Five Sound Changes That Make Italian Make More Sense

Reading time: 10-15 minutes As I write, it’s the 15th of September, and I have just, with a heavy heart, departed Italy. What a time, and what a place! Among its many delights, it was a particular pleasure to be reminded of how much I love the Italian language. I love to hear it, toContinue reading “Five Sound Changes That Make Italian Make More Sense”

An A-Z of the Languages and Loanwords of the English Lexicon – from Arabic to Zulu!

Reading time: 20-25 minutes Among language lovers and loathers alike, it’s well known that the modern lexicon of English is drawn from different sources. While a solid chunk of English vocabulary has a Germanic origin, much also comes from French, in a large part due to Duke William of Normandy and some battle that happenedContinue reading “An A-Z of the Languages and Loanwords of the English Lexicon – from Arabic to Zulu!”

A Dictionary of the Divine: The Gods and Goddesses Hiding in Our Words

Reading time: 10 – 15 minutes Whether or not you’re a believer, it’s undeniable that the idea of the divine has had a big influence on human history. Connecting our lives and our earthly home to higher realms and to those realms’ inhabitants, the gods, is an ancient preoccupation, which is often reflected in ourContinue reading “A Dictionary of the Divine: The Gods and Goddesses Hiding in Our Words”

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

Reading time: 15 minutes 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 lackContinue 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 two piecesContinue reading “Re-Reduplication in La-Latin”