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Latin

Indo-European language of the Italic branch

Top 10 Latin related articles

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Latin
lingua latīna
Latin inscription, in the Colosseum of Rome, Italy
Pronunciation[laˈt̪iːna]
Native to
EthnicityLatins
EraVulgar Latin developed into the Romance languages, 6th to 9th centuries; the formal language continued as the scholarly lingua franca of medieval Europe and Cilicia, as well as the liturgical language of the Catholic Church.
Latin alphabet 
Official status
Regulated by
Language codes
ISO 639-1la
ISO 639-2lat
ISO 639-3lat
Glottologimpe1234
lati1261
Linguasphere51-AAB-aa to 51-AAB-ac
Map indicating the greatest extent of the Roman Empire under Emperor Trajan (c. 117 AD) and the area governed by Latin speakers (dark red). Many languages other than Latin were spoken within the empire.
Range of the Romance languages, the modern descendants of Latin, in Europe.
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Latin (latīnum, [laˈt̪iːnʊ̃] or lingua latīna, [ˈlɪŋɡʷa laˈt̪iːna]) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium.[2] Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant language in Italy, and subsequently throughout the western Roman Empire. Latin has contributed many words to the English language. In particular, Latin (and Ancient Greek) roots are used in English descriptions of theology, the sciences, medicine, and law.

By the late Roman Republic (75 BC), Old Latin had been standardised into Classical Latin. Vulgar Latin was the colloquial form spoken at that time and attested in inscriptions and the works of comic playwrights like Plautus and Terence[3] and author Petronius. Late Latin is the written language from the 3rd century; its colloquial form Vulgar Latin developed in the 6th to 9th centuries into the Romance languages, such as Italian, Sardinian, Venetian, Neapolitan, Sicilian, Piedmontese, Lombard, French, Franco-Provençal, Occitan, Corsican, Ladin, Friulan, Romansh, Catalan/Valencian, Aragonese, Spanish, Asturian, Galician, and Portuguese. Medieval Latin was used as a literary language from the 9th century to the Renaissance which used Renaissance Latin. Later, Early Modern Latin and New Latin evolved. Latin was the language of international communication, scholarship and science until well into the 18th century, when vernaculars (including the Romance languages) supplanted it. Ecclesiastical Latin remains the official language of the Holy See and the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.

Latin is a highly inflected language, with three distinct genders, six or seven noun cases, five declensions, four verb conjugations, six tenses, three persons, three moods, two voices, two or three aspects, and two numbers. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

Latin Intro articles: 52

History

The linguistic landscape of Central Italy at the beginning of Roman expansion

A number of historical phases of the language have been recognized, each distinguished by subtle differences in vocabulary, usage, spelling, morphology, and syntax. There are no hard and fast rules of classification; different scholars emphasize different features. As a result, the list has variants, as well as alternative names.

In addition to the historical phases, Ecclesiastical Latin refers to the styles used by the writers of the Roman Catholic Church from Late Antiquity onward, as well as by Protestant scholars.

After the Western Roman Empire fell in 476 and Germanic kingdoms took its place, the Germanic people adopted Latin as a language more suitable for legal and other, more formal uses.[4]

Old Latin

The Lapis Niger, probably the oldest extant Latin inscription, from Rome, c. 600 BC during the semi-legendary Roman Kingdom

The earliest known form of Latin is Old Latin, which was spoken from the Roman Kingdom to the later part of the Roman Republic period. It is attested both in inscriptions and in some of the earliest extant Latin literary works, such as the comedies of Plautus and Terence. The Latin alphabet was devised from the Etruscan alphabet. The writing later changed from what was initially either a right-to-left or a boustrophedon[5][6] script to what ultimately became a strictly left-to-right script.[7]

Classical Latin

During the late republic and into the first years of the empire, a new Classical Latin arose, a conscious creation of the orators, poets, historians and other literate men, who wrote the great works of classical literature, which were taught in grammar and rhetoric schools. Today's instructional grammars trace their roots to such schools, which served as a sort of informal language academy dedicated to maintaining and perpetuating educated speech.[8][9]

Vulgar Latin

Philological analysis of Archaic Latin works, such as those of Plautus, which contain snippets of everyday speech, indicates that a spoken language, Vulgar Latin (termed sermo vulgi, "the speech of the masses", by Cicero), existed concurrently with literate Classical Latin. The informal language was rarely written, so philologists have been left with only individual words and phrases cited by classical authors and those found as graffiti.[10] As it 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, romanised European populations developed their own dialects of the language, which eventually led to the differentiation of Romance languages.[11] The decline of the Roman Empire meant a deterioration in educational standards that brought about Late Latin, a postclassical stage of the language seen in Christian writings of the time. It was more in line with everyday speech, not only because of a decline in education but also because of a desire to spread the word to the masses.

