Share
Explore BrainMass

The origins of Latin

Until the twelfth century, Latin was the language used among the educated and within literature. Research and report on the origins of vernacular language, and its spread. Assess and evaluate the impacts the spread of vernacular languages on cultures during this period.

Solution Preview

Dear Student,

Hello and thank you for using Brainmass. The solution below is concise but should get you started. I have indicated the references I used - both web and print - so that you can use these if you feel that you need additional details. Good luck to you and your studies. I hope this helps.

Sincerely,
OTA 105878/Xenia Jones
--------------------------------------

The Origins of Latin

The Latin language originated from a region of Central West Italy (an area where Rome grew out of) known as Latium. The tribe of people practicing it were known as the Latinis - hence the language is called Latin. The Latinis are related to the ancient people known as the Etruscans and when the Latini city of Rome grew - it engulfed/defeated the other tribes in the region into the fold of the growing power that was Rome. This region is now known as Lazio. Hence their language became the standard of the territories they came to control, the most ancient Old Latin (that practiced by the Latinis) becoming the source of Classical Latin and all other Romance Languages (Romanic Languages descendant from Latin). Because Rome eventually controlled much of Europe extending to Brittania in the West, the Balkans in the East, Teuton lands in the North, Northern Africa and parts of the Middle East, varied forms of Latin came to surface including Vulgar Latin - that which is practiced by soldiers, merchants and settlers/new peoples of the growing Roman Empire. Vulgar Latin includes adaptation of local colloquial and dialects of particular tribes/people. Being that it is not standard with each subset having their own 'vulgar version' of Latin, it has no official orthography. This is distinguished from Classical or Good Latin which was used in official transactions and prized as the socio-linguistic register of the Roman Empire. Classical Latin therefore has set grammatical and prescriptive rules for any of its uses (i.e. poetry, plays, prose, speeches & orations) as well as its own official alphabet (although in the early period of Latin, the alphabet used was adapted from that of classical Greek). The 'classical' connotation of Classical Latin refers to it being 'first class' for classical came from the Latin word 'classicus' or 'primae classis' - first or primary class. Often pointed at as a great example of classical Latin is the works of 2nd century AD African-Roman lawyer & linguist Marcos Cornelius Fronto; they include 'De nominum verborumque differentiis', 'Gratiarum actio pro Carthaginiensibus' and 'Exempla elocutionum' - these are grammatical treatises on the Classical Latin language with Fronto himself a grammarian, an advocate & a master of Latin rhetoric.

The Romanic Languages & Vernacular Development

Having established the origins and regions in which Latin - either classical or vulgar was used, we can now chart the languages that originated from it. Unfortunately, at the demise of the Roman Empire, the use and interest of Classical Latin declined as monarchies and new nations grew out of the former territories of the empire. Much of Classical Latin however remained in use in what has become known as Ecclesiastical Latin - the Latin used by the Catholic Church from its inception in the 1st AD through the church's legalization in 313 AD through Constantine's Edict of Milan becoming the official religion of Roman Empire in 380 AD. Originating from the Late Latin style of 'sermo humilis' - Latin used for preaching, the style is akin to that of the orations of Cicero and is exemplified, for example in the philosophical & theological work of St. Thomas Aquinas, especially his groundbreaking work 'Summa Theologica'. Ecclesiastical Latin is still ...

Solution Summary

The solution is an extensive 2,024 narrative that traces the origins of Latin (from its very first incarnation in ancient Latium) as a vernacular language, how it spread and how it impacted the development of other languages up to the 12th century. Latin as the heart of Latin-Romantic language is given particular focus via a set of translations of a particular phrase in varied languages that originated from Latin. Latin's use and impact in the official register, the academia, literature, the church and general European society from the 1st to the 12th century is also explored.

$2.19