The Lord’s Prayer in Latin:
Pater noster, qui es in caelis,
sanctificetur nomen tuum.
Adveniat regnum tuum.
Fiat voluntas tua,
sicut in caelo et in terra.
Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie,
et dimitte nobis debita nostra sicut
et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris.
Et ne nos inducas in tentationem,
sed libera nos a malo.
Latin (by -700), the ancient language of Rome and therefore of the West, was the main language of the western Roman Empire and of the Catholic Church. Up until at least 1700 it was the language that anyone in the West with a good education would know. French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Romanian come from Latin. So do 58% of English words, directly or indirectly.
We tend to think of Latin as the language of Cicero and Caesar, which disappeared after the fall of Rome. It was nothing like that.
As a native language Latin reached its height in about the year 400 with some 20 million speakers – most of the people of the western Roman Empire. Latin did die out in Britain and north-west Africa, replaced by English and Arabic, but elsewhere it slowly turned into French, Spanish, Italian and so on.
Languages that come from Latin are called Romance languages. The following have at least a million speakers (those with more than 10 million speakers are in bold):
These languages did not come from the Classical Latin found in books, but from the Vulgar Latin of the streets. Just as Australian English did not come from Oxford and Cambridge, but from the streets of London.
As a language Latin works differently than English.
In English the relation between words in a sentence are shown by word order and by prepositions. In Latin this is largely done by word endings.
So where in English you would say:
I love the moon
in Latin you would say:
In Latin you can change the order and say
and it would mean the same thing. But in English if you said
Moon the love I
it would be strange and meaningless. Latin can do this because the -am at the end of lunam shows that it is the object of the verb, amo. So the order does not matter.
If you take Latin in school, most likely you will read Caesar first, then Virgil, then Horace and Cicero. But another way to do it is to start with the Latin Bible and writings from the Middle Ages where the Latin is looser and simpler. The Latin in Aquinas and the Bible is very easy to read.
If you speak English, then Latin is the best language to learn: most English words came from Latin – or from French, which in turn comes from Latin. English makes a lot more sense when you know Latin.
– Abagond, 2007, 2016.
- external links
- Studying Latin – my advice
- Veterum Sapientia – Pope John XXIII on Latin as the language of the Catholic Church
- Roman alphabet
- Roman Empire
- The West
- Vulgar Latin
- Romance languages:
- Latin writers: