How Latin Works



hello and welcome the fire of learning it is remarkable to look at how much of an influence the Roman Empire had in shaping European society and beyond one of Rome's greatest legacies is its language Latin even after the Western Latin speaking half of the Roman Empire fell in 476 ad Latin continued on for over a millennium as the language of the Roman Catholic Church science philosophy and medicine and related fields the language of law and more apart from its own a direct use it is also importantly the parent language of a number of European languages spoken today the most prominent of these are Italian Spanish Portuguese French and Romanian with no small influence in our own English language as well in this video we are going to take a look into the history structure and condition of the Latin language why is it a dead language how did it influence all these other languages how do you actually pronounce the words well let's get to it before we begin I would like to thank Steven Langan max Yongsan or Janssen and Jacob Long's for being our most recent patreon supporters they joined these supporters listed here that helped make these videos possible the origins of the Latin language are rather mysterious it no doubt predates the founding of the city of Rome itself which according to legend occurred in April of 753 BC latin came to italy with an indo-european people called the Latins who settled in italy around the year 1000 BC however this Latin is separated from the Latin of Julius Caesar's day by around a thousand years and was no doubt quite different we can get a glimpse of that by the first Latin writing scholars have found dated to the seventh century BC shown here looks like Greek and it kind of is literally the alphabet we use in English and most European languages is for very good reason called the Roman or Latin an alphabet because it came to us through Rome however that alphabet came from an ancient Greek alphabet which was later mimicked by the peoples of Italy such as the Etruscans the long-forgotten middlemen between Greece and Rome from the Etruscans the Romans learned how to write their Latin down in a way that looked like this and that alphabet over time morphed into our own one because of Rome so if the Roman alphabet is the alphabet of your native language you can thank them believe it or not these alien markings are the direct ancestors of that alphabet with words we use every day carved within look at this here from the black stone dating to around 600 BC for example it's written right to left like ancient Etruscan was it had it changed to left to right yet but upon examination we can see that this word is reka related to the word Rex which meant King in Latin which gives us words like regal and regulate and related words in other related languages fascinating however we unfortunately have limited information on this ancient writing most Roman writings still in existence comes from classical Latin what we call classical Latin slowly evolved from ancient Latin over centuries in the natural evolution that languages tended to follow and seems to have been standardized around the Year 100 BC the 1st century BC was the age of Maurice Cicero Virgil Julius and Augustus Caesar and many other Roman figures who wielded the Latin language like a weapon and whose quotes you may be familiar with here's a quote you've probably heard it's Julius Caesar of course it means I came I saw I conquered here's an important question though how do you pronounce that phrase we are tempted to say veni vidi vici that's usually how we hear it anyway but in fact Julius Caesar said when he we'd be vici this brings us to some confusion that is pretty common when talking about Latin that we should probably address before we go deeper as many of you know the last video I made was a history of the Roman Empire now if you haven't seen that don't worry you don't have to watch that video to understand this one however the way I pronounce them of words in that video led to some confusion in the comments section some people were actually fairly unhappy about the way I pronounce things my pronunciations though I admit were probably tainted by my English speaking American accent we're pretty much correct although I also admit that was lazy with the short and long vowels it really just boils down to a misunderstanding there is a notable difference between classical Latin what the Romans spoke and ecclesiastical latin a dialect of latin i suppose you could say a subgroup of what we call vulgar latin that developed in medieval europe and was heavily influenced by italian when we hear spoken latin the majority of the time we hear ecclesiastical latin or some form of a more modern vulgar latin not just with things related to catholicism but even with as you can see roman phrases part of the reason for that is that ecclesiastical latin is perhaps and was definitely more common in recent centuries and makes more sense pronounciation wise to us English speakers will talk about ecclesiastical latin and vulgar latin in general in a moment for now how did the Romans pronounce things I don't know how many of you are going to learn the whole language so I won't bore you with the my new details but here are the main points – pronouncing Latin like the Romans did see is always hard like a K sound never an S or trip sound Caesar is actually Kaiser again in ecclesiastical latin this is different if you've heard the Lord's Prayer in Latin they'll typically say pottery Noster qui es and Chili's the Romans were pronounced Chili's as Kiley's the word caelum is the word for sky or heaven we'll get to why the word changes in a second G is always hard as well like agar sound never like a J H was pronounced softly like ma de hitori