If an ancient Roman woke up today

By JaimeB, in 'General Latin Chat (English)', Jun 4, 2010.


Language easiest for a Roman to learn?

French 1 vote(s) 4.2%
Italian 15 vote(s) 62.5%
Portuguese 0 vote(s) 0.0%
Romanian 2 vote(s) 8.3%
Spanish 5 vote(s) 20.8%
Other (specify) 1 vote(s) 4.2%
  1. Gregorius Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Don't you mean:

    Da mihi illos solidos, comparabo ova -> dammi i soldi, mi comprero delle uova -> dame el dinero, compraré los huevos ("voy a comprar" works, but would be more akin to "comparaturus sum")
    Carrum in Gallia factum -> carro fatto in Gallia-> vagón hecho en la Galia ("hizo" = "fecit")
    Ego do anulum matrimonii -> io do un anello di matrimonio -> yo doy un anillo de bodas ("yo" added only for comparison with "ego" and "io")
    Rex nudus saltat per totam civitatem -> il re nudo salta per tutta la città -> el rey desnudo rebota por toda la ciudad ("está rebotando" works, but for comparison's sake, let's avoid compound verb forms)
    Tabernarius inflammat granarium meum -> Il tavernaro infiamma il granario mio -> el barman quema mi granero ("está quemando" works, but for comparison's sake, let's avoid compound verb forms. Also, I'm not sure if "inflammare" governs the ablative/dative or the regular accusative)

    I think you accidentally missed the gender agreement between "lingua" and "morta," and I'm not sure "egli" can be used as an indirect object pronoun. At least, I would've used "le."

    Also, why are you using the infinitive "moriri" for the VL translation? It's highly unlikely that this usage of the infinitive evolved in VL, as none of the modern Romance languages have it.

    The Italian form is "permettere," with a total of four E's. Sorry if I'm being a stickler, but I do so only so we can all learn. Also, these errors could affect our comparison,

    You're completely right about "está" and its deceptive form hiding its true origins. I should've known better than to use a sample sentence that involved such a misleading verb form! :oops:

    Incidentally, Spanish does have the words "carro" and "matrimonio," and the word "boda" ("wedding") can be traced to a reformulation of neuter pleural "vota" ("vows") as a feminine singular.
  2. Imprecator Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    -Sure, that would certainly be an option in the interest of parallelism.

    -I actually meant to use the neuter plural of carrum originally, but changed it at the last minute and didn't remember to adjust facta. And yes, Spanish does happen to have carros, but the word now refers to cars/carts. Also, isn't hacen the 3rd person pl. past participle of hacer? In any case, the translations should read:

    Carra in Gallia facta -> carri in gallia fatte -> vagones hacen en la Galia

    -Typo with the di of course, since 'de' no longer exists in Italian. As for the part about bodas: the corresponding Italian word, voti, still remains closer to Latin vota. Matrimonio is a valid point though, I was unaware that the word existed in Spanish. Regardless, it remains identical to the Italian form; this renders it useless in an argument for Spanish over Italian (disregarding pronunciation).

    -Fair enough.

    -Compounded Latin verbs generally take the dative case: it should remain granario meo.

    -How do they not agree? As far as I can tell, lingua and morta are both in the feminine. On the other hand, egli indeed ought to be just gli. Mea culpa.

    -The ut clause obviously exists in Classical Latin, along with a somewhat more rare infinitive construction with which it is interchangeable. Supply a reason why this sentence wouldn't be perfectly intelligible in any particular dialect of V. Latin, the grammar of which changed so freely with location and time period.

    -Not by much, to be honest. So far, the only lead Spanish has is in a verb closer to its corresponding Latin word by one letter. Allow me to list many of the previously mentioned word pairs, in which the Italian form is noticably closer (by grammatical ending or by lexical similarity) to Latin:

    Soldi vs Dineros (L. Solidi)
    Dammi vs Dame (L. Da mihi)
    Uova vs Huevos (L. Ova)
    Carri vs Vagones (L. Carra)
    Nudo vs Desnudo* (L. Nudus)
    Città vs Ciudad (L. Civitas)
    Egli vs El (L. Ille)
    Infiammo vs Quema (L. inflammo)
    Per vs Por (L. Per)
    Granario vs Granero (L. Granarium)

    *Which simply has the form -nudo affixed to it by coincidence. It derives from Latin denudatus.

