Ancient Languages Carnival #1!

Greetings, and welcome to the first ever Ancient Languages Blog Carnival!

Runes, anyone?

Runes, anyone?

Although it’s not recent, I wanted to set the tone for this collection by linking to BuzzFeed’s list of The Ten Coolest Dead Languages.  In the future I hope to have more languages represented.  In the meantime, thank you to all who submitted posts present and past!


Charles Sullivan details how to translate Greek fathers and how to read miniscule Greek:

The translator cannot assume Church writers follow the same literary style and argumentation represented in the Holy Books. Rather one will discover the majority were influenced by classical Greek writers and thought — some even quoting Aristotle, Plato, and more by name. Many Christian leaders from the second through fifth centuries emerged from Greek rhetorical arts before they became Christians. Their literature reflects either a reaction or assertion to this influence.

Mike Skinner argues that we should re-examine the hina particle in John 9:3:

Consider the implications of John 9:1-3 (NIV):

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

For many, this passage implies that God gives people sicknesses (like blindness or cancer) in order to work towards a greater good.

My friend Brian, at Winds and Waves, breaks down the sound repetitions in the first ten lines of the Odyssey and how they emphasize Odysseus’ character as a wanderer:

Consider: why do we have variations of the word polla at the very beginning of the next two lines? What is Homer trying to emphasize in regard to the follies of Odysseus’ comrades? Why is eipe, from the same root as ennepe, used towards the end of these lines? What is the effect of all those dentals (T, D, and Th) in the final line?

Allison at Polyglossic writes about the Greek roots of linguistic terms:

When the thinkers of continental Europe were developing theories and models that we have come to recognize as modern linguistic science, they drew upon their classical education for their initial ideas of how languages worked.  They also drew upon their knowledge of Greek and Latin words to coin new terms for the new concepts they were developing

Arabic and Hebrew

These posts by the Rabbi Rachel Barenblat (the Velveteen Rabbi) are a few years old, but I really enjoyed reading them for their comparisons of theologically potent cognates in Qur’anic Arabic and Biblical Hebrew.  I enjoyed her translation of one surah into Hebrew:

When I was a student at Bennington, several of my teachers encouraged us to make the translation of poetry a regular part of our writing lives. It enriches one’s attentiveness to linguistic detail, they said, and it gives one a deeper appreciation both of the original poem in the foreign tongue, and of translations into one’s own language. … This process makes me feel differently about these opening verses of the Qur’an. I know them in a new way now.

In another post, she writes about the Arabic ruh and the Hebrew ruah:

In sûrat As-Sajdah (The Prostration), we read that God “originated the creation of man from clay” (32:7) and “shaped him well and breathed into him of His spirit” (23:9.) The sense that ruh is breathed into humanity by God seems to link ruh with rih, wind: God breathes something into man, a kind of divine wind, which transforms the clay into a living being.

The resonance between this Qur’anic usage of ruh and parallel Biblical usage of the Hebrew term ruach is dazzling.

That’s all for now, folks – the first will be the quietest!

If you’d like to submit for next month, do email me at  In the meantime, I hope we can get this off the ground!

7 thoughts on “Ancient Languages Carnival #1!

  1. Pingback: Ancient Languages blog carnival | polyglossic

  2. Wayne Coppins

    Cool idea. I hope you can make a page that will include links to each of these carnivals as they appear, since it would be helpful to provide a link to such a page so that it is easy to find them in one place. Best, Wayne

  3. Brian

    Hooray, a carnival! We’re not up at a grand scale yet, but no worries, I’m sure we’ll get there! 🙂 So, if I submit any new posts, they’ll likely show up in next month’s carnival?

  4. Pingback: Sunday roundup #3: 5.4.14. | Linguae Antiquitatum

  5. Pingback: Select Section Jewish Culture & Yiddish: 24JEWISH ALERTS large selection videos and feeds in each section | 24JEWISH

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