Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 02-26-2020, 08:02 PM
EastUmpqua is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: The Eastern Watershed
Posts: 188

Why isn't the language currently spoken in Rome called modern Latin?


Old English evolved into modern English, Ancient Greek evolved into modern Greek, etc. The ancient Romans spoke Latin so why isnít the language spoken in Rome today (Italian) called modern Latin?
  #2  
Old 02-26-2020, 08:08 PM
Slow Moving Vehicle's Avatar
Slow Moving Vehicle is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Posts: 4,325
Because the country's called Italia, not Latium. Not to mention that while Italian could be considered "modern Latin", so could French, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, Provencal, or any of the other Romance languages.

Last edited by Slow Moving Vehicle; 02-26-2020 at 08:08 PM.
  #3  
Old 02-26-2020, 08:43 PM
UDS is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Australia
Posts: 9,166
What SMV said. Also, outside the academy we don't call modern English "modern English"; we just call it English, because it's what they speak in England. And this doesn't give rise to confusion, since Old English and Middle English are no longer spoken or used. Whereas Latin surived as a working language, both spoken and written, if not as anybody's native language, for many centuries. The word "Latin" was used for it, and so wasn't available for any of the languages that had developed out of it.

The particular dialect of Italian associated with Rome and its environs is Romanesco.
  #4  
Old 02-26-2020, 08:50 PM
Andy L is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 7,296
Quote:
Originally Posted by UDS View Post
What SMV said. Also, outside the academy we don't call modern English "modern English"; we just call it English, because it's what they speak in England. And this doesn't give rise to confusion, since Old English and Middle English are no longer spoken or used. Whereas Latin surived as a working language, both spoken and written, if not as anybody's native language, for many centuries. The word "Latin" was used for it, and so wasn't available for any of the languages that had developed out of it.

The particular dialect of Italian associated with Rome and its environs is Romanesco.
Yeah. If Latin hadn't been preserved as a liturgical language and a language in which people were expected to read ancient texts, we might call Italian "Modern Latin" - but that isn't what happened.
  #5  
Old 02-26-2020, 09:50 PM
Dr. Drake is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Vancouver, BC
Posts: 6,447
Some modern versions of Latin are called Latin: Ladin (South Tyrol) and Ladino (Judaeo-Spanish). So it's not out of the question for the word to be used for a modern Romance language. And the region around Rome is still called Latium (Lazio in Italian), so it's not an unreasonable question at all.
  #6  
Old 02-26-2020, 10:24 PM
Hilarity N. Suze is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Denver
Posts: 8,210
And while we're at it, why is Latin America called Latin America?
  #7  
Old 02-26-2020, 10:52 PM
Colibri's Avatar
Colibri is online now
SD Curator of Critters
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Panama
Posts: 44,586
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slow Moving Vehicle View Post
Not to mention that while Italian could be considered "modern Latin", so could French, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, Provencal, or any of the other Romance languages.
Actually, depending on how you count, there are somewhere between 23 and 35 languages that could be considered "modern Latin." And quite a few of them, in addition to the language we call Italian, occur in Italy.
  #8  
Old 02-26-2020, 10:56 PM
Colibri's Avatar
Colibri is online now
SD Curator of Critters
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Panama
Posts: 44,586
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hilarity N. Suze View Post
And while we're at it, why is Latin America called Latin America?
I know you're joking, but it's because three different forms of "modern Latin," Spanish, Portuguese, (and to a lesser extent) French are prevalent there.
  #9  
Old 02-26-2020, 11:28 PM
MrDibble's Avatar
MrDibble is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Cape Town, South Africa &
Posts: 27,589
Quote:
Originally Posted by UDS View Post
What SMV said. Also, outside the academy we don't call modern English "modern English"; we just call it English, because it's what they speak in England. And this doesn't give rise to confusion, since Old English and Middle English are no longer spoken or used.
And "Old English" is also called "Anglo-Saxon", so it's not like we don't do it too (use the older ethnonym for the older language).
  #10  
Old 02-26-2020, 11:48 PM
Little Nemo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 85,209
It's Charlemagne's fault.

For centuries language had been changing while the people who spoke it still thought of what they were speaking as Latin. Most people didn't travel enough to realize that the local versions of "Latin" were no longer intelligible to speakers in other regions. Everyone just assumed they were speaking the same language that the Caesars had spoken.

When Charlemagne became Holy Roman Emperor he promoted scholarship into classical Roman culture and language. So scholars began studying old Roman texts. They established that the Latin that was used in the Roman Empire was not the same "Latin" that was being used in medieval Europe. And they fixed classical Latin vocabulary and grammar in place and put a stop to the ongoing drift of Latin. People now recognized that they were speaking languages that were distinct from Latin. And these local languages continued to evolve while Latin remained unchanged.
  #11  
Old 02-27-2020, 01:11 AM
GreenWyvern's Avatar
GreenWyvern is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Cape Town
Posts: 2,200
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
It's Charlemagne's fault.

