Questions tagged [latin]

For linguistic questions concerning the Latin language, a dead Indo-European language of the Roman Empire and ancestor of modern Catalan, French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, and a few others. For questions specific to Latin only, please visit our sister site Latin Language Stack Exchange.

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1answer
2k views

Was the word “Jew” originally a racial slur?

The English ethnonyms "Jew" and "Jewish" originate from the Biblical Hebrew "Yehudi" (יהודי, meaning "Judahite," "Judean," or "one from the ...
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0answers
97 views

Did Classical Latin lack tenseness contrast in long and short vowels?

Contrary to the traditional supposition of /ɪ ʊ ɛ ɔ/ vs /iː uː eː oː/, the idea that Classical Latin contrasted the short and long versions of high and mid (or just mid) vowels only quantitatively, ...
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1answer
99 views

How could Vulgar Latin divide in so many branches in the Balkans in a such small timespan?

From the literature I've read ( Al.Rosetti History of Romanian for example ) it looks like we can talk about Vulgar Latin until the 4th or 5th century in the Balkans, and further than that many ...
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3answers
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The outcome of *woid- in Latin/Italic

The IE root * weid- seems to have meant “to see” and, in its perfective stem * woid-, “to know”. The “know”-semantics of this root are well attested in all the main branches of IE (English wot, Greek ...
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1answer
88 views

Why do verbs use 1st singular present active indicative instead of infinitive as the “canonical” or “representative” form in Latin?

I see many dictionaries use the 1st person singular present active indicative form as the "canonical" or dictionary entry for verbs in Latin. For example, a typical dictionary would show ...
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Origin of Italian plurals

Some sources say that italian plurals come from the nominative case, so "italiano" has the plural "italiani", and "italiana" has the plural "italiane". However ...
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3answers
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Why is the word “war” in Romance languages predominantly of Germanic origin instead of Latin?

I wonder why in all Romance languages the word "war" ("guerra", with their multiple intonations) is a term that comes from Germanic languages, and that no modern language resembles ...
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1answer
120 views

Does the root word mus- in Latin mean “thief”'? Mouse=thief, Moses=Extractor etc

I first got the idea of Latin mus- = mouse = thief from this list My primary question here is whether someone can confirm this, because I have not found any direct words in Latin that indicates that ...
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2answers
120 views

Why doesn't Latin caseus have “w”?

Why doesn't Latin caseus from *kwh₂et- have "w"?
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1answer
79 views

Why are PIE oi changes to ī in Latin and Proto-Slavic?

Why are PIE oe changes to ī in Latin and Old Slavic? English PIE Latin Old Slavic wolves *wĺ̥kʷoes lupi vlĭci Is it a result of short u singular ending in place of PIE o? English PIE Latin Old ...
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2answers
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Pronunciation of P in Latin, versus Ph in Greek

In Latin, it seems some sounds that are pronounced like an "F" in Greek, are pronounced like a "P", why is this? For example, we have the Greek word Phoenicians, and this word ...
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868 views

Is there a form descending from Latin genitive plural somewhere in modern Romance languages?

The Latin genitive plurals in -rum are very noticeable in the paradigm. Be it first declension in -ārum, second in -ōrum, or fifth in -ērum, they are heavyweight, attract accent and basicall stand out ...
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2answers
349 views

Words with “hybrid” declension (in Latin, or borrowed by English from Latin)?

There is a recently-coined technical usage (in mathematics) of the word "anima", borrowed from Latin to English. The funny thing about this coinage is that the coin-ers of the term insist on ...
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2answers
384 views

Apparent exceptions to the sound law f -> h in old Spanish

At some point during the evolution of Spanish, several initial [f] became silent (this is represented with an h in modern Spanish). This explains words such as hacer, harina, herir and many more. ...
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1answer
135 views

Why are native English speakers convinced that English language is a Romance language? [closed]

Most people I've know so far in the USA are always saying that learning Latin would be really easy because, since English comes from Latin, it cannot be a hard thing to do, and they really get shocked ...
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2answers
181 views

What other languages, apart from Latin, mix elements from different syntactic constituents? And why mixing?