article though it is suggested that the elite paid more attention to this while the lower classes tended to ignore the aged ma de Adriatic on the Adriatic Sea J is always like a wise sound the Romans didn't have J though they generally had an I in a vowel in place of it take for example uses Julius Kaiser to the Caesar Yatta uh yuck test the dice cast are is trilled the Romans called this the elite Erica Nina the dog letter because it sounds like a snarling dog Roma Rome Romulus wrong ah–this V before vowel like you probably noticed is pronounced like aw however V also served the purpose of a you sound around consonants the Romans didn't differentiate between it – that's why there are these in place of views on some monuments and things written in Latin we're das the word for truth was you plural the letters y and z were incorporated into Latin to use for Greek words which the Romans picked up perhaps the only civilization that the Romans respected as much as themselves was the ancient Greeks and over time many Greek words made their way into Latin to this day actually the letter Y and French and some other Romance languages as I understand it is called a clack the Greek I regarding vowels there are short and long ones sometimes the long ones are marked with a kind of accent a macron or sometimes the vowel is doubled or sometimes marked with a capital letter and sometimes often not marked at all as the macarons weren't used until after Rome's fall this can be important in some circumstances though like in the word be better which means book and Li better which means free diphthongs AE is pronounced I like eyeball the Battle of cannae Kaiser keep in mind Kaiser in Latin and Kaiser in German sound very similar not by coincidence au is pronounced ow like house al Bustos Augustus our room gold because of these rules and these differences you can hear the name chuchito in ecclesiastical Adhan get coral in classical latin and cicero in our own English pronunciation none of these pronunciations are necessarily incorrect but I do believe it's important to be aware of the differences and the fact that this guy's name in his time was geek ghetto welcome back to Kiko in a moment let's get back to the history of Latin Latin continued its long reign over much of the Western known as the dominant language of the Roman Empire though keep in mind in the eastern half Greek was very commonly spoken and was in effect a second language of the Roman Empire as the Roman Empire expanded many different dialects emerged these forms which differed from the educated aristocratic classical Latin spoken in Rome are called vulgar latin meaning common or vernacular latin not ugly latin although the aristocracy may have considered it as such in foreign parts of the empire like gaul hispana and britain this vulgar latin often contained elements from the local native languages like Gaulish in gaul modern France and the centuries following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in 476 ad when European societies became more insular and detached these dialects were essentially left on their own to develop further and in these more insular and detached societies through centuries of mistakes slangs interactions with other languages and intentional changes in the early Middle Ages around the 8th century we see of course the beginning of as I said not only French Italian Spanish etc develop from Latin but also a lot of other languages regional languages in Spain France Italy etc maybe I should say at gatita some of which still exist today Catalan and Catalonia Spain Sardinian in Sardinia Italy so Didion by the way is actually the closest to Latin of these languages and the Walloon language in France and Belgium in case you are wondering there were also some Latin based languages that developed in North Africa but they were wiped out by future conquerors and we don't know much about them the imprint of Latin is all over the APRA mentioned languages they share quite a bit of grammar structure lists of vocabulary words with not only Latin but also with each other true story a couple years back when I was getting deeper into studying French I was playing a video game heard his sentence in Italian and understood it perfectly it was a more complex sentence too I think it used the subjunctive mood I didn't know any Italian I still don't but that is actually common among speakers of Romance languages and indeed learning one romance lang would make learning another much easier because they're so related by the way let me know in the comments if any of you native speakers have had those experiences as well but for now let's look at some examples to highlight this point firstly the numbers in Latin Oona's dual-trace quatuor Queen Quay sex septum octo knowin deck compare those to the equivalents of these Romance languages listed here and again French is the only language I can confidently compare to Latin myself everything else I googled body parts brain crab heart core hand Manas foot pace I oculus weather rain louia cloud nubes Sun soul wind went US snow NYX foods water aqua milk black bread bonus salt solace why we know we can really do this all day it's because of these similarities that some linguists argue that Latin isn't a dead language many would say that Old English for example isn't a dead language exactly it's just an outdated form of what evolved to be current English someone said the same thing about Latin French Spanish Portuguese all just evolved forms of Latin speaking of speaking Old English just looking at it here you can ask why is it so different from our current English well there are a number of reasons why but one big one is it's missing a lot of Latin I would estimate that about half give or take of our language comes from