Thursday, September 20, 2012

Latin, the Eternal Language



The ancient Romans were disciplined and hard working people who created one of the greatest empires the world has ever known. Their Empire that spanned Europe and some parts of Asia and Africa made an imprint on the history and culture of peoples in many places around the world.                               

Latin, the tongue of the ancient Romans, is an ancient language of the Italic branch of the Indo-European Language family that is closely related to Sanskrit, Greek, Germanic and Celtic. Latin which was the language of communication in the empire helped enhance the propagation of knowledge in commerce, law, medicine and other fields of science. The conversion of Roman Emperor Constantine to Christianity brought about the spread of that religion throughout the empire.  Latin was the Language of letters in Western Europe in the Middle Ages.  It was also the language of scholarship and diplomacy until the 18th century and of the Roman Catholic liturgy until the 20th century.                                                                    

The fall of the Roman Empire made no need for peoples across the empire to have a common language. And peoples in different places in the empire carved their own nations and brought with them their own distinct culture, ethnicities and beliefs. Slowly, the use of Latin as the medium of communication began to decline until it became a dead language.

However, Latin was deeply ingrained in the tongue of peoples especially at places near Rome so that several languages that are derivatives of Latin called Romance Languages evolved. Therefore, the use of Latin in modified form lives on. Some of the Romance Languages are the Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Romanian, Catalan and Provencal. The colonization of the American continent by the Europeans of such places as Brazil, Mexico and others made the Romance Language such as Spanish and Portuguese as some of the most widely spoken languages of the world.

Great Britain was once a part of the Roman Empire. Its ancient inhabitants spoke an Indo-European Germanic Language. Roman occupation of Britain had a far reaching influence on the culture and language of the English people. Although English is a Germanic Language, It has borrowed many words from Greek and Latin. The English vocabulary contains words that have about 60% Latin roots,  

Following are 13 Latin nouns and their equivalent in English and their derived words. The examples are just some of the many words with Latin roots that have found their way in the English vocabulary. They help illustrate in some ways the impact made by Latin in the development of the English Language.

Latin roots
Basic meaning
Example words
amicus
friend
amiable, amity, amicable
aqua
water
aquatic, aquarium, aqueduct, aqueous, aquifer, aquanaut
aves
bird
avian, aviary, aviator, aviate, aviation, aviatrix, aviculture
caballus
horse
cavalry, chivalry, cavalier, cavalcade,
cor
heart
accord, discord, cordial, concord
dente
tooth
dental, dentist, dentate, denticle, dentifrice, dentin, dentition, denture
ignis
fire
ignite, ignition, igneous, ignescent
lac
milk
lactate, lactation, lacteal, lactic, lactose
manus
hand
manual, maneuver. manage, manacle, manufacture, manicure
mare
sea
marine, maritime, marina, mariner
ovum
egg
oval, ovate, ovary, ovarian, ovule, ovulation
sal
salt
salary, salami, salad, saline, salinity, salinize, saltine, salinometer, salsa
terra
earth
terrain, terrestrial, extra-terrestrial, terrace, territory

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