The Info List - Vulgar Latin

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VULGAR LATIN or SERMO VULGARIS ("common speech") was the nonstandard form(s) of Latin (as opposed to _classical _) spoken in the Mediterranean region during and after classical period of the Roman Empire . It is from Vulgar Latin that the Romance languages developed; the best known are the national languages Italian , Spanish , Portuguese , Romanian , and French . Works written in Latin during classical times and the earlier Middle Ages used Classical Latin rather than Vulgar Latin, with very few exceptions (most notably sections of Gaius Petronius ' _ Satyricon _). Because of its nonstandard nature, Vulgar Latin had no official orthography . Vulgar Latin is sometimes also called colloquial Latin, or COMMON ROMANCE (particularly in the late stage). In Renaissance Latin , Vulgar Latin was called _vulgare Latinum_ or _Latinum vulgare._

By its nature Vulgar Latin varied greatly by region and by time period. A few major divisions can be seen, however. Vulgar Latin dialects began to significantly diverge from Classical Latin during the 3rd century during the classical period of the Roman Empire. Nevertheless up to the 4th and 5th centuries CE, the most widely spoken dialects were still similar to and mostly mutually intelligible with Classical Latin. With the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century, the Gothic and Frankish rulers of western Europe created a substantially different Germanic-influenced language, a language that was substantially different from Classical Latin; indeed it is this one that is most often known as _Proto-Romance_. Similarly in the Eastern Roman Empire as Latin faded as the court language, the Vulgar Latin spoken there became heavily influenced by Greek and Slavic and also became radically different from Classical Latin and from the proto-Romance of Western Europe.


* 1 Origin of the term * 2 Sources * 3 History * 4 Vocabulary

* 5 Phonology

* 5.1 Evidence of changes

* 5.2 Consonant development

* 5.2.1 Loss of final consonants * 5.2.2 Lenition of stops * 5.2.3 Simplification of geminates * 5.2.4 Loss of word-final m * 5.2.5 Neutralization of /b/ and /w/ * 5.2.6 Consonant cluster simplification

* 5.3 Vowel development

* 5.3.1 System in Classical Latin * 5.3.2 Monophthongization * 5.3.3 Loss of distinctive length and near-close mergers * 5.3.4 Phonologization of stress * 5.3.5 Lengthening of stressed open syllables

* 6 Grammar

* 6.1 Romance articles * 6.2 Loss of neuter * 6.3 Loss of oblique cases * 6.4 Wider use of prepositions * 6.5 Pronouns * 6.6 Adverbs

* 6.7 Verbs

* 6.7.1 Copula

* 6.8 Supine * 6.9 Word order typology

* 7 See also

* 7.1 History of specific Romance languages

* 8 Notes

* 9 References

* 9.1 General

* 9.2 Transitions to Romance languages

* 9.2.1 To Romance in general * 9.2.2 To French * 9.2.3 To Italian * 9.2.4 To Spanish * 9.2.5 To Portuguese * 9.2.6 To Occitan * 9.2.7 To Sardinian

* 10 External links


The term "common speech" (_sermo vulgaris_), which later became "Vulgar Latin", was used by inhabitants of the Roman Empire. Subsequently it became a technical term from Latin and Romance-language philology referring to the unwritten varieties of a Latinised language spoken mainly by Italo-Celtic populations governed by the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire .

Traces of their language appear in some inscriptions, such as graffiti or advertisements. The educated population mainly responsible for Classical Latin might also have spoken Vulgar Latin in certain contexts depending on their socioeconomic background. The term was first used improperly in that sense by the pioneers of Romance-language philology: François Juste Marie Raynouard (1761–1836) and Friedrich Christian Diez (1794–1876).

In the course of his studies on the lyrics of songs written by the troubadours of Provence , which had already been studied by Dante Alighieri and published in _ De vulgari eloquentia _, Raynouard noticed that the Romance languages derived in part from lexical, morphological, and syntactic features that were Latin, but were not preferred in Classical Latin . He hypothesized an intermediate phase and identified it with the _Romana lingua_, a term that in countries speaking Romance languages meant "nothing more or less than the vulgar speech as opposed to literary or grammatical Latin."

Diez, the principal founder of Romance-language philology, impressed by the comparative methods of Jakob Grimm in _Deutsche Grammatik_, which came out in 1819 and was the first to use such methods in philology, decided to apply them to the Romance languages and discovered Raynouard's work, _Grammaire comparée des langues de l'Europe latine dans leurs rapports avec la langue des troubadours_, published in 1821. Describing himself as a pupil of Raynouard, he went on to expand the concept to all Romance languages, not just the speech of the troubadours, on a systematic basis, thereby becoming the originator of a new field of scholarly inquiry.

Diez, in his flagship work on the topic, _Grammatik der romanischen Sprachen_, "Grammar of the Romance Languages," first published in 1836–1843 and multiple times thereafter, after enumerating six Romance languages that he compared: Italian and Wallachian (_i.e._, Romanian) (east); Spanish and Portuguese (southwest); and Provençal and French (northwest), asserts that they had their origin in Latin, but _nicht aus dem classischen Latein_, "not from classical Latin," rather _aus der römischen Volkssprache oder Volksmundart_, "from the Roman popular language or popular dialect". These terms, as he points out later in the work, are a translation into German of Dante's _vulgare latinum_ and _Latinum vulgare_, and the Italian of Boccaccio , _latino volgare_. These names in turn are at the end of a tradition extending to the Roman republic .

The concepts and vocabulary from which _vulgare latinum_ descend were known in the classical period and are to be found amply represented in the unabridged Latin dictionary, starting in the late Roman republic. Marcus Tullius Cicero , a prolific writer, whose works have survived in large quantity, and who serves as a standard of Latin, and his contemporaries in addition to recognizing the _lingua Latina_ also knew varieties of "speech" under the name _sermo._ Latin could be _sermo Latinus_, but in addition was a variety known as _sermo vulgaris_, _sermo vulgi_, _sermo plebeius_ and _sermo quotidianus_. These modifiers inform post-classical readers that a conversational Latin existed, which was used by the masses (_vulgus_) in daily speaking (_quotidianus_) and was perceived as lower-class (_plebeius_).

These vocabulary items manifest no opposition to the written language. There was an opposition to higher-class, or family Latin (good family) in _sermo familiaris_ and very rarely literature might be termed _sermo nobilis_. The supposed "sermo classicus" is a scholarly fiction unattested in the dictionary. All kinds of _sermo_ were spoken only, not written. If one wanted to refer to what in post-classical times was called classical Latin one resorted to the concept of _latinitas_ ("latinity") or _latine_ (adverb).

If one spoke in the _lingua_ or _sermo Latinus_ one merely spoke Latin, but if one spoke _latine_ or _latinius_ ("more Latinish") one spoke good Latin, and formal Latin had _latinitas_, the quality of good Latin, about it. After the fall of the empire and the transformation of spoken Latin into the early Romance languages the only representative of the Latin language was written Latin, which became known as _classicus_, "classy" Latin. The original opposition was between formal or implied good Latin and informal or Vulgar Latin. The spoken/written dichotomy is entirely philological.


Vulgar Latin is a blanket term covering the popular dialects and sociolects of the Latin language throughout its range, from the hypothetical _prisca latinitas_ of unknown or poorly remembered times in early Latium, to the language spoken around the fall of the empire. Although making it clear that _sermo vulgaris_ existed, ancient writers said very little about it. Because it was not transcribed , it can only be studied indirectly. Knowledge comes from these chief sources:

* Solecisms , especially in Late Latin texts. * Mention of it by ancient grammarians, including prescriptive grammar texts from the Late Latin period condemning linguistic "errors" that represent spoken Latin. * The comparative method , which reconstructs Proto-Romance, a hypothetical vernacular proto-language from which the Romance languages descended. * Some literary works written in a lower register of Latin provide a glimpse into the world of Vulgar Latin in the classical period: the dialogues of the plays of Plautus and Terence , being comedies with many characters who were slaves, and the speech of freedmen in the _ Cena Trimalchionis _ by Petronius Arbiter .


