Waking a Sleeping Language

An instructor once told our class that it was possible to resurrect a dead language, or rather, to awaken a sleeping language. He used Latin as an example (some say it is a sleeping language because of its lack or scarcity of native speakers, and some say it really isn’t because there’s the Vatican). Nevertheless, Latin was used only as an example.

Now that instructor told us that in order to revitalize Latin (or to grant Latin some native speakers), you ought to:

1. Learn Latin (from phonology to syntax to grammar, etc.)

2. Bear a child.

3. Expose said child to your variety of Latin.

4. Latin becomes the child’s L1 or native language.

5. Thus, you have the first native speaker of Latin.

I actually thought that was a good idea at first…and why not? Here’s a way to revive a dead sleeping language.

But I don’t know about you. Do you have any brighter ideas how we can revive sleeping languages? That is, of course, assuming that we have the structure of that language documented thoroughly.

Oh and should Latin be considered a sleeping language?



  1. Sleeping is a better term than dead! Dead seems to imply it will never come back or that’s its lost to us, sleeping means it can be revived… as you mentioned, it’s still used in the Vatican.

    I think the real question is, do we want to revive these sleeping languages? Interest in them has died down in the first place for a reason- another language has taken over or it’s evolved to the point that’s it’s seen as something different. Right now I’m reading the history of the English language and we started looking at Old English… 90% of it bares little resemble to the English we speak today… only when we look at the Germanic roots we can see how the word evolved or changed. Now Old English is so far away from modern English it can even be seen as sleeping too! But no English speakers wants to deal with all the endings and the introduction of archaic letters that come with it!

    Education is the only way for revival 🙂 I think it’s important for indigenous languages which are actually dying out…

  2. Latin may not be so hugh on my list, since it really is used a lot in writing. But I find it sad tat so many native American languages ( and other languages of tribal cultures around the world) are disappearing. I think it would be very difficult to speak to you child in a foreign language all the time unkess you knew that language VERY well… But a big step towards saving dying languages would be to teach them in the local schools.

  3. I think you raised a very interesting question here. I personally find that Latin in no way is a dead language. It is the root language for so many romance languages that it already could be argued that Latin itself procreated itself by fathering these languages. On the other hand, if you learn Latin you already have a big vocabulary which you can use for so many different languages.
    The argument about Latin being a dead language is something I found quite tiresome. Latin was the first language I learnt as a second language.
    Apart from the Vatican, there are actually Latin speakers. They may not be native Latin speakers, but they do speak Latin. On purpose and because it is a beautiful language.

    You see, I could go on and on and on… I am looking forward to see whether we could come up with a more imaginative idea as to re-awaken Latin as a language. Does not seem such a bad idea to me at all. 😉 Greetings from Spain

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