LATIN (Latin: _lingua latīna_, IPA: ) is a classical language
belonging to the Italic branch of the
Indo-European languages . The
Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets , and
ultimately from the
Phoenician alphabet .
Latin was originally spoken in
Latium , in the
Italian Peninsula .
Through the power of the
Roman Republic , it became the dominant
language, initially in Italy and subsequently throughout the Roman
Vulgar Latin developed into the
Romance languages , such as
Italian , Portuguese , Spanish , French , and Romanian .
French have contributed many words to the
English language .
Ancient Greek roots are used in theology , biology , and medicine .
By the late
Roman Republic (75 BC),
Old Latin had been standardised
Classical Latin .
Vulgar Latin was the colloquial form spoken
during the same time and attested in inscriptions and the works of
comic playwrights like
Late Latin is the
written language from the 3rd century, and
Medieval Latin the language
used from the 9th century to the
Renaissance which used Renaissance
Latin . Later, Early Modern
Latin and Modern
used as the language of international communication, scholarship, and
science until well into the 18th century, when it began to be
supplanted by vernaculars .
Ecclesiastical Latin remains the official
language of the
Holy See and the
Roman Rite of the
Catholic Church .
Today, many students, scholars and members of the Catholic clergy
Latin fluently as a liturgical language . It is taught in
primary, secondary and postsecondary educational institutions around
Latin is a highly inflected language , with three distinct genders ,
seven noun cases , four verb conjugations , four verb principal parts,
six tenses , three persons , three moods , two voices , two aspects
and two numbers .
* 1 History
* 2 Legacy
* 2.1 Inscriptions
* 2.2 Literature
* 2.3 Influence on present-day languages
* 2.4 Education
* 2.5 Official status
* 3.1 Consonants
* 3.2 Vowels
* 3.2.1 Simple vowels
* 3.2.2 Diphthongs
* 4 Orthography
* 4.1 Alternate scripts
* 5.1 Nouns
* 5.2 Adjectives
* 5.2.1 First- and second-declension adjectives
* 5.2.2 Third-declension adjectives
* 5.2.3 Participles
* 5.3 Prepositions
* 5.4 Verbs
* 5.4.1 Deponent verbs
* 7 Phrases
* 8 Numbers
* 9 Example text
* 10 See also
* 11 Notes
* 12 References
* 13 External links
* 13.1 Language tools
* 13.2 Courses
Grammar and study
* 13.4 Phonetics
Latin language news and audio
Latin language online communities
History of Latin
History of Latin The linguistic landscape of
Central Italy at the beginning of Roman expansion
A number of historical phases of the language have been recognised,
each distinguished by subtle differences in vocabulary, usage,
spelling, morphology, and syntax. There are no hard and fast rules of
classification; different scholars emphasise different features. As a
result, the list has variants, as well as alternative names. In
addition to the historical phases,
Ecclesiastical Latin refers to the
styles used by the writers of the Roman
Catholic Church as well as by
Protestant scholars from
Late Antiquity onward.
After the Western
Roman Empire fell in 476, and Germanic kingdoms
took its place, the
Germanic people adopted
Latin as a language more
suitable for legal and other formal uses.
The earliest known form of
Latin is Old Latin, which was spoken from
Roman Kingdom to the middle of the
Roman Republic period. It is
attested both in inscriptions and in some of the earliest extant Latin
literary works, such as the comedies of
Terence . The
Latin alphabet was devised from the
Etruscan alphabet . The writing
later changed from an initial right-to-left or boustrophedon to a
During the late republic and into the first years of the empire, a
Classical Latin arose, a conscious creation of the orators, poets,
historians and other literate men, who wrote the great works of
classical literature , which were taught in grammar and rhetoric
schools. Today's instructional grammars trace their roots to such
schools , which served as a sort of informal language academy
dedicated to maintaining and perpetuating educated speech.
Vulgar Latin and
Philological analysis of Archaic
Latin works, such as those of
Plautus , which contain snippets of everyday speech, indicates that a
Vulgar Latin (termed _sermo vulgi_, "the speech of
the masses", by
Cicero ), existed concurrently with literate Classical
Latin. The informal language was rarely written, so philologists have
been left with only individual words and phrases cited by classical
authors and those found as graffiti.
As it was free to develop on its own, there is no reason to suppose
that the speech was uniform either diachronically or geographically.
On the contrary, romanised European populations developed their own
dialects of the language, which eventually led to the differentiation
Romance languages . The Decline of the
Roman Empire meant a
deterioration in educational standards that brought about Late Latin,
a postclassical stage of the language seen in Christian writings of
the time. It was more in line with everyday speech, not only because
of a decline in education but also because of a desire to spread the
word to the masses.
Despite dialectal variation, which is found in any widespread
language, the languages of Spain, France, Portugal, and Italy retained
a remarkable unity in phonological forms and developments, bolstered
by the stabilising influence of their common Christian (Roman
Catholic) culture. It was not until the Moorish conquest of Spain in
711 cut off communications between the major Romance regions that the
languages began to diverge seriously. The
Vulgar Latin dialect that
would later become Romanian diverged somewhat more from the other
varieties, as it was largely cut off from the unifying influences in
the western part of the Empire.
