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Questions tagged [language-evolution]

For questions regarding how Latin has changed over time.

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5
votes
0answers
63 views

Why didn't readers prefer spacing to scriptio continua before 600 A.D.? [duplicate]

Naomi Baron. Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World (1 edn 2015). Top of p. 21. I'm assuming that even in one's L1, “spaced words make it easier to decode in your head”. Why ...
8
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2answers
154 views

When did “virgo” gain its sexual meaning?

The primary meaning I associate with virgo, virginis is "young woman", perhaps a bit older than a puella but not yet a mulier. However, the descendants of this word (in English and the Romance ...
4
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2answers
815 views

Was there ever a difference between 'volo' and 'volo'?

The words "I want" and "I fly" are both volō. Was there ever any difference in pronunciation in the classical era or later? I expect such differences to be more likely in vulgar Latin. The rest ...
7
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1answer
94 views

When did the difference between acute and grave disappear?

In Classical Greek, to my understanding, there are three types of accents: acute and circumflex both indicate a high tone (just in slightly different ways only applicable to long vowels), while grave ...
6
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1answer
75 views

Dies and the fifth declension

In an answer to this question on Ζεύς Draconis mentions (quoting his own post on another site): The accusative form of the root, *dyēm (cf AGrk Zēn), also survived in Latin, in the form *diēm > ...
2
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1answer
57 views

How did “djēm” avoid palatalization?

While posting an answer to this question, I looked back at an answer I'd written on another site, which mentions the strange case of Latin diēs < PIt *diēm. In particular: The accusative form ...
3
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0answers
52 views

When did the infinitive in -ier fall out of use?

At one point, the Latin passive infinitive was formed with a suffix -(r)ier, as in agier "to be driven", amārier "to be loved". Allen and Greenough call this an "ancient form[…] found chiefly in ...
8
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2answers
800 views

Is latino sine flexione dead?

Latino sine flexione is a variant of Latin created by Peano in 1903. As far as I know it was used in scientific literature but since forgotten. I found this site and a few discussions on Duolingo but ...
3
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2answers
72 views

Is long vowel feature completely lost in deviated languages?

In Latin, some vowels are marked by a macron, they are long vowels. However, I found that in French and Spanish there's no macron in their writing. Is the long vowel feature completely lost in the ...
9
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2answers
2k views

Are the names of these months realistic?

I'm working on a calendar. To choose the name of the months I focused on Latin and in particular on a systematisation of the names finishing with 'ber'. I was wondering if my choices were correct and ...
4
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2answers
124 views

When did the penult stress rule disappear?

Classical Latin stress was famously based on the "penult rule": stress goes on the penult if heavy, the antepenult otherwise. In later Latin, vowel length seems to have been lost very early: before ...
7
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1answer
160 views

When did unsyncopated forms become archaic?

I'd always learned that the regular way to say "you loved" was amāvisti, with the "syncopated" version amāsti being poetic and uncommon. However, Unbrutal_Russian says differently (with good ...
7
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1answer
456 views

Why did “cattus” replace Latin “feles”?

The word for cat is now, in almost every European language, derived from Latin cattus, as stated in Etymonline. It also says that the word was [...] in general use on the continent by c. 700, ...
4
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3answers
370 views

If these Greek characters ever had alternative orthographies / typographies

Wondering if any of the following letters were or are ever written in the way described for each. Δ : If it is ever filled in black. Ξ : If it is ever written as similar to E or Ǝ, with a side edge ...
6
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1answer
160 views

Is there a Latin 'studiare'?

The Latin verb for studying is studere, but a number of descendants look as if they came from studiare. These include the Italian 'studiare', French 'étudier', and the Spanish 'estudiar'. Was there ...
6
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1answer
60 views

how to interpret ‘formosus’ via its morphological components

The adj. formosus can be decomposed as follows: forma + -os-us where forma means ‘shape, form’ and -os- ‘with abundance’. However, when the two notions come together, the whole, which literally ...
5
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1answer
170 views

Where did the Latin language get its infinitive verb endings from?

