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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 ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
41 votes
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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 ...
Cerberus's user avatar
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41 votes
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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, ...
jimbob's user avatar
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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:...
Draconis's user avatar
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32 votes
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What was the symbol used for 'one thousand' in Ancient Rome?

The shortest answer is, often they didn't use anything! Roman numerals weren't frequently used for numbers greater than a thousand; accountants doing math with big numbers would have alternate systems ...
Draconis's user avatar
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29 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 ...
Ben Kovitz's user avatar
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26 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 ...
Nathaniel is protesting's user avatar
26 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 ...
Penelope's user avatar
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24 votes
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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 (...
cmw's user avatar
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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 ...
Dario's user avatar
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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 ...
cmw's user avatar
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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 ...
Luc's user avatar
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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." ...
brianpck's user avatar
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15 votes

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 ...
Draconis's user avatar
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15 votes

"Semitic languages" in Classical Latin

While fdb is absolutely correct that the ancient Romans had no conception of language families, we can come up with a plausible calque—a literal translation of each component of a word or phrase. ...
Draconis's user avatar
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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 ...
Joel Derfner's user avatar
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14 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 ...
fdb's user avatar
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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 ...
TKR's user avatar
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14 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 ...
Tom Cotton's user avatar
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14 votes

Did the ancient Romans write on clay tablets?

Sort of. Bricks for building were often stamped with words indicating who made them and oversaw their production. But this probably isn't what you're looking for. They also sometimes wrote on shards ...
Draconis's user avatar
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14 votes
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Are the cases in Latin always six?

Generally, most nouns and adjectives have six cases (nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, ablative, and vocative). However, this isn't always the case. Some words are defective, where they appear ...
cmw's user avatar
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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 ...
brianpck's user avatar
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13 votes

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 ...
Draconis's user avatar
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13 votes

Did the ancient inhabitants of Rome who spoke Latin refer to themselves as Latins?

When "Latins" was used as a demonym (Latini) by the Romans, it referred to the Latin-speaking inhabitants of Latium, the region in which Rome is situated (modern Lazio, though the Italian ...
Cairnarvon's user avatar
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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, ...
brianpck's user avatar
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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 ...
Cerberus's user avatar
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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 ...
cnread's user avatar
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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 ...
Penelope's user avatar
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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 ...
Geremia's user avatar
  • 3,628
11 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 ...
Pavel V.'s user avatar
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