For centuries language had been changing while the people who spoke it still thought of what they were speaking as Latin. Most people didn't travel enough to realize that the local versions of "Latin" were no longer intelligible to speakers in other regions. Everyone just assumed they were speaking the same language that the Caesars had spoken.

When Charlemagne became Holy Roman Emperor he promoted scholarship into classical Roman culture and language. So scholars began studying old Roman texts. They established that the Latin that was used in the Roman Empire was not the same "Latin" that was being used in medieval Europe. And they fixed classical Latin vocabulary and grammar in place and put a stop to the ongoing drift of Latin. People now recognized that they were speaking languages that were distinct from Latin. And these local languages continued to evolve while Latin remained unchanged.
Sorry, but just no.

To start with the last point, Latin grammar had been described, discussed, debated, and written about in great detail by the Romans themselves, even by the end of the Roman Republic. It wasn't set down in Charlemagne's time.

But Latin vocabulary and grammar was always changing, like that of any language, even in Roman times - which the Romans were well aware of. And it continued to change into medieval times. Medieval Latin and Church Latin are not the same as 'classical' (1st century BC - 1st century AD) Latin.

A good example is the Latin translation of the Bible. The Old Testament was first translated into Latin the 1st century BC, but by the 4th century AD that translation had become difficult to understand by ordinary native Latin speakers. This situation was very similar to the difference between the English of the King James Bible and modern English. So the Pope commissioned a new translation into the ordinary spoken Latin of the 4th century - the Editio Vulgata, or People's Edition, (known today as the Vulgate) which became the standard Latin Bible from that time on. But the Latin of the Vulgate is not that of Caesar or Cicero or Livy or Virgil.

Before Charlemagne's time, people were well aware of the difference between contemporary spoken Latin-derived languages and 'real' Latin, used in church services and in written documents. Nobody thought they were speaking classical Latin.

Charlemagne certainly promoted classical learning and language. But the Latin language was still by no means fixed, and various flavours of medieval Latin continued to develop.

Last edited by GreenWyvern; 02-27-2020 at 01:13 AM.
  #12  
Old 02-27-2020, 02:05 AM
Johanna's Avatar
Johanna is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Altered States of America
Posts: 13,773
Little Nemo is correct. The crucial development was to standardize Classical Latin as the language of scholarly writing as well as the Church. When Charlemagne came along, nobody except a few monks knew how to read and write. Even though Big Chuck himself was illiterate, he had the nous to bring Alcuin over from England and set up an educational system, which developed Medieval Latin for book-learning.

Once book-Latin was instituted, that decoupled it from vernacular "Latin" a.k.a. rustica romana lingua, and set the two on diverging tracks of evolution. Because Big Chuck instituted Latin reform, preachers began using book-Latin in sermons, so the parishoners couldn't understand anything. Then the bishops at the Council of Tours in 813 decided that sermons had to be preached in rustica romana lingua. That sets the date 813 for the birth of the Romance languages as languages in and of themselves.
  #13  
Old 02-27-2020, 02:57 AM
GreenWyvern's Avatar
GreenWyvern is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Cape Town
Posts: 2,200
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johanna View Post
Little Nemo is correct. The crucial development was to standardize Classical Latin as the language of scholarly writing as well as the Church. When Charlemagne came along, nobody except a few monks knew how to read and write. Even though Big Chuck himself was illiterate, he had the nous to bring Alcuin over from England and set up an educational system, which developed Medieval Latin for book-learning.
No, the situation in Charlemagne's own kingdom may have been pretty dire, but that was certainly not the case elsewhere.

Ask yourself why Alcuin had to be brought in... from England. It was because classical learning was in excellent shape in England, but not in the Kingdom of the Franks.

Alcuin came from York and

Quote:
The York school was renowned as a centre of learning in the liberal arts, literature, and science, as well as in religious matters." - wiki
From the wiki on Charlemagne:

Quote:
Part of Charlemagne's success as a warrior, an administrator and ruler can be traced to his admiration for learning and education. His reign is often referred to as the Carolingian Renaissance because of the flowering of scholarship, literature, art and architecture that characterise it. Charlemagne came into contact with the culture and learning of other countries (especially Moorish Spain, Anglo-Saxon England, and Lombard Italy) due to his vast conquests. He greatly increased the provision of monastic schools and scriptoria (centres for book-copying) in Francia.
 
The council of Tours in 813 was a national council, dealing only with Church matters in the Kingdom of the Franks, not elsewhere.