One key marker of whether a Romance feature was in
Vulgar Latin is to
compare it with its parallel in Classical Latin. If it was not
preferred in Classical Latin, then it most likely came from the
undocumented contemporaneous Vulgar Latin. For example, the Romance
for "horse" (Italian _cavallo_, French _cheval_, Spanish _caballo_,
Portuguese _cavalo_ and Romanian _cal_) came from
Classical Latin used _equus_. Therefore _caballus_ was most
likely the spoken form.
Vulgar Latin began to diverge into distinct languages by the 9th
century at the latest, when the earliest extant Romance writings begin
to appear. They were, throughout the period, confined to everyday
Medieval Latin was used for writing.
Medieval Latin The
Medieval Latin is the written
Latin in use during that portion of the
postclassical period when no corresponding
Latin vernacular existed.
The spoken language had developed into the various incipient Romance
languages; however, in the educated and official world
without its natural spoken base. Moreover, this
Latin spread into
lands that had never spoken Latin, such as the Germanic and Slavic
nations. It became useful for international communication between the
member states of the Holy
Roman Empire and its allies.
Without the institutions of the Roman empire that had supported its
Latin lost its linguistic cohesion: for example,
Latin _sum_ and _eram_ are used as auxiliary verbs in the
perfect and pluperfect passive, which are compound tenses. Medieval
Latin might use _fui_ and _fueram_ instead. Furthermore, the meanings
of many words have been changed and new vocabularies have been
introduced from the vernacular. Identifiable individual styles of
Renaissance Latin Most 15th century printed books
(incunabula ) were in Latin, with the vernacular languages playing
only a secondary role.
The Renaissance briefly reinforced the position of
Latin as a spoken
language by its adoption by the
Renaissance Humanists . Often led by
members of the clergy, they were shocked by the accelerated
dismantling of the vestiges of the classical world and the rapid loss
of its literature. They strove to preserve what they could and restore
Latin to what it had been and introduced the practice of producing
revised editions of the literary works that remained by comparing
surviving manuscripts. By no later than the 15th century they had
Medieval Latin with versions supported by the scholars of the
rising universities, who attempted, by scholarship, to discover what
the classical language had been.
During the Early Modern Age,
Latin still was the most important
language of culture in Europe. Therefore, until the end of the 17th
century the majority of books and almost all diplomatic documents were
written in Latin. Afterwards, most diplomatic documents were written
in French and later just native or other languages.
Contemporary Latin The signs at Wallsend Metro
station are in English and
Latin as a tribute to Wallsend's role as
one of the outposts of the
Roman Empire .
The largest organisation that retains
Latin in official and
quasi-official contexts is the
Catholic Church .
Latin remains the
language of the
Roman Rite ; the
Tridentine Mass is celebrated in
Latin. Although the
Mass of Paul VI is usually celebrated in the local
vernacular language , it can be and often is said in Latin, in part or
whole, especially at multilingual gatherings. It is the official
language of the
Holy See , the primary language of its public journal
, the _
Acta Apostolicae Sedis _, and the working language of the Roman
Vatican City is also home to the world's only automatic teller
machine that gives instructions in Latin. In the pontifical
universities postgraduate courses of
Canon law are taught in Latin,
and papers are written in the same language.
Anglican Church , after the publication of the _Book of Common
Prayer _ of 1559, a
Latin edition was published in 1560 for use at
universities such as Oxford and the leading "public schools" (English
private academies), where the liturgy was still permitted to be
Latin and there have been several
since. Most recently, a
Latin edition of the 1979 USA Anglican Book of
Common Prayer has appeared.
Some films of ancient settings, such as _
Sebastiane _ and _The
Passion of the Christ _, have been made with dialogue in
Latin for the
sake of realism. Occasionally,
Latin dialogue is used because of its
association with religion or philosophy, in such film/television
series as _The Exorcist _ and _Lost _ ("Jughead "). Subtitles are
usually shown for the benefit of those who do not understand Latin.
There are also songs written with
Latin lyrics . The libretto for the
opera-oratorio _Oedipus rex_ (opera) by
Igor Stravinsky is in Latin.
Switzerland adopts the country's
Latin short name _Helvetia_ on coins
and stamps since there is no room to use all of the nation's four
official languages . For a similar reason, it adopted the
international vehicle and internet code _CH_, which stands for
_Confoederatio Helvetica_, the country's full
Latin name. _ The
European Union has adopted
Latin names in the logos of some
of its institutions for the sake of linguistic compromise, an
"ecumenical nationalism" common to most of the continent and as a sign
of the continent's heritage (such as the EU Council : Consilium_)
Many organizations today have
Latin mottos, such as "Semper paratus "
(always ready), the motto of the
United States Coast Guard , and
"Semper fidelis " (always faithful), the motto of the United States
Marine Corps . Several of the states of the
United States also have
Latin mottos, such as "Qui transtulit sustinet" ("He who transplanted
still sustains"), the state motto of
Connecticut ; "Ad astra per
aspera " ("To the stars through hardships"), that of
Kansas ; "Si
quaeris peninsulam amoenam, circumspice" ("If you seek a pleasant
peninsula, look about you"), that of
Michigan ; "Salus populi suprema
lex esto " ("The health of the people should be the highest law"),
Missouri ; "Esse quam videri " (To be rather than to seem),
North Carolina ; "
Sic semper tyrannis " (Thus always for
tyrants), that of
Virginia ; and "Montani semper liberi "
(Mountaineers are always free), that of West
Virginia . Another Latin
motto is "
Per ardua ad astra " (Through adversity/struggle to the
stars), the motto of the
Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force (RAF) . Some schools adopt
Latin mottos, for example
Harvard University 's motto is "
Veritas was the goddess of truth, a daughter of
Saturn, and the mother of Virtue.
