Questions tagged [language-evolution]

For questions regarding how Latin has changed over time.

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30
votes
2answers
2k views

When did “c” before “e” or “i” start to be pronounced as [ts] (in contrast to classical [k])?

In Classical Latin, "c" was always pronounced as "k". Since Renaissance Latin grammar reform, the correct pronunciation of "c" before "e" or "i" was codified to [ts]. So in Renaissance the true ...
29
votes
4answers
2k views

Rhotacism: why?

I know Ancient Latin was subjected to a phenomenon called "rhotacism", which changed some s into r. However, I can't help but ask myself why it happened. Why did rhotacism happen? Did it influence ...
28
votes
3answers
4k views

Why does Latin have five different noun declensions?

Do they originate in particular dialects or languages that influenced Latin? Is the question even answerable? With any degree of certainty? Just curious.
24
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2answers
404 views

Why does the ablative case also include the locative?

In Latin we have the ablative case. Its common uses can be described as instrumental and locative (ablativus loci). But in Slavonic languages we have a distinct locative case. Did the instrumental ...
21
votes
1answer
1k views

When did scriptio continua and interpuncts give way to spaces between words in Latin?

From this overview of punctuation in Classical Latin, I understand that word spacing as we know it didn't really exist at that time: either an interpunct was used to separate words, or there was no ...
19
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3answers
3k views

When did the consonant U (i.e., V) begin to be pronounced as the fricative [v] instead of [w]?

It's well established that the consonantal u (or v) was pronounced as [w] in Classical Latin (i.e., w as in wine). Of course, Romance languages developed voiced fricatives out of this u-consonant, ...
19
votes
4answers
848 views

Why do fear clauses invert the meaning of ut and ne?

In a fear clause, we'd write something like this: Timeo ne angue necer I fear I will be killed by a dragon As usual, my Latin writing is bad, and I only barely remember passive subjunctive. Please ...
18
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2answers
3k views

When did 'ph' start to be pronounced like 'f'?

I learned from Nathaniel's answer to my previous question that 'ch', 'th' and 'ph' were aspirated voiceless stops in classical Latin. In my experience many contemporary speakers of Latin pronounce 'ph'...
18
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1answer
819 views

“Eundem”/“eumdem” in medieval Latin

"Eundem" is the correct accusative of "idem". However, I saw "eumdem" in various texts of medieval and/or Church Latin. So I wonder: when did "eumdem" start to be used, perhaps by non-native Latin ...
17
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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, ...
17
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1answer
746 views

When did the latin alphabet become bicameral?

The simultaneous use of uppercase and lowercase letters is a feature of the Latin alphabet used today. The uppercase and lowercase letterforms evolve from different styles of writing. Originally, the ...
16
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4answers
384 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 ...
15
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2answers
2k views

What is the first text considered Italian instead of Latin?

What is the earliest text that is considered to be written in Italian (or a predecessor thereof), and what distinguishes it from Latin? I would like to understand the first signs of Latin evolving ...
15
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2answers
468 views

Why do we say that an ablative absolute has a participle?

An ablative absolute consists of a noun in the ablative and a participle modifying it. Except that that's not really the case. We frequently find the participle replaced with just an adjective (or ...
14
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2answers
752 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 -...
14
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1answer
174 views

Why does “e” occur in forms of 'vōs' but not 'nōs'?

The forms of nōs and vōs exhibit a pattern, except in the genitive (nostrī/um, vestrī/um) and the possessive (noster, vester). Did vōs originally resemble nōs in all its forms, only to diverge later? ...
14
votes
1answer
114 views

When and where was the non-deponent form of verb “miror” used?

I've heard that deponent verb "miror" also had a non-deponent form. As far as I know it was in medieval Latin. So is it true? When exactly was the verb "mirare" used? Was it used everywhere, or was it ...
14
votes
1answer
509 views

What is the optative?

Some conjunctive forms end in -im (and -is, -it, -imus, -itis, -int), but this is rare. The examples I recall are sim, possim, velim, nolim, malim, and duim (alternative to dem). These forms are ...
14
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1answer
675 views

Did Romans distinguish between black and blue?

Did the Romans distinguish between black and blue? Or, more generally, what do we know about their color system? I was wondering because many of the modern Roman languages use either Arabic or ...
13
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3answers
2k views

Which verbs have reduplicated perfect stems?

Certain verbs, such as curro, have reduplicated perfect stems (such as cucurri). Other verbs, such as facio, fero had a reduplicated perfect stem in Old Latin (as seen on the Praeneste fibula) which ...
13
votes
1answer
884 views

When were macrons first used to mark Latin text?