It set out the first formal distinction between Latin and early French, but that had nothing to do with the situation elsewhere in Europe.
  #14  
Old 02-27-2020, 04:27 AM
EckyThump is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
I know you're joking, but it's because three different forms of "modern Latin," Spanish, Portuguese, (and to a lesser extent) French are prevalent there.
I'm not sure if I get why Hilarity N. Suze may have been joking, but that's a question I've wondered about often, what South American countries had to do with Latin. I always thought about it at times when I didn't have internet access, and then had forgotten about it by the time I did.
Thanks for putting it to rest for me

Last edited by EckyThump; 02-27-2020 at 04:27 AM.
  #15  
Old 02-27-2020, 05:57 AM
Chronos's Avatar
Chronos is offline
Charter Member
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 87,445
The better question would be why Classic Italian was called "Latin". There was a Latin People that formed a part of the Roman nation, but they were a fairly small part, and I don't think they were even the dominant influence on the Latin language.
  #16  
Old 02-27-2020, 06:14 AM
MEBuckner's Avatar
MEBuckner is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Posts: 12,383
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
The better question would be why Classic Italian was called "Latin". There was a Latin People that formed a part of the Roman nation, but they were a fairly small part, and I don't think they were even the dominant influence on the Latin language.
Isn't "There was a Latin People that formed a part of the Roman nation" sort of backwards? The people of the city of Rome were part of the tribe known as the Latins. (Thus, Rome:the Latins::Athens/Sparta/Corinth:the Greeks [Hellenes]; Romans--that is, the people of that small city-state--spoke Latin just as Athenians or Spartans or Corinthians spoke Greek.) The Latins were in turn one branch of a larger group of Indo-European speakers known as the Italic* peoples. Rome, initially just a backwater town no one had ever heard of, united first its fellow Latin-speakers, then all of Italy (both the Italic peoples and various other groups living on the peninsula)**, and eventually a huge empire that stretched from Britain to Egypt.

*No, not the Italic peoples.
**To somewhat oversimplify a complex process.
__________________
"In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves." -- Carl Sagan

Ceterum censeo imperium Trumpi esse delendam
  #17  
Old 02-27-2020, 06:27 AM
Acsenray is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: U.S.A.
Posts: 37,165
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
The better question would be why Classic Italian was called "Latin". There was a Latin People that formed a part of the Roman nation, but they were a fairly small part, and I don't think they were even the dominant influence on the Latin language.
I believe the Latins were more than just a part of the Roman state. They founded the Roman state. The earliest Romans were Latins.
__________________
*I'm experimenting with E, em, and es and emself as pronouns that do not indicate any specific gender nor exclude any specific gender.

Last edited by Acsenray; 02-27-2020 at 06:27 AM.
  #18  
Old 02-27-2020, 06:34 AM
GreenWyvern's Avatar
GreenWyvern is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Cape Town
Posts: 2,200
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
The better question would be why Classic Italian was called "Latin". There was a Latin People that formed a part of the Roman nation, but they were a fairly small part, and I don't think they were even the dominant influence on the Latin language.
The Latini, or Latin tribes, settled in an area called Latium, and the language they spoke was simply called the Latin language.

The Latins founded Rome and were the dominant influence there for many centuries, while Rome gradually came to control more of central Italy, and then later other areas. The language of Rome was Latin, and continued to be called Latin.

See this video, which shows Roman territory over time.

The initial growth of Rome was extremely slow. The video even skips 753BC - 500BC, because Roman territory was just the tiny area around the city of Rome for 250 years. Even later, growth was slow for centuries, and there were many semi-independent client states in Italy.
  #19  
Old 02-27-2020, 08:17 AM
bump is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 19,394
Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenWyvern View Post
But Latin vocabulary and grammar was always changing, like that of any language, even in Roman times - which the Romans were well aware of. And it continued to change into medieval times. Medieval Latin and Church Latin are not the same as 'classical' (1st century BC - 1st century AD) Latin.
I always understood that the roots of today's Romance languages were already growing in Roman times, with vulgar Latin diverging from Classical Latin already by that time, and there being some regional differences already.

Fast forward several hundred years, and the people in Spain, France, Italy, Romania, etc... are all speaking evolved versions of vulgar Latin in their daily lives, which eventually became Spanish, French, Italian and Romanian, while Classical Latin ended up being a relatively static thing, as nobody actually spoke it save maybe some ecclesiastical communities.

Another way to look at it would be that if something cataclysmic happened in the modern world that removed mass communication, you'd have "Classical English" as the formal version used to write, but variants like AAVE and the various regional and national versions of English would continue to diverge from it and each other, so that in 2000 years, they'd effectively be their own languages, all related back to "Classical English".

So in say... 200 AD, it's entirely possible that Spaniards, Romano-British, Italians and French sounded as far or further apart from each other than Australians, Scots, Texans and South Africans do today, but were all linked by "Classical Latin" in an administrative and literary sense.