Canada 's motto "A mari usque ad mare" (from sea to sea)
and most provincial mottos are also in
British Columbia 's is
Splendor Sine Occasu (splendor without diminishment)).
Occasionally, some media outlets broadcast in Latin, which is
targeted at enthusiasts. Notable examples include
Radio Bremen in
YLE radio in
Finland , and Vatican Radio ">_ Julius
Commentarii de Bello Gallico
Commentarii de Bello Gallico _ is one of the most famous
Latin texts of the Golden Age of Latin. The unvarnished,
journalistic style of this patrician general has long been taught as a
model of the urbane
Latin officially spoken and written in the floruit
Roman Republic .
The works of several hundred ancient authors who wrote in
survived in whole or in part, in substantial works or in fragments to
be analyzed in philology . They are in part the subject matter of the
field of classics . Their works were published in manuscript form
before the invention of printing and are now published in carefully
annotated printed editions, such as the
Loeb Classical Library ,
Harvard University Press , or the Oxford Classical Texts
, published by
Oxford University Press .
Latin translations of modern literature such as _
The Hobbit _,
Treasure Island _, _
Robinson Crusoe _, _
Paddington Bear _, _Winnie
the Pooh _, _
The Adventures of Tintin _, _
Asterix _, _
Harry Potter _,
Walter the Farting Dog _, _Le Petit Prince _, _
Max and Moritz _, _How
the Grinch Stole Christmas! _, _
The Cat in the Hat _, and a book of
fairy tales, "fabulae mirabiles," are intended to garner popular
interest in the language. Additional resources include phrasebooks and
resources for rendering everyday phrases and concepts into Latin, such
Latin Phrasebook .
INFLUENCE ON PRESENT-DAY LANGUAGES
Latin influence in English has been significant at all stages of
its insular development. In the
Middle Ages , borrowing from Latin
occurred from ecclesiastical usage established by Saint Augustine of
Canterbury in the 6th century or indirectly after the Norman Conquest
, through the
Anglo-Norman language . From the 16th to the 18th
centuries, English writers cobbled together huge numbers of new words
Latin and Greek words, dubbed "inkhorn terms ", as if they had
spilled from a pot of ink. Many of these words were used once by the
author and then forgotten, but some useful ones survived, such as
'imbibe' and 'extrapolate'. Many of the most common polysyllabic
English words are of
Latin origin through the medium of
Old French .
Romance words make respectively 59%, 20% and 14% of English , German
and Dutch vocabularies. Those figures can rise dramatically when
only non-compound and non-derived words are included.
The influence of Roman governance and
Roman technology on the
less-developed nations under Roman dominion led to the adoption of
Latin phraseology in some specialized areas, such as science,
technology, medicine, and law. For example, the Linnaean system of
plant and animal classification was heavily influenced by _Historia
Naturalis _, an encyclopedia of people, places, plants, animals, and
things published by
Pliny the Elder . Roman medicine, recorded in the
works of such physicians as
Galen , established that today's medical
terminology would be primarily derived from
Latin and Greek words, the
Greek being filtered through the Latin.
Roman engineering had the same
effect on scientific terminology as a whole.
Latin law principles have
survived partly in a long list of
Latin legal terms .
A few international auxiliary languages have been heavily influenced
Interlingua is sometimes considered a simplified, modern
version of the language.
Latino sine Flexione , popular in the early
20th century, is
Latin with its inflections stripped away, among other
One study analyzing the degree of differentiation of Romance
languages in comparison to
Latin (comparing phonology , inflection ,
discourse , syntax , vocabulary , and intonation ) indicated the
following percentages (the higher the percentage, the greater the
distance from Latin): Sardinian 8%, Italian 12%, Spanish 20%, Romanian
23.5%, Occitan 25%, Portuguese 31%, and French 44%.
Latin dictionary in the University Library of Graz
Throughout European history, an education in the classics was
considered crucial for those who wished to join literate circles.
Instruction in Latin is an essential aspect. In today's world, a large
Latin students in the US learn from _Wheelock's Latin: The
Latin Course, Based on Ancient Authors_. This
book, first published in 1956, was written by
Frederic M. Wheelock ,
who received a PhD from Harvard University. _Wheelock's Latin_ has
become the standard text for many American introductory
Living Latin movement attempts to teach
Latin in the same way
that living languages are taught, as a means of both spoken and
written communication. It is available at the Vatican and at some
institutions in the US, such as the
University of Kentucky and Iowa
State University . The British
Cambridge University Press is a major
Latin textbooks for all levels, such as the Cambridge
Latin Course series. It has also published a subseries of children's
Latin by Bell ">
Ancient Greek at Duke
University , 2014.
United Kingdom , the
Classical Association encourages the
study of antiquity through various means, such as publications and
University of Cambridge , the
Open University , a number
of prestigious independent schools, for example Eton , Harrow ,
Haberdashers\' Aske\'s Boys\' School and Via Facilis, a London-based
Latin courses. In the
United States and in
Canada , the
American Classical League supports every effort to further the study
of classics. Its subsidiaries include the National Junior Classical
League (with more than 50,000 members), which encourages high school
students to pursue the study of Latin, and the National Senior
Classical League , which encourages students to continue their study
of the classics into college. The league also sponsors the National
Latin Exam . Classicist Mary Beard wrote in _The Times Literary
Supplement _ in 2006 that the reason for learning
Latin is because of
what was written in it.
