Questions tagged [language-evolution]

For questions regarding how Latin has changed over time.

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15
votes
2answers
504 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 ...
13
votes
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 ...
5
votes
0answers
88 views

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 ...
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 ...
2
votes
1answer
104 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
190 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 ...
19
votes
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, ...
3
votes
1answer
75 views

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 ...
4
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2answers
510 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
144 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...
0
votes
1answer
116 views

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 ...
3
votes
2answers
151 views

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 ...
3
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0answers
97 views

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 &...
7
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0answers
114 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
344 views

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 ...
9
votes
2answers
310 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 ...
5
votes
0answers
73 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
877 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 ...
29
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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 ...
6
votes
1answer
162 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
votes
1answer
77 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 ...
17
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1answer
762 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
143 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
251 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 ...
4
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0answers
90 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
221 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/...
16
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4answers
401 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
471 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 ...
8
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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 ...
3
votes
2answers
86 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 ...
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 ...
28
votes
3answers
5k 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.
10
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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 ...
7
votes
1answer
187 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
150 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
377 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
2k 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
votes
3answers
397 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
115 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
194 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
votes
1answer
62 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
463 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 ...
19
votes
4answers
869 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
352 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
votes
1answer
107 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?
5
votes
1answer
214 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 ...
4
votes
0answers
93 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
222 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. ...
4
votes
2answers
277 views

Gemination after stressed vowel

Sometimes I hear people geminate consonants after stressed vowels in speech. For example, amāta might be pronounced as amātta. I have not heard enough to tell if this gemination is ...
4
votes
1answer
94 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 ...