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.

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31
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3answers
6k 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 ...
28
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7answers
14k views

Why do so many core Romanian words with Latin roots come from different roots than in the other Romance languages?

Romanian is a romance language like Catalan, Italian, French, Portuguese, and Spanish so much of its core vocabulary is derived from Latin. Why then even in core vocabulary does Romanian so often ...
28
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5answers
1k views

Which Romance languages have reflexes of the Latin nominative in nouns?

It is generally accepted that the nominal forms in the Romance languages represent reflexes of the Latin accusative rather than the nominative. (This is even true for those languages that have ...
24
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4answers
25k views

What are the historical origins of terms for north, south, east and west?

In the course of researching the etymology of the word "Australia", I was trying to find the Latin words for north and south (the cardinal directions). I found some websites that translate north as "...
20
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2answers
1k views

Why did some Hebrew words beginning with Yod become transliterated into Latin as “hi?”

This is something I noticed when reading some different older English bibles. Often times, it seems there was originally & traditionally a digraph (I guess) ⟨Hi⟩ where now the more proper letter ⟨...
19
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3answers
2k views

What did the Greeks and Romans believe about language relationships?

The ancient Greeks and Romans had no concept of historical linguistics or of the Indo-European language family. However, it would have been noticeable to anyone who spoke even a little of both Greek ...
17
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1answer
1k views

Did Romance languages evolve in North Africa?

So, I know that the dialects of Vulgar Latin evolved into the Romance languages in the Western Roman Empire, but I've always wondered why they only formed in Europe instead of in North Africa. Does ...
16
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5answers
13k views

Why are many ancient languages so complicated compared to many modern languages?

Many ancient languages have a structure that is more complex than that of the "respective" modern languages. Modern languages like English have simpler structure, without case, gender or declination, ...
15
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1answer
2k views

Why is 1/12 called an “uncia” in Latin?

The Latin word uncia (which is the origin of the English word ounce) denotes 1/12 of a pound. Does anybody know the etymology of this word? Shouldn’t it be something more like *docia, or anything ...
15
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1answer
444 views

Italian past participle ending -uto

Why, in the paradigm for Italian past participles ending in -ere, does the regular past participle end in -uto? Whence the vowel, when the other two paradigms have -ato and -ito?
12
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1answer
361 views

How does L. “quartus” come from L. “quattuor”, which has “quat” but “quart”?

quartus From Latin quattuor ("four"), originally from Proto-Indo-European quattuor From Proto-Indo-European *kʷetwóres. Cognates include Sanskrit चतुर् (catur), Old Armenian չորք (čʿork'), ...
11
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1answer
1k views

Latin stress rules: exceptions

Do the Latin stress rules (antepenultimate if penultimate is light, penultimate if heavy) have any known exceptions? Also, sometimes the rule assigns antepenultimate stress to a syllable belonging to ...
11
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2answers
464 views

How can I check whether 'question' in English, and 'xahesh' in Persian are cognates?

It seems plausible to me, and I would like to know how to verify it. Why I think xahesh might be cognate with question: xahesh (IPA: /xɑːheʃ/) in Modern Persian is a noun meaning "request, plea". ...
10
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3answers
2k views

Descendants of Latin vs. Greek?

From Latin there descend half a dozen (or more) modern languages. Greek, by contrast, has simply changed over time but without branching into separate languages. Why the difference? Both were spoken ...
10
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3answers
32k views

Why is “Aurora Borealis” from Greek, but “Aurora Australis” from Latin?

In astronomy we have the Aurora Australis in the south and the Aurora Borealis in the north. According to Wikipedia, auster is in fact the Latin equivalent of the Greek νότος, or southern wind. ...
10
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3answers
326 views

Where did the use of the two auxiliaries in the Romance languages come from?

Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and French all have a (compound) perfect tense, which I find curious, given that Latin did not. (You can alternatively perhaps say that it is either united with the ...
10
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4answers
2k views

How does the initial consonant in “Jupiter” and “Zeus” come from the “d” in PIE “*dyew-”?