Latin was or is the official language of European states:
Holy See – used in the diocese , with Italian being the
official language of
Latin was the sole official language of the Kingdom of
Hungary from the 11th century to the mid 19th century, when it was
replaced by Hungarian in 1844. The best known
Latin language poet
Janus Pannonius .
Latin was the official language of Croatian
Parliament (Sabor) from the 13th to the 19th century (1847). The
oldest preserved records of the parliamentary sessions (Congregatio
Regni totius Sclavonie generalis) – held in Zagreb (Zagabria),
Croatia – date from 19 April 1273. An extensive Croatian Latin
Poland – officially recognised and widely used between the
10th and 18th centuries, commonly used in foreign relations and
popular as a second language among some of the nobility
Latin spelling and pronunciation
The ancient pronunciation of
Latin has been reconstructed; among the
data used for reconstruction are explicit statements about
pronunciation by ancient authors, misspellings, puns, ancient
etymologies, and the spelling of
Latin loanwords in other languages.
The consonant phonemes of
Classical Latin are shown in the following
In Old and Classical Latin, the
Latin alphabet had no distinction
between uppercase and lowercase , and the letters ⟨J U W⟩ did not
exist. In place of ⟨J U⟩, ⟨I V⟩ were used. ⟨I V⟩
represented both vowels and consonants. Most of the letterforms were
similar to modern uppercase, as can be seen in the inscription from
Colosseum shown at the top of the article.
The spelling systems used in
Latin dictionaries and modern editions
Latin texts, however, normally use ⟨i u⟩ in place of
Classical-era ⟨i v⟩. Some systems use ⟨j v⟩ for the consonant
sounds /j w/ except in the combinations ⟨gu su qu⟩ for which
⟨v⟩ is never used.
Some notes concerning the mapping of
Latin phonemes to English
graphemes are given below:
phone ENGLISH EXAMPLES
Always hard as _k_ in _sky_, never soft as in _central_, _cello_,
As _t_ in _stay_, never as _t_ in _nation_
As _s_ in _say_, never as _s_ in _rise_ or _issue_
Always hard as _g_ in _good_, never soft as _g_ in _gem_
Before ⟨n⟩, as _ng_ in _sing_
As _n_ in _man_
Before ⟨c⟩, ⟨x⟩, and ⟨g⟩, as _ng_ in _sing_
When doubled ⟨ll⟩ and before ⟨i⟩, as clear _l_ in _link_
In all other positions, as dark _l_ in _bowl_ (_l pinguis_)
Similar to _qu_ in _quick_, never as _qu_ in _antique_
Sometimes at the beginning of a syllable, or after ⟨g⟩ and
⟨s⟩, as _w_ in _wine_, never as _v_ in _vine_
Sometimes at the beginning of a syllable, as _y_ in _yard_, never
as _j_ in _just_
Doubled between vowels, as _y y_ in _toy yacht_
A letter representing ⟨c⟩ + ⟨s⟩: as _x_ in English _axe_,
never as _x_ in _example_
In Classical Latin, as in modern Italian, double consonant letters
were pronounced as long consonant sounds distinct from short versions
of the same consonants. Thus the _nn_ in
Classical Latin _annus_,
year, (and in Italian /anno/) is pronounced as a doubled /nn/ as in
English _unnamed_. (In English, distinctive consonant length or
doubling occurs only at the boundary between two words or morphemes ,
as in that example.)
In Classical Latin, ⟨U⟩ did not exist as a letter distinct from
V; the written form ⟨V⟩ was used to represent both a vowel and a
consonant. ⟨Y⟩ was adopted to represent upsilon in loanwords from
Greek, but it was pronounced like ⟨u⟩ and ⟨i⟩ by some
speakers. It was also used in native
Latin words by confusion with
Greek words of similar meaning, such as sylva and ὕλη.
Classical Latin distinguished between long and short vowels . Then,
long vowels, except for ⟨I⟩, were frequently marked using the apex
, which was sometimes similar to an acute accent ⟨Á É Ó V́
Ý⟩. Long /iː/ was written using a taller version of ⟨I⟩,
called _i longa_ "long I": ⟨ꟾ⟩. In modern texts, long vowels are
often indicated by a macron ⟨ā ē ī ō ū⟩, and short vowels are
usually unmarked except when it is necessary to distinguish between
words, when they are marked with a breve : ⟨ă ĕ ĭ ŏ ŭ⟩.
Long vowels in
Classical Latin were pronounced with a different
quality from short vowels and also were longer. The difference is
described in table below:
phone MODERN EXAMPLES
similar to _u_ in _cut_ when short
similar to _a_ in _father_ when long
as _e_ in _pet_ when short
similar to _ey_ in _they_ when long
as _i_ in _sit_ when short
similar to _i_ in _machine_ when long
as _o_ in _sort_ when short
similar to _o_ in _holy_ when long
similar to _u_ in _put_ when short
similar to _u_ in _true_ when long
as in German _Stück_ when short (or as short _u_ or _i_)
as in German _früh_ when long (or as long _u_ or _i_)
A vowel letter followed by ⟨m⟩ at the end of a word, or a vowel
letter followed by ⟨n⟩ before ⟨s⟩ or ⟨f⟩, represented a
long nasal vowel , as in _monstrum_ /mõːstrũː/.
