Evolution of Latin to Romance Languages Quiz



9 Questions

What is Vulgar Latin?

What is the view of the term 'Vulgar Latin'?

What is the relationship between the written and spoken languages of Latin?

What is the significance of understanding the shifts in spoken forms of Latin?

What happened to the system of phonemic vowel length in Latin?

What happened to the neuter gender in most Romance languages?

What happened to the genitive case in Latin?

What is the origin of adverbs in Romance languages?

What was the copula of Classical Latin and how did it evolve in Vulgar Latin?


Vulgar Latin: A non-standard Latin variety spoken by the people of Ancient Rome

  • Vulgar Latin is the range of non-formal registers of Latin spoken from the Late Roman Republic onward.

  • The term 'Vulgar Latin' is imprecise and controversial.

  • The written and spoken languages formed a continuity with speech evolving faster than the written language.

  • The term "Vulgar Latin" is viewed as vague and unhelpful, applied to mean spoken Latin of differing types, or from different social classes and time periods.

  • Interest in the shifts in the spoken forms is important to understand the transition from Latin or Late Latin through to Proto-Romance and Romance languages.

  • Evidence for spoken forms can only be found through examination of written Classical Latin and Late Latin and early Romance depending on the time period.

  • Over time, spoken Latin lost various lexical items and replaced them with native coinages, with borrowings from neighbouring languages, or with other native words that had undergone semantic shift.

  • Many surviving words experienced a shift in meaning.

  • The system of phonemic vowel length collapsed by the fifth century AD, leaving quality differences as the distinguishing factor between vowels.

  • Definite articles evolved from demonstrative pronouns or adjectives.

  • 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.

  • Considerable variation exists in all of the Romance vernaculars as to their actual use of articles.Loss of Neuter Gender and Oblique Cases in Romance Languages

  • 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.

  • Most of the morphological confusion shows primarily in the adoption of the nominative ending -us (-Ø after -r) in the o-declension.

  • In modern Romance languages, the nominative s-ending has been largely abandoned, and all substantives of the o-declension have an ending derived from -um: -u, -o, or -Ø.

  • For some neuter nouns of the third declension, the oblique stem was productive; for others, the nominative/accusative form.

  • Most neuter nouns had plural forms ending in -A or -IA; some of these were reanalysed as feminine singulars.

  • 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.

  • In Portuguese, traces of the neuter plural can be found in collective formations and words meant to inform a bigger size or sturdiness.

  • The genitive case died out around the 3rd century AD, according to Meyer-Lübke, and began to be replaced by "de" + noun.

  • 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.

  • The accusative case developed as a prepositional case, displacing many instances of the ablative.

  • 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.Evolution of Romance Languages

  • Adverbs in Romance languages developed from the feminine form of the adjective with the suffix -ment(e).

  • The verbal system in Romance languages underwent less change from Classical Latin than the nominal system.

  • The second and third conjugations of verbs generally survived and were often merged into a single class while taking endings from each of the original two conjugations.

  • The -aui ending in the perfect tense of many languages was treated as the diphthong /au/ rather than containing a semivowel /awi/ and was dropped in other cases.

  • The future tense was remodelled in Vulgar Latin with auxiliary verbs and a new future was originally formed with the auxiliary verb habere.

  • The copula of Classical Latin was esse, which evolved into *essere in Vulgar Latin and produced Italian essere and French être.

  • The use of stare instead of esse became more widespread, and in the Iberian peninsula esse ended up only denoting natural qualities that would not change, while stare was applied to transient qualities and location.

  • Classical Latin adopted an SOV word order in ordinary prose, but the modern Romance languages adopted a standard SVO word order.


Test your knowledge on the evolution of Latin into Vulgar Latin and the subsequent development of the Romance languages. Learn about the changes in grammar, syntax, and vocabulary that occurred as Latin was spoken by the people of Ancient Rome and evolved into the various Romance languages we know today. Discover the fascinating linguistic history of the transition from Latin to Proto-Romance and Romance, and gain insight into how spoken language can shape and influence written language over time.

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