Last edited by Colibri; 02-27-2020 at 08:26 AM.
  #20  
Old 02-27-2020, 08:48 AM
Colibri's Avatar
Colibri is online now
SD Curator of Critters
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Panama
Posts: 44,586
Quote:
Originally Posted by EckyThump View Post
I'm not sure if I get why Hilarity N. Suze may have been joking, but that's a question I've wondered about often, what South American countries had to do with Latin. I always thought about it at times when I didn't have internet access, and then had forgotten about it by the time I did.
Thanks for putting it to rest for me
I thought he was joking because I assumed it was common knowledge, but I guess not. Vice President Dan Quayle was the butt of a famous joke that claimed that he said:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Quayle (attributed)
ďI regret I didnít study Latin harder in school so I could converse with people in Latin AmericaĒ?
But this is incorrect.
  #21  
Old 02-27-2020, 09:26 AM
Corry El is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 4,256
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy L View Post
Yeah. If Latin hadn't been preserved as a liturgical language and a language in which people were expected to read ancient texts, we might call Italian "Modern Latin" - but that isn't what happened.
I think liturgical is probably important, not just that the language hung around, but that is was central to Western Christianity. Rome was the center of that, but people throughout what's now Italy had no special claim to 'own' the Church's language and therefore it be natural to call their everyday evolution of the language 'Latin', when French, Spanish etc weren't. In general 'Roman-ness' in the sense of being descendants of that empire wasn't perceived to particularly reside in Italy, even though that was a much later affectation of the Italian fascists.

As far as Latin just continuing to exist and evolve as a mainly written language, that's also true of Classical/Literary Chinese. It's a quite different language than Modern Chinese, but persisted as a common written language in China and the 'Sino-sphere' alongside Modern Chinese. For example a lot of Korean official documents even in the 19th century were written in Classical Chinese rather than Korean (a structurally unrelated language though it has a lot of Chinese words) and not Modern Chinese either, though it existed. But 'Chinese-ness' belonged to China in a way Roman (Empire)-ness did not specifically belong to Italy, so no confusion to call both the Modern and Classical written languages 'Chinese' even when both were used.
  #22  
Old 02-27-2020, 09:28 AM
DrCube is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Caseyville, IL
Posts: 7,649
Imagine a thousand years from now, when the languages spoken in Australia, the US, Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand, etc., are all mutually unintelligible. Which one should be called "English"? The one spoken in England? What if the regional dialects in England have all diverged by then, and there isn't a single language spoken in England, but several? I could see calling the languages "American", "Australian", "British", "Canadian", etc. and leaving "English" for the history books.
  #23  
Old 02-27-2020, 09:33 AM
Jet Jaguar is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Monster Island
Posts: 1,620
So if I had taken Latin in high school, what version of Latin is that? How far back in time could I travel and be understood? Middle ages? Earlier?
  #24  
Old 02-27-2020, 09:39 AM
GreenWyvern's Avatar
GreenWyvern is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Cape Town
Posts: 2,200
Quote:
Originally Posted by bump View Post
I always understood that the roots of today's Romance languages were already growing in Roman times, with vulgar Latin diverging from Classical Latin already by that time, and there being some regional differences already.

Fast forward several hundred years, and the people in Spain, France, Italy, Romania, etc... are all speaking evolved versions of vulgar Latin in their daily lives, which eventually became Spanish, French, Italian and Romanian, while Classical Latin ended up being a relatively static thing, as nobody actually spoke it save maybe some ecclesiastical communities.
Yes, there's no question that there were different regional dialects of Latin, even fairly early in Roman history.

Suetonius says that the Emperor Vespasian in the 1st century AD pronounced some words with a 'Sabine accent' - and the Sabines were from central Italy, close to Rome! The Emperor Hadrian, whose family was from Spain (though of Roman origin) is said to have had a 'Spanish accent'.

But the Latin spoken in Rome itself had great prestige, and was regarded as the gold standard of Latin, like 'the King's English' in England up to 20th century. It was educated, upper-class, 'proper' Latin.


It's a mistake to think that Latin was ever 'frozen' in medieval or early modern times. It was certainly not only used in the Church. It was used by accountants, bankers, lawyers, historians, scientists, philosophers, and was known by all well-educated people.

Isaac Newton wrote his Principia, with his laws of motion, etc. in Latin, so that it could be read throughout Europe. University lectures in a number of European countries were mostly given in Latin, even into the early 19th century. In the 18th century, all Scottish legal advocates had to present a dissertation in Latin and verbally defend it in Latin, before qualifying. Etc.

And Latin vocabulary and usage continued to evolve. Think of all the medieval terminology of Earls, Knights, vassals, homage, liege lord, yeoman, villein, lands held in feu, knight's duty, tithes, etc. All the documents and contracts relating to these were in Latin, and terminology had to be evolved for many things that didn't exist in Roman times.

