when did latin die?

By Aquilina, in 'General Latin Chat (English)', Oct 6, 2013.

  1. Aquilina New Member

    Salvete guys
    Has anyone an idea when Latin was declared dead? And who did that?
    After all latin was the world language back then.
  2. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    Salve!

    From what I remember reading, Latin is considered to have ceased being the natural language of the people around the 6th-8th centuries, depending on regions. Now it's certainly hard to determine precise criteria to say when exactly Latin had changed enough to cease to be Latin. It wouldn't surprise me if everyone didn't agree. Who killed Latin? Everyone... Everyone who spoke everyday and modified the language little by little. The fall of the Roman empire, leading to less communication between all the regions that constituted it and where Latin was spoken, probably also helped the languages of different regions to evolve on their own and take different paths. Who officially declared Latin dead and when? No idea.

    Edit: It seems like the dates I thought I remembered are a bit too early. The French Wikipedia article on vulgar Latin gives the following approximations (the English article doesn't have them):

    France d'oïl (North France) 750-800
    France d'oc (South France) 800-850
    Espagne mozarabe (Mozarabic Spain) 850-900
    Italie du Nord et du centre (North and Central Italy) 900-950
    Italie du Sud (South Italy) Indéterminé (undetermined)
    Afrique (du nord) en cours d'arabisation (North Africa in process of Arabization) 750-800

    But for sure in the sixth century the language had already been very affected (you just have to have a look at an author of that time like Gregory of Tours to see it), and even before.
    Last edited by Pacis puella, Oct 6, 2013
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  3. Bestiola Speculatrix

    • Praetor
    • Praeco
    There was also a cessation of the Roman educational system due to the fall of the Roman empire, influx of the so called barbarian tribes but mostly changes in the Latin itself.

    You might consider checking this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vulgar_Latin
    Last edited by Pixie, Oct 6, 2013
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  4. Ealdboc Aethelheall Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Germania Inferior
    The language was never really declared 'dead'. Latin remained a vehicle of science and scholarship into the nineteenth century. What is more, its newer forms (i.e., the romance languages) have expanded around the globe. Their roots are often very recognisable, as is illustrated by this excellent beer from Romania. :)

    [IMG]
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  5. Aquilina New Member

    Yeah that sounds good :)
    I wonder, though, why on earth scientists published their work in latin even in the 17th century. I mean if I had found out sth that important I would want to spread the knowledge. But if you write in Latin you'll reach only a small group of people
  6. Ealdboc Aethelheall Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Germania Inferior
    The scientific community could usually read a number of languages, amongst which Latin, French and, often, Dutch (the Netherlands at the time acted as something of a free haven for many innovative thinkers). If you wrote in Latin, you also know what community you were writing for - the highly educated.
  7. Bestiola Speculatrix

    • Praetor
    • Praeco
    In my country Latin was official language up till the mid nineteenth century - it was used in senate for example, and was also a powerful tool against the attempts of neighbouring countries to enforce their language and make it official. So it might be considered a political tool as well.
    Last edited by Pixie, Oct 6, 2013
  8. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    Latin is dead and well dead (except when some people like us decide to make it some kind of a living dead). Romance languages are but pieces of the corpse. Or "children" if you prefer a more optimistic tone, but I wouldn't call them forms of Latin, they're far too different, the resemblance is only in the look of words.
    Last edited by Pacis puella, Oct 6, 2013
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  9. Ealdboc Aethelheall Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Germania Inferior
    It depends on how you look at it, I think. I experience Anglo-Saxon, Middle Dutch, Modern German and Modern Dutch as representatives of the same language, for instance. Despite the fact that they are not mutually intelligible, there is a lot you recognise if you know one of these languages and then begin to study one of the others. To illustrate what I mean I've translated the first sentence of the Dutch romance of 'Karel ende Elegast' into Moder Dutch, Modern German en Modern English below. Modern English, of course, is interesting as its largely romance vocabulary sets it somewhat apart from the other Germanic languages.

    Fraaie historie ende al waer mag ik u tellen; hoort naer.
    Een fraaie geschienis, en helemaal waar, mag ik u vertellen; luistert nader.
    Eine schöne Geschichte, und ganz wahr, kann ich Ihnen erzählen; höret andächtig zu.
    A beautiful story and entirely true I may tell you; listen carefully.

    Studying Latin, there is a lot I recognise from the lessons in French and Spanish that I took in secondary school. Obviously, a lot has changed, but the paradigm of Spanish 'hablar' is still strongly reminiscent of the Latin first conjugation (hablo, hablas, habla, hablamos, habláis, hablan...) and I now finally understand where the French word 'quotidien' comes from. :)
  10. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    Here's how vulgar "Latin"/some kind of Romance must have looked like in the 8th century:

    ipsa cuppa frangant la tota, ad illo botiliario frangant lo cabo, at illo scanciono tollant lis potionis.

