...this page is dedicated to Latin and Latin only! It is here to inform all about the history and importance of Latin. The following is the research paper I wrote for my Exhibition Project back in 8th grade and you're looking at the project itself. But never fear, there are interesting things after my long, boring paper. Stick around and see for yourself. Feel free to sign my guestbook at the end of my page...actually, it's encouraged. I apologize for all the annoying pop-ups and adds, but I had no budget for the project so Tripod it was.
Have you ever found yourself telling a friend or relative, “ Carpe diem,” (‘seize the day’) and wondered where it came from? Well, many people might think that it is Spanish, but in truth it is Latin (Gill 2). There is also the fact that Spanish, being one of the Romance languages, is derived from Latin. You may also have heard quid pro quo, ex post facto, ad hoc, and de facto. Latin has had a tremendous influence on several languages. Do you ever wonder how or why?
The first thing to explore is where Latin started out. It grew out of the tongue that was originally brought by the Indo-European people who migrated to eastern and southern Italy around the end of the Trojan War (1193 BC). It evolved into Latin and then was spoken mainly by the Romans in their city of Rome and the region around it. As the Romans were increased their mighty empire, Latin slowly expanded to the remaining sector around the western Mediterranean Sea. The following are the different periods of ancient literary Latin: the Early Period, the Golden Age, the Silver Age, and the Late Latin Period. Each period changed Latin and how more forms were added to the language. There was also Medieval Latin and Modern Latin. Finally, a look at what the Latin language has become at the end of the 20th century: how we use it and what we think of it.
Latin is a part of the Italic branch of Indo-European languages. It was greatly influenced by the non-Indo-European Etruscan language from central Italy, the Celtic tongues from northern Italy, and especially by the Greek language. But Latin did not begin in Italy. It was brought there in prehistoric times by Indo-European peoples who moved there from northern Europe. When brought to Italy, Latin was spoken mainly in Rome and the surrounding area.
Latin gradually spread throughout the entire western Mediterranean region as more and more people came under Roman sway (Wyatt 2). There were more complicated reasons repsonsible for this tremendous change. There was always a conflict between Latin and the Italic languages and the Social War of 90-88 BC, between Rome and the Italians. This was an important time for that problem, because this was when a change in the political treatment Rome’s of territories in Italy occurred. Up until that time, Rome had followed the unspoken rule of trying to keep all their conquered Italian metropolis’ away from each other. This was to prevent any scheming and later rebellion against Rome. One of their tactics was to give these communities all different rights and privileges because they figured that if they had different rights, they would have different complaints, then they would not have the same reason for action, and could not combine their forces in going against Rome. An obvious part to this unspoken rule was to allow the communities to speak different languages than their neighbors. With the end of the Social War, this rule went away because of the new idea of political unity for the Italian peoples, and with this political unity came the presentation of Latin as the common language for all local as well as federal business.
Lucania, Samnium and the county of Bruttii were extremely low in population. Rome sent lots of colonies to all three. Even though the old tongues were still in use for a little while, they eventually disappeared and Latin took their place. Latin was now in larger use all over the central and southern areas of the peninsula (Abbott 9-11).
Ancient literary Latin can be divided into four periods. The first was from 240-70 BC and included the writings of Plautus, Terence, and Ennius.
The next period was from 70 BC to AD 14 and called the Golden Age. This age is famous for the works of Livy, Julius Caesar, and Cicero and the poetry of Catullus, Lucretius, Vergil, Hoarse, and Ovid. During this time, the Latin language rose to another height of... “artistic medium of expression and attained its greatest richness and flexibility” (Duckworth 1 ).
The third period was the Silver Age, 14-130. It is noted for... “striving for rhetorical elaboration and ornament and concise and epigrammatic expression” (Duckworth 1 ).
The last period was named the Late Latin Period. It extended from the 2nd century until the 6th century. Invading barbarian tribes changed Latin by bringing in a whole bunch of unknown forms and idioms. The result was a form of “corrupted” Latin and named it the lingua Romana, which was different from the lingua Latina, the classical dialect refined by the educated.
Latin during the Middle Ages of Europe was called Medieval Latin or Low Latin. It was the language used to write letters. At this time Latin was still a living language because the church provided a large amount of religious literature. And once again, the language changed. Sentence structure was simplified again, new words were added from many different sources, and new meanings were created. However, the change in Latin during this period was far less than the change in either English or French.
Next would be Modern Latin, also called New Latin. This was during the 15th and 16th centuries. The ingenious Renaissance writers created a new wonderful Latin literature that imitated the Latin literature of the classical writers.
During this time, most of the books of scientific, religious, or philosophical importance were written in Latin. The termination of Latin as the international language was not until the latter years of the 1600’s. It still remained the language of scholarship in the 1700 and 1800’s though.
Now in the 20th century, theses for college or some other type of research papers are occasionally written in Latin. But, mostly it is only the Roman Catholic Church that uses Latin. It is still an extremely useful language for people to know. “In fact, 75% of the English language is made up of Latin. I have been taught etymology in my Latin class, and being able to break down words into their simple meanings has even garnered me a few extra points on the SAT’s!” (Curtis 2/18/98). Etymology is the branch of linguistics that deals with finding the history of a word as shown by determining its earliest use and recording its changes in form and meaning. Many of us fail to notice the bits and pieces of this language that work themselves into our everyday lives; a myriad of phrases and abbreviations. Most law terms are also Latin. Latin is still alive through the five Romance languages- Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, and Romanian. These five dialects represent the “modern evolution of Vulgar Latin” during the Late Latin period (Duckworth 2). Vulgar Latin, also named serbo plebeius, was the form of Latin spoken by the uneducated classes.
The Roman Empire was one of the main causes behind the expansion and popularity of the Latin tongue. But Latin also happened to be a wonderful language in its own right. It produced magnificent literature, played a big hand in the development of Italian, French, Romanian, Portugeuse, and Spanish and greatly influenced our own English. Latin is still a useful tool for life in the 20th century. So how does Latin affect your everyday life?
If you need more specific information on Latin or anything else, look for it on Amazon.com. The following are direct links to Amazon's direct page for each book. I have tried to catagorize the following books into Latin dictionaries & software, funny helpful books of Latin words and phrases, courses to help you learn Latin, and miscellaneous books.
Knowing your name in a Latin translation may be useless but it's also something fun to know. The following are some examples: (Warning! Some names may be the same or are not included, so don't be disappointed.) In my list of links, you can go to a site where you can check up any name you want to.
Grace= Gratia (Also a way to say thank you)