Medieval Latin is a whole subject in itself, and there are still some regional technical terms whose meaning is not clear to historians today.

Also, people who wrote or spoke Latin as a second language often didn't know it very well, so they used words, grammar, and pronunciation from their own language. So there was a 'Frenchified' Latin, a 'Germanic' Latin, an 'Anglicised' Latin, etc. - and Church Latin, which is essentially 'Italianized' Latin. It was like people today who speak English as second language writing with different degrees of proficiency, and using wrong words or weird phrases.
  #25  
Old 02-27-2020, 09:55 AM
Colibri's Avatar
Colibri is online now
SD Curator of Critters
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Panama
Posts: 44,586
Regarding a contrasting situation, how different are classical Greek (the Greek of Aristotle), Koine Greek (a lingua franca of the Roman Empire, and also "Biblical Greek"), and Modern Greek? Are they as different as Classical Latin and Italian? With what facility can a modern Greek read classical Greek in the original?
  #26  
Old 02-27-2020, 09:59 AM
GreenWyvern's Avatar
GreenWyvern is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Cape Town
Posts: 2,200
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jet Jaguar View Post
So if I had taken Latin in high school, what version of Latin is that? How far back in time could I travel and be understood? Middle ages? Earlier?
It would be Classical Latin - the Latin of the 1st century BC to 1st century AD, because that was when the majority of the great works of Latin literature were written.

That's why if you ask someone who studied Latin at school (or even a Latin professor!) to translate some random Latin inscription or text from another period that you found somewhere, he may not be able to do it. Or he may have to think about it carefully for a while.

You could be understood - to some extent - at any period, except that different countries had, and sometimes still have, different pronunciations of Latin.
  #27  
Old 02-27-2020, 11:00 AM
Kent Clark's Avatar
Kent Clark is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Posts: 27,776
OK, this leads to the obvious next question, namely, which of today's modern Romance languages is most like Latin - either classical or vulgar?

The obvious answer should be Italian, but maybe there's a more geographically isolated group that hasn't been so affected by the rest of the world. Maybe Sardinian or Tuscan or something like that?
  #28  
Old 02-27-2020, 11:07 AM
MrDibble's Avatar
MrDibble is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Cape Town, South Africa &
Posts: 27,589
Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenWyvern View Post
But the Latin spoken in Rome itself had great prestige, and was regarded as the gold standard of Latin, like 'the King's English' in England up to 20th century. It was educated, upper-class, 'proper' Latin.
Given the strong social stratification and large size of Rome itself, I doubt there was one "City of Rome" accent (compare London, or New York, or my own city of Cape Town) . I'm certain the "patrician" accent would be different enough from the "pleb" accent to be noticeable.


Do we have any attestations to there being different accents just within Rome?
  #29  
Old 02-27-2020, 11:12 AM
Chingon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: the hypersphere
Posts: 968
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kent Clark View Post
OK, this leads to the obvious next question, namely, which of today's modern Romance languages is most like Latin - either classical or vulgar?

The obvious answer should be Italian, but maybe there's a more geographically isolated group that hasn't been so affected by the rest of the world. Maybe Sardinian or Tuscan or something like that?
Many scholars would say Sardinian. Look up the works done by Mario Pei.
  #30  
Old 02-27-2020, 11:28 AM
ftg's Avatar
ftg is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Not the PNW :-(
Posts: 21,694
Note that there are quite a few Romance language dialects around still. Not just the major ones. And many, many more before the drive for national identity and mass media started stomping out the lesser ones.

For example, there's Occitan in S. France and nearby regions. To the north there's still some Norman and a whole lot of stuff in-between. (There's even a little bit of Breton around, a Celtic language.)

Italy has been far, far more diverse than France. There's even still a remnant of Greek speaking folk on the east coast. There had been a lot of Latin-related dialects going back thousands of years. The current language map only tells part of the story.

The notion of an Italian language goes hand-in-hand with the notion of an Italian nation. Which is quite recent. After the complete breakup of the Western Roman Empire, Rome was just one city on the peninsula. Historically and religiously notable but not The City of before. So its local dialect was just one of many around. It didn't dominate the Italian language development of later centuries.

It was Tuscan, to the NW, that played the biggest role in the foundation of Italian.

