Yes, they used swear words all the time! There's actually a whole book on the subject, The Latin Sexual Vocabulary by J. N. Adams. Cinaedus (the bad slang for a passive homosexual male), mentula (dick), and cunnus (cunt) are perhaps the most common and dirtiest insults. You can see on Wikipedia a larger list, too.
There's actually a nice little poem—...
The way I was taught was that, as a general rule, -que is used:
When this list of things contains two items
When the two are logically linked as being two of something (parent and child, master and apprentice, and so on).
So, consider the example of an opening line from Catullus:
Lugete, o Veneres Cupidinesque
Venus and Cupid have a parent-child ...
We should first recognize that there was not one system of punctuation in use during Classical times. However, all of modern punctuation, including commas, periods, colons, semicolons, etc. are more recent, not just for Latin, but for European languages as a whole (and in fact worldwide, as e.g. Chinese borrowed the question mark).
Not only that, but word ...
Why did Roman authors never feel a need for word spacing?
An interesting question because the Romans certainly accepted the notion of word division, at least until about 100 AD, at which point Romans adopted scriptio continua in imitation of the Greeks, a move that at least one scholar has called a “deplorable regression”. This word division had been ...
A standard work in this area is Vox Latina, by W. Sidney Allen. The author answers your question in his foreword, identifying 6 types of evidence:
specific statements of Latin grammarians and other authors
regarding the pronunciation of the language;
puns, plays on words, ancient etymologies, and imitations of natural sounds;
the representation ...
Can they not be worked out from each other?
That's the whole point for learning all of them.
Why are each of these forms necessary for memorisation?
That is the minimal amount of information to deduce how to use the noun.
To be able to use a noun, you need to know all its forms and its gender.
You cannot reliably deduce the gender from the forms, ...
Bennett's New Latin Grammar (this link will take you to appropriate section) offers several helpful rules of thumb for the agreement of an adjective with multiple nouns.
Although I recommend reading the above entry, which is fairly short, the basic principles are:
Attributive adjectives agree with the nearest noun in both gender and number, e.g. "Filius ...
I'll briefly summarize the analysis of W. Sydney Allen in Vox Latina, 111ff., which is itself a summary of A. E. Gordon's The Letter Names of the Latin Alphabet.
First, the vowels. These have the phonetic value of the letter in its long form: ā, ē, ī, ō, ū. This is well established both by grammarians (Allen cites Pompeius, "quando solae proferuntur, ...
(The following is based on Wallace 2011, The Latin alphabet and orthography and Edmondson 2015, Inscribing Roman Texts: Officinae, Layout, and Carving Techniques)
Wallace observes that
Most Latin documents, regardless of type, had very little in the way of punctuation (p. 22).
Archaic Latin. Written mostly in scriptio continua (i.e. often no word ...
Update: Now with macrons!
(Macrons reproduced as in my source.)
The book Clavis Latina II, grammatica & exercitia by Maija-Leena Kallela and Erkki Palmén (I advertised this series for self-study here) contains a list of many modern countries as an appendix.
In my experience the series is well researched and reliable.
Some countries have several spelling ...
Simply, vel is inclusive and aut is exclusive. As Lewis and Short put it:
In general aut puts in the place of a previous assertion another, objectively and absolutely antithetical to it, while vel indicates that the contrast rests upon subjective opinion or choice; i. e. aut is objective, vel subjective, or aut excludes one term, vel makes the two ...
The best way we know how consonantal V being pronounce as /w/ is in transcriptions into other languages. For example, the Roman name Valerius is transcribed as Ουαλεριος (Ooalerios) in Greek inscriptions. Greeks did not have a /w/ sound, but if you pronounce ου (ou) quickly enough, you get an approximate to it. You do not, though, get close to /v/.
This paper talks about several primary sources (i.e. Roman texts) that describe rolling Rs:
Terentianus Maurus writes in De litteris that
vibrat tremulis ictibus aridum sonorem
the R vibrates with a dry sound from trembling blows
Martianus Capella writes
R spiritum lingua crispante corraditur
[R] is pronounced with difficulty (?), with the tongue ...
We don't know for sure how -gn- was pronounced in Classical Latin. There are a few arguments for reconstructing the pronunciation of -gn- as [ŋn], or more specifically [ŋ.n], with a syllable break between the two consonants. (This syllabification would explain why the preceding syllable is always metrically "heavy"—or in the misleading old-fashioned ...
All the terms you used are used by Classical authors (and then some), but there is some differentiation of terms.
Lingua Latina is what the Romans called their language. If you ever see Latina by itself to refer to language, lingua is naturally implied. However, that typically wasn't the way they referred to speaking the language. Instead the adverbial form ...
In Latin you need a verb to say "please".
The verb quaesere mentioned by ktm5124 is a good one, but not the only one.