An extract of the Oaths of Strasbourg , the earliest French text.

The original written Latin language (what is today referred to as _Classical Latin_) was adapted from the actual spoken language of the Latins, with some minor modifications, long before the rise of the Roman Empire . As with many languages, over time the spoken _vulgar_ language diverged from the written language with the written language remaining somewhat static. During the classical period spoken (Vulgar) Latin still remained largely common across the Empire, some minor dialectal differences notwithstanding.

The collapse of the Western Roman Empire rapidly began to change this. The former western provinces became increasingly isolated from the Eastern Roman Empire , leading to a rapid divergence in the Latin spoken on either side. In the West an even more complex transformation was occurring. A blending of cultures was occurring between the former Roman citizens who were fluent in the _proper_ Latin speech (which was already substantially different from Classical Latin), and the new Gothic rulers who, though largely Latinised, tended to speak Latin poorly, speaking what could be considered a creole of Latin and their Germanic mother tongue.

What emerged in Western Europe was common form of Latin which, though mostly Latin in vocabulary (with many Germanic words introduced), was heavily influenced by Germanic grammar and represented a radical shift away from the original Roman language. For a few centuries this language remained relatively common across most of Western Europe (hence the fact that Italian, Spanish, French, etc. are far more similar to each other than to Classical Latin), though regional dialects were already developing. As early as 722, in a face to face meeting between Pope Gregory II , born and raised in Rome, and Saint Boniface , an Anglo-Saxon , Boniface complained that he found Pope Gregory's Latin speech difficult to understand, a clear sign of the transformation of Vulgar Latin in two regions of western Europe.

Soon Classical Latin and Vulgar Latin came to be viewed as distinct languages. At the third Council of Tours in 813, priests were ordered to preach in the vernacular language – either in the _rustica lingua romanica_ (Vulgar Latin), or in the Germanic vernaculars – since the common people could no longer understand formal Latin. Within a generation, the Oaths of Strasbourg (842), a treaty between Charlemagne 's grandsons Charles the Bald and Louis the German , was proffered and recorded in a language that was already distinct from Latin. József Herman states:

It seems certain that in the sixth century, and quite likely into the early parts of the seventh century, people in the main Romanized areas could still largely understand the biblical and liturgical texts and the commentaries (of greater or lesser simplicity) that formed part of the rites and of religious practice, and that even later, throughout the seventh century, saints' lives written in Latin could be read aloud to the congregations with an expectation that they would be understood. We can also deduce however, that in Gaul, from the central part of the eighth century onwards, many people, including several of the clerics, were not able to understand even the most straightforward religious texts.

By the end of the first millennium, dialectization pressures that had begun long before had brought about sufficient divergence that easy mutual intelligibility of the colloquial spoken language across Romance Europe had attenuated diatopically , i.e. the more so the more geographically distant the origins of the speakers, to the point that numerous Romance varieties were identifiable as distinct. With the evolved Latin vernaculars viewed as different languages with local norms, in time specific orthographies would be developed for some. Since all modern Romance varieties are continuations of this evolution, Vulgar Latin is not extinct but survives in variously evolved forms as today's Romance languages and dialects. Unlike the case of English, for which traditional historical labeling suggests, somewhat misleadingly, continuity of a single language (Old English > Middle English > Modern English), in Romance-speaking Europe recognition of the common origin of Romance varieties was replaced conceptually and terminologically by multiple labels recognizing and implicitly accentuating local differences in linguistic features. In time, some Romance languages evolved more than others. In terms of phonological structures, for example, a clear hierarchy from conservative to innovative is found in comparing Italian, Spanish and French (e.g. Latin _amica_ > Italian _amica_, Spanish _amiga_, French _amie_; Latin _caput_ > Italian _capo_, Spanish _cabo_, French _chef_).

The Oaths of Strasbourg offer indications of the state of Gallo-Romance toward the middle of the 9th century. While the language cannot be said with any degree of certainty to be Old French in the sense of the linear precursor to today's standard French, the abundance of Gallo-Romance features provides a glimpse of some particulars of Vulgar Latin's evolution on French soil.

Extract of the Romance part of the Oaths of Strasbourg (842) GALLO-ROMANCE, AD 842 VULGAR LATIN OF PARIS, CIRCA 5TH C. AD, FOR COMPARISON ENGLISH TRANSLATION

"Pro Deo amur et pro christian poblo et nostro commun salvament, d'ist di in avant, in quant Deus savir et podir me dunat, si salvarai eo cist meon fradre Karlo, et in ayudha et in cadhuna cosa si cum om per dreit son fradra salvar dift, in o quid il mi altresi fazet. Et ab Ludher nul plaid nunquam prindrai qui meon vol cist meon fradre Karlo in damno sit." "Por Deo amore et por chrestyano pob(o)lo et nostro comune salvamento de esto die en avante en quanto Deos sabere et podere me donat, sic salvarayo eo eccesto meon fradre Karlo, et en ayuda et en caduna causa, sic quomo omo per drecto son fradre salvare devet, en o qued illi me altrosic fatsyat, et ab Ludero nullo plag(i)do nonqua prendrayo, qui meon volo eccesto meon fradre Karlo en damno seat." "For the love of God and for Christendom and our common salvation, from this day onwards, as God will give me the wisdom and power, I shall protect this brother of mine Charles, with aid or anything else, as one ought to protect one's brother, so that he may do the same for me, and I shall never knowingly make any covenant with Lothair that would harm this brother of mine Charles."


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Main article: Vulgar Latin vocabulary Further information: Reichenau Glosses

Vulgar Latin featured a large vocabulary of words that were productive in Romance.


See also: Latin spelling and pronunciation and Latin regional pronunciation Main article: Romance languages

There was no single pronunciation of Vulgar Latin, and the pronunciation of Vulgar Latin in the various Latin-speaking areas is indistinguishable from the earlier history of the phonology of the Romance languages. See the article on Romance languages for more information.


Latin Wikisource has original text related to this article: APPENDIX PROBI

Evidence of phonological changes can be seen in the late 3rd-century Appendix Probi , a collection of glosses prescribing correct classical Latin forms for certain vulgar forms. These glosses describe:

* a process of syncope , the loss of unstressed vowels in medial syllables ("_calida non calda_"); * the merger of unstressed pre-vocalic /e/ and short /i/, probably as yod /j/ ("_vinea non vinia_"); * the levelling of the distinction between /o/ and /u/ ("_coluber non colober_") and /e/ and /i/ ("_dimidius non demedius_"); * regularization of irregular forms ("_glis non glirus_"); * regularization and emphasis of gendered forms ("_pauper mulier non paupera mulier_"); * levelling of the distinction between /b/ and /v/ between vowels ("_bravium non brabium_"); * assimilation of plosive consonant clusters ("_amycdala non amiddula"_); * the substitution of diminutives for unmarked words ("_auris non oricla, neptis non nepticla_"); * the loss of syllable-final nasals before /s/ ("_mensa non mesa_") or their inappropriate insertion as a form of hypercorrection ("_formosus non formunsus_"); * the loss of /h/, both initially ("_hostiae non ostiae_") and within the word ("_adhuc non aduc_"); * simplification of /kʷ/ ("_coqui non coci_").

