Vol. 48:2/3 (2021) ► pp.205–227
The ghost of Vulgar Latin
History of a misnomer
The concept of a colloquial variety of Latin as an intermediate variety between Latin and the Romance languages has a long standing. Sometimes called Vulgar or Popular Latin, this variety is often conceptualized as a discrete linguistic variety, which is held responsible for the changes in the provincial realization of Latin. Since a great deal of evidence for this variety is collected from written texts, studies on the emergence of the Romance languages have tended to ignore the actual process of language acquisition in the provinces of the Roman empire. In the present paper I draw attention to the work of two early scholars, the Italian Celso Cittadini (1533–1627) and the Frenchman Pierre-Nicolas Bonamy (1694–1770), who did concern themselves with the acquisition of Latin, referring to the role of the Roman army in spreading the Latin language throughout the empire. Their suggestions about the process of Latinization can be substantiated with data on the military presence in the provinces of the Roman empire.
- 1.A tale of two languages
- 2.A new idea
- 3.From whom did they learn Latin?
- 4.And when did they learn it?
- 5.Two languages instead of one
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