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Why is the language of ancient Rome called "Latin" instead of "Roman"?

The Latin language is named after the area it was spoken in — or the people that spoke it. (It is impossible to distinguish the two.) Latin, by name, is the language of Latium (Lazio in today's ...
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Accusative equals nominative for neuter words – how universal is this and why?

I believe there are no exceptions to this rule. That's what I have always read, and I have never encountered any, neither in Greek nor in Latin, nor even in German. There is an hypothesis about the ...
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Could all soldiers in the Roman army actually speak Latin?

As you note, the answers to this question will depend on the specific period of Roman civilization. Roughly, Latin fluency would be more common among higher social classes, more common in the West, ...
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34 votes
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Why does Latin have five different noun declensions?

The different declensions started in Proto-Indo-European. Latin regularized and simplified them, giving the five somewhat-regular patterns you're familiar with. PIE nouns came in a few different types:...
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28 votes
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A story of a king who wanted to simplify Latin grammar

It sounds like you're talking about this incident involving the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund at the Council of Constance in 1414: …A similar anecdote is told of the German Emperor Sigismund. When ...
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24 votes

Why is the language of ancient Rome called "Latin" instead of "Roman"?

The word latin comes from latinus, "of Latium," a region in central Italy. In this territory, around the turn of the first millennium BC, lived a tribe known as the Latins, and their language was the ...
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Why doesn't Latin have words for "Yes" and "No"?

English once did not have words for "yes" and "no" as they are precisely used today. Yes, for example, comes from ge (whence "yea") + sie, a subjunctive form of to be (...
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23 votes
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Why did scientists abandon Latin in their publications?

This answer has been percolating in my head for a couple of months now. Given that there haven't been any other attempts to answer it, I've posted it but realise its limitations in providing a clear ...
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23 votes
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Historicity doubted by Romans

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 ...
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20 votes
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Did ancient Romans develop cryptography for Latin?

Yes. We know that Caesar was famous for using a cipher, which is still named for him: Some letters of his to the senate are also preserved, and he seems to have been the first to reduce such ...
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16 votes
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What is the first text considered Italian instead of Latin?

According to the Handbook of Medieval Culture (Albrecht Classen, vol. 2): The first written evidence considered to be Italian rather than Latin is known as the Placiti Cassinesi, which are four ...
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15 votes
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Does any historical Latin-based sign language exist?

This is a fascinating question which taught me several new things about Roman culture! The extent to which we can answer this question affirmatively depends heavily on how we define "sign language." ...
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Historicity doubted by Romans

Lucian of Samosata, a satirist writing in the second century CE, never had much regard for historians. His most famous work, the Alēthē Diēgēmata ("True Histories"), specifically mocks the ...
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14 votes

Accusative equals nominative for neuter words – how universal is this and why?

To answer your second question, this rule is completely exceptionless, not only in Latin but in all Indo-European languages (that is, those that have a neuter gender at all). neuter gender always ...
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14 votes
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Old vs Classical latins

Old Latin bears the same kind of relationship to Classical Latin as English of, a few centuries ago does to modern English. The oldest Old Latin texts we have, unless I'm remembering incorrectly, are ...
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13 votes

When did the word "ly" enter the Latin language and where did it come from?

As you say, “ly” is an early form of the Romance article; you can compare the Old French article for nom. sing. masc. "li". Aquinas uses it in his commentary on the Gospel of John 1,1 explicitly as ...
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13 votes
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How do we know that Kalendae is the first day of a month?

In classical times the seven-day week was unknown; obviously, there could be no named days of the week to use as reference points. Months at least were of specified lengths, but the actual date was ...
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13 votes
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Translation of a passage related to the crusades

This quote is from the Historia Ierusalem Baldrici Dolensis Archiepiscopi, Book 2 (pg. 1092 of Migne, Patrologia Latina, CLXVI). Your quote is only a fragment of the relevant sentence, which is ...
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Origin of the Latin Language?

In the beginning, there was…well, we're not really sure. The origins of language are lost to time. But at some point, there was Proto-Indo-European, the hypothetical reconstructed ancestor of all the ...
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12 votes

"All the more so"

I would translate the phrase "all the more" using eo magis. Note that this phrase is much more common when "balanced" with an introductory phrase that introduces the comparison, ...
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12 votes

When and how much did Romans speak Greek?

Here is the stub of an answer. There were many, many Greeks in Rome around the turn of the millennium. Many of them were educated slaves, 'imported' to teach Greek to Roman children of the middle and ...
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12 votes
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When did the ligature for 'et' switch to the character '&'?

From Keith Houston, Shady characters: the secret life of punctuation, symbols & other typographical marks (Norton, 2013), 64–5: If the Tironian et was Tiro's brainchild, the ampersand was an ...
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12 votes
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Did the Romans 'tip' for good service?

It seems that corollarium was used in this sense. Lewis and Short describe the original meaning as "money paid for a garland of flowers", but elsewhere it is described more like money put in a ...
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11 votes
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What is the history of scientific Latin?

19th Century Scientific Latin An example: Gauss From G. Waldo Dunnington's 2004 biography of Gauss, Carl Friedrich Gauss: Titan of Science, p. 37-8: … Of unusual interest is the part which Meyerhoff⁶ ...
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Why is the language of ancient Rome called "Latin" instead of "Roman"?

The Latin language has been founded by a nation called the Latins. Check the information below as quoted from Wikipedia: The Latins referred originally to an Italic tribe in ancient central Italy. ...
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11 votes

Why does Latin have five different noun declensions?

The declensions are historical and developed from Proto-Indo-European. Per Sihler's New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin: See also Quiles/Lopez-Menchero's Grammar of Modern Indo-European:
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11 votes
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Did the Romans ever distinguish long vowels in writing?

The following is based mostly on Clackson and Horrocks 2007/2011, Leumann 1977, and Wallace 2011. First of all, something to keep in mind, as Weiss 2009/2011 puts it, is that "Long vowels were ...
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10 votes
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Extra initial Aeneid lines in 1662 M. de Marolles version

Fascinating question! I've found some editions of the Aeneid with these extra lines included, and some (most) without. It seems that they aren't found in any of the oldest manuscripts of the Aeneid (...
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9 votes

When and why did Latin mutate into Italian, French and Spanish?

Some of the reasons after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, contact between various regions slowed down and lost a lot of its importance; thus the strongest reason to maintain the unity of the ...
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9 votes
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Historical recordings of ex tempore contemporary Latin used in university lectures?

Professor Wilifried Stroh's lectures on the history of Latin literature and on other subjects are incredibly entertaining, learned, and eloquent. I don't know when he made them, but since he was born ...
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