directly or indirectly Latin why well back to the history throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance Latin remain a language of the Catholic Church it still is a major language of the church but being the language of religion in those ages it was naturally tied into being language of the nobility the language of science the language of law etc people would speak their own languages but reading and writing was often done in Latin and Lesser Dante from this high status and use in such fields we have a lot of words which come directly from Latin quite a few other European languages less related to Latin were also affected in this sense like German Russian Finnish and Hungarian it's because of this that Latin words in our language tend to sound very big and professional Ursa Major Big Bear nebula fog corpus callosum tough body much of the Latin in English however comes from an indirect source Norman French prior to the year 1066 English was a very Germanic language Roman British Latin did not sit well with the later invaders from Germany the anglo-saxons and largely disappeared English in the early Middle Ages was more related to Saxon German and the Norse languages thanks to the Vikings there was some Latin because of the affer mentioned reasons and because the ancient Germans had picked up some from the Romans but the big crossover came with the Normans a mixed French and Norse people who invaded England in the year 1066 they spoke a dialect of early French and from there we get lists of words and restructuring of the grammar and such things which come in directly from Latin is English a Romance language then you can make a case for it I suppose but it's really more like a close cousin that hangs out more with German and Dutch there are some parts of Latin however which are a little more unusual and we're probably forgotten for that reason one of the most striking features for beginner learners is there isn't a word for the or a and word order isn't really important some languages like Russian I believe can be a little like this but Latin is an unusually highly inflected language inflection basically means words are modified to display their meaning in a sentence we have this a little bit in English like in the form of verb conjugation I see you see he sees adding the S at the end there to show the third person is inflection but Latin goes much farther let's take a simple sentence to display this who Ella we Det who Adam the girl sees the boy who Ella means girl what that means cease from the infinitive we data and Pooh adament means boy we can flip this around though however we want with that who Adam buela we read this as sees the boy the girl but it's grammatically correct in Latin and still means the girl sees the boy now if we want to change the meaning and say the boy sees the girl it would be boo ad with that column as you can see the endings have changed on the nouns and that is because nouns like this change depending on their position in the sentence that word order isn't very important meaning is derived from the word endings not the word order obviously that's kind of a foreign concept to a language like English where a word order is very important I suppose I should mention though that in normal circumstances the Romans did have a preference of subject-object-verb word order but again not necessary it's fun to learn about but when you had to memorize all the endings in high school I have to admit it got old sometimes trying to put sentences together this is all pretty cool for a dead language his Latin really a dead language what is a dead language well there's a big difference between a dead language and an extinct language an extinct language is Elaine which like Etruscan Etruscan was virtually lost for centuries and is only really familiar today to scholars no one speaks it or uses it to communicate and it doesn't really have any linguistic descendants a dead language however is simply a language which has no native speakers and isn't used in daily life a common misconception is that a dead language is one that you can't speak anymore and therefore a Latin is only written that's not true people could verbally communicate with Latin if they want to do the Pope for example does another misconception is that Latin is frozen in time and not changing and this is why it's a dead language this is also not true Latin is and has kept up with the times take the words or D not Rome which means computer or denatonium portable a cell phone Latin is all over the place indirectly and directly it is still used by the Catholic Church still used in science still used by scholars still used in law it's a language still in use but it's not a language in regular daily use like English or Russian or Japanese it's kept alive because it's Latin and it's important to the cultures whose ancestors once used it so yes it is a dead language but in more ways than one it lives on I hope you enjoy this video if you did I'd invite you to come check out some other cool content we have here on fire of learning like the history of Rome video that this video is tied to coming up in the future we have the history of Rome part 2 it will be titled the fall of the Roman Empire and then at a future date the history of Rome part 3 because 476 wasn't the end of the Roman Empire I invite you to subscribe to not miss out on future videos like this as well to help with the costs of production fire of learning does take donations on patreon the link to which you can find in the description you can support the channel with as little as a 1 dollar contribution special thanks once again to our patreon supporters listed here we are also on Instagram and Facebook so come check us out there too gracias tibi ah go for watching

