Dr. Goodword’s Language Blog

The Remnants of Rome and Latin

I am joyfully returned from ten warm and sunny days in the south of Europe: Barcelona (festival of La Mercé), Nice, Villefranche-sur-Mer, the restaurants of Mougins, the wines of Verrazzano, Orvieto, Cinque Terre, and Sorrento. It was a pleasure to roam the architectural remnants of the Roman empire while imbibing the remnants of the Latin language: Spanish, French, and Italian.

Clichés may be redundant but they are not false. When I heard in high school that the study of Latin would help me not only learn the languages of Europe more efficiently but bring me greater insight into English, I quickly signed up for Latin while my friends flooded French and Spanish. The cliché is true. While I stumble around in the spoken form of these languages (my degree is in Slavic linguistics), I can read them all quite well and enjoy hearing their different melodies whether I follow them or not.

The ancient Greeks were boxed in by the Turks and Romans, so their language developed along a single line; Modern Greek is to ancient Greek as Italian is to Latin. While the Roman empire contracted, the Romans were never driven back to Rome, so Latin continued to develop in many directions under the influence of the aboriginal languages that were spoken prior to the “arrival” of the Romans.

Today, the Latin of Gaul is French, of Iberia is Portuguese and Spanish, and the Latin that stayed home is Italian. Romanian is a remnant of Latin spoken by the originally Slavic peoples of Transylvania and thereabouts. Each of these languages share many roots in common, even suffixes and prefixes. But they are distinguished by their music: their accents and accentuation, intonations, pronunciations. They form a theater of modern Latinate speech and passing through them, curtain after curtain, while enjoying the autumn landscapes, local wines, and cuisine of the regions was the kind of music a linguist most enjoys.

However, I am back and hopefully the Language Blog will benefit from the tidbits I picked up along my journey.

One Response to “The Remnants of Rome and Latin”

  1. clau2002 Says:

    This is yet another example of what the end results of “fast facts&short varsion of anything”style of education are.You may be willing to corect these statements since the first slavic person arrived in the area of Roman empire about three hundred years after the fall of Rome.Under the circumstances the Romanian language is a remnant of the latin spoken by DACIANS&GETAE(thracian tribes)who were the aboriginals in the area.Slavs came in much later and the slavic influence on romanian language is an ADD-STRATUM.Same applies to the Turks who arrived and started to “push the Greeks”(actualy romans from the Eastern Roman empire)about seven hundred years after the fall of Rome.History of languages can not be understood without basic knoledge of HISTORY.Now you know!

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