Despite dialectal variation, which is found in any widespread language, the languages of Spain, France, Portugal, and Italy retained a remarkable unity in phonological forms and developments, bolstered by the stabilising influence of their common Christian (Roman Catholic) culture. It was not until the Moorish conquest of Spain in 711, cutting off communications between the major Romance regions, that the languages began to diverge seriously.[12] The Vulgar Latin dialect that would later become Romanian diverged somewhat more from the other varieties, as it was largely separated from the unifying influences in the western part of the Empire.

One key marker of whether a given Romance feature was found 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 undocumented contemporaneous Vulgar Latin. For example, the Romance for "horse" (Italian cavallo, French cheval, Spanish caballo, Portuguese cavalo and Romanian cal) came from Latin caballus. However, Classical Latin used equus. Therefore, caballus was most likely the spoken form.[13]

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 the period, confined to everyday speech, as Medieval Latin was used for writing.[14][15]

Medieval Latin

The Latin Malmesbury Bible from 1407.

Medieval Latin is the written Latin in use during that portion of the postclassical period when no corresponding Latin vernacular existed. The spoken language had developed into the various incipient Romance languages; however, in the educated and official world, Latin continued without its natural spoken base. Moreover, this Latin spread into lands that had never spoken Latin, such as the Germanic and Slavic nations. It became useful for international communication between the member states of the Holy Roman Empire and its allies.

Without the institutions of the Roman empire that had supported its uniformity, medieval Latin lost its linguistic cohesion: for example, in classical Latin sum and eram are used as auxiliary verbs in the perfect and pluperfect passive, which are compound tenses. Medieval Latin might use fui and fueram instead.[16] Furthermore, the meanings of many words have been changed and new vocabularies have been introduced from the vernacular. Identifiable individual styles of classically incorrect Latin prevail.[16]

Renaissance Latin

Most 15th-century printed books (incunabula) were in Latin, with the vernacular languages playing only a secondary role.[17]

The Renaissance briefly reinforced the position of Latin as a spoken language by its adoption by the Renaissance Humanists. Often led by members of the clergy, they were shocked by the accelerated dismantling of the vestiges of the classical world and the rapid loss of its literature. They strove to preserve what they could and restore Latin to what it had been and introduced the practice of producing revised editions of the literary works that remained by comparing surviving manuscripts. By no later than the 15th century they had replaced Medieval Latin with versions supported by the scholars of the rising universities, who attempted, by scholarship, to discover what the classical language had been.[18][14]

New Latin

During the Early Modern Age, Latin still was the most important language of culture in Europe. Therefore, until the end of the 17th century the majority of books and almost all diplomatic documents were written in Latin. Afterwards, most diplomatic documents were written in French (a Romance language) and later native or other languages.

Contemporary Latin

Despite having no native speakers, Latin is still used for a variety of purposes in the contemporary world.

Religious use

The signs at Wallsend Metro station are in English and Latin, as a tribute to Wallsend's role as one of the outposts of the Roman Empire, as the eastern end of Hadrian's Wall (hence the name) at Segedunum.

The largest organisation that retains Latin in official and quasi-official contexts is the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church only said that mass did not have to be carried out in Latin in the council of 1962-1965. Latin remains the language of the Roman Rite; the Tridentine Mass is celebrated in Latin. Although the Mass of Paul VI is usually celebrated in the local vernacular language, it can be and often is said in Latin, in part or in whole, especially at multilingual gatherings. It is the official language of the Holy See, the primary language of its public journal, the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, and the working language of the Roman Rota. Vatican City is also home to the world's only automatic teller machine that gives instructions in Latin.[19] In the pontifical universities postgraduate courses of Canon law are taught in Latin, and papers are written in the same language.

In the Anglican Church, after the publication of the Book of Common Prayer of 1559, a Latin edition was published in 1560 for use in universities such as Oxford and the leading "public schools" (English private academies), where the liturgy was still permitted to be conducted in Latin.[20] There have been several Latin translations since, including a Latin edition of the 1979 USA Anglican Book of Common Prayer.[21]

The polyglot European Union has adopted Latin names in the logos of some of its institutions for the sake of linguistic compromise, an "ecumenical nationalism" common to most of the continent and as a sign of the continent's heritage (such as the EU Council: Consilium)

Use of Latin for mottos

In the Western world, many organizations, governments and schools use Latin for their mottos due to its association with formality, tradition, and the roots of Western culture.[22]

Canada's motto A mari usque ad mare ("from sea to sea") and most provincial mottos are also in Latin. The Canadian Victoria Cross is modelled after the British Victoria Cross which has the inscription "For Valour". Because Canada is officially bilingual, the Canadian medal has replaced the English inscription with the Latin Pro Valore.