Jupiter, is from Proto-Indo-European *dyew- (“sky”) (whence also Latin diēs). Cognate with Ancient Greek Ζεύς (Zeus), Hittite 𒅆𒍑 (sius), Sanskrit द्यु (dyú). The nominative Iuppiter comes from ...
10
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1answer
525 views

Where did Latin and its descendants retain a case system most recently?

So we know that Latin nouns and adjectives inflect for case as well as person, number, and gender. Also we know that all the major modern Romance languages except Romanian no longer have a case ...
9
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6answers
17k views

Online etymology dictionary for Latin

Is there an etymology dictionary for Latin that is available on the Internet? For example, I know of http://etymonline.com/, which is a great resource for English etymology, but I have not been able ...
9
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4answers
496 views

Languages preserving loanword inflections

Erudite English has an interesting practice where the plural form of loanwords may follow the inflectional grammar of the source language. Thus "campi" as well as "campuses", "minima" as well as "...
9
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3answers
177 views

Do dead languages borrow words?

So, presumably, at some point during of after the fall of the Roman Empire, Latin became a dead language. Or, at least no longer used outside of the Church or science. When that happens to a language, ...
9
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2answers
309 views

How did Latin get its stress pattern?

As far as I know, Latin had a word-initial accent for some time of its history after losing the Indo-European accent. I am wondering why Latin then switched to an ante-/pen-ultima stress pattern.
9
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3answers
1k views

Why are there words meaning both “breath” and “life/spirit” in so many languages?

In Ancient Greek, πνεῦμα (pneuma) can mean "breath" as in "a breath of air" (literal) or "divine breath of inspiration" (figurative); it can also mean "life", "spirit", and "vitality" as demonstrated ...
8
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3answers
6k views

Hebrew “shemen” versus Latin “semen”

Is the etymology of the word "semen" (eng. "seed") in Latin connected to the hebrew word שֶׁמֶן "shemen" (eng. "ointment")? I've just read a peculiar article that attempted to make this connection: ...
8
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2answers
9k views

How many of Latin words have Greek roots?

I was wondering how many of Latin (both Classical and Medieval varieties) words have Greek roots. Is Greek the common root of most IE languages?
8
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2answers
622 views

How did it happen that K was introduced to Latin alphabet in place of C and C started to mark /t͡s/ or /s/ in many languages?

I know that K has been derived from Greek kappa and C from gamma. But how did it happen that people started to use K in place of C? From what I know there were already C and G in the Latin alphabet ...
8
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1answer
292 views

Etymology of Latin infinitive verb endings

I was wondering, what the etymology of Latin infinitive verb endings -are, -ere and -ire was. I assume they are Indo-European, but I haven't found any information about it.
8
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1answer
405 views

Are L. domus and L. domō cognates?

domus From Proto-Indo-European *dṓm, from root *demh₂- (“to build”). Cognates include Ancient Greek δόμος (dómos), Albanian dhomë (“a chamber, a room”), Sanskrit दम (dáma) and Proto-Slavic *domъ. ...
7
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3answers
5k 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 ...
7
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2answers
262 views

What linguistic impact, if any, has the the Roman three name naming system left on modern Romance and European languages?

The ancient Romans had a three name system (tria nomina): praenomen, the birth/given name; the nomen, like a family name but marking the person as belonging to a specific gens; and the cognomen, of ...
7
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3answers
3k views

Is there a named common ancestor of Germanic and Latin besides “Indo-European”?

I was just answering a question about the origins of English and Latin and wanted to talk about their common ancestors but ran into a surprising problem. So we know the majority of languages in ...
7
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2answers
203 views

Reverse-etymology resources

Are there any resources which, given a Latin or Greek word, reference modern English words derived from the word? I find it much easier to remember a root when I know a word derived from it. For a ...
7
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1answer
235 views

Why does “-b-” differ between L “offero” and L “aufero”?

offero From ob ("towards") + ferō ("bear, carry") aufero From ab ("from") + ferō ("bear, carry") Both prefixes of them end with "-b-", but why do their compounds differ from each other, namely ...
7
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3answers
205 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, ...
7
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2answers
2k views

Why did English borrow more from Latin and Greek than, e.g., German did, in scientific and philosophical subjects?