40 thoughts on “How Latin Works

  1. I have always wondered how anyone can know how the Romans pronounced 'Veni, vidi vici' since there were no recording technologies then, and there are no ancient Romans from the Classical period hanging around.
    Weni widi wici sounds the way it would be pronounced in German. It also sounds wishy-washy unlike the way it sounds if the 'v's are pronounced. The Romans were anythng but wishy-washy.
    Even now, Italians have trouble with the sound of 'w'. They pronounce it as a 'v'.

  2. I've studied a number of languages and in every inflected language they say the same BS that word order doesn't matter. While that is true IN THEORY, in reality, inflected languages are NOT some wild free for all with different parts of speech appearing willy nilly anywhere in the sentence. Many languages are SVO like English or SOV like Latin (S=Subject, O=Object, V=Verb). Latin sentences and clauses tend to have the verb at the end. The subject tends to be at the beginning, then the indirect object, then the direct object. Adverbs are usually in front of the verb, adjectives usually follow the noun (except size and number). Word order may not be as strict as English, but a basic set of rules for sentence construction are still widely followed.

  3. Dead language. Look at your all caps name. A corporation, or a corpse. Now you know why latin is law..and you have to be summoned to appear for a hearing. Its in the language. All rise.

  4. The Latin language is not the at the base of romanian language, the romanian is the base of latin language as the Cardinal MacDowell said recent 😀 The romanian language is the base language of all languages 😀 Romanian is Sanskrit, Sanskrit is the base language, the language of the Gods, the language of the Vedas.

  5. fun fact, in french trois(3) was spelled trais or trai or trei but at some point a certain king decided that all word ending in "ais" were now ending in "ois". Like harnais-harnois(harness) français-françois(french) anglais-anglois(english)

  6. As an amateur linguist, and an avid Esperantist, I found this video to be both informative an useful. Well done!

  7. "the origin of the Latin words are… a mistery"!??! LOL!! sure they are!!! "the language was brought by a group of people called the 'latins' NO KIDDING!! FIRST: The Latin language was not a spoken language, per se! The Classical Latin you are learning in school has little in common with the language the common Romans spoke 2000 years ago. It is but a sophisticated version if you wish!! Romans wrote Latin and read Latin (if you were a learned citizen that is), they did not converse in Latin. The Vulgar dialects and/or Greek as well as hundreds of other languages in the vast Empire were in fact more readily available for most people. Modern Italian language has less in common to Latin than other surprisingly obscure but still around "Italian" dialects!! The Latin we are fussing so much about was the official written language used in government, economics and in the military. The vast majority of the Roman army/mercenaries could or would not even speak Latin. If we still believe that the Portuguese and the Romanian languages for example evolved from Latin far removed from each other geographically but have more in common with each other than they have with Latin itself, then we have to reassess the origin of Latin itself. Let me quote again the author of the video: "the origin of the Latin words are… a misery"!?? To say the least!!

  8. I feel so good about myself now, because I speak portuguese, and as everyone who speaks portuguese, I'm very used to language inflexibility, I'm going to show an example of that in the portuguese language, which came from latin and many words are still the same as in latin.