Many of the forms castigated in the _Appendix Probi_ proved to be the forms accepted in Romance; e.g., _oricla_ (evolved from the Classical Latin marked diminutive _auricula_) is the source of French _oreille_, Catalan _orella_, Spanish _oreja_, Italian _orecchia_, Romanian _ureche_, Portuguese _orelha_, Sardinian _orija_ 'ear', not the prescribed _auris_. Development of yod from the post-nasal unstressed /e/ of _vinea_ enabled the palatalization of /n/ that would produce French _vigne_, Italian _vigna_, Spanish _viña_, Portuguese _vinha_, Catalan _vinya_, Occitan _vinha_, Friulan _vigne_, etc., 'vineyard'.


See also: Romance languages § Consonants

The most significant consonant changes affecting Vulgar Latin were palatalization (except in Sardinia ); lenition , including simplification of geminate consonants (in areas north and west of the La Spezia–Rimini Line , e.g. Spanish _digo_ vs. Italian _dico_ 'I say', Spanish _boca_ vs. Italian _bocca_ 'mouth')); and loss of final consonants.

Loss Of Final Consonants

The loss of final consonants was already under way by the 1st century AD in some areas. A graffito at Pompeii reads quisque ama valia, which in Classical Latin would read quisquis amat valeat ("may whoever loves be strong/do well"). (The change from valeat to valia is also an early indicator of the development of /j/ (yod ), which played such an important part in the development of palatalization .) On the other hand, this loss of final /t/ was not general. Old Spanish and Old French preserved a reflex of final /t/ up through 1100 AD or so, and modern French still maintains final /t/ in some liaison environments.

Lenition Of Stops

Areas north and west of the La Spezia–Rimini Line lenited intervocalic /p, t, k/ to /b, d, ɡ/. This phenomenon is occasionally attested during the imperial period, but it became frequent by the 7th century. For example, in Merovingian documents, rotatico > _rodatico_ ("wheel tax").

Simplification Of Geminates

Reduction of bisyllabic clusters of identical consonants to a single syllable-initial consonant also typifies Romance north and west of La Spezia-Rimini. The results in Italian and Spanish provide clear illustrations: siccus > Italian _secco_, Spanish _seco_; cippus > Italian _ceppo_, Spanish _cepo_; mittere > Italian _mettere_, Spanish _meter_.

Loss Of Word-final M

The loss of the final _m_ was a process which seems to have begun by the time of the earliest monuments of the Latin language. The epitaph of Lucius Cornelius Scipio Barbatus , who died around 150 BC, reads taurasia cisauna samnio cepit, which in Classical Latin would be taurāsiam, cisaunam, samnium cēpit ("He captured Taurasia, Cisauna, and Samnium"). This however can be explained in a different way, that the inscription simply fails to note the nasality of the final vowels (like in the established custom of writing cos. for _consul_).

Neutralization Of /b/ And /w/

Confusions between _b_ and _v_ show that the Classical semivowel /w/, and intervocalic /b/ partially merged to become a bilabial fricative /β/ (Classical semivowel /w/ became /β/ in Vulgar Latin, while became an allophone of /b/ in intervocalic position). Already by the 1st century AD, a document by one Eunus writes iobe for iovem and dibi for divi. In most of the Romance varieties, this sound would further develop into /v/, with the notable exception of the betacist varieties of Hispano-Romance : _b_ and _v_ represent the same phoneme /b/ (with allophone ) in Modern Spanish, as well as in Galician , northern Portuguese and the northern dialects of Catalan .

Consonant Cluster Simplification

In general, many clusters were simplified in Vulgar Latin. For example, /ns/ was changed to /s/, reflecting the fact that /n/ was no longer consonantal. In some inscriptions, mensis > _mesis_ ("month"), or consul > _cosul_ ("consul"). Descendants of mensis include Portuguese _mês_, Spanish and Catalan _mes_, Old French _meis_, Italian _mese_. In some areas (including much of Italy), the clusters , ⟨ct⟩, ⟨x⟩ were assimilated to the second element: , , . Thus, some inscriptions have omnibus > _onibus_ ("all "), indictione > _inditione_ ("indiction"), vixit > _bissit_ ("lived"). Also, three-consonant clusters usually lost the middle element. For example: emptores > _imtores_ ("buyers")

Not all areas show the same development of these clusters, however. In the East, Italian has > , as in octo > _otto_ ("eight") or nocte > _notte_ ("night"); while Romanian has > (_opt_, _noapte_). By contrast, in the West, the was turned into . In French and Portuguese, this caused the diphthongization of the previous vowel (_huit_, _oito_; _nuit_, _noite_), while in Spanish, the was palatalized and became (_*oito_ > _ocho_, _*noite_ > _noche_)

Also, many clusters including were simplified. Several of these groups seem to have never been fully stable (e.g. _facunt_ for faciunt). This dropping has resulted in the word parietem ("wall") turning into: Italian _parete_, Romanian _părete>perete_, Portuguese _parede_, Spanish _pared_, or French _paroi_.

The cluster ⟨qu⟩ was simplified to in most instances. In 435, one can find the hypercorrective spelling _quisquentis_ for quiescentis ("of the person who rests here"). Modern languages have followed this trend, for example Latin qui ("who") has become Italian _chi_ and French _qui_ (both /ki/); while quem ("who") became _quien_ (/kjen/) in Spanish and _quem_ (/kẽj/) in Portuguese. However, has survived in front of in most areas, although not in French; hence Latin quattuor yields Spanish _cuatro_ (/kwatro/), Portuguese _quatro_ (/kwatru/), and Italian _quattro_ (/kwattro/), but French _quatre_ (/katʀ/), where the _qu-_ spelling is purely etymological.

In Spanish, most words with consonant clusters in syllable-final position are loanwords from Classical Latin, examples are: _traNSporte_ , _traNSmitir_ , _iNStalar_ , _coNStante_ , _oBStante_ , _oBStruir_ , _peRSpectiva_ , _iSTmo_ . A syllable-final position cannot be more than one consonant (one of n, r, l, s or z) in most (or all) dialects in colloquial speech, reflecting Vulgar Latin background. Realizations like , , , , , , and are very common, and in many cases, they are considered acceptable even in formal speech.


See also: Romance languages § Vowels

In general, the ten-vowel system of Classical Latin, which relied on phonemic vowel length, was newly modelled into one in which vowel length distinctions lost phonemic importance, and qualitative distinctions of height became more prominent.

System In Classical Latin

Classical Latin had 10 different vowel phonemes , grouped into five pairs of short-long, ⟨ă – ā, ĕ – ē, ĭ – ī, ŏ – ō, ŭ – ū⟩. It also had four diphthongs , ⟨ae, oe, au, eu⟩, and the rare diphthong ⟨ui⟩. Finally, there were also long and short ⟨y⟩, representing /y/, /yː/ in Greek borrowings, which, however, probably came to be pronounced /i/, /iː/ even before Romance vowel changes started.

At least since the 1st century AD, short vowels (except _a_) differed by quality as well as by length from their long counterparts, the short vowels being lower. Thus the vowel inventory is usually reconstructed as /a – aː/, /ɛ – eː/, /ɪ – iː/, /ɔ – oː/, /ʊ – uː/.

General vowel changes in most Vulgar Latin SPELLING 1ST CENT. 2ND CENT. 3RD CENT. 4TH CENT.

ă /a/ /a/

ā /aː/

ĕ /ɛ/

ē /eː/ /e/ /e/

ĭ /ɪ/

ī /iː/ /i/

ŏ /ɔ/

ō /oː/ /o/ /o/

ŭ /ʊ/

ū /uː/ /u/


Many diphthongs had begun their monophthongization very early. It is presumed that by Republican times, ae had become /ɛː/ in unstressed syllables, a phenomenon that would spread to stressed positions around the 1st century AD. From the 2nd century AD, there are instances of spellings with ⟨ĕ⟩ instead of ⟨ae⟩. ⟨oe⟩ was always a rare diphthong in Classical Latin (in Old Latin , _oinos_ regularly became unus ("one")) and became /e/ during early Imperial times. Thus, one can find _penam_ for poenam.

