By Tore Janson
No recognized language, together with English, has completed the good fortune and toughness of Latin. French, Spanish, Italian, and Romanian are between its direct descendants, and numerous Latin phrases and words include the cornerstone of English itself. A usual historical past or Latin tells its background from its origins over 2500 years in the past to the current. Brilliantly conceived, popularizing yet authoritative, and written with the fluency and lightweight contact that experience made Tore Janson's communicate so appealing to tens of millions of readers, it's a masterpiece of adroit synthesis. The booklet commences with an outline of the origins, emergence, and dominance of Latin over the Classical interval. Then follows an account of its survival during the center a long time into smooth instances, with emphasis on its evolution through the historical past, tradition, and spiritual practices of Medieval Europe. by way of really apt citation of Latin phrases, words, and texts the writer illustrates how the written and spoken language replaced, zone through quarter over the years; the way it met resistance from local languages; and the way consequently a few whole languages disappeared. Janson bargains a bright demonstration of the price of Latin as a way of entry to a colourful earlier and a persuasive argument for its persisted worthy. A concise and easy-to-understand advent to Latin grammar and a listing of the main widespread Latin phrases, together with 500 idioms and words nonetheless in universal use, supplement the paintings.
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Additional info for A Natural History of Latin
In this he succeeded; he is a very adept storyteller, and very good at giving lively descriptions of situations and events. It is most fun to read the very ﬁrst part, where the sources were few and fanciful, and where Livy was able to embellish the stories using his own imagination. The bit about the Roman war against the Carthaginians used to be required reading for schoolchildren, and here we ﬁnd such pearls as the description of Hannibal’s march across the Alps. Unfortunately, there are also a great many descriptions of pitched battles and stratagems, which are hardly of interest to anyone except military historians.
Yet at the time of Augustus most of the population certainly spoke other languages than these. In the eastern part Latin never gained a ﬁrm foothold, but in the west most people gradually adopted Latin as their language. We have already mentioned that Italy was multilingual. What is now France had recently been conquered and there the majority spoke a Celtic language. In Spain and Portugal too there were many speakers of Celtic languages, but there were also Ligurians and the Vascones, the ancestors of today’s Basques, with their own languages.
In English these rulers are called emperors, but in German the word is Kaiser, a word which derives from the name Caesar, and which entered the Germanic language family at an early stage and is also found in modern Germanic languages like Swedish, Danish, Dutch, and Icelandic. This of course is not 38 Latin and the Romans incorrect, since Caesar was part of the full title of all the emperors; but their ofﬁcial designation was Augustus,the honorary name which they all bore. Their title also included the word imperator, which is the source of the English word ‘emperor’ and which in turn came to us via the French empereur.
A Natural History of Latin by Tore Janson