That verb is used typically only in first person singular or plural present nominative, quaeso or quaesumus.
Here are some other verbs meaning "ask", "beg", or similar:
Because these are verbs, you need to be ...
In Classical Latin, there were no words exactly corresponding to "yes" and "no". Non and ne were negatives, but they needed to combine with other words (like "not" in English).
There were, however, particles which could be used to agree with something. Both ita and sīc meant "thus", and became words for "yes" in the Romance languages. So if someone asked if ...
The verb lucubrare means (OLD definition 1) 'To work by lamplight (i.e. late at night), "burn the midnight oil."' For example, Pliny uses this verb in letter 3.5 to talk about his uncle's work/study habits:
sed erat acre ingenium, incredibile stadium, summa vigilantia. lucubrare Vulcanalibus incipiebat non auspicandi causa sed studendi statim a nocte ...
These words are unrelated: they developed independently from different Proto-Indo-European roots, according to Michiel de Vaan's Etymological Dictionary (337–38).
First, liber or librī, meaning "book," is thought to come from a PIE word meaning "leaf, rind": *lubʰ-ro-. De Vaan cites several Indo-European languages that have attested cognates and summarizes:...
I have another entry for this exhibit that answers your question with a resounding yes.
Enter Plautus, in the Menaechmi, with three verbs derived from proper names in his prologue:
Atque hoc poetae faciunt in comoediis:
omnis res gestas esse Athenis autumant,
quo illud vobis graecum videatur magis;
ego nusquam dicam nisi ubi factum dicitur.
Unfortunately, the verbs have survived much better in writing than the actual onomatopoeia. A few of these are fairly clearly based on the sound: baubor "bark", hinnio "whinny", ululo "howl" (and ulula "owl"), mugio "moo", crocio "croak". See Suetonius, De Naturis Animantium for a long list of these.
As far as directly transcribing animal sounds, only a few ...
Titus Livius, an excellent scholar even by modern standards, was very conscious of the problem of source reliability.
Consider the beginning of Liv. 26 49:
tum obsides ciuitatium Hispaniae uocari iussit; quorum quantus numerus fuerit piget scribere, quippe ubi alibi trecentos ferme, alibi tria milia septingentos uiginti quattuor fuisse inueniam.—aeque et ...
I believe that would be considered very odd. Before certain words, ab is almost never used by any author. Consider for example *ab te, which is found 0 times in the Hewlett-Packard repository. If you replace that with a te, that's 831 results, and 275 for abs te. Similarly, ?ab me gives you only 1 result; it happens to be from Cicero, but I suspect it to be ...
It is always difficult to make this kind of charts. I think that the best thing that has been done on Latin over the last decades was to start studying it from a more linguistic point of view. By linguistic approach I mean, among other things, the following:
Studying Latin within its linguistic environment, i.e. that of the Old Italic languages (Faliscan, ...
In this case I would read puto more as a side remark to the clause deus fio.
You could emphasize this with punctuation:
Puto: deus fio.
I think: I'm becoming a god.
The verb puto is indeed grammatically detached from the rest of the clause.
It is grammatically correct, but it is not really grammatically connected to deus fio.
(The semantic connection ...
Joonas's answer is spot-on, but to give some more illustrations:
Quite a lot of Latin nouns end in -us; it's one of the best-known features of the language. But they don't all decline the same!
Servus "slave", genitive servī
Tempus "time", genitive temporis
Scelus "crime", genitive sceleris
Manus "hand", genitive manūs
You need the genitive to know which ...
An important source of information is comparison to other languages.
For example, Cicero was spelled as Κικέρων1 in Greek.
If we believe that the Greek kappa was pronounced as /k/ rather than /s/ or /ts/ or anything else, we can be confident that c was pronounced as /k/ in Latin as well — at least in this name.
Similarly, the name Caesar gave rise to ...
If you want to say "night bird" with the words "night" (nox) and "bird" (avis), you should say "bird of the night", avis noctis.
When you decline this expression, noctis (of the night) remains in the genitive case whereas avis takes the required case.
A more Latin way would be to use an adjective.
I would go with nocturnus (nightly, nocturnal or nighttime).
I searched for the vocative form Gnaee in several corpora but did not find any results. A general web search seems to reveal only automatically generated vocatives, which I would not lend much credence to, as well as the excellent 16th century example cited by @JoelDerfner in Juan Luis Vives's De Initiis Sectis Et Laudibus Philosophiae. The two alternatives ...
The full range of meanings of Asia is already found in Herodotus. In fact, Herodotus notes that there are three continents: Europe, Asia, and Libya (=Africa), though he didn't particularly like the model himself. Asia, then was everything to the east of the Nile and Hellespont, and so included Persia, India, and the Asian steppes (see e.g. Herodotus 4.44, ...