    It's the first time I see an authentic bit of it having reached such a state.

    Interesting here.
  11. Cinefactus Censor

    • Censor
    Location:
    litore aureo
    Latin was revived during the Renaissance, and became the language of learning.
  12. Ealdboc Aethelheall Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Germania Inferior
    Looks pretty spiffy to me. :)
  13. Matthaeus Vemortuicida strenuus

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Varsovia
    May I suggest two very good books:

    ---> A Biography of Latin, by Nicholas Ostler, a thorough, in-depth study of the language from its inception to the present day

    ---> Who Killed Homer, written by Victor Davis Hanson and John Heath, an account of the present, declining state of Classical studies; it also provides good reason why the Greeks (and Romans, for that matter) ought not to lie neglected. HIGHLY recommended.
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  14. Lyceum Member

    Location:
    Oxford/Athens.
    I recently read through the first 2/3rds of that and second the recommendation, I enjoyed it. For a more detailed discussion though I really recommend J Adams "The Regional Diversification of Latin". Though it is an industry standard so hard to get hold of outside of academic libraries and you'd need a good knowledge of Latin and linguistics.

    But that is an awful book it essentially comes down to "waah modern Classicists privelege a Greek/Roman context for their readings and not an American one!" and "waah I don't understand modern scholarship".

    The best bit is when the authors insult Callimachus - apparently not important! yet they previously recommend Virgil and Catullus (what in the world?) and we're told Polybius offers us nothing. Menander to is apparently "second rate". Basically Greek and Roman opinions don't mean shit, but don't worry because these random guys will tell you!

    It's recommended in that it's so hilarious. I love the random racist swipes e.g Greeks don't speak Greek as well as Americans who learn Classical Greek first, the British are butlers and servile. I love that, essentially, a Greek context is a 20th century American right wing one.


    Joking aside, its a godawful book.

    Back to the topic at hand, its worth pointing out that standardisation in Latin was always...tentative, even from the high Empire we see some discrepancies.
    Last edited by Lyceum, Oct 7, 2013
  15. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    Even before. First there was diversity, then a relative unification of the language happened under the empire, thanks to communication all over the empire, administration etc., to then split again as we all know. But indeed a certain diversity was always there. It couldn't have been otherwise over such a large area I think. Partly about that, this book is interesting. Unfortunately it's in French. So just in case anybody who knows French is interested.
    Last edited by Pacis puella, Oct 7, 2013
  16. Matthaeus Vemortuicida strenuus

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Varsovia
    All right, that is just an opinion. But is there any truth to what the authors are saying about the current status of a dying discipline?
  17. Lyceum Member

    Location:
    Oxford/Athens.

    Yes obviously, but I chose the Empire as a cut off point since it sees the greatest spread of, apparently, Roman Latin. Whereas earlier we have to factor non Roman Latin variations much more heavily into account despite our predisposition to privilege Rome over the rest of Latium. Though, again, even within Rome we have class distinctions just like everywhere else really.

    What surprises me is the kind of data we have. The Latin in Egypt seems to be much...better than the Latin in Britain (via curse tablets from Bath and Vindolanda). Also, re: the breakup, I think previous years have been reluctant to discuss barbarisation and creolisation due to the baggage such terms have previously held, but these play as much a part as natural developments.

    It's hard to gauge that due to how many insane claims and silly mistakes are made, the authors just come off as incompetent. How do we assess whether a discipline is dying? In terms of work done, the discipline has never seen better work. In fact that the level of work being done can challenge the author's simplistic views and make them feel so threatened...is great.

    Furthermore, the kind of Western Civ/Liberal Arts style the authors crave has never held any currency outside of the USA, nor should it. It's a waste of time and deserves to die. In fact part of the reason so many clever students over there don't want to get into Classics in the first place (a major problem for the author) is precisely because of such courses and the idea of Classics being more cultural than intellectual.

    The discipline is relatively fine, all things given.
  18. Abbatiſſæ Scriptor Senex

    • Civis Illustris
    We might look to find the approximate date when educators in Western countries had generally ceased to believe that learning Latin were of greater importance for their pupils than learning any language other than their own mother tongue, and perhaps the language of their rulers. This disaster would likely have ravaged the accademic world sometime in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century, and could likely even be largely blamed on a small handfull of influential writers who would remain famous among educators today. I am glad to say, however, that there are no monuments to such men cluttering my own mental furniture.
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  19. Symposion Member

    Location:
    Helsingia (Finnia)
    There has not existed people with Latin as their first Language since Late antiquity and Early Middle Ages. This is meant when someone mentions that Latin has died out.
  20. Bestiola Speculatrix

    • Praetor
    • Praeco
    Unless we exclude Michel de Montaigne and similar occurrences :)

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