Of all the languages in the world, perhaps no other is as interesting and fundamental to the world as Latin. Latin is a dead language left to the world by the Roman, a nation and race which had the habit of conquering other countries and living behind much of their sophistication and culture. As such, Latin has become a root language for many other tongues which makes studying it one of the noblest aspirations for anyone who is currently using a romance language such as Italian, Romanian, French, Spanish, or Portuguese. It is also however the step-mother language for a great many other languages including Italian, Romanian, English, German, Romansch, Austrian, Valencian, Catalan and more. Knowing more about this language and the legacy it has left will surely help one to understand not only the way their own language is expressed but also the properties of language in general and how they may be passed on.
The Latin language emerged out of a class of language families called “Indo-European”, language systems that come from cultures throughout India and the Middle East (Thompson). The earliest writings of Latin are found from the 6th century B.C. The language drew upon the Etruscan, Greek, alphabet in the 7th century (Ager). Of all the many devices, cultural components, and technologies left behind by the Roman’s prolific conquest, none may be so lasting as that of Latin. Latin, unlike many other Roman cultural elements, stayed the language of record even while the Roman Empire dissolved in on itself as new forms of statehood evolved (Leonhardt 1). For the entire first millennia, the Latin language was a dominant aspect of the world’s communication with itself making it one of the grandest communication patterns yet used by humanity at that time. Even in the midst of revolution, the fact that the Latin remained a mark of distinction, intelligence, and tradition for the Middle ages is also a testament to the degree of prominence this speech and writing has meant to artesians, alchemists, philosophers, theologians, scientists and more (Leonhardt 1). Latin, more than almost any other language, was a core subject within schools throughout central Europe, Russia, Scandinavia, both South and North America, and even Australia. It is only since the twentieth century that Latin stopped being a main subject for higher education and was pronounced ‘dead’ (Leonhardt 1). Despite the status as a ‘dead’ language, the Latin language still possesses a tremendous influence which practically everyone encounters in some form or another daily. For instance, all animals are still classified scientifically in Latin across the world, something that all the classification books testify to regardless of their origin and audience. Furthermore, many of the terms are still used by people of higher thought to communicate ideas and phrases in Latin that emphasize a numinous and/or everlasting character which plain speech may fall short in achieving.
Before however the language was taken by scholars, the language was an instrument of the people which was used in Theatre. The oldest instance of Latin to be used for theatre is found in 200 BCE from plays in Rome written by a writer named Plautus (Janson 2). These stories were about life for affluent middle class people dealing with daily struggles and desires within their lives usually taking place in various ports of interest like harbors, farms, castles, and so forth (Janson 214). This formative play prose type actually would be picked up by other play writes for years to come including the world’s most famous poet play writer Shakespeare.
Latin has been used in a few specialized areas which has helped the language to receive its popularity and acclaim. The Catholic Church in particular has been of utmost significance in preserving and harnessing the legacy and power of Latin. Actually, Latin was used all throughout Christendom however it is the formal institution of the Catholic Church which has had the foremost influence. According to scholars of the subject, Latin was an “indispensable necessity… as much for philosophy and theology as for jurisprudence and medicine; and it is, for that very reason the common language of all the scholars in Europe” (Waquet 80). Those who could not speak or write in Latin were persecuted by their contemporaries as dimwits and/or unqualified commenters upon their subjects which is quite astounding since many times those criticized were actually citizens of countries that did not have Latin as their native tongue (Waquet 81).
Latin is also the main tongue of alchemist. Throughout ancient Egypt, the language was used by those scholars who were searching for a way to turn lead into gold and appeared in may treatises (Janson 161). Although such attempts are not verified, the writings of these alchemists have inspired the minds of many of history’s greatest including Roger Bacon and Isaac Newton. Besides gold searching, alchemists were after the Lapis Philosophi,, ‘the philosopher’s Sone’ or magisterium, ‘mastery-control’ (Janson 161). Such an item would thus help the alchemist to achieve either the actual or mystical realization of eternal life as well as a handful of other powers that would suit such an achievement. Words in Latin were believed to possesses certain powers that could literally provoke causational effects, such as healing or harming people, and thus were used by magi, or wizards. The book Metamorphoses is one such account of such sorcery wherein a young man named Lucius is transformed into a donkey by an evil witch which is told entirely in Latin (Janson 162).
