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From Latin to Vulgar-Advanced # 26-Italian Podcast


Examples of changes from classical Latin to vulgar Latin

Classical Latin, which is still being studied in many Italian high schools and many schools and universities around the world today, has a fairly complex grammar: let us take declension as an example, a concept familiar to a person familiar with Slavic languages ​​or German. .

what is Deflection angle? I try to explain to you in a simple way: In Latin, the grammatical function of a word is determined by its form, or more precisely, by its case, that is, the way it ends . Therefore, to understand whether a word is a subject, a direct object, an indirect object, or an adjective, we need to understand how its case ends.
A name can have five cases in Latin, so it has five endings. For example, the word “rosa” can be rejected in rosa (nominative, therefore the subject of the sentence) rosae (possessive, we would say “della rosa” in Italian), rosae, (dative, “alla rosa”) , Indirect object), “Rosam” (accusative, “rose” as the direct object), rosa (huge, so attract the attention of roses) and rosa (silencer, with multiple functions). These five figures constitute the first Latin singular inflection.But be careful: these five cases also have plural forms, so We have to do There are 10 cases. But it does not end there: there are not only inflections in Latin, so I have illustrated a set of cases like this, but 5! In short, you understand why Latin is a nightmare for many kids who must learn in school!

In the process of evolution from Latin to Romance, declension is gradually simplified until it disappears: in Romance, prepositions and word order complete the work of Latin. The latter is essential for understanding the meaning of sentences and word functions in Italian, while it is more free in Latin. The case system part only exists in personal pronouns: me and me, you and you, etc.

The Latin verb system is also quite complicated. The tenses at the formal level are completely different from the tenses we know in Romance languages ​​today. Generally speaking, Latin is a compound language, which means that the tense is composed of a single word; Romance language is an analytical language, because the verb tense is usually composed of several words (think how many compound tenses we have in Italian: “I said”, “I have eaten”, “I went”, “I will finish”, “Two states”, etc.). As we have already seen, Latin is synthetic and is also used for declension: Latin names usually correspond to prepositions plus Italian names. (The Latin rosae means “rose” in Italian).

Another aspect that shows the transition from Latin to vulgar to Romance languages ​​is the dictionary: the meaning of many words has changed over the centuries. Let us give some examples.

In Italian today, we use “head” to mean the upper part of the body, but in Latin we use the word “head”. In Italian, “caput” means “boss” (not only means “the main person in the organization”, but also a more elegant synonym for “head”). Next to the Latin “caput”, the word “head (m)” is used. The beginning is a joke, meaning a clay pot (somewhat like today we can use the word “pumpkin” or “crappa” jokingly and jokingly and colloquially It means “tou” in a literal way. However, “tou” loses its ironic connotation bit by bit and becomes a neutral word, while “boss” is used less.

Think about the word “house”: in Latin, this word means rustic house, country house, and the neutral word is “domus”: it originated from words such as “domestic”, “domicile” and “cathedral”, it Directly derived from “domus”, which means domus dei, the house of God.

If we know classical Latin very well, it is because there are too many literary texts that have been handed down to this day. obvious; Analyzing vulgar Latin is much more difficult because We don’t own In many written testimonies, there are not only popular Latin spoken by the Romans, but also languages ​​created after the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

However, there is a document that can provide us with some information about the changes that occurred in the early Middle Ages: the appendix Probi (“Probo appendix”), an original date of uncertain but estimated to be about the third or fourth century. . The appendix Probi reports a list of 227 Latin words, followed by their vulgar versions.Its author is a grammarist named Probus. He wrote this document for teaching purposes, but also for Review some script (The way of writing a word) He thought it was incorrect. The author reports what he thinks is the correct version, then the Latin version, and then the wrong version, which makes us understand that some words have begun to change in the language people speak.

This list reports for example:

-Speculum, not speculum. In Italian, the word becomes “mirror”

-vetulus, not veclus. In Italian, we say “old” even though words like “vetusto” still exist.

-columna, not colomna. In Italian, we say “column”.

-Cold is not Frida. In Italian, we say “cold” or “cold”, but there is also the word “frigido”.

There are many changes, including grammar, vocabulary, and phonetic types. However, I still want to mention a vocabulary aspect that will have a considerable impact on the Italian vocabulary in the future.



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