On 28/05/2011 21:15, Padraic Brown wrote:
> --- On Fri, 5/27/11, R A Brown<[log in to unmask]>
>> natlangs is kind of arbitrary at best." Clearly
>> Tolkien regarded all human language as constructed
>> :)
> Interesting indeed! I've never read Tolkien's letters or
> even much beyond Silmarilion. (Though I much enjoyed
> Farmer Giles of Ham!) But I've also long had the inkling
> that natural languages are also "constructed" -- just
> not constructed in the way we do with our little
> projects.

Yes, and this applies even more so to written forms of
language, especially if some 'literary standard' is derived.
I and others IIRC have observed that Classical Latin was
probably no one's spoken L1.  The language of the King James
was deliberately based on the English of a century or so
earlier than the translation; the translators did not want
the translation to be in mundane contemporary English of
their time but in a "timeless English" (actually an
impossibility - but they tried). I have no doubt one could
give many similar examples from other languages.

> [snip]
>> Even _glossopoeia_ is ancient - though in ancient
>> Greek it is found with the meaning "the making of
>> mouth-pieces [for woodwind instruments]"  ;)
> Curious: is this still the term used in modern Greek for
> this activity?

I doubt it very much. Ιn the ancient language the basic
meaning of _glossa_ was 'tongue' - there were two derived
meanings: (a) language; (b) anything shaped like a tongue.

> And: did it apply only to woodwind instruments, or also
> to what we now call "brass" instruments -- horns and
> similar? I don't think the ancient Greek trumpet-analogue
> had a complicated mouthpiece the way their reed pipes did

As you say, horns and so forth didn't have complicated mouth 
pieces. The _glossai_ are the tongue-shaped reeds of in the 
mouth pieces of pipes.

Nid rhy hen neb i ddysgu.
There's none too old to learn.