Latin has a curious syntactic possibility, which is mixing elements from different constituents, like in the sentence Mors et vita duello conflixere mirando which is translated by Wiktionary as ...
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1answer
141 views

Etymology of latin suffix -idus

What is the (probably Indo-European) origin of the latin suffix -idus, as in "acidus"? Are there any known cognates?
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1answer
85 views

Latin suffixes -or and -idus, is there a correspondence?

In Latin (and daughter languages), there seems to be a correspondence between nouns of the third declension in -or/-us, -oris denoting a quality, and adjectives of the Ist class in -idus,a,um denoting ...
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1answer
88 views

(Latin) spondeo > (Spanish) esposas?

I am looking for the exact history of the Spanish word esposas ("handcuffs") and its connection with the Latin word spondeo ("promise"). I read several times on the web the ...
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1answer
122 views

Is English grammar teaching tradition rooted in Latin?

I heard once that the way English grammar was taught as school was rooted in Latin and it wasn't a correct approach for a number of reason ? This was a long time ago, so I cannot remember the details. ...
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1answer
621 views

Can or has the comparative method be used in current Arabic dialects to reconstruct Classical Arabic?

The comparative method has been used in modern Romance languages to piece together Vulgar Latin and Proto Romance. Has the same been done for the modern Arabic dialects to recreate the last descendant ...
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2answers
204 views

It's very uncommon for Italian nouns and verbs to end in consonants, but vast number of Latin nouns and verbs do. Why?

Edit: I asked this question on the Italian Stack Exchange and got some rubbish comments, so I'm trying here instead. The vast, vast majority of native Italian (i.e. not imported from another language) ...
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169 views

Has the development of double consonants in Latin been studied?

When one studies both Latin and Greek, one of the most prominent differences between the two is the much greater number of double consonants in Latin. While Greek does have some instances of them, ...
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1answer
147 views

What is the origin of the word assassin?

I discussed this recently with some friends and different explanations regarding the words etymology were mentioned. I did some research and confirmed these two: from Arab. aššāšīn "hashish ...
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1answer
2k views

Relationship between Geneva and gin?

I've been curiously browsing wikipedia today. The word Geneva, besides the city and Canton, is also used to refer to a type of Gin that's made there, and to any other kind of Gin as a generified word. ...
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3answers
523 views

Why is Spanish SVO and not VSO?

I understand that Spanish sentences have an SVO sentence structure. (S)(Yo) (V)compro (O)los zapatos. What confuses me is the fact that when the subject is a pronoun, it is omitted so often that you ...
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3answers
234 views

Where does the letter <j> come from to Slavic Cyrillic alphabets?

Most South-West languages of Slavic language family with Cyrillic writing system as primary have the Latin letter in their alphabets, which doesn't origin in what we consider today Cyrillic. Where ...
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70 views

Did a single word derived from “de fenestra” exist in European languages prior to the Defenestration of Prague?

Many European languages have a single word derived from the Latin prepositional phrase de fenestra (“out from a window” or “down from a window”) meaning “the act of throwing someone out a window.” ...
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1answer
253 views

Aura, Aurum, Aurora & *h₂ews-

Good morning, I am a scholar from a different field, trying to gain insight into the etymological connection between aura and aurum (air and gold). How do they relate? I have found a connection ...
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3answers
284 views

Etymology of some Romance languages' verbs meaning “to sleep”

Portuguese, Spanish and French dormir, Italian dormire etc. come from the Latin verb dormīo. Wiktionary's entry says that its etymology is: From Latin dormīre, present active infinitive of dormiō, ...
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309 views

Definite/indefinite articles vs. inflections

While some languages have definite/indefinite articles (a/an/the in English, le/la/les and un/une/des in French), others don't (Russian, Latin). In this connection I have a few questions: Chicken or ...
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0answers
48 views

Some idea of PIE in the ancient world? [duplicate]

Did the ancient Greeks and Romans have the idea (at least partly) similar to the concept the Proto-Indoeuropean language? Many among the elite spoke Greek fluently or at least learnt it intensively. ...
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114 views

“Reconstruction” of an attested and well studied language

I wonder has anyone ever tried to reconstruct Latin language via data on modern Romance languages as if we know nothing about what Latin actually was. Both as a fun exercise and as a method to test ...
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2answers
265 views

Why does Latin, Turkish, and Albanian share common words? [closed]

Latin and Albanian are Indo-European languages so it makes sense that those two languages share many words with each-other. But why is it that Turkish — a non-Indo-European language — shares words ...
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1answer
352 views

How did Latin drop noun declension?

