Latin, Vulgar Latin

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Summary

Latin (; Latin: , ; the noun lingua, "tongue" and "language", and the adjective latinus, latina and latinum in its three genders, "Latin") is an

Details

Philological analysis of Archaic Latin works, such as those of Plautus, which contain snippets of everyday speech, indicates that a spoken language, [[V

008000

ulgar Latin]] (sermo vulgi ("the speech of the masses") by Cicero), existed at the same time as the literate Classical Latin. This informal language was rarely written, so philologists have been left with only individual words and phrases cited by Classical authors, as well as those found as graffiti.

As vernacular Latin was free to develop on its own, there is no reason to suppose that the speech was uniform either diachronically or geographically. On the contrary, Romanized European populations developed their own dialects of the The Decline of the Roman Empire meant a deterioration in educational standards that brought about Late Latin, a post-classical stage of the language seen in Christian writings of the time. This language was more in line with the everyday speech not only because of a decline in education, but also because of a desire to spread the word to the masses.

Despite dialect variation (which is found in any sufficiently widespread language) the languages of Spain, France, Portugal and Italy retained a remarkable unity in phonological forms and developments, bolstered by the stabilizing influence of their common Christian (Roman Catholic) culture. It was not until the Moorish conquest of Spain in 711 cut off communications between the major Romance regions that the languages began to diverge seriously. The Vulgar Latin dialect that would later become Romanian diverged somewhat more from the other varieties due to its being largely cut off from the unifying influences in the western part of the Empire.

One way to determine whether a Romance language feature was in Vulgar Latin is to compare it with its parallel in Classical Latin. If it was not preferred in classical Latin, then it most likely came from the invisible contemporaneous vulgar Latin. For example, Romance "horse" (cavallo/cheval/caballo/cavalo) came from Latin caballus. However, classical Latin used equus. Caballus therefore was most likely the spoken form.

Vulgar Latin began to diverge into distinct languages by the 9th century at the latest, when the earliest extant Romance writings begin to appear. They were, throughout this period, confined to everyday speech, as, subsequent to Late Latin, Medieval Latin was used for writing.

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