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1 - Latin and the making of the Romance languages1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 October 2013

John Charles Smith
Affiliation:
St Catherine's College, Oxford
Adam Ledgeway
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
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Summary

Today the Romance languages are spoken over much of Europe, central and southern Latin America and Quebec, as well as in the former French, Portuguese and Spanish colonies of many parts of Africa and, Asia. Latin found itself alongside numerous languages of many diverse linguistic affiliations, necessarily giving rise to extensive bilingualism. Yet Hugo Schuchardt's insightful study, while perfectly illustrating the early variation present within the language, had the undesirable consequence of popularizing, probably well beyond the author's own original intentions, the concept of Vulgar Latin. The author shows what traces there are in Latin for lenition, a phonetic development which proves extremely important not only because it distinguishes the Romance languages from the parent language, but also because it differentiates between two large Romance areas. The logographic hypothesis forces us, especially as regards morphology, to assume that many of the Romance innovations happened after the adoption of non-logographic spelling.
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2013

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