However, ⟨au⟩ lasted much longer. While it was monophthongized to /o/ in areas of north and central Italy (including Rome), it was retained in most Vulgar Latin, and it survives in modern Romanian (for example, _aur_ < aurum). There is evidence in French and Spanish that the monophthongization of _au_ occurred independently in those languages.

Loss Of Distinctive Length And Near-close Mergers

Length confusions seem to have begun in unstressed vowels, but they were soon generalized. In the 3rd century AD, Sacerdos (sk) mentions people's tendency to shorten vowels at the end of a word, while some poets (like Commodian ) show inconsistencies between long and short vowels in versification. However, the loss of contrastive length caused only the merger of ă and ā while the rest of pairs remained distinct in quality: /a/, /ɛ – e/, /ɪ – i/, /ɔ – o/, /ʊ – u/.

Also, the near-close vowels /ɪ/ and /ʊ/ became more open in most varieties and merged with /e/ and /o/ respectively. As a result, the reflexes of Latin _pira_ "pear" and _vēra_ "true" rhyme in most Romance languages: Italian and Spanish _pera_, _vera_. Similarly, Latin _nucem_ "walnut" and _vōcem_ "voice" become Italian _noce, voce_, Portuguese _noz, voz_.

There was likely some regional variation in pronunciation, as the Romanian languages and Sardinian evolved differently. In Sardinian, all corresponding short and long vowels simply merged with each other, creating a 5-vowel system: /a, e, i, o, u/. In Romanian , the front vowels _ĕ, ĭ, ē, ī_ evolved like the Western languages, but the back vowels _ŏ, ŭ, ō, ū_ evolved as in Sardinian. A few Southern Italian languages, such as southern Corsican, northernmost Calabrian and southern Lucanian , behave like Sardinian with its penta-vowel system or, in case of Vegliote (even if only partially) and western Lucanian , like Romanian.

Phonologization Of Stress

The placement of stress did not change from Classical to Vulgar Latin, and words continued to be stressed on the same syllable they were before. However, the loss of distinctive length disrupted the correlation between syllable weight and stress placement that existed in Classical Latin. Where in Classical Latin the place of the accent was predictable from the structure of the word, it was no longer so in Vulgar Latin. Stress had become a phonological property and could serve to distinguish forms that were otherwise homophones.

Lengthening Of Stressed Open Syllables

After the Classical Latin vowel length distinctions were lost in favor of vowel quality , a new system of allophonic vowel quantity appeared sometime between the 4th and 5th centuries. Around then, stressed vowels in open syllables came to be pronounced long (but still keeping height contrasts), and all the rest became short. For example, long _venis_ /*ˈvɛː.nis/, _fori_ /*fɔː.ri/, _cathedra_ /*ˈkaː.te.dra/; but short _vendo_ /*ˈven.do/, _formas_ /*ˈfor.mas/. (This allophonic length distinction persists to this day in Italian .) However, in some regions of Iberia and Gaul, all stressed vowels came to be pronounced long: for example, _porta_ /*ˈpɔːr.ta/, _tempus_ /*ˈtɛːm.pus/. In many descendents, several of the long vowels underwent some form of diphthongization , most extensively in Old French where five of the seven long vowels were affected by breaking.



It is difficult to place the point in which the definite article , absent in Latin but present in all Romance languages, arose, largely because the highly colloquial speech in which it arose was seldom written down until the daughter languages had strongly diverged; most surviving texts in early Romance show the articles fully developed.

Definite articles evolved from demonstrative pronouns or adjectives (an analogous development is found in many Indo-European languages, including Greek , Celtic and Germanic ); compare the fate of the Latin demonstrative adjective _ille, illa, (illud)_ "that", in the Romance languages , becoming French _le_ and _la_, Catalan and Spanish _el_ and _la_, Portuguese _o_ and _a_ (elision of -l- is a common feature of Portuguese), and Italian _il_, _lo_ and _la_. Sardinian went its own way here also, forming its article from _ipse, ipsa_ "this" (_su, sa_); some Catalan and Occitan dialects have articles from the same source. While most of the Romance languages put the article before the noun, Romanian has its own way, by putting the article after the noun, e.g. _lupul_ ("the wolf" – from *_lupum illum_) and _omul_ ("the man" – _*homo illum_), possibly a result of its membership in the Balkan sprachbund .

This demonstrative is used in a number of contexts in some early texts in ways that suggest that the Latin demonstrative was losing its force. The Vetus Latina Bible contains a passage _Est tamen ille daemon sodalis peccati_ ("The devil is a companion of sin"), in a context that suggests that the word meant little more than an article. The need to translate sacred texts that were originally in Koine Greek , which had a definite article, may have given Christian Latin an incentive to choose a substitute. Aetheria uses _ipse_ similarly: _per mediam vallem ipsam_ ("through the middle of the valley"), suggesting that it too was weakening in force.

Another indication of the weakening of the demonstratives can be inferred from the fact that at this time, legal and similar texts begin to swarm with _praedictus_, _supradictus_, and so forth (all meaning, essentially, "aforesaid"), which seem to mean little more than "this" or "that". Gregory of Tours writes, _Erat autem... beatissimus Anianus in supradicta civitate episcopus_ ("Blessed Anianus was bishop in that city.") The original Latin demonstrative adjectives were no longer felt to be strong or specific enough.

In less formal speech, reconstructed forms suggest that the inherited Latin demonstratives were made more forceful by being compounded with _ecce_ (originally an interjection : "behold!"), which also spawned Italian _ecco_ through _eccum_, a contracted form of _ecce eum_. This is the origin of Old French _cil_ (*_ecce ille_), _cist_ (*_ecce iste_) and _ici_ (*_ecce hic_); Italian _questo_ (*_eccum istum_), _quello_ (*_eccum illum_) and (now mainly Tuscan) _codesto_ (*_eccum tibi istum_), as well as _qui_ (*_eccu hic_), _qua_ (*_eccum hac_); Spanish _aquel_ and Portuguese _aquele_ (*_eccum ille_); Spanish _acá_ and Portuguese _cá_ (*_eccum hac_); Spanish _aquí_ and Portuguese _aqui_ (*_eccum hic_); Portuguese _acolá_ (*_eccum illac_) and _aquém_ (*_eccum inde_); Romanian _acest_ (*_ecce iste_) and _acela_ (*_ecce ille_), and many other forms.

On the other hand, even in the Oaths of Strasbourg , no demonstrative appears even in places where one would clearly be called for in all the later languages (_pro christian poblo_ – "for the Christian people"). Using the demonstratives as articles may have still been considered overly informal for a royal oath in the 9th century. Considerable variation exists in all of the Romance vernaculars as to their actual use: in Romanian, the articles are suffixed to the noun (or an adjective preceding it), as in other members of the Balkan sprachbund and the North Germanic languages .

The numeral _unus, una_ (one) supplies the indefinite article in all cases (again, this is a common semantic development across Europe). This is anticipated in Classical Latin; Cicero writes _cum uno gladiatore nequissimo_ ("with a most immoral gladiator"). This suggests that _unus_ was beginning to supplant _quidam_ in the meaning of "a certain" or "some" by the 1st century BC.


First and second adjectival declension paradigm in Classical Latin. E.g., _altus_ ("tall")



NOMINATIVE altus altum alta altī alta altae

ACCUSATIVE altum altam altōs alta altās

DATIVE altō altae altīs

ABLATIVE altō altā altīs

GENITIVE altī altae altōrum altārum

The genders

The three grammatical genders of Classical Latin were replaced by a two-gender system in most Romance languages.

