- History of Latin
Latinis a member of the family of Italic languages, and its alphabet, the Latin alphabet, emerged from the Old Italic alphabets, which in turn were derived from the Greek and Phoenician scripts. Latin was first brought to the Italian peninsulain the 9th or 8th century BCby migrants from the north, who settled in the Latiumregion, specifically around the River Tiber, where the Roman civilization first developed. Latin was influenced by the Celtic dialects in northern Italyand the non-Indo-European Etruscan languagein Central Italy, and by Greek in southern Italy.
Latin literatureconsists almost entirely of Classical Latin, an artificial, highly stylized and polished literary languagefrom the 1st century BC, the actual spoken language of the Roman Empire was Vulgar Latin, which significantly differed from Classical Latin in grammar, vocabulary, and eventually pronunciation. Also, although Latin remained the main written language of the Roman Empire, Greek came to be the language spoken by the well-educated elite, as most of the literature studied by Romans was written in Greek. In the eastern half of the Roman Empire, which became the Byzantine Empire, the Greek Koineof Hellenism remained current and was never replaced by Latin.
The Italic subfamily is a member of the
Centumbranch of the Indo-European language family. It includes the Romance languages(among others, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian), and a number of extinct languages.
Old Latin (also called Early Latin or Archaic Latin) refers to the period of
Latintexts before the age of Classical Latin.
Broadly speaking, in stressed syllables the Indo-European simple vowels — "(*a), *e, *i, *o, *u"; short and long — are usually retained in Latin. The schwa indogermanicum ("*ə") appears in Latin as "a" (cf. IE "*pəter" > L "pater"). Diphthongs are also preserved in Old Latin, but in Classical Latin some tend to become monophthongs (for example "oi" > or "oe", and "ei" > "ē" > "ī"). [cite book|last=Ramat|first=Anna G.|coauthors=Paolo Ramat|year=1998|title=The Indo-European Languages|publisher=
Other phonological characteristics of older Latin are the case endings "-os" and "-om" (later Latin "-us" and "-um"). In many locations, classical Latin turned intervocalic /s/ into /r/. This had implications for
declension: early classical Latin, "honos", "honoris"; Classical "honor", "honoris" ("honor"). Some Old Latin texts preserve /s/ in this position, such as the Carmen Arvale's "lases" for " lares".
From the original eight cases of Proto-Indo-European, Latin inherited six:
nominative, vocative, accusative, genitive, dative, and ablative. The Indo-European locativesurvived in the declensions of some place names and nouns, such as "Roma" “Rome” (locative "Romae") and "domus" “home” (locative "domī" “at home”). Vestiges of the instrumental casemay remain in adverbial forms ending in "-ē". [Ibid., p. 313]
Classical Latin is the form of the
Latinlanguage used by the ancient Romans in what is usually regarded as "classical" Latin literature. Its use spanned the Golden Age of Latin literature—broadly the 1st century BCand the early 1st centuryAD—possibly extending to the Silver Age—broadly the 1st and 2nd centuries.
What is now called "Classical Latin" was, in fact, a highly stylized and polished written
literary language(cf. acrolect) selectively constructed from Old Latin, of which far fewer works remain. Classical Latin is the product of the reconstruction of early Latin in the prototype of Attic Greek. Classical Latin differs from the earliest Latin literature, such as that of Cato the Elder, Plautus, and to some extent Lucretius, in a number of ways. It diverged from Old Latin in that the early "-om" and "-os" endings shifted into "-um" and "-us" ones, and some lexical differences also developed, such as the broadening of the meaning of words (e.g., "forte" meant not only "surprisingly" but also "hard"). Classical Latin was pronounced with a stress accent, unlike Greek's pitch accent. [cite book|last=Allen|first=W. Sidney|year=1989|title=Vox Latina|publisher= Cambridge University Press|pages=83-84|isbn=0–521–22049–1]
The spoken Latin of the common people of the
Roman Empire, especially from the 2nd century onward, is generally called Vulgar Latin. Vulgar Latin differed from Classical Latin in its vocabulary and grammar, and as time passed, it came to differ in pronunciation as well.
