By Tore Janson
No recognized language, together with English, has accomplished the luck and toughness of Latin. French, Spanish, Italian, and Romanian are between its direct descendants, and numerous Latin phrases and words contain the cornerstone of English itself. A common historical past or Latin tells its historical past 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 throughout the center a while into sleek occasions, with emphasis on its evolution in the course of the historical past, tradition, and non secular practices of Medieval Europe. by way of sensible citation of Latin phrases, words, and texts the writer illustrates how the written and spoken language replaced, sector by way of zone over the years; the way it met resistance from local languages; and the way for this reason a few whole languages disappeared. Janson deals a shiny demonstration of the worth of Latin as a way of entry to a colourful earlier and a persuasive argument for its endured worthy. A concise and easy-to-understand creation to Latin grammar and an inventory 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 the beginning it seems there were only ten months, the ones we call March to December, with January and February being added later. How that might have come about is rather unclear, but it is absolutely certain that the original Roman year started on the ﬁrst of March, as can be deduced from the names of four of the months, which in Latin are called mensis September, mensis October, mensis November, mensis December. Mensis means ‘month’, and the other parts of the names clearly derive from the numerals septem ‘seven’, octo ‘eight’, novem ‘nine’, and decem ‘ten’.
The same is true in parts of other countries such as Belgium and Switzerland. In addition, Latin gained a strong hold in a country a long way to the east, namely modern Romania. This roughly corresponds to the Roman province of Dacia, which was conquered very late, not until just after 100 ce. Moreover the Romans gave it up again after about 150 years, so that it is very strange that the language there, Romanian, should derive from Latin. There are several theories about how this happened, one being that people from the provinces to the south, which might once have been Latin speaking, moved north into this region, but no one knows for sure.
As you read, you unrolled the text, which was written across the roll, from one stick and rolled it up onto the other one. The text was written on one side of the roll only, which ordinarily had space for the equivalent of thirty or forty modern book pages. The Romans used to call such a roll liber, which is usually translated as ‘book’. These books were much more difﬁcult to handle than the kind we are used to and also much shorter. There might be enough space for a collection of poems or a play on a liber, but anyone who wrote something longer than that would have to break it down into short parts, each of which could ﬁt on a roll.