The new nation of Italy wasn't seen as a restoration of the Roman Empire and therefore not Latin. (Well, outside the 1920s-40s.)
  #31  
Old 02-27-2020, 11:31 AM
Dr. Drake is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Vancouver, BC
Posts: 6,447
On the other hand, documents from the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies were in Italian, not Neapolitan or Sicilian, so the prestige of Italian, as a written language anyway, clearly predates the formation of the nation-state.
  #32  
Old 02-27-2020, 01:02 PM
Acsenray is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: U.S.A.
Posts: 37,165
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Drake View Post
On the other hand, documents from the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies were in Italian, not Neapolitan or Sicilian, so the prestige of Italian, as a written language anyway, clearly predates the formation of the nation-state.
I believe that the Florentine dialect had been adopted as a pan-Italy standard from the time of Dante.
__________________
*I'm experimenting with E, em, and es and emself as pronouns that do not indicate any specific gender nor exclude any specific gender.
  #33  
Old 02-27-2020, 01:11 PM
GreenWyvern's Avatar
GreenWyvern is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Cape Town
Posts: 2,200
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
Given the strong social stratification and large size of Rome itself, I doubt there was one "City of Rome" accent (compare London, or New York, or my own city of Cape Town) . I'm certain the "patrician" accent would be different enough from the "pleb" accent to be noticeable.

Do we have any attestations to there being different accents just within Rome?
Yes. As far as I know the best example is in the Satyricon of Petronius (1st century AD). There is a long chapter (both funny and moving) about a fancy dinner with an ex-slave, Trimalchio, who has become extremely wealthy. Trimalchio and other ex-slaves speak in a noticeably different dialect from the upper-class narrator and his friends.
  #34  
Old 02-27-2020, 01:17 PM
Slow Moving Vehicle's Avatar
Slow Moving Vehicle is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Posts: 4,325
Quote:
Originally Posted by Acsenray View Post
I believe that the Florentine dialect had been adopted as a pan-Italy standard from the time of Dante.
Because of Dante, I suspect.
__________________
ďIt may help to understand human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people.Ē
― Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, Good Omens
  #35  
Old 02-27-2020, 02:19 PM
Little Nemo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 85,209
Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenWyvern View Post
Ask yourself why Alcuin had to be brought in... from England. It was because classical learning was in excellent shape in England, but not in the Kingdom of the Franks.
Yes, the scholars existed. I said that in my post so obviously I knew that.

The point you're missing is that the overwhelming majority of people are not classical language scholars. They weren't then and they aren't now. None of them had every actually seen a copy of a classical text. So they had no way that the language they were speaking had become distinct from the language that was in those classical texts. They thought they were talking the same Latin that people had been speaking seven hundred years ago.

When Charlemagne's scholars began collecting classical texts and making copies, a lot more people encountered actual classical Latin. And they discovered it was not the same language they were speaking.
  #36  
Old 02-27-2020, 02:28 PM
Dr. Drake is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Vancouver, BC
Posts: 6,447
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
None of them had every actually seen a copy of a classical text. ... When Charlemagne's scholars began collecting classical texts and making copies, a lot more people encountered actual classical Latin. And they discovered it was not the same language they were speaking.
If none of them had ever seen a copy of a classical text, where did Charlemagne find them?

I think you're underestimating the degree to which medieval people read Vergil, Caesar, etc. No one (to my knowledge) had attempted to produce a grammar or lexicon of the spoken Romance languages, but that doesn't mean they were ignorant of the fact that they existed in a state of high diglossia.
  #37  
Old 02-27-2020, 02:40 PM
Chronos's Avatar
Chronos is offline
Charter Member
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 87,445
Quote:
Quoth DrCube:

Imagine a thousand years from now, when the languages spoken in Australia, the US, Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand, etc., are all mutually unintelligible. Which one should be called "English"?
I recently read a science fiction book set in the far future, where there are three different languages: Angley, spoken in England (and as a prestige language in the rest of Europe), Unglish, spoken in America, and Ingliss, spoken in New Zealand. All are mutually unintelligible, though a character raised on Angley is able to pick up Unglish fairly easily.

Last edited by Chronos; 02-27-2020 at 02:41 PM.
  #38  
Old 02-27-2020, 02:56 PM
The Stafford Cripps is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 1,475
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
I recently read a science fiction book set in the far future, where there are three different languages: Angley, spoken in England (and as a prestige language in the rest of Europe), Unglish, spoken in America, and Ingliss, spoken in New Zealand. All are mutually unintelligible, though a character raised on Angley is able to pick up Unglish fairly easily.
This has already happened - in Scotland for a time (possibly around the 16th century, I haven't checked), some people called the language they spoke "Inglis", possibly pronounced like how you would nowadays read "Ingles". What they were referring to, we would now call "Scots", and would be unintelligible to most English (and probably Scottish) people now, and probably most English people at the time.
  #39  
Old 02-27-2020, 03:21 PM
Johanna's Avatar
Johanna is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Altered States of America
Posts: 13,773

Pre-Roman Latins / pre-Latin Rome


The original Latins weren't in Rome. In fact, they were relative latecomers there. The site of Rome was first settled by a few Greeks and Etruscans. The Latins lived farther southeast at Laurentum on the coast. They occupied a tiny area hemmed in by the Rutulians at Ardea just to the southeast. First they absorbed the Rutulians, then Ascanius founded Alba Longa as their new seat inland to the east. That was several generations before Romulus and Remus, expelled from Alba Longa, moved northwest to the Tiber and founded Rome as such.

