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Posted: 11/2/2009 6:48:30 AM EST
I was just listening to some classical music sung in Latin, and it got me wondering, why did Europe ditch Latin in favor of vernacular languages? It would make sense for them all to speak the same language to make communication easy throughout all of the former Empire. Why branch off into different latin based languages? For instance, central and south america all speak spanish, while the US and (alot of) Candada speak English. Why let Latin go?
Link Posted: 11/2/2009 6:52:30 AM EST
I'm not a linguist, but I would guess that the decline of the Empire led to decreased travel and a decline in the percentage of the population which is educated. If the language isn't standardized by formal education, or homogenized by enough people traveling/communicating over wide distances, then the local languages will become dialects and diverge from the mother tongue.
Link Posted: 11/2/2009 6:54:00 AM EST
Without a central power and long distance communication people's local dialect slowly
became more pronounced and eventually became a separate language entirely.
Link Posted: 11/2/2009 7:00:27 AM EST
There was no conscious decision to "drop Latin". Languages chance all the time. If you have a stong centralized governement with strong lines of communication, chances are that as the language evolves many people in different regions will adopt the newer words/expressions/euphamisms/langue structure etc more or less togehter. But in Europe after the fall of Rome, travel was no longer safge and there were no longer strong lines of communications, so the languege evoled differently in many different regions, with nothing to tie the language speakers togther. So for example, lating in what would be Italy evolved into Italian, but in France it evolved into French and in Spain it evolved into Spanish.
Link Posted: 11/2/2009 7:08:18 AM EST
[Last Edit: 11/2/2009 7:08:49 AM EST by DWFAN]
The more Romanized areas of Europe retained the "latin" foundation...ie France(Gaul), and Spain/Portugal(Iberian Penninsula).

The Franks adopted latin in what is now French, and the Visigoths adopted what is now Spanish.

Germania was never fully romanized, thus the Germanic languages shaped what became modern German, Dutch and English.

English may have been entirely different from what we know today if not for the Saxon/Angle/Jute influx into England in the 5th century, and thus their Germanic languages that followed them.
Link Posted: 11/2/2009 7:08:40 AM EST
It's too hard.
Link Posted: 11/2/2009 7:12:34 AM EST
Spelling errors in their warrior stamps was a leading cause
Link Posted: 11/2/2009 7:31:41 AM EST
Contrary to popular opinion, Latin was not widely used in Europe. It was confined to "Romance" countries. I.E. France, Italy, Spain.
Greek was the language of Eastern europe south of the Danube, and the following countries (modern equivalents) spoke neither and had no intention of speaking it either - Germany, Russia, Norway,Sweden, Denmark, Ireland, Poland, england, Scotland, Austria, Finland, Baltic states, etc. etc. Basically only a fifth of europes land mass ever spoke latin as its native tongue. It became the language of learning and the Catholic church so only the educated learned it later on. the educated at that time probably meant 3% of the whole population.
Link Posted: 11/2/2009 7:32:55 AM EST
[Last Edit: 11/2/2009 7:33:06 AM EST by Skillshot]
Because those lands were conquered by hordes of barbarians over and over again.
Link Posted: 11/2/2009 8:15:26 AM EST
As others have pointed out, the most heavily Romanized regions of Europe still speak languages that are direct descendants of Latin. Most of what we now know as Germany was not conquered by Rome, whose frontiers never went much past the Rhine, so of course, they maintained their Germanic speech, as did the Slavs, the Scandinavians, etc. Roman Britain is the one major region of the western Roman Empire where the old image of hordes of barbarians laying waste and killing the native inhabitants seems more or less accurate, explaining the rise of English. But "Europe" didn't "drop" Latin. Europe as we think of it now was a creation of the post-Roman period, and secondly Latin remained the language of law and academia into the 17th century and even beyond, and remains the language of the Catholic Church. Latin was something educated men were expected to know until the interwar period of the 20th century, as well.
Link Posted: 11/2/2009 8:17:37 AM EST
Pretty much Italian Humanists trying to redo the natural evolution of the language.
Link Posted: 11/2/2009 8:20:41 AM EST
You can see latin remnants in european languages.
Link Posted: 11/2/2009 8:22:18 AM EST
Way too hard to conjugate the verbs.

Link Posted: 11/2/2009 8:39:39 AM EST
Originally Posted By Couch-Commando:
I was just listening to some classical music sung in Latin, and it got me wondering, why did Europe ditch Latin in favor of vernacular languages? It would make sense for them all to speak the same language to make communication easy throughout all of the former Empire. Why branch off into different latin based languages? For instance, central and south america all speak spanish, while the US and (alot of) Candada speak English. Why let Latin go?


Latin was only spoken by the upper classes and native Romans/Italians. The masses spoke whatever language their tribe spoke. When Latin speaking elites got replaced by German speaking elites, well, things changed. Latin evolved into the Romance languages in some places, and was supplanted by German, English, etc. in others.
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