Spain's motto PLVS VLTRA, meaning "further beyond", is also Latin in origin.[23] It is taken from the personal motto of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain (as Charles I), and is a reversal of the original phrase Non terrae plus ultra ("No land further beyond"). This was said to have been inscribed as a warning on the Pillars of Hercules at the Strait of Gibraltar, which marked the edge of the known world. Charles adopted the motto following the discovery of the New World by Columbus, and it also has metaphorical suggestions of taking risks and striving for excellence.

Several states of the United States have Latin mottos: such as Connecticut's motto Qui transtulit sustinet ("He who transplanted sustains"); Kansas's Ad astra per aspera ("To the stars through hardships"); Colorado's Nil sine numine ("Nothing without providence"); Michigan's Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam, circumspice ("If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you"); Missouri's Salus populi suprema lex esto ("The health of the people should be the highest law"); North Carolina's Esse quam videri ("To be rather than to seem"); Virginia's Sic semper tyrannis ("Thus always to tyrants"); and West Virginia's Montani semper liberi ("Mountaineers are always free").

Many military organizations today have Latin mottos, such as Semper paratus ("always ready"), the motto of the United States Coast Guard; Semper fidelis ("always faithful"), the motto of the United States Marine Corps; Semper Supra (“always above”), the motto of the United States Space Force; and Per ardua ad astra ("Through adversity/struggle to the stars"), the motto of the Royal Air Force (RAF).

Some colleges and universities have adopted Latin mottos, for example Harvard University's motto is Veritas ("truth"). Veritas was the goddess of truth, a daughter of Saturn, and the mother of Virtue.

Other modern uses

Switzerland has adopted the country's Latin short name Helvetia on coins and stamps, since there is no room to use all of the nation's four official languages. For a similar reason, it adopted the international vehicle and internet code CH, which stands for Confœderatio Helvetica, the country's full Latin name.

Some films of ancient settings, such as Sebastiane and The Passion of the Christ, have been made with dialogue in Latin for the sake of realism. Occasionally, Latin dialogue is used because of its association with religion or philosophy, in such film/television series as The Exorcist and Lost ("Jughead"). Subtitles are usually shown for the benefit of those who do not understand Latin. There are also songs written with Latin lyrics. The libretto for the opera-oratorio Oedipus rex by Igor Stravinsky is in Latin.

The continued instruction of Latin is often seen as a highly valuable component of a liberal arts education. Latin is taught at many high schools, especially in Europe and the Americas. It is most common in British public schools and grammar schools, the Italian liceo classico and liceo scientifico, the German Humanistisches Gymnasium and the Dutch gymnasium.

Occasionally, some media outlets, targeting enthusiasts, broadcast in Latin. Notable examples include Radio Bremen in Germany, YLE radio in Finland (the Nuntii Latini broadcast from 1989 until it was shut down in June 2019),[24] and Vatican Radio & Television, all of which broadcast news segments and other material in Latin.[25][26][27]

There are many websites and forums maintained in Latin by enthusiasts. The Latin Wikipedia has more than 100,000 articles.

In fact, studying Latin can improve English learning skills as well as set a strong foundation to learn other languages. Overall, studying Latin creates a richer education for both STEM studies and liberal arts studies[28].

Latin History articles: 102

Legacy

Italian, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Romanian, Catalan, Romansh, and other Romance languages are direct descendants of Latin. There are also many Latin derivatives in English as well as a few in German, Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish. Latin is still spoken in Vatican City, a city-state situated in Rome that is the seat of the Catholic Church.

Inscriptions

Some inscriptions have been published in an internationally agreed, monumental, multivolume series, the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (CIL). Authors and publishers vary, but the format is about the same: volumes detailing inscriptions with a critical apparatus stating the provenance and relevant information. The reading and interpretation of these inscriptions is the subject matter of the field of epigraphy. About 270,000 inscriptions are known.

Literature

Julius Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico is one of the most famous classical Latin texts of the Golden Age of Latin. The unvarnished, journalistic style of this patrician general has long been taught as a model of the urbane Latin officially spoken and written in the floruit of the Roman Republic.

The works of several hundred ancient authors who wrote in Latin have survived in whole or in part, in substantial works or in fragments to be analyzed in philology. They are in part the subject matter of the field of classics. Their works were published in manuscript form before the invention of printing and are now published in carefully annotated printed editions, such as the Loeb Classical Library, published by Harvard University Press, or the Oxford Classical Texts, published by Oxford University Press.