Latin is likely chosen as a favored teaching subject for many higher education forms as it employs the Roman alphabet, the same letter system that English and almost all other European languages have come to use (Janson 4). There are with this language lettering system a great many similarities in pronunciation as well. A few minor differences do exist however. In Latin the letter c is usually represented by the noise ‘k’ that is used (Janson 5). Latin, like English, has just five vowels, e, o, u, i, and a, all of which are in the same pronunciation (Janson 5). . Nevertheless, the translation of ancient Latin can be much more difficult. A chart of the alphabet’s more ancient order and drawing style is presented below.
Although much more uncommon in practice since Latin became standardized as the language of scholars, these symbols still are interesting shapes that may help people of the world to recognize the language predecessor. There is a study, used mostly in Hebrew divination and theology, to interpret meanings of words based upon the meaning of their constituent letters. In Latin, the shapes here may also provide clues about what possible secrets may exist within the lettering system of the Alphabet. ‘Q’ or example shows a circle resting on a dash, likely the same dash that exists within the modern day Q. If one considers the most common use of Q, that of ‘Questioning’, such as in Q and A, the Q shown here may be taken to represent an even more stable form of the interrogative letter. More simply, the modern ‘Q’ leans to the side while the older stands on the dash. Perhaps then, the meaning of the circle within, the basic-root symbol of the universe (and hence all questions), of the Language is even more balanced and simplified than the twist suggested by the ‘Q’ of the modern one.
The Roman’s alphabet for Latin is the version that has been extensively used throughout the world today. The keys for the alphabet is also shown below.
The Latin language is unique in that it is commonly both instantaneously recognizable and extricable. Take for instance the word Masculum. Right away, one can assume it is related to maleness through the approximate term, masculine. Indeed the word is ‘Male’ in English, however a wide range of other language speaker could just as easily have identified the term as an approximate of their own. For instance, in Spanish, the word male is Masculino, an even more similar word than the English form, likely because Spanish is a romance language (Google Translator). Another similarity between Latin and the romance languages to know about is that in both, the adjective, usually follows the noun. For example, the word phrase, Masculum Clara, actually means ‘famous man’ (Janson 3). Although this may appear strange to native English speakers, such a form is actually quite common throughout the world’s dialectic pattern and is, from a mostly objective perspective, a natural way to classify objects since order of utterance should likely follow the order of importance. Hence, the noun, the subject of the sense, is eloquently placed before the adjective in Latin.
Given all this interesting history about Latin, it may be the desire of some to know and use key words of Latin, either purely for fun or perhaps to increase their intellectual prowess.
• Auribus Teneo Lupum- is a latin phrase meaning “Holding a wolf by the Ears” a term pairable to holding a tiger by the tail (Jones).
• Brutum Fulumen- Literally, a senseless thunderbolt, meaning ‘empty threat’.
• Carpe Noche and Carpe Diem- Seize the Night and seize the day (Jones).
• Castigat Ridendo Mores-Laughing corrects morals (Jones).
• Ex Nihlo Nihil Fit- Nothing comes from nothing (Jones).
• Hic Manebimus Optime!- “Here we will stay, most excellently!”-quoted the Romans when pressed to leave their city when the Goths invaded (Jones)
• Homo sum humani a me nihil alienum puto- I am a human being, so nothing human is strange to me (Jones).
Latin, spoken or as writing, is good. Latin is a foundational language for many languages used today and is thus a useful linguistic for digging at the roots of words used today. Many of the phrases have a numinous appeal to them which an active and comparative imagination can glean the meaning of. Although the language is not as prolific as it once was, it may still rise again to be a universally recognized mode of proficient and intelligible communication.
Ager, Simon. Etruscan. Omniglot, 2013. Web. June 18, 2016. http://www.omniglot.com/writing/latin.htm
Leonhardt, Jurgen. Latin. Harvard University Press, 2013. https://books.google.com/books
Janson, Tore. A Natural History of Latin. OUP Oxford, 2007. https://books.google.com/books?id=4FcNoHVUwHkC&dq=latin+history+language&source=gbs_navlinks_s.
Jones, Paul Anthony. 20 Latin Phrases you Should be Using. MentalFloss, 2016. Web. August 19, 2016. http://mentalfloss.com/article/57898/20-latin-phrases-you-should-be-using.
Google Translator. Male-Maculum. Google Translator, 2016. Web. August 18, 2016. https://www.google.com/search?client=opera&q=male+in+spanish&sourceid=opera&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8
Thompson. Paul. Nooks and Crannies. The Guardian, 2011. Web. August 19, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/notesandqueries/query/0,,-197552,00.html.
Waquet, Francoise. Latin, Or, The Empire of a Sign; From the Sixteenth to the Twentieth Centuries. Verso, 2002. Web. August 19, 2016. https://books.google.com/books?id=jgeV5UEKWggC&dq=latin&source=gbs_navlinks_s