Questions tagged [language-evolution]

For questions regarding how Latin has changed over time.

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6
votes
0answers
205 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 ...
11
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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 ...
5
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2answers
219 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
98 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 ...
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, ...
12
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2answers
467 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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2answers
313 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 ...
14
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1answer
724 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 ...
8
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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, ...
8
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1answer
419 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 ...
28
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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
461 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 ...
7
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1answer
225 views

Homo from hemo?

I stumbled upon a Latin grammar from 1916 today, and it mentions that nemo comes from ne and an old version of homo, namely hemo. Is this theory considered valid these days? What support is there for ...
5
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1answer
150 views

Vowel compensation for intervocalic -ss- > -s-

I was recently reminded (by this question) that intervocalic single -s- turned into -r- by rhotacism, and later new instances of intervocalic -s- were produced from -ss-. If the vowel preceding -ss- ...
12
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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 ...
12
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1answer
946 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 ...
10
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1answer
220 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 ...
6
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2answers
242 views

When did Latin mottoes first appear?

Latin mottos have been popular in Europe for centuries, but I have never seen anything comparable to a motto from the Roman era. When did first Latin mottos appear? (Examples of individual early ...
6
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2answers
376 views

How did mille get so weird?

The word mille is weird. In singular it is — or can be considered — an indeclinable adjective, and the main word is declined according to the grammatical role. In plural it is a declinable ...
14
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1answer
538 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 ...
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 ...
4
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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 ...
13
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1answer
118 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 ...
7
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1answer
296 views

What is the history of the perfect active participle in Latin?

From this answer and Allen & Greenough §493, I understand that Latin does not have a perfect active participle. But on Wiktionary, I see the following usage note in the entry on the suffix -vus: ...
14
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1answer
930 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 ...
8
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1answer
195 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 ...
7
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0answers
105 views

When did acronyms first appear?

Acronyms are abbreviations that are read as whole words rather than letter by letter — or in other words, they are words formed from initials of a phrase. "NATO" and "laser" are two examples. I ...
10
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1answer
795 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 ...
6
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1answer
321 views

Where did the missing forms of nemo go?

The pronoun nemo is usually said to have only nominative, accusative and dative forms (nemo, neminem, nemini). The other forms, including plural, are easy to form, since nemo seems to come from ne+...
7
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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.
6
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1answer
376 views

Why did Cicero switch from “abs te” to “a te” in his later works?

Lewis and Short, in their entry on ab, describe a shift in use of abs in Cicero's works that had far-reaching ramifications: The use of abs was confined almost exclusively to the combination abs te ...
8
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2answers
250 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 ...
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? ...
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 ...
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'...
12
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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 ...
6
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1answer
409 views

Latin adverbs ending in -us

There is a small but noticeable subset of Latin positive adverbs that end in -us. (By "positive," I am excluding the standard comparative adverb form of -ius, e.g. citius.) Some examples that come ...
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 ...
11
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3answers
596 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, ...
12
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1answer
642 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 ...
9
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2answers
232 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 ...
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 ...
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, ...
14
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1answer
244 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 ...
24
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2answers
413 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
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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
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 ...
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 ...
15
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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 ...
14
votes
1answer
117 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 ...