Classical Latin had several diphthongs . The two most common were
⟨ae au⟩. ⟨oe⟩ was fairly rare, and ⟨ui eu ei ou⟩ were very
rare, at least in native
The sequences sometimes did not represent diphthongs. ⟨ae⟩ and
⟨oe⟩ also represented a sequence of two vowels in different
syllables in _aēnus_ "of bronze" and _coēpit_ "began", and ⟨au
ui eu ei ou⟩ represented sequences of two vowels or of a vowel and
one of the semivowels /j w/, in _cavē_ "beware!", _cuius_ "whose",
_monuī_ "I warned", _solvī_ "I released", _dēlēvī_ "I
destroyed", _eius_ "his", and _novus_ "new".
Old Latin had more diphthongs, but most of them changed into long
vowels in Classical Latin. The
Old Latin diphthong ⟨ai⟩ and the
sequence ⟨āī⟩ became Classical ⟨ae⟩.
Old Latin ⟨oi⟩ and
⟨ou⟩ changed to Classical ⟨ū⟩, except in a few words whose
⟨oi⟩ became Classical ⟨oe⟩. These two developments sometimes
occurred in different words from the same root: for instance,
Classical _poena_ "punishment" and _pūnīre_ "to punish". Early Old
Latin ⟨ei⟩ usually changed to Classical ⟨ī⟩.
Vulgar Latin and the Romance languages, ⟨ae au oe⟩ merged with
⟨e ō ē⟩. A similar pronunciation also existed during the
Classical Latin period for less-educated speakers.
Diphthongs classified by beginning sound
eu/eu̯/ oe /oe̯/
Latin alphabet The
Duenos Inscription , from the
6th century BC, is one of the earliest known
Old Latin texts.
Latin was written in the
Latin alphabet, derived from the Old Italic
script , which was in turn drawn from the
Greek alphabet and
Phoenician alphabet . This alphabet has continued to
be used over the centuries as the script for the Romance, Celtic,
Germanic, Baltic, Finnic, and many Slavic languages (Polish , Slovak ,
Slovene , Croatian and Czech ); and it has been adopted by many
languages around the world, including Vietnamese , the Austronesian
languages , many
Turkic languages , and most languages in sub-Saharan
Africa , the
Americas , and
Oceania , making it by far the world's
single most widely used writing system.
The number of letters in the
Latin alphabet has varied. When it was
first derived from the Etruscan alphabet, it contained only 21
letters. Later, _G_ was added to represent /ɡ/, which had previously
been spelled _C_, and _Z_ ceased to be included in the alphabet, as
the language then had no voiced alveolar fricative . The letters _Y_
and _Z_ were later added to represent Greek letters, upsilon and zeta
respectively, in Greek loanwords.
_W_ was created in the 11th century from _VV_. It represented /w/ in
Germanic languages, not Latin, which still uses _V_ for the purpose.
_J_ was distinguished from the original _I_ only during the late
Middle Ages, as was the letter _U_ from _V_. Although some Latin
dictionaries use _J_, it is rarely used for
Latin text, as it was not
used in classical times, but many other languages use it.
Classical Latin did not contain sentence punctuation , letter case,
or interword spacing , but apices were sometimes used to distinguish
length in vowels and the interpunct was used at times to separate
words. The first line of
Catullus 3, originally written as
LV́GÉTEÓVENERÉSCVPÍDINÉSQVE ("Mourn, O Venuses and Cupids ")
or with interpunct as LV́GÉTE·Ó·VENERÉS·CVPÍDINÉSQVE
would be rendered in a modern edition as Lugete, o Veneres
or with macrons Lūgēte, ō Venerēs Cupīdinēsque. A
replica of the Old Roman Cursive inspired by the
Vindolanda tablets ,
the oldest surviving handwritten documents in Britain.
Roman cursive script is commonly found on the many wax tablets
excavated at sites such as forts, an especially extensive set having
been discovered at Vindolanda on Hadrian\'s Wall in Britain .
Curiously enough, most of the
Vindolanda tablets show spaces between
words, but spaces were avoided in monumental inscriptions from that
Latin has been written in other scripts:
Praeneste fibula is a 7th-century BC pin with an Old Latin
inscription written using the Etruscan script.
* The rear panel of the early 8th-century
Franks Casket has an
inscription that switches from
Old English in
Anglo-Saxon runes to
Latin script and to
Latin in runes.
Latin grammar and
Latin is a synthetic , fusional language in the terminology of
linguistic typology. In more traditional terminology, it is an
inflected language, but typologists are apt to say "inflecting". Words
include an objective semantic element and markers specifying the
grammatical use of the word. The fusion of root meaning and markers
produces very compact sentence elements: _amō_, "I love," is produced
from a semantic element, _ama-_, "love," to which _-ō_, a first
person singular marker, is suffixed.
The grammatical function can be changed by changing the markers: the
word is "inflected" to express different grammatical functions, but
the semantic element does not change. (
Inflection uses affixing and
infixing. Affixing is prefixing and suffixing.
Latin inflections are
For example, _amābit_, "he or she or it will love", is formed from
the same stem, _amā-_, to which a future tense marker, _-bi-_, is
suffixed, and a third person singular marker, _-t_, is suffixed. There
is an inherent ambiguity: _-t_ may denote more than one grammatical
category: masculine, feminine, or neuter gender. A major task in
Latin phrases and clauses is to clarify such ambiguities
by an analysis of context. All natural languages contain ambiguities
of one sort or another.
