Latin: Language, Society and Some Sociolinguistics

Reading time: 10-15 minutes A language is never monolithic! Although brief labels are useful for conversation, to say ‘I speak English’ is a complicated thing; its meaning is dependent on person, time and place. The language you use differs according to who you are and who you learned your language from, and who you areContinue reading “Latin: Language, Society and Some Sociolinguistics”

Grave Language: The Epitaph of Pope Gregory V

There have been great popes in the history of the papacy, men who have influenced countless people, both during and after their lives, with their words, deeds and faith. Gregory V was not one of them. Born in c. 972 in what is now southern Austria, Bruno of Carinthia was well connected from birth. HeContinue reading “Grave Language: The Epitaph of Pope Gregory V”

As Julius Caesar said, “Wehnee, weedee, weekee!”

Or: Why do I pronounce Latin words like that? A question came up recently in the middle of an enjoyably linguistic conversation, concerned with the way I personally pronounce Latin words. The question was essentially ‘why?’ My interlocutor, a friend with only a little Latin learning, was curious about how I pronounce certain letters. WhatContinue reading “As Julius Caesar said, “Wehnee, weedee, weekee!””

The Decline and Fall of the Latin Neuter

There are many significant differences between Latin and its linguistic descendants, the Romance languages. One that stands out from the rest is grammatical gender. Latin has three genders for its nouns: masculine, feminine and neuter. However, in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, Italian and all the other many Romance varieties that lack official use and support,Continue reading “The Decline and Fall of the Latin Neuter”

Re-Reduplication in La-Latin

* In previous posts, I’ve written about the idea of stems and its importance for Latin. Simply put, the stem of a Latin noun, adjective or verb is an intermediate stage between the root (the meaningful part of the word) and the grammatical endings that make the word complete. In the second of the twoContinue reading “Re-Reduplication in La-Latin”

Rhotacism, and how it can help your Latin

If you have studied a little Latin, you may have come across an important, yet rather annoying group of nouns. They belong to the third declension, are neuter in gender and end in -us in the nominative singular. They include words like tempus ‘time’, corpus ‘body’ and pectus ‘chest’. They look like nice second-declension nouns,Continue reading “Rhotacism, and how it can help your Latin”