Latin is one of the oldest and most influential languages in the world. Throughout time, Latin has faded away and become extinct because nobody speaks it as a native language anymore. Originally, Latin was used in Ancient Rome and Latium. As the Roman Empire expanded, Latin spread throughout its territories, solidifying its status as the most important language in Central and Western Europe, right up to the 17th century.
Latin can be classified into Classical Latin and Vulgar Latin. Classical Latin was the more refined dialect, usually used in literary expressions while Vulgar Latin was used by common folks. As the Roman Empire declined, Latin suffered a similar fate. By the 9th century, Vulgar Latin deviated into various Romance languages such as Catalan, Corsican, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Romanian, and others.
After the Western Roman Empire fell, the Catholic Church adopted Latin, thereby prolonging its survival, especially in the circle of the educated classes. Then known as Medieval Latin, the Renaissance Humanists used it, but it was spoken by less and less people after the 16th century. Nevertheless, Medieval Latin was still in use for academic purposes up to the 18th century. After that, the use of Latin went into decline, until it eventually phased out.
Although Latin is extinct, it is the root for most of the vocabulary of many European languages, including English. For instance, the English word “annual” is taken from the Latin “annus” and the English word “insulate” is taken from “insula.” On another level, current English, French, and Spanish alphabets are derived from the Latin alphabet. Even though the Latin language is nonexistent, its influence and legacy is still evident today.
To learn more about Latin word origins, check out the following sources:
- Latin Dictionary and Grammar Aid: A great place to search for Latin word origins.
- WordInfo: Search engine providing Latin-Greek cross references.
- Online Etynology Dictionary: Traces the origins of words.
- Greek & Latin Roots: A list of words with Greek and Latin roots.
- Greek & Latin Roots for GRE Preparation: Shows the roots of some English words.
- Greek & Latin Root Words: Another list of words with Greek and Latin roots.
- Latin Online: Provides information on Latin as well as the languages which are based on it.
- Perseus: Search engine for English-Latin words.
- Latin = English Dictionary: Another search engine for English-Latin words.
- Spanish to English dictionary: Learn Spanish for free online.
- French to Latin to French Dictionary: A dictionary for just that purpose.
- History of Portuguese Language: Discusses how Portuguese is influenced by Latin.
- A History of the Spanish Language: Discusses the origins of the Spanish language.
- French Language: Discusses the French language as well as its Latin origin
- The History of the Italian Language: Traces the origins of the Italian language.
- The Latin Alphabet: Provides information on the subject.