    And while it's true that Spanish still has words from the same source, such as inflamar (to irritate) and carros (cars/carts), and the type akin to bodas and dinero (derived from Latin predecessors of different meaning), they all nevertheless remain semantically or lexically divergent from Latin. On the other hand, the Italian cognates remain more or less true to true to their original meanings (not to mention that the majority are closer in appearance to their Latin counterparts).
  3. Gregorius Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Gender agreement in Italian: carri fatti. Another typo perhaps.

    hacen = they make = faciunt
    hizo = he/she/it made = fecit
    hecho/a = made (past participle) = factus/a/um

    "3rd person pl. past participle"? There's no such thing, at least to my knowledge. Participles are declinable by number, gender, and (in Latin only) case but not conjugable by person.

    Fair enough. I actually agree that Italian is closest and wasn't necessarily trying to convince anyone otherwise.

    Huh? First of all, how is "inflammat" compound? Secondly, I can't think of any verb where the case it governs changes based on what form its in. Either you learned some odd Latin, or I've seriously missed something fundamental in my own learning (which I fully admit is imperfect, especially since it was completely self-taught).

    Yes, but you actually wrote "morto." I corrected it before typing that sentence. Sorry for the confusion. Regarding "gli," if we are to assume its antecedent is "lingua," than the only proper pronoun is the feminine "le" rather than the masculine "gli."

    As I understand it, "ut" clauses use finite verb forms, often subjunctive. Your VL translation seems an inadvertent hybrid of the two far more likely constructions: "...si nos permittimus ut illa moriatur" or "si nos illi permittimus (de) moriri." In the first, we have a subordinate clause with a finite subjunctive verb form. In the second, "illi" refers to "lingua" and is the indirect object of "permittimus" while the infinitive "moriri" serves as the direct object. Yes, VL grammar was flexible and ever-changing, but only to a point. All of my experience in studying Romance cries out that the hybrid construction you're suggesting would've sounded, although intelligible, wholly unnatural. At the very least, saying such a thing would be tantamount to stamping "NON-NATIVE SPEAKER" on your forehead. I don't deny that I could possibly be wrong, but it'd take a dead-on, unambiguous attestation/citation for me to change my mind.

    You're right. The errors made in this particular instance would likely not have changed the end result, but if we were to consistently make such errors as we continue making comparisons, we cannot safely presume that we would always be that lucky. You're also quite right about semantic shifts, which I find fascinating. French, for example, uses "mettre" where one would expect a derivative of "ponere."

    Your example with "Da mihi" vs. "dame" and "dammi" illustrates an interesting aspect in which Spanish and Italian are actually even, but any individual sentence is bound to be deceiving. Latin has distinct forms for the accusative ("me") and dative ("mihi" or in poetry "mi") first-person singular pronoun. In both Spanish and Italian, the two converged into a single form. Italian favored "mi" while Spanish favored "me." Hence, sentences that use a dative pronoun in Latin will probably appear to favor their Italian translations while sentences using the accusative pronoun will probably appear to favor their Spanish translations. Interestingly enough, this paradigm is reversed when prepositions enter the picture. Spanish says "para mi" where Italian says "per me." Therefore, since most if not all Latin prepositions take the accusative or ablative, both of which take the form "me," prepositional constructions serve as a tie-breaker and tip the scales in Italian's favor once again.
  4. Imber Ranae Ranunculus Iracundus