The golden age of
Latin literature, in Latin"Latinitas aurea", is a period consisting roughly of the time from 75 BCto AD 14, covering the end of the Roman Republicand the reign of Augustus Caesar. Many Classicists believe that this period represents the peak of Latin literature, and that its usage of the artificial and heavily stylized literary languageknown as Classical Latinrepresents the ideal norm which other writers should follow. Classical Latin continued to be used into the Silver Age of Latin literature, the 1st and 2nd centuries.
In reference to Roman literature, the Silver age covers the first two centuries A.D. directly after the Golden age (which was the first century B.C., and the start of the first century A.D.) Literature from the Silver age has traditionally, perhaps unfairly, been considered inferior to that of the Gold age. Silver Latin itself may be subdivided further into two periods: a period of radical experimentation in the latter half of the first century AD, and a renewed
Neoclassicismin the second century AD.
Under the reigns of
Neroand Domitian, poets like Seneca the Younger, Lucan and Statiuspioneered a unique style that has alternately delighted, disgusted and puzzled later critics.
Vulgar Latin (in Latin, "sermo vulgaris") is a blanket term covering the
vernaculardialects of the Latin language spoken mostly in the western provinces of the Roman Empireuntil those dialects, diverging still further, evolved into the early Romance languages— a distinction usually assigned to about the ninth century.
This spoken Latin differed from the
literary languageof classical Latinin its pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar. Some features of Vulgar Latin did not appear until the late Empire. Other features are likely to have been in place in spoken Latin, in at least its basilectal forms, much earlier. Most definitions of "vulgar Latin" mean that it is a spoken language, rather than a written language, because the evidence suggests that spoken Latin broke up into divergent dialects during this period. Because there are few phonetic transcriptions the daily speech of Latin speakers during the period in question (eg. the Appendix Probi, students of vulgar Latin must study it mainly through indirect methods. Our knowledge of Vulgar Latin comes from three chief sources. First, the comparative methodcan reconstruct the underlying forms from the attested Romance languages, and note where they differ from classical Latin. Second, various prescriptive grammar texts from the late Latin period condemn linguistic errors that Latin users were likely to commit, providing insight into how Latin speakers used their language. Finally, the solecisms and non-Classical usages that occasionally are found in late Latin texts also shed light on the spoken language of the writer. Another source lies in the wax tablets which have been excavated across the empire. The Roman cursivescript was used widely on wax tablets such as those found at Vindolandaon Hadrian's Wall.
The Romance languages, a major branch of the Indo-European language family, comprise all languages that descended from
Latin, the language of the Roman Empire. The Romance languages have more than 600 million native speakers worldwide, mainly in the Americas, Europe, and Africa; as well as in many smaller regions scattered through the world.
All Romance languages descend from
Vulgar Latin, the language of soldiers, settlers, and slaves of the Roman Empire, which was substantially different from the Classical Latinof the Roman literati. Between 200 BC and 100 AD, the expansion of the Empire, coupled with administrative and educational policies of Rome, made Vulgar Latin the dominant native language over a wide area spanning from the Iberian Peninsulato the Western coast of the Black Sea. During the Empire's decadence and after its collapse and fragmentation in 5th century, Vulgar Latin began to evolve independently within each local area, and eventually diverged into dozens of distinct languages. The oversea empires established by Spain, Portugal and France after the 15th century then spread Romance to the other continents — to such an extent that about 2/3 of all Romance speakers are now outside Europe.