    The boy sees the girl = O garoto vê a garota
    The = O
    Boy = Garoto
    Sees = Vê
    The = A
    Girl = Garota

    I see the girl = Eu vejo a garota
    I = Eu
    See = Vejo
    The = A
    Girl = Garota

    While in english a verb has four conjugations for the word itself, in portuguese there're more than 50 conjugations for each verb.
    Just an example…
    See = Ver
    English: See/Sees/Saw/Seen
    Portuguese: Ver/Vejo/Veja/Vê/Vês/Vi/Víamos/Víeis/Viam/Viram/Vistes/Vimos/Veria/Vejamos/Veres/Verei/Verás/Verá/Vejam… etc

    This is what I came up with a minutes thinking. We don't use ALL the conjugations, but we do use most of them

  9. USA: ''we have kept latin language'' (''e pluribus unum; sic semper tyrannis''). USA: ''we despice people with a Latin-based language'' (Spanish, Italian). LOL.

  10. Absolutely loved this video as a Roman fanatic. I learned Latin in college and this reminded me of my lessons. Great work.

  11. Veni vidi vice had nothing to do with Britain.
    It was reported by Appian and Suetonius that he wrote this in a letter to his friend the Roman consul Amantius that he had a fast victory over Pharnaces, the ruler of Pontus at Zela. Pontus is now part of Turkey on the south coast of the Black sea.

  12. Based on what I know of Spanish and French, I was able to translate a Brazilian (Portuguese) news article into English for use in a blog despite having no formal learning of Portuguese. .

  13. Actually , in romanian Hearth is also called cord , and they both come from Latin. and for snow is nea (Google translate is many of the times wrong for romanian)

  14. Why do English speakers never consider the English language as a Latin one, as 70% of this language comes from old French, which is a derivative from Latin 😑

  15. The words blow and cold have similar o sound, like bloa(h), coald.
    The American short o in 'off, stop' often resembles the vowel in fAther.

  16. A large amount of "academic words" in English are of common use for us here in Brazil due to their latin root.

  17. A little addition in support of the idea that Latin evolved into modern languages. At 11:15 there is a table with similar words from various languages. Some of the Romanian words look out of place. But there are other words that could fit better or the explanation is they evolved from other Latin expressions.
    1: The word for „heart” – „inima” – sounds far away from French „coeur” or Italian „cuore”. But that's only because "inima" comes from "anima". And we also have the medical term "cord" (for the organ) and the adjective "cordial" (friendly).
    2: The word for "snow" also looks weird compared with "nix", "neige", "nieve". It's borrowed from Slavic. But we also have the older word "nea" – meaning the same thing. It's less popular now, but perfectly comprehensible when found in poetry and prose.
    3: The word for apple is indeed "măr" and looks strange from the original "pomum". although quite close to the other modern words in Italian, Spanish. However, we also have the word "pom" – which means any tree (usually that bears fruits). And also the word "poama" – meaning any fruit (this one tends to be less used in the city nowadays). For trees that don't bear fruits, we use the word "arbore" – from "arboretum".
    The theory works and looks cool especially with days of the week, months and other fundamental notions and religious vocabulary.

  18. There is a language called West Frisian which is very similar to English but it is an area which spans part of the Netherlands and Germany. Some of the words are spelt exactly the same yet the pronunciation is different. It is very interesting to see a related language and how it can be similar when written, yet so different when spoken.

  19. Which originates from ancient Egypt. Also most high class Romans actually used Greek as their main language. For a person talking about history you sure are lacking.

  20. ROME WAS ORIGINALLY CALLED ROMA WHICH IS SANSKRIT, IT WAS EUROPE FIRST CIVILIZATION THE WORD MEANS HAIRY. THE VOWELS ARE IMPORTANT IN SANSKRIT. LATIN IS A DIALECT OF SANSKRIT. THE SECOND CIVILIZATION IN EUROPE WAS ALSO CREATED BY ARYANS FROM ARYAVARTA (INDIA) ON THE ATLANTIC COAST THE CIVILIZATION JARMANIIYA WAS FORMED BY THE SAXENIAS THE COUNTRY LATER BECAME GERMANIA, FROM THESE TWO CIVILIZATIONS ABOUT 95 PERCENT OF THE LANGUAGES OF EUROPE ARE FORMED THEY ARE DIALECTS . THE CITY MILAN IN ITALY MEANS MEETING PLACE IN SANSKRIT, YOU HAVE TO RETHINK YOU LEARNING YOU SHOULD START FROM HERE.

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