    • Civis Illustris
    It's a compound of the preposition in and the verb flammat. In Latin compound verbs like this tend to take a dative indirect object: the dative alone if the original verb was intransitive, the dative together with an accusative direct object if the original verb was transitive. See here for a fuller explanation.
  5. Gregorius Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Ah! As I suspected, our problem here is one of definition, or perhaps confusion between "compound verb" and "compound verb form." To me, a compound verb FORM is, strictly speaking, any verb form that uses a separate auxiliary verb (usually "esse" in Latin) and an otherwise unconjugable participle/gerund(ive)/supine. What you're referring to is simply a compound verb, which means one composed of another verb and a prefix. You've actually answered a long-held question of mine. Since the prefixes used in forming compound verbs are usually also stand-alone prepositions, some information about the verb's relationship to its object is embedded in the verb itself. How does this affect case usage? For example, "flammare" takes the accusative (I presume), but "in" takes the ablative (unless it's used to mean "into," in which case it takes the accusative), so what case does "inflammare" govern? Apparently, the dative. Thanks, Imprecator!
  6. Quasus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Águas Santas
    Nequaquam. It's a transitive verb.
  7. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Cygnea, Gena
    I don't see the logic in that
  8. Imprecator Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    You're right, but for completely the wrong reasons. That's like saying since the insects have six legs, and the dinosaurs had four, that the humans must have two.
  9. Gregorius Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    No logic at all on my part, at least not for the conclusion I reached. I'm just going off of what Imprecator said. Basically, according to the article he gave, verbs composed of a prepositional prefix and a root verb generally govern the dative except in cases where they're is not well suited semantically for the dative.
  10. Imber Ranae Ranunculus Iracundus

    • Civis Illustris
    Inflammo and flammo basically mean the same thing, with the prefix in acting really only as an intensifier, so no additional dative indirect object is necessary. Since flammo takes the accusative, so does inflammo.
  11. JaimeB Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    San Francisco, CA
    Southern Italy was under Spanish Hapsburg domination for a few centuries too; I'm sure people familar with Neapolitan and Sicilian would recognize some Spanish words...

    Barese (the language of the area around Bari) apparently has a fair number of borrowings from Albanian.
  12. Decimvs Aedilis

    • Aedilis
    Someone break the tied vote!

  13. Imprecator Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    And another person voted Spanish...
    Honestly, do people even read through threads before making a decision? Here is a list that should sufficiently demonstrate that Italian is closer to Latin:

    Latin -> Italian -> Spanish

    Pila -> Pella -> Bola
    Pedes -> Piedi -> Pies
    Flumen -> Fiume -> Río
    Folium -> Foglia -> Hoja
    Fumus -> Fumo -> Humo
    Lectus -> Letto -> Cama
    Civitas -> Città -> Ciudad
    Ferrum -> Ferro -> Hierro
    Cornu -> Corno -> Cuerno
    Capilli -> Capelli -> Cabello
    Carcer -> Carcere -> Cárcel
    Vestimenti -> Vestiti -> Ropa
    Occidere -> Uccidere -> Matar
    Monachus -> Monaco -> Monje
    Mihi placet -> Mi piace -> Me gusta
    Stomachus -> Stomaco -> Estómago
    Imperator -> Imperatore -> Emperador
    Persicum malum -> Pesca (mela) -> Melocotón (manzana)
  14. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Cygnea, Gena
    Things like "imperator", "monachus" or "occidere" don't belong to my "everyday vocabulary" to be honest :)
    I don't really see how lists of single words are supposed to be helpful. If I were in favour of Spanish, I might just turn some examples around by modifying the original Latin input ... like

    Mihi placet -> Mi piace -> Me gusta

    this could be turned into

    mihi gustat -> Mi piace -> Me gusta

    I don't see any point in counting the difference in individual letters, eithers. Once you've noticed Spanish seems to voice originally voiceless plosives, bola, ciudad, cabello or emperador may not come across as a big surprise anymore.

    Spanish has quite some Arabic influence though, which Italian seems to be free off ... don't know about grammatical difference (which have not been considered at all yet!) - I'm not an expert form Romance languages :)
  15. Imprecator Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    I see we live two very different lifestyles then ;)

    Since the grammar of Romance languages (with the exception of Romanian and its dialects) is practically the same, it makes sense to turn to lexicon and phonetics to determine which is closest to Latin.

    Yeah, except find one instance of "mihi gustat" in Latin literature :roll:

    Of course I understand how Spanish pronunciation differs from Latin (such as the transformation of ferrum/hierro, folium/hoja, facere/hacer), but that doesn't change the simple fact that an ancient Roman would it harder to understand than Italian ferro, foglia, and fare.