A macron is a diacritical mark, which, in modern Latin texts, is sometimes used to mark a long vowel: ā, ē, ī, ō, ū, ȳ. From Roman uses of diacritical marks, I understand that the ancient Romans did ...
13
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1answer
117 views

When did nouns and adjectives derived from pronouns appear?

Latin has some nouns and adjectives derived from pronouns: unicus, identitas, qualitas, neutralis… I have the impression that such derivations are mainly later than classical, but I do not ...
13
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1answer
241 views

When did Latin lose the locative? [duplicate]

Latin has, depending on who you ask, 6 or 7 cases. The 7th case is the locative – the Cambridge Latin Course (which I study) does not have it, rather it just lists words like 'domi' as 'at home' – not ...
12
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2answers
466 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 ...
12
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3answers
456 views

Remnants of the dual number

To my understanding, Latin doesn't have a dual number at all. The adjectives duo "two" and ambō "both" have some special forms derived from the PIE dual (-ō, -ābus, -ōbus), but are considered ...
12
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2answers
304 views

Understanding the stem(s) of 'struere'

The present, perfect, and participle stems1 of the verb struere are stru-, strux-, and struct-. The -s- in the perfect stem and the -t- in the participle stem are nothing unusual, but they seem to ...
12
votes
1answer
928 views

Where do the plurals of locus come from?

The word locus is masculine in the singular, but it can be masculine or neuter in the plural. Geographical places are loca, but places in a text are loci. As far as I know, this is the only Latin word ...
12
votes
1answer
1k views

Old vs Classical latins

In my research I found something about an old latin and that that is where the locative case comes from. So I clicked on the old latin page, and surprise, it's just an older version of latin. So is ...
12
votes
1answer
639 views

When did *discere* come to mean “to teach”?

In Anselm's Cur Deus Homo, 1.9.12, he writes: Verbum autem quod positum est, didicit, duobus modis intelligi potest. Aut enim didicit dictum est pro: alios fecit discere, aut quia, quod per ...
12
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1answer
219 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/...
11
votes
3answers
584 views

What era of Latin does Vox Populi come from?

I noticed there is a Vox Populi badge. Which era of Latin does Vox Populi come from? I only know a very little bit of classical (I'm starting the second unit of the Cambridge course), and from that, ...
11
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2answers
1k views

Relationship between early Latin and Greek?

I am just restarting my schoolgirl Latin, but have already become fascinated with its links to Greek. According to Wheelock, whom I have absolutely no right to question, both Latin and Greek are ...
11
votes
1answer
375 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
449 views

How is the supine related to the derived fourth declension noun?

I asked yesterday about the word venatu. There was a good answer and good comments, but I want to ask a broader related question more specifically — especially due to TKR's comment. I want to ...
10
votes
1answer
778 views

Does any historical Latin-based sign language exist?

Historically, has there ever been a "Latin Sign Language"? Perhaps the Romans developed one, or maybe the Catholic Church did so at some point? Perhaps suggesting "no," Wikipedia's list doesn't seem ...
10
votes
1answer
335 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
218 views

Did the Romans borrow any inflection from other languages than Greek?

Some Greek loan words in Latin use Greek declension. For example, I recall seeing Aeneida and Aeneidos instead of the regular Latin declension Aeneidem and Aeneidis. Some elements of Greek inflection ...
10
votes
1answer
247 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
224 views

Why does a future passive participle have a sense of necessity?

Let me use an example to clarify: Puer librum legendum habet Very, very literally, this would be: The boy has a book going to be read This has the sense of happening in the future and ...
9
votes
2answers
297 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
246 views

Did ars mathematica mean mathematics in classical (and late) Latin?

What does ars mathematica or mathematicus mean? From Augustine's commentary to the Genesis we have the following statement: Quapropter bono christiano, sive mathematici, sive quilibet impie ...
8
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
399 views

Was there ever dual conjugation in Latin?

Latin effectively lost its dual number. It left behind some remnants, most notably duo and ambo. However, all examples or relics of the dual number in Latin I have seen are in declension. I would ...
8
votes
1answer
192 views

Negativus and positivus

When, if ever, did the adjectives negativus and positivus evolve into an antonym pair like the English "negative" and "positive", and how did positivus get this meaning? Deriving negativus from the ...
8
votes
1answer
185 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
111 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
308 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 -...
8
votes
1answer
103 views

Usage of “Have to” before The Middle Ages

Medieval-esque phrases like "habeo abire" and "is habet scire" do not break the rules of Classical Latin, but I know that they were much more common afterward. This construction interests me greatly, ...
7
votes
1answer
724 views

Origins of the expression “mea culpa”?

What are the origins of the expression "mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa". I have heard one of my past math professors say this, and was wondering. Thanks.