Of course, this is all legendary. But it does explain how Latin and Roman are different names, and why this alphabet we're using is sometimes called Latin and sometimes Roman. The two weren't originally synonymous though they eventually merged. Ursula K. LeGuin's novel Lavinia brought that world to life.
  #40  
Old 02-27-2020, 03:45 PM
Johanna's Avatar
Johanna is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Altered States of America
Posts: 13,773
Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenWyvern View Post
No, the situation in Charlemagne's own kingdom may have been pretty dire, but that was certainly not the case elsewhere.
Sure, for that matter Ireland had more literacy than anywhere else in Western Europe, and England probably benefited intellectually from its proximity to Ireland. But none of that bears on the origin of Romance languages.
Quote:
The council of Tours in 813 was a national council, dealing only with Church matters in the Kingdom of the Franks, not elsewhere.

It set out the first formal distinction between Latin and early French, but that had nothing to do with the situation elsewhere in Europe.
Sure, at first it was just langue d'oÔl French that crystallized out of lingua rustica romana. But that was all it took. Once French got the ball rolling, the idea spread to other Romance-speaking lands. Like a seed crystal in a supersaturated solution.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Drake View Post
If none of them had ever seen a copy of a classical text, where did Charlemagne find them?
That isn't the point. Of course there were churchmen around who knew Classical Latin. It was the administrative language reform of Charlemagne that was the first official governmental establishment of Classical Latin in the Dark Ages. Is the point.

Quote:
No one (to my knowledge) had attempted to produce a grammar or lexicon of the spoken Romance languages, but that doesn't mean they were ignorant of the fact that they existed in a state of high diglossia.
Quite so. I think high diglossia is inherently unstable, but (as still found in Arabic and Tamil) may be stabilized by cultural factors. The administrative language reform of Charlemagne had the effect of destabilizing that diglossic situation, resulting in French being acknowledged as a language in its own right. This is the consensus understanding among Romance language historians.

Last edited by Johanna; 02-27-2020 at 03:47 PM.
  #41  
Old 02-27-2020, 03:52 PM
Johanna's Avatar
Johanna is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Altered States of America
Posts: 13,773
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jet Jaguar View Post
So if I had taken Latin in high school, what version of Latin is that?
Ciceronian, I think.
  #42  
Old 02-27-2020, 11:12 PM
Little Nemo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 85,209
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Drake View Post
If none of them had ever seen a copy of a classical text, where did Charlemagne find them?
Do you really not understand the difference between only a small group of people having something and nobody having something?

Quote:
Yes, the scholars existed. I said that in my post so obviously I knew that.

The point you're missing is that the overwhelming majority of people are not classical language scholars. They weren't then and they aren't now. None of them had every actually seen a copy of a classical text.
So there was one small group of people, maybe a few hundred in all of Europe, who studied Latin. These are the people I described as "the scholars".

Then there was another much larger group of people, hundreds of thousands of them, who was everybody who did not study Latin. These are the people I described as "the overwhelming majority of people".

So two distinct groups. And I specifically said that one of these groups - the overwhelming majority of people - had never actually seen a copy of a classical text. It was the other group - the scholars - who had the classical texts. And as I pointed out, those are the people that Charlemagne went to when he wanted to obtain copies of classical texts.
  #43  
Old 02-28-2020, 12:26 AM
GreenWyvern's Avatar
GreenWyvern is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Cape Town
Posts: 2,200
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
The point you're missing is that the overwhelming majority of people are not classical language scholars. They weren't then and they aren't now. None of them had every actually seen a copy of a classical text. So they had no way that the language they were speaking had become distinct from the language that was in those classical texts. They thought they were talking the same Latin that people had been speaking seven hundred years ago.

When Charlemagne's scholars began collecting classical texts and making copies, a lot more people encountered actual classical Latin. And they discovered it was not the same language they were speaking.
Well, it's a nice story you've made up, but this General Questions. Cite?

Also... do you think they didn't encounter Latin in Church every Sunday?
  #44  
Old 02-28-2020, 12:28 AM
GreenWyvern's Avatar
GreenWyvern is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Cape Town
Posts: 2,200
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johanna View Post
Sure, for that matter Ireland had more literacy than anywhere else in Western Europe, and England probably benefited intellectually from its proximity to Ireland.
Ireland had more literacy than anywhere else in Western Europe? Cite?

(And please, please don't cite that book by Thomas Cahill - find a reputable source by a reputable historian.)


The fact that you use the term 'dark ages' shows clearly that you have never read any modern scholarly history of the period. That term has been rejected for the last 50 years by all professional historians, as the period has come to be better understood.

