Questions tagged [language-evolution]

For questions regarding how Latin has changed over time.

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From what date do we find spellings with V for B?

In late Latin, there was frequent confusion between B and V between vowels (a position where the distinction was eventually lost throughout the Romance languages), and even at the start of words (...
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Has the word 'focus' ever meant 'fire' in Latin literature?

I ask this because in virtually all the Romance languages, the respective descendants simply mean fire, yet when I come across the term in classical literature specifically, it usually meant 'hearth'. ...
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15 votes
1 answer
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Is there a relationship between the phonology in Old Latin and later Vulgar Latin?

After some reading and research, I can't help but notice many similarities between Old Latin and what would become the Romance Languages. For example, the case endings for the nominative and ...
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4 votes
2 answers
380 views

Littera Canina in Classical Latin and Old Latin

Ancient Romans called the letter R littera canina as the R in Classical Latin was trilled to sound like a growling dog! Was the letter R trilled to sound like a growling dog when the ancient Romans ...
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8 votes
0 answers
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Are there records of Latin-based pidgin languages?

A pidgin language is a simplified form of communication that arises naturally when two groups lacking a common language need to interact. Such interactions must have been common in the ancient world, ...
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6 votes
0 answers
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Sigillare and sugillare

From signum ("sign") we have a diminutive form sigillum, "little sign", whence in particular: "wax seal made by one's ring print", to close and sign a letter or a box, ...
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4 votes
0 answers
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Latin Perfect Tense and romance languages particularly Portuguese

How did the perfect tense evolve in each romance language? For example is the Preterito Perfeito functionally equivalent to the Latin Perfect Tense? Heri dormivi. Ontem dormi. Ayer dormi. Hier j'ai ...
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5 votes
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Latin "Basic" Colors and Shades

Salvete Omnes, While I am working on a Minecraft resource pack that changes the Latin, which hopefully fixes some rough spots in it, I came back to a problem which strikes me occasionally with colors ...
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How the Latin Hexameter was adopted and developed from the Greek?

In Wikipedia I stumbled upon quite surprising sentence: The hexameter came into Latin as an adaptation from Greek long after the practice of singing the epics had faded. Consequentially, the ...
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Did perveniō acquire a new meaning in Late Antiquity?

Introduction I am reading an article by Bowersock.¹ In a discussion of the removal of Āra Victōria from the Senate, he references Symmachus’ ‘ūnō itinere nōn potest pervenīrī ad tam grande sēcrētum’. ...
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What is the relation and history of 'si' and 'sic'?

Lewis and Short tell me that sic comes from si by adding the particle -ce. I can understand sice wearing down to sic, but I do not quite understand how I am supposed to understand the meanings of the ...
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9 votes
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When did Old Latin develop initial stress?

The stress system of Classical Latin is thought to have been preceded by a period of fixed initial stress. When did that earlier system arise, replacing the inherited Proto-Indo-European mobile accent?...
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When did "si" become the standard word for "yes" in the Italian peninsula?

I am aware that classical Latin did not have words for "yes" and "no" in the same sense that English does. I know that they could express the idea of "yes" by either ...
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Are there any general rules for creating 'proper' Latin neologisms, beyond matching gender, number, and case?

For the sake of this question, I'm going to be using this definition of neologism, "A newly coined word or phrase." From my understanding, the loose etymology of this word is the French neo plus Greek ...
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Translation of ab and de in Greek,

How would one best translate ab and de from Latin to Greek in order to capture the different nuances? In Greek both are usually translated as από. I am trying to capture the nuances so I am using ...
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3 votes
2 answers
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Can gender be kept from Latin to a descend language? Are there patterns for this?

I read this in a random forum: "Words neuter in Latin become masculine in Spanish" (For instance "vāsum" = el vaso) Could it be some patterns making predictable the gender from Latin to a descend ...
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What was the difference in the concept of "colour" in Latin and modern languages?

For this question: Are there Latin words for hair color?, I had to search a little about the concept of "color" in Latin. I also had a debate on another SE, with people who consider that &...
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What is the origin of the deponent verbs and their evolution in Romance languages?

How deponent (and semi-deponent) verbs appeared in Latin, and why? How did they evolve in descend languages? They seem extincts in descend languages (why?) but there are probably specific structured ...
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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 ...
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9 votes
2 answers
437 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 ...
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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 ...
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9 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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7 votes
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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 > ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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3 votes
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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 ...
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7 votes
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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 ...
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3 votes
2 answers
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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 ...
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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 ...
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4 votes
2 answers
197 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 ...
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7 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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8 votes
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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, ...
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4 votes
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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 ...
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6 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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6 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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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 ...
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7 votes
2 answers
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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...
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7 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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10 votes
1 answer
453 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 ...
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4 votes
1 answer
114 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?
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8 votes
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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 ...
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4 votes
0 answers
105 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 ...
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4 votes
3 answers
324 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. ...
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12 votes
1 answer
278 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/...
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2 votes
1 answer
324 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 ...
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4 votes
1 answer
115 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 ...
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7 votes
2 answers
995 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 ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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4 votes
1 answer
256 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 ...
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8 votes
1 answer
497 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 -...
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6 votes
0 answers
122 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 ...
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