What Languages Roman Speak?
When in Rome, be like the Romans. Yeah, certainly. But what about speaking like them? Is it possible to learn to speak like them? Well, if you know what languages Romans speak, you can at least try to do that. So prepare for a ride, as we take you back to the 2nd Century of the Roman imperial world.
When it comes to the language of the Romans, we have to take a stroll down memory lane. The Roman Empire was famous for its magnificence. But it was not the only thing that piqued historians’ interest. It was the linguistic division. Latin and Greek were the common languages Romans spoke. Before it expanded into an Empire, the aristocracy mainly spoke Greek whereas the masses used the Latin language as the means of daily conversation.
The Imperial Era
Although most people believe that the standard language of the Roman Empire was either Greek language or classic Latin for centuries, that’s not historically correct. During the earlier period, there were many regional vernacular languages that the natives spoke. Coptic, Syriac, Semitic languages, and Aramaic were the largest groups at that time.
Latin Over Greek
The influence of the Greek culture was pretty eminent in the region but the Romans chose ancient Latin over Greek. Not only did they use it for communicating with others, but also for legal purposes. The Greek-Latin Bilingualism prevailed for quite a long time in the region.
However, when the Empire expanded to Italy, most of the population there was already speaking Greek. With their extravagant possession over other cultures and groups, Greek became the language of the Mediterranean very quickly. This majority overtook the Latin-speaking population and eventually, all of these people became known as Romans.
Digging into the base of a language is harder than you can imagine. Going through unlimited records, finding the earliest inscriptions, and validating the authenticity of a text, it’s quite a meticulous task. Perhaps the same reason why there is very little evidence on the origin of linguistics.
Luckily when it comes to describing what is Latin, we can track its history through the orthography Duenous Inscription. It is one of the earliest ancient Latin texts, dating back to the 6th Century. However, Latin is considered even older as Latin Script was used in the 5th Century as well. Some linguists even say that the Latin Alphabet was used for messages in the 4th century when Italy was at war. We can assume that this claim must be true as Latin influence can still be seen in many Germanic languages including English.
What Language Does The Roman Speak?
Latin is the original language of the Romans. It wasn’t just the word of the common man, it was the official language of the military, the legislation, and the imperial administration, for a very long time.
Greek slowly became the lingua franca of the region but it was initially one of the foreign languages. There weren’t many people who understood Greek in the court, and people had to look for a translator to understand it. Since not many people were in favor of Greek, it was eventually associated with Paganism and was discarded by the bishop.
The historic interception of Greek and Latin tells us a lot about the multilingualism of the Roman Empire. Interestingly, the Latin alphabet was derived from the Etruscan alphabet which was drawn from the Greek alphabet. Before Rome adopted the Greek alphabet, many Greek colonies were already using it for various reasons.
This amalgamation of material culture and diversity of languages in the Roman Empire was because the Romans took over the entire Italian Peninsula. After the empire collapsed, the administration was more interested in making Greek the language of the court as opposed to Latin which prevailed in the society for years.
It is important to remember that today when you speak about the Roman Empire, you refer to Italy. The Italian culture is largely influenced by Latin and Greek cultures. But surprisingly, the Italian language is vastly different from Greek in terms of vocabulary. It is because Greek belongs to the Hellenic group and Italian belongs to the Romance languages. Both are not related closely.
Is Latin A Dead Language?
If you are an avid researcher, you’ll know that this universal language, even though has derivatives in modern languages, it has no distinct recognition. Now, it is not entirely true.
Latin is the only primary language which transformed into other versions many times. First, it was neo-Latin, then it was Vulgar Latin. From Vulgar Latin language, emerged the Romance languages. Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian, all have the essence of Latin. Since these languages are very much alive, we can’t say that Latin is Dead.
Another important thing is the Loan words from the Latin language. The word colony came from Latin and is now used regularly in English. Other words with Latin origin include Bishop, church, alms, alter, anthem, canon, hymn, pop, psalm, relic, silk, radish, pine, plant, school, master, and even history. Words like conspiracy, custody, frustrate, genius, intellect, testify, scripture, secular, pulpit, limbo, and infinite also have Latin roots.
There are many other terms in sciences such as biology, chemistry, and physics. These sciences also have symbols that belonged to the earliest versions of the Latin language. If you are more interested in knowing all about the foreign languages of the Roman Empire, you can learn about them in Oxford books.
Translation From and Into Romance Languages
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