Some time ago, a user in the Spanish language site asked if the Spanish verb endings -ar, -er and -ir had a special meaning. I then answered that the endings do not have any meaning by themselves, at ...
6
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1answer
98 views

Why would the prae­po­si­tion “per” ᴇᴠᴇʀ take an ab­la­tive in­stead of an ac­cu­sa­tive com­ple­ment?

ᴘᴇʀ + ᴀʙʟ.: Bar­bar­ism, solœ­­cism, or di­a­chron­ic evo­lu­tion? Lewis and Short clear­ly state that per is a prae­po­si­tion whose nor­mal com­ple­ment is in the ac­cusative. With­out hav­ing dol­...
7
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1answer
115 views

When did elision fall out of use?

In classical Latin word-final vowels before initial vowels were elided also in prose, not just in poetry. However, I am under the impression that elision is not (intended to be) used in contemporary ...
9
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1answer
251 views

Is the palatalization of “d” between “a”, “i” or “o” and “ie” or “iu” only a Medieval Latin phenomenon?

In Italian and the other Romance languages, the palatalization especially concerns "c" and "g" before "e" or "i". But some words in Italian (or early Italian in the case of meriggio) show the same for ...
4
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1answer
100 views

Inars > iners: how is this change called?

What linguistic process is illustrated by changing /a/ into /e/ in inars/iners? Assimilation? Why has it taken place?
8
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1answer
100 views

Future: why -am instead of -em?

The future tense of third and fourth conjugation verbs is marked by -ē-, as in trahes and audies. The regular personal endings are added after this vowel. But in the first person singular the ...
4
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0answers
81 views

Cur coniugationes systematis praesentis sunt tam dissimiles cum eae cum coniugationibus systematis perfecti comparentur?

TL;DR & the actual question For those who don't need an explanation of all verb endings and the ways in which they differ from each other, my question follows below. For those who might need a ...
4
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3answers
143 views

Does any Latin noun originally end in -r?

Many Latin nouns end -r, like honor. However, this word seems to have been originally honos, which became honor- in oblique cases due to rhotacism and the -r made its way to nominative by analogy. ...
11
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1answer
172 views

Third conjugation passive infinitive: why -i and not -eri?

The active infinitive is uniform (-re from -se by rhotacism) across the regular Latin conjugations, but the passive one is not: the third conjugation loses the consonant. We have amare/amari, habere/...
2
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0answers
54 views

What is the origin of the active perfect indicative personal endings?

The active perfect stem conjugation in Latin resembles the conjugation of esse a lot, but I recently learned that it is likely to be a coincidence. However, the active perfect indicative forms do not ...
4
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1answer
75 views

Does 'fiebam' contain the same root twice?

I learned from this question and its answers that the imperfect marker -ba- comes from the same PIE root as fui and fio. What about the form fiebam (and other persons) then? Does it contain the same ...
6
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2answers
512 views

What is the origin of the future suffix -b-?

I read in this answer that there may be a relation between the future endings -bo, -bis, etc. on the one hand and the verb fio "become" on the other. Is this true? If so, do we have any more details ...
5
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1answer
139 views

What's the deal with the extra U in 'mortuus'?

The verb mori ("to die") has the unusual past participle mortuus ("dead"). The stem of the participle is mortu-, the only example of a past participle stem ending in a vowel I can think of. (If my ...
3
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1answer
86 views

Pairs like quot/tot and quantum/tantum

There seem to be a lot of pairs of words in Latin where a "question" starts with qu- and the corresponding "answer" by t-. For example: quot/tot, quantum/tantum, qualis/talis, quotiens/totiens. The ...
8
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1answer
217 views

Active perfect stem conjugation and forms of esse

Many forms formed from the perfect stem (habitav-, fec-, tetig-, and others) resemble forms of esse. It looks as if a form of esse was directly attached to the perfect stem. In perfect conjunctive an -...
5
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1answer
85 views

Did Alexander the Great change the meaning of “Hellenes”?

The Hellenistic era was launched by Alexander the Great, and his death is usually defined as the starting point. The Greek word Hellenes (Ἕλληνες) was in use before, during, and after the Hellenistic ...
3
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1answer
423 views

The disappearance of digamma

Do we know why the Greek letter digamma (ϝ) fell out of use? The letter continued to have indirect effects despite disappearing from writing. Was it still pronounced despite not being written, or ...
5
votes
1answer
632 views

How and when did we get two forms of sigma?