The inflections express gender , number , and case in adjectives ,
nouns , and pronouns , a process called _declension _. Markers are
also attached to fixed stems of verbs, to denote person , number,
tense , voice , mood , and aspect , a process called _conjugation _.
Some words are uninflected and undergo neither process, such as
adverbs, prepositions, and interjections.
Latin noun belongs to one of five main declensions, a group
of nouns with similar inflected forms. The declensions are identified
by the genitive singular form of the noun. The first declension, with
a predominant ending letter of _a_, is signified by the genitive
singular ending of _-ae_. The second declension, with a predominant
ending letter of _o_, is signified by the genitive singular ending of
_-i_. The third declension, with a predominant ending letter of _i_,
is signified by the genitive singular ending of _-is_. The fourth
declension, with a predominant ending letter of _u_, is signified by
the genitive singular ending of _-ūs_. The fifth declension, with a
predominant ending letter of _e_, is signified by the genitive
singular ending of _-ei_.
There are seven
Latin noun cases, which also apply to adjectives and
pronouns and mark a noun's syntactic role in the sentence by means of
inflections. Thus, word order is not as important in
Latin as it is in
English, which is less inflected. The general structure and word order
Latin sentence can therefore vary. The cases are as follows:
* NOMINATIVE – used when the noun is the subject or a predicate
nominative . The thing or person acting: the GIRL ran: _PUELLA
cucurrit,_ or _cucurrit PUELLA_
* GENITIVE – used when the noun is the possessor of or connected
with an object: "the horse of the man", or "the man's horse"; in both
instances, the word _man_ would be in the genitive case when it is
translated into Latin). It also indicates the partitive , in which the
material is quantified: "a group of people"; "a number of gifts":
_people_ and _gifts_ would be in the genitive case). Some nouns are
genitive with special verbs and adjectives: The cup is full of WINE.
_Poculum plēnum VīNī est._ The master of the SLAVE had beaten him.
_Dominus SERVī eum verberāverat._
* DATIVE – used when the noun is the indirect object of the
sentence, with special verbs, with certain prepositions, and if it is
used as agent, reference, or even possessor: The merchant hands the
stola TO THE WOMAN. _Mercātor FēMINAE stolam trādit._)
* ACCUSATIVE – used when the noun is the direct object of the
subject and as the object of a preposition demonstrating place to
which.: The man killed THE BOY. _Vir necāvit PUERUM._
* ABLATIVE – used when the noun demonstrates separation or
movement from a source, cause, agent or instrument or when the noun is
used as the object of certain prepositions; adverbial: You walked WITH
THE BOY. _Cum PUERō ambulāvistī._
* VOCATIVE – used when the noun is used in a direct address. The
vocative form of a noun is often the same as the nominative, but
exceptions include second-declension nouns ending in _-us_. The _-us_
becomes an _-e_ in the vocative singular. If it ends in _-ius_ (such
as _fīlius_), the ending is just _-ī_ (_filī_), as distinct from
the nominative plural (_filiī_) in the vocative singular: "MASTER!"
shouted the slave. _"DOMINE!" clāmāvit servus._
* LOCATIVE – used to indicate a location (corresponding to the
English "in" or "at"). It is far less common than the other six cases
Latin nouns and usually applies to cities and small towns and
islands along with a few common nouns, such as the word _domus_
(house). In the singular of the first and second declensions, its form
coincides with the genitive (_Roma_ becomes _Romae_, "in Rome"). In
the plural of all declensions and the singular of the other
declensions, it coincides with the ablative (_Athēnae_ becomes
_Athēnīs_, "at Athens"). In the fourth-declension word _domus_, the
locative form, _domī_ ("at home") differs from the standard form of
all other cases.
Latin lacks both definite and indefinite articles so _puer currit_
can mean either "the boy is running" or "a boy is running".
There are two types of regular
Latin adjectives: first- and second-
declension and third-declension. They are so-called because their
forms are similar or identical to first- and second-declension and
third-declension nouns, respectively.
Latin adjectives also have
comparative (more --, _-er_) and superlative (most --, _est_) forms.
There are also a number of
Latin numbers are sometimes declined. See _Numbers_ below.
First- And Second-declension Adjectives
First- and second-declension adjectives are declined like
first-declension nouns for the feminine forms and like
second-declension nouns for the masculine and neuter forms. For
example, for _mortuus, mortua, mortuum_ (dead), _mortua_ is declined
like a regular first-declension noun (such as _puella_ (girl)),
_mortuus_ is declined like a regular second-declension masculine noun
(such as _dominus_ (lord, master)), and _mortuum_ is declined like a
regular second-declension neuter noun (such as _auxilium_ (help)).
FIRST- AND SECOND-DECLENSION _-ER_ ADJECTIVES
Some first- and second-declension adjectives have an _-er_ as the
masculine nominative singular form and are declined like regular
first- and second-declension adjectives. Some but not all adjectives
keep the _e_ for all of the forms.
Third-declension adjectives are mostly declined like normal
third-declension nouns, with a few exceptions. In the plural
nominative neuter, for example, the ending is _-ia_ (_omnia_ (all,
everything)), and for third-declension nouns, the plural nominative
neuter ending is _-a_ or _-ia_ (_capita_ (heads), _animalia_
(animals)) They can have one, two or three forms for the masculine,
feminine, and neuter nominative singular.
