History of the Latin Language

Latin is an Italic language, formerly spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. However, it is not the native of Italy alone and was brought into the Italian Peninsula in the ancient times by the Italians who migrated from north. It spread throughout the Mediterranean and a major part of Europe as a result of the Roman conquest. Some of the Romance languages such as French, Italian, Spanish, Romanian and Catalan are said to have descended from Latin. Much of Latin’s vocabulary have also been inherited and acquired by European languages.

Modern Latin came into existence in the 15th and 16th centuries. Almost all important scientific, religious and philosophical books were written in Latin at this time. However, during the end of the 17th century, the importance of Latin began to decline. In the 17th century, when Latin started being replaced gradually by vernacular languages, it lost its international status.

However, it continued to be called the language of classical scholarship in the 18th and 19th centuries. Latin is still being used by the Roman Catholic Church in its official documents.

Latin was, in earlier times, spoken in the Latium region of Rome and received great recognition as the official language of the Roman Empire. It is believed that 80% of the cerebral English terminology has been derived from Latin. For several years in the west, Latin language was learned for scientific and political purposes, but was eventually replaced by French in the 18th century and English in the late 19th century. Regardless of this, Latin retained its formal stature of the Roman Catholic Church until today and thus the official national language of the Vatican.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Latin progressed into a variety of Romance languages that remained only spoken languages for centuries. Vulgar Latin gave birth to several Romance languages thereafter.

The Latin courses that are offered in schools and universities mainly aim at translating Latin into various other modern languages and do not emphasize it as a tool for general communication. The reading skill is heavily emphasized whereas the speaking and listening skills are barely touched upon. However, Latin linguists argue that Latin must be treated equally as the other modern living languages that are taught.

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