26

It's often difficult to say "why" a sound change happened, so I'll focus on your other questions. Rhotacism in Latin happened via a series of sound changes. It only affected inherited *s in specific environments. The reconstructed steps of rhotacism, and their conditions The first step towards rhotacism is believed to have been voicing of single "s" to the ...


23

Introduction and Definition Why questions in linguistics are the hardest because we can only speculate. That being said, there is plenty of evidence to make an educated guess. Lundquist 2016 defines rhotacism as “the replacement of a non [r] sound with [r].” Evidence Inervocalic s (a letter, not a sound!) is found “only on the very earliest inscriptions” ...


14

This is a great question: it's certainly difficult to find Latin words with uncertain meaning that are not hapax legomena. My entry is cortumio, -nis. L&S says that it is "an old word of the augurial language, perhaps equivalent to contumio, from contueor" Gaffiot’s Dictionnaire Illustré Latin-Français is more sanguine about the meaning, tracing its ...


13

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 from the 3rd century BC, so there wasn't a whole lot of time for the language to change between then and 75 B.C. Old Latin has one more case than Classical ...


11

I found an article that gives some excellent examples of this usage as well as practical tips for how to recognize it: Thomas Nelson, "The Third Qui, and Six Ways to Recognize It, or 'Who Happens, Maecenas?'" Nelson begins by noting that there are three kinds of qui. The first two are ubiquitous, and found in the L&S entry for the first meaning of qui: ...


9

From the Scholia Graeca in Comoedias Aristophanis, we find the following definition of βομβάξ: βομβάξ - παρεμβολοειδής ἐστι τοῦτο ἐπίρρημα καὶ σημαίνει διασυρμόν. βομβάζειν γὰρ δηλοῖ διασύρειν. βομβάζειν γὰρ δηλοῖ διασύρειν, τωθάζειν, σκώπτειν, καὶ χλευάζειν, λοιδορεῖν τε. Translation: βομβάξ - an interjection said in response to something, ...


9

I wouldn't even try to guess which words are most commonly 'not understood'. The natural world is a rich category here, with many examples of species that cannot be exactly identified: though reasonable guesses are made, they are often with reservations. These include both plants and animals, some of which occur in several places My off-the-cuff offering ...


7

The development of the Latin 4th declension seems to be uncertain in several areas. The PIE ancestors of the G.sg. and the N.pl. of -u stems seem to have been *-ows and *-ewes respectively. The Latin forms seem to be contracted versions of these (although, as I said, the details are disputed). At any rate, palatalization does not seem to be a factor in ...


7

It actually does appear in vulgar Latin. Here's Palmer, The Latin Language 319: [Infinitives], as we saw, are formally either old datives or locatives and both these cases could express purpose. This function is apparent in the expression dare bibere ... Such infinitives of purpose are especially common in colloquial and poetical texts after verbs of ...


6

The etymology of mille is fairly clear, with cognates in other Indo-European languages. The singular and plural are definitely from the same etymological source. The Proto-Indo-European form would have been something like *smih₂-ĝʰsl-ih₂ "one thousand" (the exact formation is doubtful but the roots in question, "one" and "thousand", are not); cognates ...


6

I don’t think there is any attestation of a direct prohibition of the no smoking type for the classical period. The closest I could find is CIL VI, 2357, from Rome, but it is not a prohibition, it is a kind request: HOSPES AD HUNC TUMULUM NI MEIAS OSSA PRECANTUR TECTA HOMINIS SET SI GRATUS HOMO ES MISCE BIBE DA MI NI=ne, SET=sed, MI=mihi Passerby, the ...


6

The best reference for such questions is Brills’s New Pauly. Eckart Olshausen (Universität Stuttgart), the author of the book Einführung in die Historische Geographie der Alten Welt (1991), writes that “[a]s a term of Roman imperialism Mare Nostrum first occurs in Caes. B Gall. 5,1,2, whereas mare mediterraneum is a medieval word formation (cf. Isid. Orig. ...


5

As varro says, the forms are reconstructed with a long vowel, as mēd, tēd, sēd. AFAIK there's no direct evidence for the vowel quantity. The reason for the long-vowel reconstruction is that there seems to have been a sound change between Old Latin and Classical Latin in which final -d was lost after a long vowel; this is the reason for the final long vowel ...


5

To answer your second question (since brianpck has already given an excellent answer to the first), quī is etymologically an ablative. The paradigm of the interrogatives quī, quis is a bit odd in that it combines third-declension forms (quis, quem) and first-/second-declension ones (quā, quō). This quī is originally a third-declension ablative form ("by ...