The Greek letter sigma (σ) has a different form (ς) when used at the end of a word. This distinction seems unnecessary to me, and it's not clear why it would emerge. Do we know why and ...
7
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1answer
157 views

Did “paganus” mean a non-believer before Christianity?

The adjective paganus is derived from pagus and seems to originally mean roughly "belonging to a village". According to the L&S entry the sense "non-military" is also classically attested. In ...
5
votes
1answer
139 views

Why do some pronoun nominatives look like vocatives?

The forms ipse, ille, and iste look like vocatives instead of nominatives, and one would expect to see ipsus, illus, and istus instead. In fact, ipsus is attested but far rarer than ipse, but the ...
6
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2answers
110 views

What are the most important scholarly resources for Latin and Greek historical linguistics?

When it comes to historical linguistics (history, prehistory, Indo-European studies, etymology) of Latin and Greek, what are the most important resources? The resources can be historical grammars, ...
3
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1answer
91 views

How did the popularities of Roman given names evolve over time?

When a new Roman was born, the parents would give their child a name (praenomen). Since there is a significant number of known names, there must have been variations in their relative popularities ...
15
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4answers
298 views

Where did the Romans think Latin comes from?

Did the Romans have a theory for the origin of their language? I assume there were several ideas, and it would be great to see a summary of them. No need to go very deep on any individual theory; a ...
8
votes
1answer
196 views

When did equus regain its first U?

I learned from this question about sequundus > secundus that -quus was in fact pronounced as if it was -cus. However, words like equus were not spelled as ecus, since most oblique cases would still ...
5
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2answers
153 views

Comparing decem and -decim

The Latin cardinal numbers starting at ten are decem, undecim, duodecim… Does the -decim (roughly "-teen") come from decem or from the same root? (I faintly recall decem and δέκα coming from ...
13
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2answers
548 views

Latin passive endings: Why is -mini sticking out

The Latin passive ending usually feature an additional letter R compared to the active endings: laud-or, -aris, -atur, -amur, -antur. However, the second person plural is different, using the ending -...
2
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0answers
85 views

Why ĭdem instead of iddem or īdem in neuter?

The pronoun idem/eadem/idem appears to be the combination of is/ea/id and -dem. I can understand why isdem > īdem in the masculine, but why do we have iddem > ĭdem? Shouldn't the vowel be ...
5
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1answer
81 views

The middle A of quadraginta

Consider these Latin cardinal numbers: quadrAginta, quinquAginta, sexAginta, nonAginta. The -ginta seems to stand for tens (cf. triginta, octoginta) and the initial parts quadr-, quinqu-, sex-, and ...
6
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0answers
151 views

Reviewing the evidence of the spirantization of β (betacism) in Greek

I originally submitted this question to the Linguistics beta site, and those users recommended that I ask anything related to Greek here. Although I understand that it is impossible to assign a ...
10
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1answer
324 views

Why sequundus > secundus?

It seems quite clear that secundus comes from sequundus, a gerundive of sequi. But why did -quu- become -cu-? This change is not universal, since some Latin words do preserve -quu-, at least the end ...
5
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2answers
195 views

Has the meaning of any Latin adjectives narrowed in a way similar to English “gay” transitioning from a meaning of “happy” to “homosexual”?

The English words "gay" and "queer" are originally adjectives with a broad range of possible use contexts, but currently they are used almost exclusively in reference to certain minorities. It has ...
3
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0answers
80 views

When and how did the distinction between the gerund and the gerundive develop?

The gerund and the gerundive look similar and have similar meanings, but they are still distinct as any Latin grammar will tell us. But how did classical Latin come to have these two close but ...
16
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2answers
1k views

When and why did the ablative form?

When did the ablative originate? Additionally, I’d like to know which case was used before the ablative for adverbials. I think it replaced the dative, as I also study Ancient Greek. In that language, ...
12
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2answers
436 views

Does Latin have a mechanism to disambiguate possessive pronouns of the same gender referring to distinct persons?

Question: does Latin have a grammatical mechanism to disambiguate the ambiguous use of `his' in the third of the three following English sentences? Person A wrote a book. Then person B wrote a ...