The neuter gender of classical Latin was in most cases identical with the masculine both syntactically and morphologically. The confusion starts already in Pompeian graffiti, e.g., _cadaver mortuus_ for _cadaver mortuum_ ("dead body"), and _hoc locum_ for _hunc locum_ ("this place"). The morphological confusion shows primarily in the adoption of the nominative ending _-us_ (_-Ø_ after _-r_) in the _o_-declension.

In Petronius ' work, one can find _balneus_ for _balneum_ ("bath"), _fatus_ for _fatum_ ("fate"), _caelus_ for _caelum_ ("heaven"), _amphitheater_ for _amphitheatrum_ ("amphitheatre"), _vinus_ for _vinum_ ("wine"), and conversely, _thesaurum_ for _thesaurus_ ("treasure"). Most of these forms occur in the speech of one man: Trimalchion, an uneducated, Greek (i.e., foreign) freedman .

In modern Romance languages, the nominative _s_-ending has been abandoned, and all substantives of the _o_-declension have an ending derived from _-um_: _-u_, _-o_, or _-Ø_. E.g., masculine _murum_ ("wall"), and neuter _caelum_ ("sky") have evolved to: Italian _muro_, _cielo_; Portuguese _muro_, _céu_; Spanish _muro_, _cielo_ ', Catalan _mur_,_cel_; Romanian _mur_, _cieru>cer_; ; French _mur_, _ciel_. However, Old French still had _-s_ in the nominative and _-Ø_ in the accusative in both words: _murs_, _ciels_ – _mur_, _ciel_ .

For some neuter nouns of the third declension, the oblique stem became the productive; for others, the nominative/accusative form, which was identical in Classical Latin. Evidence suggests that the neuter gender was under pressure well back into the imperial period. French _(le) lait_, Catalan _(la) llet_, Spanish _(la) leche_, Portuguese _(o) leite_, Italian language _(il) latte_, Leonese _(el) lleche_ and Romanian _lapte(le)_ ("milk"), all derive from the non-standard but attested Latin nominative/accusative neuter _lacte_ or accusative masculine _lactem_.

Note also that in Spanish the word became feminine, while in French, Portuguese and Italian it became masculine (in Romanian it remained neuter, _lapte/lăpturi_). Other neuter forms, however, were preserved in Romance; Catalan and French _nom_, Leonese, Portuguese and Italian _nome_, Romanian _nume_ ("name") all preserve the Latin nominative/accusative _nomen_, rather than the oblique stem form *_nominem_ (which nevertheless produced Spanish _nombre_).

Typical Italian endings



MASCULINE _giardino_ _giardini_ _buono_ _buoni_

FEMININE _donna_ _donne_ _buona_ _buone_

NEUTER _uovo_ _uova_ _buono_ _buone_

Most neuter nouns had plural forms ending in -A or -IA; some of these were reanalysed as feminine singulars, such as _gaudium_ ("joy"), plural _gaudia_; the plural form lies at the root of the French feminine singular _(la) joie_, as well as of Catalan and Occitan _(la) joia_ (Italian _la gioia_ is a borrowing from French); the same for _lignum_ ("wood stick"), plural _ligna_, that originated the Catalan feminine singular noun _(la) llenya_, and Spanish _(la) leña_. Some Romance languages still have a special form derived from the ancient neuter plural which is treated grammatically as feminine: e.g., BRACCHIUM : BRACCHIA "arm(s)" → Italian _(il) braccio_ : _(le) braccia_, Romanian _braț(ul)_ : _brațe(le)_. Cf. also Merovingian Latin _ipsa animalia aliquas mortas fuerant_.

Alternations in Italian heteroclitic nouns such as _l'uovo fresco_ ("the fresh egg") / _le uova fresche_ ("the fresh eggs") are usually analysed as masculine in the singular and feminine in the plural, with an irregular plural in _-a_. However, it is also consistent with their historical development to say that _uovo_ is simply a regular neuter noun (_ovum_, plural _ova_) and that the characteristic ending for words agreeing with these nouns is _-o_ in the singular and _-a_ in the plural. Thus, a relict neuter gender can arguably be said to persist in Italian and Romanian.

In Portuguese, traces of the neuter plural can be found in collective formations and words meant to inform a bigger size or sturdiness. Thus, one can use _ovo/ovos_ ("egg/eggs") and _ova/ovas_ ("roe", "a collection of eggs"), _bordo/bordos_ ("section(s) of an edge") and _borda/bordas_ ("edge/edges"), _saco/sacos_ ("bag/bags") and _saca/sacas_ ("sack/sacks"), _manto/mantos_ ("cloak/cloaks") and _manta/mantas_ ("blanket/blankets"). Other times, it resulted in words whose gender may be changed more or less arbitrarily, like _fruto/fruta_ ("fruit"), _caldo/calda_ (broth"), etc.

These formations were especially common when they could be used to avoid irregular forms. In Latin, the names of trees were usually feminine, but many were declined in the second declension paradigm, which was dominated by masculine or neuter nouns. Latin _pirus_ ("pear tree"), a feminine noun with a masculine-looking ending, became masculine in Italian _(il) pero_ and Romanian _păr(ul)_; in French and Spanish it was replaced by the masculine derivations _(le) poirier_, _(el) peral_; and in Portuguese and Catalan by the feminine derivations _(a) pereira_, _(la) perera_.

As usual, irregularities persisted longest in frequently used forms. From the fourth declension noun _manus_ ("hand"), another feminine noun with the ending _-us_, Italian and Spanish derived _(la) mano_, Romanian _mânu>mâna_ pl (reg.)_mânule/mânuri_, Catalan _(la) mà_, and Portuguese _(a) mão_, which preserve the feminine gender along with the masculine appearance.

Except for the Italian and Romanian heteroclitic nouns, other major Romance languages have no trace of neuter nouns, but still have neuter pronouns. French _celui-ci / celle-ci / ceci_ ("this"), Spanish _éste / ésta / esto_ ("this"), Italian: _gli / le / ci_ ("to him" /"to her" / "to it"), Catalan: _ho_, _açò_, _això_, _allò_ ("it" / _this_ / _this-that_ / _that over there_); Portuguese: _todo / toda / tudo_ ("all of him" / "all of her" / "all of it").

In Spanish, a three-way contrast is also made with the definite articles _el_, _la_, and _lo_. The last is used with nouns denoting abstract categories: _lo bueno_, literally "that which is good", from _bueno_: good.


The Vulgar Latin vowel shifts caused the merger of several case endings in the nominal and adjectival declensions. Some of the causes include: the loss of final _m_, the merger of _ă_ with _ā_, and the merger of _ŭ_ with _ō_ (see tables). Thus, by the 5th century, the number of case contrasts had been drastically reduced.

Evolution of a 1st declension noun: _caepa/cēpa_ ("onion") (feminine singular)

Classical (c. 1st century) Vulgar (c. 5th cent.) Modern Romanian

NOMINATIVE _caepa, cēpa_ _*cépa_ _ceapă_

ACCUSATIVE _caepam, cēpam_

ABLATIVE _caepā, cēpā_

DATIVE _caepae, cēpae_ _*cépe_ _cepe_


Evolution of a 2nd declension noun: _mūrus_ ("wall") (masculine singular)

Classical (c. 1st cent.) Vulgar (c. 5th cent.) Old French (c. 11th cent.)

NOMINATIVE _mūrus_ _*múros_ _murs_

ACCUSATIVE _mūrum_ _*múru_ _mur_

ABLATIVE _mūrō_ _*múro_


GENITIVE _mūrī_ _*múri_

There also seems to be a marked tendency to confuse different forms even when they have not become homophonous (like in the generally more distinct plurals), which indicates nominal declension was not only shaped by phonetic mergers, but also by structural factors. As a result of the untenability of the noun case system after these phonetic changes, Vulgar Latin shifted from a markedly synthetic language to a more analytic one .

