Re: Other Vulgar Latins?
|From:||R A Brown <ray@...>|
|Date:||Tuesday, February 21, 2006, 15:02|
Peter Bleackley wrote:
> Let's start off with the not entirely outrageous premiss that Classical
> Latin was the Patrician acrolect of Latin, and Vulgar Latin was anything
Vulgar Latin (lingua Latina uulgaris) was the Latin of the _uulgus_ -
the ordinary people. Classical Latin was essentially a _literary_
language consciously modelled on norms of Greek literature. Certainly
the educated (senatorial & 'equestrian' ranks) would try to speak
according to this norm, at least in formal style. I would guess that
their everyday speech was a modified VL.
> Now, we know that the Vulgar Latin from which modern Romance
> languages are descended lost [h], but we know from Catullus' poem
> "Chommoda dicebat",
But this poem is fairly obviously poking fun at people like Arrius who
were hypercorrecting, i.e. they were brought up h-less, but having risen
in society, tried to "speak posh" - so aitches get stuck in everywhere.
> and from graffiti, that in the first century BC
> there were people who overproduced [h],
I doubt that the graffiti actually show this. I suspect in most cases it
is nothing more than what I used to see in the writing of my most
definitely h-less pupils many years ago, who would write things like
"Has I was saying......"
> so it appears that there was more than one form of Vulgar Latin.
Obviously there would be some regional differences - but the ease of
travel, trade, etc. seem to have worked towards a 'spoken Latin koine'.
Certainly IMO the Romance languages point towards this.
> Presumably the forms with [h] lost
> were Plebian dialects particularly common in the legions,
The evidence would seem to be that [h] was lost everywhere in all ranks
of society before the end of the BCE period. Doubtless the educated
pronounced it in formal styles, possibly for another century or more.
> their spread across the Empire.
> What evidence do we have of the range of dialectal variation in Latin?
Not a great deal, actually. The classical standard was essentially the
language of a single city which was spread across the western Empire &
north Africa (except Egypt) by settlement & trade.
> It might be fun to extrapolate a descendent of Arrius' dialect.
I doubt very much that there ever was an actual Latin dialect like
Arrius' any more than there is an English dialect where people say "Has
I was saying.....". I suspect it was just idiolects of certain people
rising through the social ranks who tried to "speak posh" and were the
object of ridicule by the upper classes (and probably by the lower
I have come across similar cases in English where a person from a h-less
'working class' background has bettered himself/herself and tries to
"speak posh" and finishes up putting in aitches all over the place.
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