Latin participles, like English participles, are formed from a verb.
There are a few main types of participles: Present Active Participles,
Perfect Passive Participles, Future Active Participles, and Future
Latin sometimes uses prepositions, depending on the type of
prepositional phrase being used. Prepositions can take two cases for
their object: the accusative ("apud puerum" (with the boy), with
"puerum" being the accusative form of "puer", boy) and the ablative
("sine puero" (without the boy), "puero" being the ablative form of
A regular verb in
Latin belongs to one of four main conjugations . A
conjugation is "a class of verbs with similar inflected forms." The
conjugations are identified by the last letter of the verb's present
stem. The present stem can be found by omitting the -_re_ (-_rī_ in
deponent verbs) ending from the present infinitive form. The
infinitive of the first conjugation ends in _-ā-re_ or _-ā-ri_
(active and passive respectively): _amāre_, "to love," _hortārī_,
"to exhort"; of the second conjugation by _-ē-re_ or _-ē-rī_:
_monēre_, "to warn", _verērī_, "to fear;" of the third conjugation
by _-ere_, _-ī_: _dūcere_, "to lead," _ūtī_, "to use"; of the
fourth by _-ī-re_, _-ī-rī_: _audīre_, "to hear," _experīrī_, "to
Irregular verbs may not follow the types or may be marked in a
different way. The "endings" presented above are not the suffixed
infinitive markers. The first letter in each case is the last of the
stem so the conjugations are also called a-conjugation, e-conjugation
and i-conjugation. The fused infinitive ending is -_re_ or -_rī_.
Third-conjugation stems end in a consonant: the consonant conjugation.
Further, there is a subset of the third conjugation, the i-stems,
which behave somewhat like the fourth conjugation, as they are both
i-stems, one short and the other long. The stem categories descend
from Indo-European and can therefore be compared to similar
conjugations in other Indo-European languages.
There are six general tenses in
Latin (present, imperfect, future,
perfect, pluperfect and future perfect), three moods (indicative,
imperative and subjunctive, in addition to the infinitive , participle
, gerund , gerundive and supine ), three persons (first, second and
third), two numbers (singular and plural), two voices (active and
passive) and three aspects (perfective, imperfective , and stative ).
Verbs are described by four principal parts:
* The first principal part is the first-person singular, present
tense, indicative mood, active voice form of the verb. If the verb is
impersonal, the first principal part will be in the third-person
* The second principal part is the present infinitive active.
* The third principal part is the first-person singular, perfect
indicative active form. Like the first principal part, if the verb is
impersonal, the third principal part will be in the third-person
* The fourth principal part is the supine form, or alternatively,
the nominative singular, perfect passive participle form of the verb.
The fourth principal part can show one gender of the participle or all
three genders (-_us_ for masculine, -_a_ for feminine and -_m_ for
neuter) in the nominative singular. The fourth principal part will be
the future participle if the verb cannot be made passive. Most modern
Latin dictionaries, if they show only one gender, tend to show the
masculine; but many older dictionaries instead show the neuter, as it
coincides with the supine. The fourth principal part is sometimes
omitted for intransitive verbs, but strictly in Latin, they can be
made passive if they are used impersonally, and the supine exists for
There are six tenses in the
Latin language. These are divided into
two tense systems: the present system, which is made up of the
present, imperfect and future tenses, and the perfect system, which is
made up of the perfect, pluperfect and future perfect tenses. Each
tense has a set of endings corresponding to the person and number
referred to. Subject (nominative) pronouns are generally omitted for
the first (_I, we_) and second (_you_) persons unless emphasis on the
subject is desired.
The table below displays the common inflected endings for the
indicative mood in the active voice in all six tenses. For the future
tense, the first listed endings are for the first and second
conjugations, and the second listed endings are for the third and
The future perfect endings are identical to the future forms of _sum_
(with the exception of _erint_) and that the pluperfect endings are
identical to the imperfect forms of _sum_.
Latin verbs are deponent , causing their forms to be in the
passive voice but retain an active meaning: _hortor, hortārī,
hortātus sum (to urge)._
Latin is an Italic language, most of its vocabulary is likewise
Italic, ultimately from the ancestral
Proto-Indo-European language .
However, because of close cultural interaction, the Romans not only
Etruscan alphabet to form the
Latin alphabet but also
borrowed some Etruscan words into their language, including _persona_
"mask" and _histrio_ "actor".
Latin also included vocabulary borrowed
from Oscan , another Italic language.
After the Fall of Tarentum (272 BC), the Romans began hellenizing, or
adopting features of Greek culture, including the borrowing of Greek
words, such as _camera_ (vaulted roof), _sumbolum_ (symbol), and
_balineum_ (bath). This hellenization led to the addition of "Y" and
"Z" to the alphabet to represent Greek sounds. Subsequently the
Greek art , medicine , science and philosophy to
Italy, paying almost any price to entice Greek skilled and educated
Rome and sending their youth to be educated in Greece.
Latin scientific and philosophical words were Greek
loanwords or had their meanings expanded by association with Greek
words, as _ars_ (craft) and τέχνη (art).
Because of the Roman Empire's expansion and subsequent trade with
outlying European tribes, the Romans borrowed some northern and
central European words, such as _beber_ (beaver), of Germanic origin,
and _bracae_ (breeches), of Celtic origin. The specific dialects of
Latin across Latin-speaking regions of the former
Roman Empire after
its fall were influenced by languages specific to the regions. The
Latin evolved into different Romance languages.