5

Cicero (Att. 8,3) and Pliny (3. 5. 6) each refer to mare superum. Lemprière's Classical Dictionary, which often has a wealth of detail on such topics, has nothing of direct use, but from its rather obscure information I deduce that the name Tyrrhenum Mare is reliably old: for example, Tyrrheus was the keeper of flocks for king Latinus, while Tyrrhenus, son ...


5

This is a partial answer. I can only tell which words are affected, not why this phenomenon happens. My understanding is that s turned into an r between two vowels: amase > amare, honose > honore, corposis > corporis and so on. It has also changed in some word-final positions by analogy to declined forms: honos > honor but corpus did not become corpor. ...


4

I think that it is just a matter of irregular spelling, or possibly inaccurate transcription from different sources, some of which are hard to decipher, rather than anything really weird. At Livy XXV.9 we find Cornelius lustrum condidit : censa sunt civium capita centum quadraginta tria millia septingenta quatuor. Livy appears to use either milia or millia ...


4

The reason for rhotacism is I believe ascribed to the fact that there was only one sibilant in latin - /s/, and as such it was not pronounced exactly [s] as in today's English or French. These two languages have more sibilants and in the terms of position, they distinguish two - /s/ and /š/. Latin, with only one position, is thought to have /s/ phoneme ...


4

As Tom Cotton answered, there are many possible answers in the natural world. According to Wikipedia, both Virgil and Cicero mention aurichalc, which is famous enough to have its own Wikipedia page. Ipse dehinc auro squalentem alboque orichalco circumdat loricam umeris, simul aptat habendo ensemque clipeumque et rubrae cornua cristae, ensem, quem ...


4

The digraph FH was used in early Etruscan inscriptions to represent [f], though it was later replaced by a new sign, looking like the number 𐌚. (Wiki has some more information on this.) As far as I know, FH is not known to have been used in Latin anywhere other than in the Praeneste fibula. Its use for [f] on the fibula (which has sometimes been thought to ...


4

The passage in Plautus seems to be the one and only attestation for "bombax" in Latin. The dictionary definition "an exclamation of real or affected surprise" fits it very well.


4

This is what Andrew Sihler says in his New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin: Abl.sg. L. mē, tē, sē, are from OL mēd, tēd, sēd, with the same ablative -d as in nouns and other pronouns. Cf. Ved. mát, tvát, ... whose short vowels, being unexpected, are likely to be faithful to the original state of affairs. The significance of the long vowels ...


3

The ending -re (as pointed out in comments) appears to go back to Proto-Indo-European -si. This -si is thought to have been a locative case of a neuter s-stem noun. Infinitives often arise from case forms of abstract nouns (e.g. in Sanskrit where there is an infinitive in -tum, cognate with the Latin supine in its accusative form). The different vowels ...


3

By the third century BCE… …probably. We're not quite sure when. In a question about Old Latin meters, an anonymous user brought up Mercado's convincing argument that the Saturnian was based on accent. The idea isn't new, but Mercado backs it up with some nice information-theoretical analysis: basically, the accent theory passes some statistical tests that ...


3

De Vaan's Etymological Dictionary of Latin is perhaps the most up to date one. He also bases his articles on the other main etymological dictionaries, like Walde-Hofmann and Ernout-Meillet. Sometimes I would have liked his articles to be a bit more expansive, but that would have required a lot more time to write. It is available on paper and online.


3

A famous Greek example: Plato supposedly put a sign over the door to his school reading ἀγεωμέτρητος μηδεὶς εἰσίτω, “May no one ignorant of geometry enter here” “Geometriae ignarus nullus ingrediatur”. The story is apparently apocryphal (see: https://www.persee.fr/doc/reg_0035-2039_1968_num_81_384_1013).


2

Michael Weiss's Outline of the Historical and Comparative Grammar of Latin is the most comprehensive, well-researched, and balanced historical grammar of Latin. There is a website with addenda and corrigenda maintained by the author. It is available on paper only; the second, corrected printing was released in 2011.


2

The supine indeed appears to be the relic of a verbal noun. You can derive fourth declension nouns from the perfect participle stem, and the meaning is similar to the third declension derivative in -io: e.g. movere > mot- > motus & motio. This fourth declension noun (e.g. motus) was used flexibly as a noun. Plautine Latin shows far more flexibility than ...


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