The periods are 'late antiquity' and the 'early middle ages', and the understanding of those periods today is NOT the same as it was in popular histories of the mid 20th century.

For a modern overview, can I suggest:

Late Antiquity: A Very Short Introduction

The Middle Ages: A Very Short Introduction

Both written by reputable academics and published by Oxford University Press.
  #45  
Old 02-28-2020, 12:46 AM
GreenWyvern's Avatar
GreenWyvern is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Cape Town
Posts: 2,200
Sorry, bad link. Correct:

The Middle Ages: A Very Short Introduction
  #46  
Old 02-28-2020, 01:02 AM
RioRico is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: beyond cell service
Posts: 2,492
Quote:
Originally Posted by bump View Post
So in say... 200 AD, it's entirely possible that Spaniards, Romano-British, Italians and French sounded as far or further apart from each other than Australians, Scots, Texans and South Africans do today, but were all linked by "Classical Latin" in an administrative and literary sense.
I recall a linguist predicting awhile back that by 2050 CE, 80% of all humans will think they speak English, and 80% of those will be unable to understand each other. Computers won't help unless we replace speech with texting. Spell checks are easier than dialect checks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenWyvern View Post
But the Latin spoken in Rome itself had great prestige, and was regarded as the gold standard of Latin, like 'the King's English' in England up to 20th century. It was educated, upper-class, 'proper' Latin.
I think it was an old Rand Holmes underground comic that showed an English sailor shipwrecked in 18th century Japan and forced to take up native ways and garb. A British ship arrives in port. Our sailor, decked in kimono or whatever, starts shouting at them, bellowing the most caustic obscenities. A crewman aboard is surprised: "Wot now? This yere Jappo speaks the King's English!"

Modern Italian is the Tuscan dialect because Dante was just so damn classy.
  #47  
Old 02-28-2020, 01:54 AM
Johanna's Avatar
Johanna is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Altered States of America
Posts: 13,773
Sicilian flourished as a literary language before Italian did (unless you count the 12th-century lyrics in Umbrian by St. Francis of Assisi). The Sicilian School of poetry, based on Arabic models, was the first vernacular literary movement in Italy, in the early 13th century. Its influence was picked up by Petrarca in the mid-13th century and then Dante and flowed into Tuscan poetry.

Italian as we know it was conceived by Pietro Bembo in the early 16th century, based on the Tuscan of Petrarca, Boccaccio, and Dante. Sicilian and the other vernaculars of Italy became eclipsed by the new standard Italian, though Venetian held its own the longest. Ironically, Bembo was a Venetian.
  #48  
Old 02-28-2020, 01:59 AM
Johanna's Avatar
Johanna is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Altered States of America
Posts: 13,773
Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenWyvern View Post
The fact that you use the term 'dark ages' shows clearly that you have never read any modern scholarly history of the period. That term has been rejected for the last 50 years by all professional historians, as the period has come to be better understood.
Fine. I concede this to your nitpick over terminology, for what that's worth. You're the consummate medievalist. However, not a single word you've posted yet in this thread has addressed the OP question of how the Romance languages were born. Little Nemo and I have answered that question while none of your nitpicks have any bearing on it.
  #49  
Old 02-28-2020, 07:01 AM
JKellyMap's Avatar
JKellyMap is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 10,345
Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenWyvern View Post
Ireland had more literacy than anywhere else in Western Europe? Cite?

(And please, please don't cite that book by Thomas Cahill - find a reputable source by a reputable historian.)


The fact that you use the term 'dark ages' shows clearly that you have never read any modern scholarly history of the period. That term has been rejected for the last 50 years by all professional historians, as the period has come to be better understood.

The periods are 'late antiquity' and the 'early middle ages', and the understanding of those periods today is NOT the same as it was in popular histories of the mid 20th century.

For a modern overview, can I suggest:

Late Antiquity: A Very Short Introduction

The Middle Ages: A Very Short Introduction

Both written by reputable academics and published by Oxford University Press.
Several of Irelandís monasteries (including offshore ones) kept writing and reading (and northwest European Christianity) ďaliveĒ while most of Europe (outside Islamic controlled areas) was illiterate. I exaggerate a bit, but not by much. Iím not sure how literate the Irish populace was, though ó Iím guessing not very.
  #50  
Old 02-28-2020, 07:48 AM
Andy L is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 7,296
Quote:
Originally Posted by RioRico View Post
I recall a linguist predicting awhile back that by 2050 CE, 80% of all humans will think they speak English, and 80% of those will be unable to understand each other. Computers won't help unless we replace speech with texting. Spell checks are easier than dialect checks.
In the fifteenth century you could speak London English in Kent and be accused of speaking French... http://www.snsbi.org.uk/Nomina_artic..._23_Breeze.pdf
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:10 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2019 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017