Is there any known reason why the scholars of the time didn't think it easier to use calques, as for instance the Germans did for the names of some of the basic chemical elements?
7
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2answers
140 views

When did the concept of constituent movement arise?

As far back as the mid 1700s, William Ward considered the following phrase in An Essay on Grammar applied to the English Language. the flowers which a lady sitting on the seat in a garden views with ...
6
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3answers
3k views

Does word order really not matter in Latin?

New to Latin, I can't help but wonder about the following: Every text I found online claims that since words are inflected (enough) to indicate the roles they play in a sentence, word order has no ...
6
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1answer
603 views

Derivatives of Latin *mulier* in French

It is well known that the derivatives of Latin mulier and fēmina competed in Romance languages as the main word for `woman'. For instance, the former remained as Spanish mujer and Portuguese mulher (...
6
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1answer
868 views

What rule governs the vowel alternations in Latin caput/capit-/-cep(t)-/-cipit-/-ciput?

In different forms, the Latin root caput "head" appears with different vowels: a-u: caput (nominative singular); a-i: capitis (genitive singular), capitī (dative singular), capita (nominative plural),...
6
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1answer
3k views

The stylistic effect of chiasmus in Latin

The motto of my alma mater is sidere mens eadem mutato, which I gloss: sidere mens eadem mutato star-SG.N.ABL mind-SG.F.NOM same-SG.F.NOM change-SG.N.ABL I have long ...
6
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3answers
294 views

Is there some intrinsic relationship between the nominative plural and genitive singular?

In Latin the similarity between the nominative plural and genitive singular is most striking: First: porta (Nom/Sing) and portae (Nom/Pl), portae (Gen/Sing) and portarum (Gen/Pl) Second: servus (Nom/...
6
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2answers
579 views

Was there a Greek or Latin name spelled “Jesus” or similarly before the advent of Christianity?

Many of the originally Barbarian names in history were Christianized. Many Christian saints with Slavic/Germanic names were given similar-sounding Greek and Latin names. In this way "Kuzma" (...
6
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2answers
485 views

Abbreviations for “gerund”, “gerundive” and “supine”?

Are there some commonly used abbreviations for "gerund", "gerundive" and "supine"?
6
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1answer
517 views

In Latin protases, what's the different between the future and future perfect tenses?

In Latin, so-called "future more vivid" conditionals can take one of two tenses in the protasis: Future: Si aedificabis, venient "If you build it, they will come." Future perfect: Si aedificaveris, ...
6
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1answer
490 views

Why did “exempli gratia” (e.g.) and “id est” (i.e.) become widespread in English, but not in other languages?

Usage of the abbreviations "e.g." and "i.e." is very common in English, but not so much in other language. In Dutch they are used sometimes, but they are recent imports due to a lot of exposure to ...
5
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3answers
342 views

strange Latin spelling : karissime

I read in Ovid, Metamorphoses, 1.486 (in a recent French edition) : "Da mihi perpetua, genitor karissime" (O dearest father, allow me to enjoy perpetual maidenhood !) "karissime" isn't an error : ...
5
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1answer
592 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
310 views

Latin's excrescent e- in English and French

Etymonline's entry on 'estate' broaches the excrescent e-. Is this excrescence called epenthesis? the later Romans evidently found words beginning insc-, sp-, st-difficult or unpleasant to ...
5
votes
2answers
519 views

Is English “lake” Derived from Latin, or is it Indo-European?

I'm having a bit of trouble figuring this one out. Lake, meaning "A large, landlocked stretch of water." seems to have some confusion in the Wiktionary pages. I've looked in the American Heritage ...
5
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2answers
387 views

Feelings about formerly more civilized foreigners' words

Is there a name for the phenomenon described below, whereby even after centuries of development into erudite thinking, people feel that words that come from formerly more civilized foreigners are more ...