The GENITIVE CASE died out around the 3rd century AD, according to Meyer-Lübke , and began to be replaced by de + noun as early as the 2nd century BC. Exceptions of remaining genitive forms are some pronouns, many fossilized combinations like sayings, some proper names, and certain terms related to the church. For example, French _jeudi_ ("Thursday") < Old French _juesdi_ < Vulgar Latin jovis diēs; Spanish _es menester_ ("it is necessary") < est ministeri; terms like angelorum, paganorum; and Italian _terremoto_ ("earthquake") < terrae motu as well as names like _Paoli_, _Pieri_.

The DATIVE CASE lasted longer than the genitive, even though Plautus , in the 2nd century BC, already shows some instances of substitution by the construction ad + accusative. For example, ad carnuficem dabo.

The ACCUSATIVE CASE developed as a prepositional case, displacing many instances of the ablative . Towards the end of the imperial period, the accusative came to be used more and more as a general oblique case.

Despite increasing case mergers, nominative and accusative forms seem to have remained distinct for much longer, since they are rarely confused in inscriptions. Even though Gaulish texts from the 7th century rarely confuse both forms, it is believed that both cases began to merge in Africa by the end of the empire, and a bit later in parts of Italy and Iberia. Nowadays, Romanian maintains a two-case system, while Old French and Old Occitan had a two-case subject-oblique system.

This Old French system was based largely on whether or not the Latin case ending contained an "s" or not, with the "s" being retained but all vowels in the ending being lost (as with _veisin_ below). But since this meant that it was easy to confuse the singular nominative with the plural oblique, and the plural nominative with the singular oblique, along with the final "s" becoming silent, this case system ultimately collapsed as well, and French adopted one case (usually the oblique) for all purposes, leaving the Romanian the only one to survive to the present day.

Evolution of a masculine noun in Old French: _veisin_ ("neighbor"). (definite article in parentheses).

Classical Latin (1st cent.) Old French (11th cent.)

SINGULAR NOMINATIVE vīcīnus (li) veisins

ACCUSATIVE vīcīnum (le) veisin


DATIVE vīcīnō


PLURAL NOMINATIVE vīcīnī (li) veisin

ACCUSATIVE vīcīnōs (les) veisins

GENITIVE vīcīnōrum

DATIVE vīcīnīs



Loss of a productive noun case system meant that the syntactic purposes it formerly served now had to be performed by prepositions and other paraphrases. These particles increased in number, and many new ones were formed by compounding old ones. The descendant Romance languages are full of grammatical particles such as Spanish _donde_, "where", from Latin _de_ + _unde_, or French _dès_, "since", from _de_ + _ex_, while the equivalent Spanish and Portuguese _desde_ is _de_ + _ex_ + _de_. Spanish _después_ and Portuguese _depois_, "after", represent _de_ + _ex_ + _post_.

Some of these new compounds appear in literary texts during the late empire; French _dehors_, Spanish _de fuera_ and Portuguese _de fora_ ("outside") all represent _de_ + _foris_ (Romanian _afară_ – _ad_ + _foris_), and we find Jerome writing _stulti, nonne qui fecit, quod de foris est, etiam id, quod de intus est fecit?_ (Luke 11.40: "ye fools, did not he, that made which is without, make that which is within also?"). In some cases, compounds were created by combining a large number of particles, such as the Romanian _adineauri_ ("just recently") from _ad_ + _de_ + _in_ + _illa_ + _hora_.

As Latin was losing its case system, prepositions started to move in to fill the void. In colloquial Latin, the preposition _ad_ followed by the accusative was sometimes used as a substitute for the dative case.

CLASSICAL LATIN: _Marcus patrī librum dat._ "Marcus is giving father book."

VULGAR LATIN: _*Marco da libru a patre._ "Marcus is giving book to father."

Just as in the disappearing dative case, colloquial Latin sometimes replaced the disappearing genitive case with the preposition _de_ followed by the ablative.

CLASSICAL LATIN: _Marcus mihi librum patris dat._ "Marcus is giving me father's book.

VULGAR LATIN: _*Marco mi da libru de patre._ "Marcus is giving me book of father."


Unlike in the nominal and adjectival inflections, pronouns kept great part of the case distinctions. However, many changes happened. For example, the /ɡ/ of _ego_ was lost by the end of the empire, and _eo_ appears in manuscripts from the 6th century.

Reconstructed pronominal system of Vulgar Latin



NOMINATIVE *éo *nọs *tu *vọs

DATIVE *mi *nọ́be(s) *ti, *tẹ́be *vọ́be(s) *si, *sẹ́be *si, *sẹ́be

ACCUSATIVE *mẹ *nọs *tẹ *vọs *sẹ *sẹ


Classical Latin had a number of different suffixes that made adverbs from adjectives : _carus_, "dear", formed _care_, "dearly"; _acriter_, "fiercely", from _acer_; _crebro_, "often", from _creber_. All of these derivational suffixes were lost in Vulgar Latin, where adverbs were invariably formed by a feminine ablative form modifying _mente_, which was originally the ablative of _mens_, and so meant "with a ... mind". So _velox_ ("quick") instead of _velociter_ ("quickly") gave _veloci mente_ (originally "with a quick mind", "quick-mindedly") This explains the widespread rule for forming adverbs in many Romance languages: add the suffix -_ment(e)_ to the feminine form of the adjective. The development illustrates a textbook case of grammaticalization in which an autonomous form, the noun meaning 'mind', while still in free lexical use in e.g. Italian _venire in mente_ 'come to mind', becomes a productive suffix for forming adverbs in Romance such as Italian _chiaramente_, Spanish _claramente_ 'clearly', with both its source and its meaning opaque in that usage other than as adverb formant.


_ The Cantar de Mio Cid _ (_Song of my Cid _) is the earliest Spanish text Main article: Romance verbs See also: Romance languages § Verbal morphology

In general, the verbal system in the Romance languages changed less from Classical Latin than did the nominal system.

The four conjugational classes generally survived. The second and third conjugations already had identical imperfect tense forms in Latin, and also shared a common present participle. Because of the merging of short _i_ with long _ē_ in most of Vulgar Latin, these two conjugations grew even closer together. Several of the most frequently-used forms became indistinguishable, while others became distinguished only by stress placement:


SECOND CONJUGATION (CLASSICAL) -ēre -eō -ēs -et -ēmus -ētis -ent -ē

SECOND CONJUGATION (VULGAR) *-ẹ́re *-(j)o *-es *-e(t) *-ẹ́mos *-ẹ́tes *-en(t) *-e

THIRD CONJUGATION (VULGAR) *-ere *-o *-emos *-etes *-on(t)

THIRD CONJUGATION (CLASSICAL) -ere -ō -is -it -imus -itis -unt -e

These two conjugations came to be conflated in many of the Romance languages, often by merging them into a single class while taking endings from each of the original two conjugations. Which endings survived was different for each language, although most tended to favour second conjugation endings over the third conjugation. Spanish, for example, mostly eliminated the third conjugation forms in favour of second conjugation forms.

French and Catalan did the same, but tended to generalise the third conjugation infinitive instead. Catalan in particular almost completely eliminated the second conjugation ending over time, reducing it to a small relic class. In Italian, the two infinitive endings remained separate (but spelled identically), while the conjugations merged in most other respects much as in the other languages. However, the third-conjugation third-person plural present ending survived in favour of the second conjugation version, and was even extended to the fourth conjugation. Romanian also maintained the distinction between the second and third conjugation endings.

