Let us say that I am in a library alone and I have a text that I think that is in X language, for example, this fragment of the 9th chapter of the 2nd part of the novel 1984 by George Orwell, that I think that is in English:
It was curious to think that the sky was the same for everybody, in Eurasia or Eastasia as well as here. And the people under the sky were also very much the same—everywhere, all over the world, hundreds of thousands of millions of people just like this, people ignorant of one another’s existence, held apart by walls of hatred and lies, and yet almost exactly the same—people who had never learned to think but who were storing up in their hearts and bellies and muscles the power that would one day overturn the world. If there was hope, it lay in the proles! Without having read to the end of THE BOOK, he knew that that must be Goldstein’s final message. The future belonged to the proles.
There is nothing in the book or the library that say explicitly that it is in English.
There are no English speakers, and all I have at my disposal is a lot of books that are said to be written in English, plenty of dictionaries of English, and manuals of English grammar.
What argument can I provide to justify that this text is in English? My idea is that I can say that this text is in English because:
- The words appear in the dictionary of English.
- I can find examples of those words in other books that are said to be in English, with similar usages.
- The text follows the syntax and the morphology that the manuals advice.
- If I translate the words into my language, according to the English dictionary, they seem to present some coherent message.
I am dealing with something like that right now, but in Latin. I have tested each word and they seem to be properly declined, the meaning makes sense, and I have found examples of the oddly written words in other Latin texts. However there are other texts that criticise this text for being in "defective" Latin, or not being in actual Latin at all. Yet I tested the way I said and it passes the proof, so I think that the criticism is just more from a capricious point of view, calling it "defective" because it is not stylistically laudable, but not because it is missing anything linguistically.
So, I am looking for concise tests, or theories that talk specifically about how to know that something is in X language. As I said, there is no community to consult, and no native speakers, just texts, so there has to be a way to know that with only texts.
Honestly, I think that my proposed method is correct, however I have not found any book or article explicitly proposing a test to know if some text is in X language. Can you recommend some theory or some text about this or about the limits of language (when is a language still a language?)? Do you think that my argument is valid and solid and that it wouldn't need references to others?
Thanks for your attention.
P.S. I used the fragment of 1984 because the novel itself insists in saying that they are being forced to speak in "Newspeak", and that they are being conditioned to stop being able to distinguish well meaning and logic; so in my imaginary circumstance, I think that it might be probable to the reader of the book to wonder if it is actually written in English.