During and after the adoption of Christianity into Roman society,
Christian vocabulary became a part of the language, either from Greek
or Hebrew borrowings or as
Latin neologisms. Continuing into the
Latin incorporated many more words from surrounding
Old English and other
Germanic languages .
Over the ages, Latin-speaking populations produced new adjectives,
nouns, and verbs by affixing or compounding meaningful segments . For
example, the compound adjective, _omnipotens_, "all-powerful," was
produced from the adjectives _omnis_, "all", and _potens_, "powerful",
by dropping the final _s_ of _omnis_ and concatenating. Often, the
concatenation changed the part of speech, and nouns were produced from
verb segments or verbs from nouns and adjectives.
The phrases are mentioned with accents to show where stress is
placed. In Latin, most words are stressed at the second-last
(penultimate) syllable , called in
Latin _paenultima_ or _syllaba
paenultima_. A few words are stressed at the third-last syllable,
Latin _antepaenultima_ or _syllaba antepaenultima_.
SáLVE to one person / SALVéTE to more than one person - hello
áVE to one person / AVéTE to more than one person - greetings
VáLE to one person / VALéTE to more than one person - goodbye
CúRA UT VáLEAS - take care
EXOPTáTUS to male / EXOPTáTA to female, OPTáTUS to male / OPTáTA
to female, GRáTUS to male / GRáTA to female, ACCéPTUS to male /
ACCéPTA to female - welcome
QUóMODO VáLES?, UT VáLES? - how are you?
BéNE - good
AMABO TE - please
BéNE VáLEO - I'm fine
MáLE - bad
MáLE VáLEO - I'm not good
QUáESO (/) - please
íTA, íTA EST, íTA VéRO, SIC, SIC EST, éTIAM - yes
NON, MINIME - no
GRáTIAS TíBI, GRáTIAS TíBI áGO - thank you
MáGNAS GRáTIAS, MáGNAS GRáTIAS áGO - many thanks
MáXIMAS GRáTIAS, MáXIMAS GRáTIAS áGO, INGéNTES GRáTIAS áGO -
thank you very much
ACCíPE SIS to one person / ACCíPITE SíTIS to more than one person,
LIBéNTER - you're welcome
QUA AETáTE ES? - how old are you?
25 áNNOS NáTUS to male / 25 áNNOS NáTA to female - 25 years old
LOQUERíSNE ... - do you speak ...
* LATíNE? - Latin?
* GRáECE? (/) - Greek?
* ÁNGLICE? () - English?
* ITALIáNE? - Italian?
* GALLICE? - French?
* HISPáNICE? - Spanish?
* LUSITáNICE? - Portuguese?
* THEODíSCE? () - German?
* SíNICE? - Chinese?
* JAPóNICE? () - Japanese?
* COREANE? - Korean?
* ARáBICE? - Arabic?
* PéRSICE? - Persian?
* INDICE? - Hindi?
* RúSSICE? - Russian?
úBI LATRíNA EST? - where is the toilet?
áMO TE / TE áMO - I love you
In ancient times, numbers in
Latin were written only with letters.
Today, the numbers can be written with the Arabic numbers as well as
Roman numerals . The numbers 1, 2 and 3 and every whole hundred
from 200 to 900 are declined as nouns and adjectives, with some
_ūnus, ūna, ūnum_ (masculine, feminine, neuter)
_duo, duae, duo_ (m., f., n.)
_trēs, tria_ (m./f., n.)
IIII or IV
VIIII or IX
The numbers from 4 to 100 often do not change their endings.
Commentarii de Bello Gallico
Commentarii de Bello Gallico _, also called _De Bello Gallico_ (_The
Gallic War_), written by Gaius
Julius Caesar , begins with the
Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres, quarum unam incolunt Belgae,
aliam Aquitani, tertiam qui ipsorum lingua Celtae, nostra Galli
appellantur. Hi omnes lingua, institutis, legibus inter se differunt.
Gallos ab Aquitanis Garumna flumen, a Belgis Matrona et Sequana
dividit. Horum omnium fortissimi sunt Belgae, propterea quod a cultu
atque humanitate provinciae longissime absunt, minimeque ad eos
mercatores saepe commeant atque ea quae ad effeminandos animos
pertinent important, proximique sunt Germanis, qui trans Rhenum
incolunt, quibuscum continenter bellum gerunt. Qua de causa Helvetii
quoque reliquos Gallos virtute praecedunt, quod fere cotidianis
proeliis cum Germanis contendunt, cum aut suis finibus eos prohibent
aut ipsi in eorum finibus bellum gerunt. Eorum una pars, quam Gallos
obtinere dictum est, initium capit a flumine Rhodano, continetur
Garumna flumine, Oceano, finibus Belgarum; attingit etiam ab Sequanis
et Helvetiis flumen Rhenum; vergit ad septentriones. Belgae ab
extremis Galliae finibus oriuntur; pertinent ad inferiorem partem
fluminis Rheni; spectant in septentrionem et orientem solem. Aquitania
a Garumna flumine ad Pyrenaeos montes et eam partem Oceani quae est ad
Hispaniam pertinet; spectat inter occasum solis et septentriones.
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Latin translations of modern literature
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List of Latinised names
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Latin can go across the whole
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side to the other one just like he was at his own home, just like he
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