47 votes
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Why is the Roman acronym SPQR and not SPR?

It appears that -que was treated much like a word. Especially Ovidius does not treat it as an enclitic, but more as an independent word. This becomes evident in quotes, where -que is outside the quote ...
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23 votes

About capitalization "The first letter of a sentence in Latin is not capitalized"

It should be remembered that the ancient texts did not have letter case as we know it. Lower case is a late antique/medieval manuscript development. You did have some "lower case" letters in ...
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  • 41k
19 votes
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When is an I not an I?

Dictionaries often explicitly mark long and short vowels, with a macron and breve accent, respectively. In such a dictionary, you will recognize a consonantic i from not having either accent: māiŭs¹. ...
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19 votes

When is an I not an I?

Here are a few "rules of thumb" I use. I can't guarantee these will work in all cases. If you're an English speaker, look at a related English word from Latin. If it's spelled with "j,&...
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18 votes
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Difference between "Lacrimosa" and "Lacrymosa"

I believe lacryma is generally considered a hypercorrect misspelling. The archaic Latin spelling was lacruma, still sometimes used in classical Latin, or an even older dacrima/dacruma. The standard ...
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17 votes

Why is the Roman acronym SPQR and not SPR?

The consensus seems to be that SPQR means Senatus Populusque Romanus, but there is also the theory that SPQR did not mean Senatus Populusque Romanus. It could also may have been Senatus Populus ...
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  • 361
15 votes
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The Latin word “Have” rather than “Ave” as a translation of the Greek word Χαῖρε?

It's an alternate form of ave; the L&S entry gives a couple of examples. Presumably this form arose through hypercorrection: since h was generally not pronounced in popular speech, confusion ...
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13 votes
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Why sequundus > secundus?

Secundus is regular, eqvus isn't There's a sound change called the "Boukólos Rule", which started back in Proto-Indo-European. When labiovelar consonants (like /kʷ/ and /gʷ/) appeared next ...
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12 votes
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Did the Romans have a "question mark"?

According to scholars, the earliest written sign ever argued to play the role of an interrogation mark comes from a VI century Syriac manuscript, and passed later into Latin. My intuition is that, in ...
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12 votes
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What's the deal with Ov. Met. V, 414

The C is a -que. It is quite common to abbreviate neque (= ne+que) as nec. I see two ways to parse that verse and interpret the C: And he noticed the goddess and said: "Don't go further!" And he ...
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12 votes
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Æ ligature – the definitive answer

When it comes to Latin, 'æ' is the same as 'ae', at least when in the diphthong. When the vowels are in different syllables, as in aer, then 'æ' is not used. You could see this so that 'ae' is such a ...
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12 votes

Why "auspex" and not "avspex"?

Spelling rules for V and U In terms of spelling conventions, the modern convention in texts that distinguish V and U is to use V only for a non-syllabic sound that starts the syllable it's in. So V is ...
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12 votes
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About capitalization "The first letter of a sentence in Latin is not capitalized"

There is no such rule. It's a convention that some publishers follow (to varying degrees) but others don't, as a matter of editorial policy. For example, I believe that Teubner has traditionally ...
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11 votes

The Latin word “Have” rather than “Ave” as a translation of the Greek word Χαῖρε?

There is a longstanding view that the interjection ave is not the imperative of the verb aveo “to long for”, but is a loan from Punic ḥawe (tentative vocalisation), the imperative of the Semitic verb ...
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  • 15.9k
11 votes
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Interpretation of circumflex in a poem from 1621

*Please see addendum at the bottom I have found two possible explanations for the circumflex: (1) to indicate a long vowel and (2) to indicate an ablative. Both of these functions would seem to ...
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11 votes
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Use of ß (“eszett”) in Latin text

The modern German roman-type ß was developed at the end of the 19th century as an analogue of the blackletter ß, which was a ligature of ſ and z (which is reflected in its name) that had slowly ...
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  • 1,164
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

Why was Z used in digraphs?

Note that the letter Z has been associated with affricate sounds like [ts] for a very long time. Ancient use of "Z" for affricate sounds Zeta in Classical Attic Greek is thought to have ...
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10 votes
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Variation in the spelling of word-final M

I'm afraid my answer is the boring one: free variation, based on the amount of space available. The tilde originally arose purely as an abbreviation: instead of writing an n or m in line with the ...
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  • 52.5k
9 votes

Roman uses of diacritical marks

The Romans actually didn't use diacritical marks for the most part. I understand that this question was asked based off of a comment made on a post (which was answered by myself). In my response, I ...
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  • 3,868
9 votes
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When were macrons first used to mark Latin text?

This is what I’ve been able to find – thanks to Oliver 1966. Oliver 1966 (in footnote 42) mentions two documents important to us, both of them most likely were schoolbook texts: A fifth-century ...
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9 votes
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"Eundem"/"eumdem" in medieval Latin

Using the texts stored in the Latin Library as a guide, we can see that the prevalence of eumdem waxes and wanes through history. Its earliest significant use in writing appears to be approximately ...
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9 votes

When is an I not an I?

Anlaut (word initial position): i+V = >j+V, e.g. iubeo (in most cases) but also i+V => i+V only in some forms of the pronoun is (ii, iis) and the verb ire (iens, ii, ieram); also in Greek ...
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  • 11.2k
9 votes

When is an I not an I?

In addition to Chirlu's excellent answer, although there is no hard rule, a rule of thumb does exist. If a syllable starts with an i and then a vowel other than i, the initial i is normally pronounced ...
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  • 18.7k
9 votes

Difference between "Lacrimosa" and "Lacrymosa"

I'm not sure about the particular history of Lacrymosa/Lacrimosa and its derivation from dáḱru- (as @brianpck points out), but Vox Latina (by W. Sidney Allen) explains that words with i/y alternative ...
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9 votes
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-NL- and -LL- in Classical Latin

Check out the Epigraphic Database Heidelberg. It thankfully allows you to search words, which will allow you to look at deeper results. From a cursory search, though it seems that conl- is earlier, ...
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9 votes

Why is the Roman acronym SPQR and not SPR?

The source referenced in a Wikipedia-entry: SPQR är en förkortning för Senatus Populusque Romanus, [se'na:tus popu'luskwe ro'ma:nus], vilket betyder "senaten och det romerska folket". Eller ...
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  • 191
9 votes
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Why was Z used in digraphs?

Archaic and Classical Latin First of all, the letter Z has never been common in Archaic and Classical Latin, for a number of reasons, primarily because there was no such phoneme (see more on ...
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  • 11.2k
8 votes
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Technique to find first principal parts when later parts change spelling? E.g. find 'nanciscor' from 'nactus'

To be able to generate a list of candidates, one should know some common ways to produce different principal parts from a given stem. To produce the present stem (the first principal part as you call ...
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