In the perfect , many languages generalized the _-aui_ ending most frequently found in the first conjugation. This led to an unusual development; phonetically, the ending was treated as the diphthong /au/ rather than containing a semivowel /awi/, and in other cases the /w/ sound was simply dropped. We know this because it did not participate in the sound shift from /w/ to /β̞/. Thus Latin _amaui_, _amauit_ ("I loved; he/she loved") in many areas became proto-Romance *_amai_ and *_amaut_, yielding for example Portuguese _amei_, _amou_. This suggests that in the spoken language, these changes in conjugation preceded the loss of /w/.

Another major systemic change was to the future tense , remodelled in Vulgar Latin with auxiliary verbs . A new future was originally formed with the auxiliary verb _habere_, *_amare habeo_, literally "to love I have" (cf. English "I have to love", which has shades of a future meaning). This was contracted into a new future suffix in Western Romance forms, which can be seen in the following modern examples of "I will love":

* French : _j'aimerai_ (_je_ + _aimer_ + _ai_) ← _aimer_ + _ai_ . * Portuguese and Galician : _amarei_ (_amar_ + _ei_) ← _amar_ + _hei_ * Spanish and Catalan : _amaré_ (_amar_ + _e_) ← _amar_ + _he_ . * Italian : _amerò_ (_amar_ + _o_) ← _amare_ + _ho_ .

A periphrastic construction of the form 'to have to' (late Latin _habere ad_) used as future is characteristic of Sardinian :

* _App'a istàre_ < _appo a istàre_ 'I will stay' * _App'a nàrrere_ < _appo a nàrrer_ 'I will say'

An innovative conditional (distinct from the subjunctive ) also developed in the same way (infinitive + conjugated form of _habere_). The fact that the future and conditional endings were originally independent words is still evident in literary Portuguese, which in these tenses allows clitic object pronouns to be incorporated between the root of the verb and its ending: "I will love" (_eu_) _amarei_, but "I will love you" _amar-te-ei_, from _amar_ + _te_ + (_eu_) _hei_ = _amar_ + _te_ + _ei_ = _amar-te-ei_.

In Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, personal pronouns can still be omitted from verb phrases as in Latin, as the endings are still distinct enough to convey that information: _venio_ > Sp _vengo_ ("I come"). In French, however, all the endings are typically homophonous except the first and second person (and occasionally also third person) plural, so the pronouns are always used (_je viens_) except in the imperative .

Contrary to the millennia-long continuity of much of the active verb system, which has now survived 6000 years of known evolution, the synthetic passive voice was utterly lost in Romance, being replaced with periphrastic verb forms—composed of the verb "to be" plus a passive participle—or impersonal reflexive forms—composed of a verb and a passivizing pronoun.

Apart from the grammatical and phonetic developments there were many cases of verbs merging as complex subtleties in Latin were reduced to simplified verbs in Romance. A classic example of this are the verbs expressing the concept "to go". Consider three particular verbs in Classical Latin expressing concepts of "going": _ire_, _vadere_, and _ambitare_. In Spanish and Portuguese _ire_ and _vadere_ merged into the verb _ir_, which derives some conjugated forms from _ire_ and some from _vadere_. _andar_ was maintained as a separate verb derived from _ambitare_.

Italian instead merged _vadere_ and _ambitare_ into the verb _andare_. At the extreme French merged three Latin verbs with, for example, the present tense deriving from _vadere_ and another verb _ambulare_ (or something like it) and the future tense deriving from _ire_. Similarly the Romance distinction between the Romance verbs for "to be", _essere_ and _stare_, was lost in French as these merged into the verb _être_. In Italian, the verb _essere_ inherited both Romance meanings of "being essentially" and "being temporarily of the quality of", while _stare_ specialized into a verb denoting location or dwelling, or state of health.


Main article: Romance copula

The copula (that is, the verb signifying "to be") of Classical Latin was _esse_. This evolved to *_essere_ in Vulgar Latin by attaching the common infinitive suffix _-re_ to the classical infinitive; this produced Italian _essere_ and French _être_ through Proto-Gallo-Romance *_essre_ and Old French _estre_ as well as Spanish and Portuguese _ser_ (Romanian _a fi_ derives from _fire_, which means "to become").

In Vulgar Latin a second copula developed utilizing the verb _stare_, which originally meant (and is cognate with) "to stand", to denote a more temporary meaning. That is, *_essere_ signified the _esse_nce, while _stare_ signified the _state._ _Stare_ evolved to Spanish and Portuguese _estar_ and Old French _ester_ (both through *_estare_), while Italian and Romanian retained the original form.

The semantic shift that underlies this evolution is more or less as follows: A speaker of Classical Latin might have said: _vir est in foro_, meaning "the man is in/at the marketplace". The same sentence in Vulgar Latin could have been *_(h)omo stat in foro_, "the man stands in/at the marketplace", replacing the _est_ (from _esse_) with _stat_ (from _stare_), because "standing" was what was perceived as what the man was actually doing.

The use of _stare_ in this case was still semantically transparent assuming that it meant "to stand", but soon the shift from _esse_ to _stare_ became more widespread. In the Iberian peninsula _esse_ ended up only denoting natural qualities that would not change, while _stare_ was applied to transient qualities and location. In Italian, _stare_ is used mainly for location, transitory state of health (_sta male_ 's/he is ill' but _è gracile_ 's/he is puny') and, as in Spanish, for the eminently transient quality implied in a verb's progressive form, such as _sto scrivendo_ to express 'I am writing'.

The historical development of the _stare_ + gerund progressive in those Romance languages that have it seems to have been a passage from a usage such as _sto pensando_ 'I stand/stay (here) thinking', in which the _stare_ form carries the full semantic load of 'stand, stay' to grammaticalization of the construction as expression of progressive aspect . The process of reanalysis that took place over time bleached the semantics of _stare_ so that when used in combination with the gerund the form became solely a grammatical marker of subject and tense (e.g. _sto_ = subject first person singular, present; _stavo_ = subject first person singular, past), no longer a lexical verb with the semantics of 'stand' (not unlike the auxiliary in compound tenses that once meant 'have, possess', but is now semantically empty: _j'AI écrit_, _HO scritto_, _HE escrito_, etc.). Whereas _sto scappando_ would once have been semantically strange at best (?'I stay escaping'), once grammaticalization was achieved, collocation with a verb of inherent mobility was no longer contradictory, and _sto scappando_ could and did become the normal way to express 'I am escaping'. (Although it might be objected that in sentences like Spanish _la catedral está en la ciudad_, "the cathedral is in the city" this is also unlikely to change, but all locations are expressed through _estar_ in Spanish, as this usage originally conveyed the sense of "the cathedral _stands_ in the city").


_ THIS SECTION IS EMPTY. You can help by adding to it . (December 2016)_


Classical Latin in most cases adopted an SOV word order in ordinary prose, however other word orders were allowed, such as in poetry, due to its inflectional nature. However, word order in the modern Romance languages generally adopted a standard SVO word order. This change may have been attributed from the Germanic peoples' in the late Imperial period, since they spoke in the SVO word order. Fragments of SOV word order still survive through object pronouns (te amo - "I love you").