    Grammatically, Italian and Spanish are more or less identical; there are a few discrepancies such as pronoun choice, plural endings, and the cupola (It. uses essere for 'to be' and stare for 'to stand', while Sp. estar has become the 'to be' verb- further proof that Italian is closer to Latin, by the way).
  16. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Cygnea, Gena
    as far as questions like these are concerned, it's probably better to go along the lines of (reconstructed) vulgar expressions.
  17. Imprecator Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    You suddenly seem to support Vulgar/Late Latin explanations... Remember the previous times when I was proposing an idea like this (i.e. paramentum, faciamur, et caetera) and you contemptuously rolled your eyes and dismissed it? I see no reason not to do the same here.
  18. Gregorius Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Just to avoid confusion, "estar" is not the quintessential verb "to be." That would be "ser," which is a direct cognate to "essere." The point being made is that Spanish nevertheless uses "estar" (primarily to describe temporary states/conditions and indicate location) more often than Italian uses "stare," which still supports the notion that both Imprecator and I believe: Italian is closer to Latin than Spanish.

    Also, let's not forget those verbs which in French are referred to by the mnemonic acronym "DR & MRS VANDERTRAMP." These are verbs, primarily denoting motion or change of state, that use "to be" instead of "to have" as an auxiliary verb in the compound perfect tenses. Spanish has none and uses "haber" for everything. Italian, like French, uses "avere" for most verbs but "essere" for a handful of them. "I have come" thus becomes "he venido" in Spanish ("he" being a form of "haber") but "sono venuto" in Italian ("sono" being a form of "essere"). This is somewhat reminiscent of deponent verbs in the perfect system, but the analogy is only a partial one since Latin NEVER used "habere" as an auxiliary verb to form perfect tenses of ANY verb, deponent or not.

    As a side note, this discussion also brings up another strike against Spanish, one that it shares with no other Romance language (that I know well enough to judge) besides maybe Portuguese: the restriction of "haber(e)" to strictly auxiliary purposes while "tener(e)" takes over the basic meaning of "to have."

    However, Italian and French also share another characteristic important to our discussion: the relegation of the simple perfect (a.k.a. preterite) to archaic or remote uses while the compound forms take over everyday speech. Returning to our example, "sono venuto" can mean either "I have come" or simply "I came." The Italian form equivalent to Latin "veni" ("venni") only comes into play when the time being referred to is roughly more than a year remote from when the sentence is being uttered. French takes it even further by altogether banishing its simple past from all but the most formal or archaic/literary/poetic writing. The Spanish preterite, on the other hand, retains full usage even in colloquial conversation.
  19. Reziac Member

    The question was "which language would be easiest for a Roman to learn", NOT "which language is most similar to Latin". For that reason I pick Spanish. It may be a skip further from Latin than Italian, but I think firstly Spanish is probably the easiest of all languages to learn, and second it's probably more like everyday spoken Latin.

    To my understanding a lot of Latin slang came from (what is now) Spanish influence of the day, hence words like caballus. I'm reminded to point out that when charting Latin => Italian => Spanish, and there is a markedly different word at the end of the chain, one should look for a Latin slang term that may match the Spanish word.

    As to someone's comment that he'd better learn quick before he succumbed to some disease... no. Back in his day, he was routinely exposed to all sorts of pathogens that modern sanitation and vaccination have made rare or extinct. If anything, his immune system would be MORE able to cope than ours, having already had extensive exposure to smallpox, cholera, typhus, malaria, salmonella, influenza (a problem anywhere pigs are raised in association with birds), and whatever else oozed out of the swamps surrounding Rome and the gutters in any town. If he survived everyday life in Rome, he could survive anywhere in the modern world. And remember, back then weak babies with poor immune systems (an inherited issue) simply didn't survive long enough to reproduce, there being no real medical care for such issues.
  20. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Cygnea, Gena
    Well, there's a difference in offering an English to Latin translation to somebody (which I think should follow a classical ideal) and looking at linguistics/ the developement of Latin and Romance languages.

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