Latin translations of modern literature such as The Hobbit, Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, Paddington Bear, Winnie the Pooh, The Adventures of Tintin, Asterix, Harry Potter, Le Petit Prince, Max and Moritz, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, The Cat in the Hat, and a book of fairy tales, "fabulae mirabiles", are intended to garner popular interest in the language. Additional resources include phrasebooks and resources for rendering everyday phrases and concepts into Latin, such as Meissner's Latin Phrasebook.

Influence on present-day languages

The Latin influence in English has been significant at all stages of its insular development. In the Middle Ages, borrowing from Latin occurred from ecclesiastical usage established by Saint Augustine of Canterbury in the 6th century or indirectly after the Norman Conquest, through the Anglo-Norman language. From the 16th to the 18th centuries, English writers cobbled together huge numbers of new words from Latin and Greek words, dubbed "inkhorn terms", as if they had spilled from a pot of ink. Many of these words were used once by the author and then forgotten, but some useful ones survived, such as 'imbibe' and 'extrapolate'. Many of the most common polysyllabic English words are of Latin origin through the medium of Old French. Romance words make respectively 59%, 20% and 14% of English, German and Dutch vocabularies.[29][30][31] Those figures can rise dramatically when only non-compound and non-derived words are included.

The influence of Roman governance and Roman technology on the less-developed nations under Roman dominion led to the adoption of Latin phraseology in some specialized areas, such as science, technology, medicine, and law. For example, the Linnaean system of plant and animal classification was heavily influenced by Historia Naturalis, an encyclopedia of people, places, plants, animals, and things published by Pliny the Elder. Roman medicine, recorded in the works of such physicians as Galen, established that today's medical terminology would be primarily derived from Latin and Greek words, the Greek being filtered through the Latin. Roman engineering had the same effect on scientific terminology as a whole. Latin law principles have survived partly in a long list of Latin legal terms.

A few international auxiliary languages have been heavily influenced by Latin. Interlingua is sometimes considered a simplified, modern version of the language. Latino sine Flexione, popular in the early 20th century, is Latin with its inflections stripped away, among other grammatical changes.

The Logudorese dialect of the Sardinian language is the closest contemporary language to Latin.[32]

Education

A multivolume Latin dictionary in the University of Graz Library in Austria.

Throughout European history, an education in the classics was considered crucial for those who wished to join literate circles. Instruction in Latin is an essential aspect. In today's world, a large number of Latin students in the US learn from Wheelock's Latin: The Classic Introductory Latin Course, Based on Ancient Authors. This book, first published in 1956,[33] was written by Frederic M. Wheelock, who received a PhD from Harvard University. Wheelock's Latin has become the standard text for many American introductory Latin courses.

The Living Latin movement attempts to teach Latin in the same way that living languages are taught, as a means of both spoken and written communication. It is available in Vatican City and at some institutions in the US, such as the University of Kentucky and Iowa State University. The British Cambridge University Press is a major supplier of Latin textbooks for all levels, such as the Cambridge Latin Course series. It has also published a subseries of children's texts in Latin by Bell & Forte, which recounts the adventures of a mouse called Minimus.

Latin and Ancient Greek at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, 2014.

In the United Kingdom, the Classical Association encourages the study of antiquity through various means, such as publications and grants. The University of Cambridge,[34] the Open University,[35] a number of prestigious independent schools, for example Eton, Harrow, Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School, Merchant Taylors' School, and Rugby, and The Latin Programme/Via Facilis,[36] a London-based charity, run Latin courses. In the United States and in Canada, the American Classical League supports every effort to further the study of classics. Its subsidiaries include the National Junior Classical League (with more than 50,000 members), which encourages high school students to pursue the study of Latin, and the National Senior Classical League, which encourages students to continue their study of the classics into college. The league also sponsors the National Latin Exam. Classicist Mary Beard wrote in The Times Literary Supplement in 2006 that the reason for learning Latin is because of what was written in it.[37]

Official status

Latin was or is the official language of European states:

  •  Hungary – Latin was an official language in the Kingdom of Hungary from the 11th century to the mid 19th century, when Hungarian became the exclusive official language in 1844. The best known Latin language poet of Croatian-Hungarian origin was Janus Pannonius.
  •  Croatia – Latin was the official language of Croatian Parliament (Sabor) from the 13th to the 19th century (1847). The oldest preserved records of the parliamentary sessions (Congregatio Regni totius Sclavonie generalis) – held in Zagreb (Zagabria), Croatia – date from 19 April 1273. An extensive Croatian Latin literature exists. Latin is still used on Croatian coins on even years.[38]
  •  Poland, Kingdom of Poland – officially recognised and widely used[39][40][41][42] between the 10th and 18th centuries, commonly used in foreign relations and popular as a second language among some of the nobility.[42]

Latin Legacy articles: 86