* Oaths of Strasbourg * Romance copula * Romance languages * Veronese Riddle * Proto-Romanian * Daco-Roman * Thraco-Roman


* Sicilian * Catalan phonology * History of French * History of Italian * History of Portuguese * History of the Spanish language * Latin to Romanian sound changes * Old French


* ^ Posner, Rebecca (1996). _The Romance Languages_. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 98. * ^ Posner, Rebecca; Sala, Marius. "Vulgar Latin". _Encyclopedia Britannica_. Retrieved 20 Jun 2017. CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link ) * ^ _Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association_. American Philological Association: 8-9. 1870 https://books.google.com/books?id=oOY5AQAAMAAJ. Missing or empty title= (help ) * ^ Meyer (1906), p.239. * ^ Meyer (1906), pp. 244–5. * ^ Diez (1882), p. 1. * ^ Diez (1882), p. 63. * ^ Grandigent (1907), p.5. * ^ Mann, Horace, _The Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle Ages, Vol. I: The Popes Under the Lombard Rule, Part 2, 657–795_ (1903), pg. 158 * ^ Herman (2000), p.114. * ^ Rickard, Peter (April 27, 1989). _A History of the French language_. London: Routledge. pp. 21–22. ISBN 041510887X . * ^ "Les Serments de Strasbourg". Retrieved February 20, 2016. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Harrington et al. (1997). * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ _F_ _G_ Herman 2000 , p. 47. * ^ Horrocks, Geoffrey and James Clackson (2007). _The Blackwell History of the Latin Language_. Malden: Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4051-6209-8 . * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ Herman 2000 , p. 48. * ^ Allen (2003) states: "There appears to have been no great difference in quality between long and short _a_, but in the case of the close and mid vowels (_i_ and _u_, _e_ and _o_) the long appear to have been appreciably closer than the short." He then goes on to the historical development, quotations from various authors (from around the 2nd century AD), and evidence from older inscriptions in which "e" stands for normally short _i_, "i" for long _e_, etc. * ^ Grandgent & Moll 1991 , p. 11. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Palmer 1954 , p. 157. * ^ Grandgent & Moll 1991 , p. 118. * ^ _A_ _B_ Herman 2000 , p. 28-29. * ^ _A_ _B_ Palmer 1954 , p. 156. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ Vincent (1990). * ^ Michele Loporcaro, "Phonological Processes", _The Cambridge History of the Romance Languages: Structures_, vol. 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2011), 112-4. * ^ _A_ _B_ Grandgent Survivances du cas sujet) * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ _F_ Herman 2000 , p. 52. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Grandgent & Moll 1991 , p. 82. * ^ Captivi , 1019. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Herman 2000 , p. 53. * ^ Romanian Explanatory Dictionary (DEXOnline.ro) * ^ _A_ _B_ Grandgent -webkit-column-count: 2; column-count: 2;">

* Allen, W. Sidney (2003). _Vox Latina – a Guide to the Pronunciation of Classical Latin_ (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press . ISBN 0-521-37936-9 . * Boyd-Bowman, Peter (1980). _From Latin to Romance in Sound Charts_. Washington DC: Georgetown University Press. * Diez, Friedrich (1882). _Grammatik der romanischen Sprachen_ (in German) (5 Auflage ed.). Bonn: E. Weber. * Grandgent, C.H. (1907). _An Introduction to Vulgar Latin_. Boston: D.C. Heath. * Grandgent, Charles Hall (1882). _Introducción al latín vulgar_ (in Spanish) (Spanish translation by Francisco de B. Moll ed.). Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. * Harrington, K. P.; Pucci, J.; Elliott, A. G. (1997). _Medieval Latin_ (2nd ed.). University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-31712-9 . * Herman, József; Wright, Roger (Translator) (2000). _Vulgar Latin_. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press . ISBN 0-271-02001-6 . * Lloyd, Paul M. (1979). "On the Definition of "Vulgar Latin": The Eternal Return". _Neuphilologische Mitteilungen_. 80 (2): 110–122. JSTOR 43343254 . doi :10.2307/43343254 . * Meyer, Paul (1906). "Beginnings and Progress of Romance Philology". In Rogers, Howard J. _Congress of Arts and Sciences: Universal Exposition, St. Louis, 1904_. Volume III. Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company. pp. 237–255. * Palmer, L. R. (1988) . _The Latin Language_. University of Oklahoma. ISBN 0-8061-2136-X . * Pulgram, Ernst (1950). "Spoken and Written Latin". _Language_. 26 (4): 458–466. JSTOR 410397 . doi :10.2307/410397 . * Sihler, A. L. (1995). _New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin_. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-508345-8 . * Tucker, T. G. (1985) . _Etymological Dictionary of Latin_. Ares Publishers. ISBN 0-89005-172-0 . * Väänänen, Veikko (1981). _Introduction au latin vulgaire. Troisième édition revue et augmentée_. Paris: Klincksieck. ISBN 2-252-02360-0 . * Vincent, Nigel (1990). "Latin". In Harris, M.; Vincent, N. _The Romance Languages_. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-520829-3 . * von Wartburg, Walther; Chambon, Jean-Pierre (1928). _Französisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch: eine Darstellung des galloromanischen Sprachschatzes_ (in German and French). Bonn: F. Klopp. * Wright, Roger (1982). _Late Latin and Early Romance in Spain and Carolingian France_. Liverpool: Francis Cairns.


To Romance In General

* Banniard, Michel (1997). _Du latin aux langues romanes_. Paris: Nathan. * Bonfante, Giuliano (1999). _The origin of the Romance languages: Stages in the development of Latin_. Heidelberg: Carl Winter. * Ledgeway, Adam; Maiden, Martin (eds.) (2016). _The Oxford Guide to the Romance Languages. Part 1: The Making of the Romance Languages_. Oxford: Oxford University Press. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link ) * Maiden, Martin; Smith, John Charles; Ledgeway, Adam (eds.) (2013). _The Cambridge History of the Romance Languages. Volume II: Contexts_. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link ) (esp. parts 1 _The Transition from Latin to the Romance Languages_) * Wright, Roger (1982). _Late Latin and Early Romance in Spain and Carolingian France_. Liverpool: Francis Cairns. * Wright, Roger (ed.) (1991). _ Latin and the Romance Languages in the Early Middle ages_. London/New York: Routledge. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link )

To French

* Ayres-Bennett, Wendy (1995). _A History of the French Language through Texts_. London/New York: Routledge. * Kibler, William W. (1984). _An Introduction to Old French_. New York: Modern Language Association of America. * Lodge, R. Anthony (1993). _French: From Dialect to Standard_. London/New York: Routledge. * Pope, Mildred K. (1934). _From Latin to Modern French with Especial Consideration of Anglo-Norman Phonology and Morphology_. Manchester: Manchester University Press. * Price, Glanville (1998). _The French language: present and past_ (Revised ed.). London: Grant and Cutler.

To Italian

* Maiden, Martin (1996). _A Linguistic History of Italian_. New York: Longman.

To Spanish

* Lloyd, Paul M. (1987). _From Latin to Spanish_. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society. * Penny, Ralph (2002). _A History of the Spanish Language_. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. * Pharies, David A. (2007). _A Brief History of the Spanish Language_. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. * Pountain, Christopher J. (2000). _A History of the Spanish Language Through Texts_. London: Routledge.

To Portuguese

* Castro, Ivo (2004). _Introdução à História do Português_. Lisbon: Edições Colibri. * Emiliano, António (2003). _Latim e Romance na segunda metade do século XI_. Lisbon: Fundação Gulbenkian. * Williams, Edwin B. (1968). _From Latin to Portuguese: Historical Phonology and Morphology of the Portuguese Language_. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

To Occitan

* Paden, William D. (1998). _An Introduction to Old Occitan_. New York: Modern Language Association of America.

To Sardinian

* Blasco Ferrer, Eduardo (1984). _Storia linguistica della Sardegna_. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag.


* Batzarov, Zdravko (2000). "Orbis Latinus". Retrieved 19 September 2009. * Norberg, Dag; Johnson, R.H. (Translator) (2009) . " Latin at the End of the Imperial Age". _Manuel pratique de latin médiéval_. New York: Columbia University Press, Orbis Latinus. * "Corpus Grammaticorum Latinorum". Paris: Laboratoire d'Histoire des théories linguistiques. 2008. Retrieved 19