In spite of multiple influences from pre-Roman languages and from later invasions, the
phonology, morphology, lexicon, and syntaxof all Romance languages are predominantly derived from Vulgar Latin. As a result, the group shares a number of linguistic features that set it apart from other Indo-European branches. In particular, with only one or two exceptions, Romance languages have lost the declensionsystem of Classical Latin, and as a result have a relatively rigid SVO sentence structure and make extensive use of prepositions.
de vulgari eloquentia"
Medieval Latin refers to the
Latinused in the Middle Ages, primarily as a medium of scholarly exchange and as the liturgical language of the medieval Roman Catholic Church. It is therefore largely synonymous with the term "Ecclesiastical Latin" (sometimes called "Church Latin"), which refers to the Latinlanguage as used in documents of the Roman Catholic Churchand in its Latin liturgies.
Renaissance Latin is a name given to the Latin written during the European
Renaissancein the 14th-16th centuries, particularly distinguished by the distinctive Latinstyle developed by the humanist movement.
Ad fontes" was the general cry of the humanists, and as such their Latin style sought to purge Latin of the medieval Latinvocabulary and stylistic accretions that it had acquired in the centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire. They looked to golden age Latin literature, and especially to Ciceroin proseand Virgilin poetry, as the arbiters of Latin style. They abandoned the use of the sequence and other accentual forms of metre, and sought instead to revive the Greek formats that were used in Latin poetryduring the Roman period. The humanists condemned the large body of medieval Latin literature as "gothic" — for them, a term of abuse — and believed instead that only ancient Latin from the Roman period was "real Latin".
The humanists also sought to purge written Latin of medieval developments in its
orthography. They insisted, for example, that "ae" be written out in full wherever it occurred in classical Latin; medieval scribes often wrote "e" instead of "ae". They were much more zealous than medieval Latin writers that "t" and "c" be distinguished; because the effects of palatalizationmade them homophones, medieval scribes often wrote, for example, "eciam" for "etiam". Their reforms even affected handwriting; Humanists usually wrote Latin in a script derived from Carolingian minuscule, the ultimate ancestor of most contemporary lower-case typefaces, avoiding the black-letterscripts used in the Middle Ages. Erasmuseven proposed that the then-traditional pronunciations of Latin be abolished in favour of his reconstructed version of classical Latinpronunciation.
The humanist plan to remake Latin was largely successful, at least in
education. Schools now taught the humanistic spellings, and encouraged the study of the texts selected by the humanists, to the large exclusion of later Latin literature. On the other hand, while humanist Latin was an elegant literary language, it became much harder to write books about law, medicine, scienceor contemporary politicsin Latin while observing all of the Humanists' norms about vocabulary purging and classical usage. Because humanist Latin lacked precise vocabulary to deal with modern issues, their reforms accelerated the process of turning Latin from a workday language to an object of antiquarian study. Their attempts at literary work, especially poetry, often have a strong element of pastiche. Their efforts turned Latin from a classical, but still useful language, into a truly extinct language. Latin vocabulary continued to be used by the creators of New Latin, but extensive discourses on contemporary subjects in Latin gradually ceased to be written during this period.
New Latin (or Neo-Latin) is a post-medieval version of
Latin, now used primarily in International Scientific Vocabulary cladisticsand systematics. The term came into widespread use towards the end of the 1890samong linguists and scientists.
Classicists use the term "Neo-Latin" to describe the use of the Latin language for any purpose, scientific or literary, after the
Renaissance(for which purpose they often use the date 1600), although, for example, the editors of the I Tatti Renaissance Librarycall their RenaissanceLatin language texts Neo-Latin as well.
Recent Latin is the form of Latin used from the early twentieth century down to the present. Unlike all previous varieties of Latin, it is neither recognized officially nor used as a textual vehicle for original literature, philosophy, or science; instead, it is primarily used as a form of entertainment, practiced among a small group of Latin devotees.
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=m2QSAAAAIAAJ&dq=etymological+dictionary+of+the+Latin+language+&pg=PA1&ots=HXVVUTZtvs&sig=DCAtQurlc5fRvU3lGjyeXyxBbt8&prev Latin Etymology] , An Etymological Dictionary of the Latin Language
last = Allen
first = J.H.
coauthors = James B. Greenough
title = New Latin Grammar
publisher = Ginn and Company
date = 1931
location = Boston
id = ISBN 1585100277
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