Latin has/had noun cases, while modern Romance languages don't. I wonder if the transition can be observed in written forms. Are there examples from different historic moments? A side question: ...
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1answer
153 views

Why is Latin considered a dead language, but Old High German simply a precursor to modern German?

Or, to put it another way: If the Church hadn't preserved Latin, would it even be considered a different language from Italian as opposed to simply an older form in the development of the Italian ...
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1answer
122 views

Latin jūs and sūcus, and the words in Romance languages

Why is French jus said to be from Latin jūs or iūs, while Spanish jugo is said to be from the Latin sūcus? I don't know if there's a link between sūcus and jūs, but jus and jugo look like they are ...
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1answer
728 views

What is the meaning of the Latin names of grammatical cases (in general, not in Latin)?

I cannot find any source explaining the Latin names of grammatical cases. I am especially curious in the names of the less common cases, like in Finnish: nominative genitive accusative partitive ...
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2answers
277 views

Are there any Latin and (ancient) Hebrew words with common origins?

More generally, is there any compelling evidence for any common roots between early Indo-European and Afro-Asiatic languages? There are almost necessarily some words that are not too dissimilar ...
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0answers
37 views

Need online resources to compare the pronunciation in Latin, Old French and Old English

I'm looking for resources giving old French pronunciation, for instance as IPA. I know that the pronunciation of old French is quite regular, but I cannot find a dictionary with pronunciations. I ...
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2answers
167 views

How regular were Latin verbs compared to Spanish?

Compared to English, Spanish is very consistent within its rules about verbs. The endings for the three kinds of verbs—grouped as -ar, -er, and -ir verbs—are pretty consistently regular, and few words ...
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1answer
148 views

Could the latin word terrere be related to the Hebrew word תִּירָא (tira)?

The English word "terror" is derived from the Latin "terrere", meaning "frighten". I noticed in reading a passage in Isaiah the Hebrew equivalent of "don't be afraid" which is אַל־תִּירָא ('al tira' - ...
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4answers
7k views

Why do the Romance languages use definite articles, when Latin doesn't?

Classical Latin, as I understand things, barely has a definite article at all: ille is the nearest equivalent, and even this word is closer to English that than the. But Spanish, French and Italian ...
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2answers
236 views

Latin “vivere” vs. Hebrew “aviv”

Is the Latin word vivere (to live) cognate to the Hebrew word aviv אביב (Spring)? Someone pointed out the resemblance to me, and it looks plausible, but I haven't found any conclusive answer.
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Usage of the implicit object-subordinate clause in Italian (i.e. Usage of the implicit objective subordinate clause in English - part II)

In a sense, the following question is a sequel of this one: Usage of the implicit objective subordinate clause in English. In that question I asked some information about the usage of the implicit ...
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225 views

Usage of the implicit objective subordinate clause in English

I'm not a fluent english speaker. While speaking this language, we usually prefer the implicit objective subordinate clauses (with subject in the accusative case, if it exists) to the corresponding ...
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0answers
73 views

(proto-)Germanic evidence for Late Latin vowel length

I would like to find a list of borrowings illustrating the reflexes in (proto-)Germanic of Latin long and short vowels. In particular I would like to find substantiation to the standard claim that it ...
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3answers
6k views

Why are Latin and Sanskrit called dead languages?

I hear Latin and Sanskrit are called dead languages. Sanskrit is used in rituals and at the temples. I think this is also true of Latin. What is the cause of their degradation when they have enriched ...
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2answers
261 views

Is Latin “ulula” cognate with hindi उल्लू (“ullu”)?

Hindi उल्लू /ʊl.luː/ (derived from Sanskrit उलूक /uluːka/) appears superficially very similar to Latin ulula (both meaning "owl"). Are these words cognate?
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1answer
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How did the cross-linguistic univerbation 'nothing/not/none/no + less' semantically shift to signify 'despite'?

Several European languages have (false?) cognate adverbs with the meaning of 'nevertheless' (and 'nonetheless') built from words meaning "nothing/not/none/no" and "less". despite ...

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