Languages

Vulgar Latin

Fact corner

Introduction

Latin languages

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  • Old Latin refers to the Latin language in the period before the age of Classical Latin; that is, all Latin before 75 BC.
  • Latin Classical Latin is the form of the Latin language used by the ancient Romans in what is usually regarded as "classical" Latin literature. Its use spanned 75 BC – 200.
  • Vulgar Latin The spoken Latin of the common people of the Roman Empire, especially from the 2nd century onward, is generally called Vulgar Latin. It differed from Classical Latin in its vocabulary and grammar, and as time passed, it came to differ in pronunciation as well.
  • Vulgar Latin, Eastern

Vulgar Latin is a blanket term covering the vernacular dialects and sociolects of the Latin language until those dialects, diverging still further, evolved into the early Romance languages — a distinction usually made around the ninth century. It includes late Latin; the terms are often used synonymously. Vulgar Latin can also refer to vernacular speech from other periods, including the Classical period.

This spoken Latin came to differ from Classical Latin in its pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar. Some features of Vulgar Latin did not appear until the late Empire. Other features are likely to have occurred in spoken Latin, in at least its basilectal forms, much earlier.

Check also eastern Vulgar Latin.

The verb

The verb conjugation system underwent major changes from Classical Latin;

  • A new (originally perifrastic) future replaced the old one.
  • A new (originally perifrastic) conditional was introduced.
  • Passive voice was totally replaced by perifrastic construction.

Sample verb (1st conjugation): cantare

INDICATIVE SUBJUNCTIVE
Present Imperfect Perfect Future perfect Pluperfect Present Imperfect Pluperfect
Sg.1 canto cantava cantai cantaro cantara cante cantare cantasse
Sg.2 cantas cantavas cantasti cantares cantaras cantes cantares cantasses
Sg.3 canta / cantat cantava / cantavat cantaut cantare / cantaret cantara / cantarat cante / cantet cantare / cantaret cantasse / cantasset
Pl.1 cantamos cantavamos cantamos / cantammos cantâremos cantaramos cantemos cantaremos cantassemos
Pl.2 cantates cantavates cantastes cantâretes cantarates cantetes cantaretes cantassetes
Pl.3 cantan / cantant cantavan / cantavant cantaron / cantaront cantaren / cantarent cantaran / cantarant canten / cantent cantaren / cantarent cantassen / cantassent
IMPERATIVE
Sg.2 canta!
Pl.2 cantate! / cantates!

Conjugate Vulgar Latin verbs:

References

  • Grandgent, C.H.. An introduction to vulgar Latin. D.C.Heath & co Publishers. Boston. 1907.
  • Maurer, Theodore Henrique. Gramática do latim vulgar. "Biblioteca brasileira de filologia; 16". Livraria Acadêmica. Rio de Janeiro. 1959.

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