In 20 years, the number of Latin speakers has halved.
Yet this language is useful in many ways: learning Latin languages, understanding our own language, improving spelling, studying ancient history and mythology …
If you do Latin, you may want to find out more about this ancient language:
Don’t worry, we’ll answer all these questions in this article.
The Caroline minuscule (named after Charlemagne) is the direct ancestor of modern lowercase letters. Source: Visual Hunt
Latin writing comes primarily from Mesopotamia, which corresponds nowadays to the Middle East. This is where the writing system that later became Latin was born.
The alphabet of romance languages, therefore, has a Semitic origin. Thus, the Egyptian hieroglyphs gave birth to the cuneiform writing of Phoenicia.
Later still, the Greeks took over the Phoenician alphabet to create their own.
Then more recently, the Etruscans became the creators of the Latin alphabet. They took over the Greek alphabet to create the Latin alphabet we know today. The Etruscan language, however, remains a mystery. The people are a priori from Minor Asia but the experts, even if they can read the language, are unable to understand it.
The Etruscan civilisation spread throughout Italy and in the third century, there were 20 letters in the Latin alphabet:
A, B, C, D, E, F, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, V, X.
Originally, the writing was used to transcribe poems, literary texts but primarily speeches, Latin being first and foremost an oral language. There were only capital letters until Charlemagne reformed the writing by introducing what came to be a model for modern-day lowercase letters in 771.
During the Renaissance, the arrival of the printing press finally confirmed the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet. Since then, there’s been no major change. Only the writing and vocabulary has evolved in each language.
In the Latin language, some terms correspond to abbreviations. Source: Visual Hunt
There are various Latin dictionaries available, for all budgets:
You can find other Latin dictionaries but these are the most popular and highly recommended. It is also possible to enrich your Latin vocabulary thanks to various websites which give lists of Latin lexicon:
Our recommendation: the Oxford Latin Dictionary is the most comprehensive and authoritative dictionary of Classical Latin. With more than half a century in the making, the newly published second edition is an essential resource for any serious Latin student. It contains illustrative quotations, revised English translations and expansion on abbreviations to help you learn Latin properly.
In Latin, there are:
Learning the Latin declensions by heart is essential for anyone wanting to know basic Latin. The declension of a noun or an adjective depends on its function in the sentence: subject, direct object, complement, indirect object complement/direct object complement, circumstantial complement. The vocative has an interpellation function.
Get a private tutor and speak like they did in Roman times! Source: Visual Hunt
It’s up to you to memorise the five Latin declensions according to the following rules:
Ok, now that we know what we are talking about, here are some tips for learning the different Latin declensions by heart:
English is a Germanic language, therefore, the influences of Latin are primarily lexical. A significant amount of our language stems from Latin, some are even borrowed words and phrases. You will probably already have heard a lot of these, but you may not know what they mean. Here’s a short list of the most commonly used English words and phrases which stem either directly from Latin or via French or Spanish:
But what have we kept from our origins? The Latin quotations are numerous and you necessarily know. But let’s talk about these little phrases or abbreviations. We do not always know what they want to say, so here is a short guide to the most used Latin quotations in French:
Trust us! Knowing a bit of Latin will help you with modern languages, science and law! Source: Visual Hunt
Some of these phrases will be very useful if you have to write a thesis or dissertation. And it’s still fun to know why we use certain Latin phrases and what they mean, right?
Check out these famous Latin quotes.
Today, 430 million speakers speak a Latin language, nearly 8% of the world’s population.
The languages spoken in Europe are mostly Indo-European languages, ie languages spoken from Europe to India (from Greek to Sanskrit via French, Spanish, Occitan, Portuguese, etc.).
There are a number of Romance languages especially in Europe where the Roman Empire exerted its influence for centuries, spreading the Roman language at the same time in the Mediterranean basin in particular.
The popularisation of Latin gave rise first to the rural Romance language, then gradually to the different languages that we know today. The languages closest to Latin are:
There are many similarities between these languages as shown in the table below:
But these similarities are only valid in writing. Orally, the Latin languages differ greatly from each other, especially French which was also influenced by the Gallo-Romance spoken in northern France.
Here are different Latin-speaking groups in terms of their similarities: