly for trade etc.

Not likely. I read W. W. Newcomb Jr.'s "The Indians of Texas" from cover to cover. At least the native Americans in Texas tried to not trade or have any contact between different tribes or bands. (Those in other regions of the Americas were probably about the same.) There was no or little evidence that they spoke a language other than their mother tongue.
This varies greatly between regions. Chinook Jargon in the Pacific Northwest originated as a tool of intra-indigenous contact before getting adopted by the settlers. The Mapuche language ended up being spread all over Patagonia. The Wikipedia article on code-switching also features this example demonstrating widespread use of Hopi by the Tewa people in Arizona. And that's not even mentioning the Native groups that managed to construct Empires and subjugate other peoples, i.e. the Aztecs and the Incas.
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Re: Latin is easier to native Americans than to Spaniards

Postby reineke » Tue Nov 14, 2017 3:50 pm

Those Indios were likely learning their third language. The language of instruction would have been Spanish. The idea that monolingual illiterate speakers of languages that lack cases and cognates somehow picked up Latin from priests who themselves allegedly had poor knowledge of the language is simply ridiculous.
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