About the Latin language
Latin is a language of the “linguistic family” known as Indo-European. Latin language was used by Romans and has a vast history and influenced lots of other languages spoken nowadays around the world, such as Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Romanian.
Linguistic family means the set of languages that have common basic features at different levels of language – phonological, lexicon, morphological, and syntactic.
These coincidences attest to a common origin, in a remote time and a limited area, from which the expansion and subsequent fragmentation will occur.
To the Indo-European family belong Latin and most of the languages spoken in Europe, both in the past and in the present, in addition to some of South Asia that extend through the area from present-day Turkey to India.
The origin of this Indo-European linguistic family dates back more than five thousand years and formed, according to the most accepted theory, in an area north of the Black Sea.
The early history of the Latin language
During the second millennium before the birth of Christ, emerged the so-called differentiation of the “first generation” of the Indo-European languages, as the people who spoke those languages are located, or about to be located, in their historical territories.
Some peoples did it at an earlier date, such as the Hittites of the Anatolian Peninsula (now Turkey) or the Achaeans, who formed the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete and the Mycenaean civilization in continental Greece (the Peloponnese).
Other populations did that at a later date as the bearers of the Latin language, whose entry into the Italian Peninsula is supposed to have happened not much earlier than the year 1000 BC.
Some of these resulting languages have a greater number of affinities with each other, which suggests that in an intermediate period the respective peoples occupied the same territory or neighboring territories and developed a similar way of speaking.
Hence, different groups of Indo-European languages are distinguished, such as the languages attested in the central strip of Italy – Latin, – or those attested in Asia – the so-called Indo-Iranian group.
Already in historical times, most Indo-European languages continued to evolve slowly, experiencing transformation and fragmentation, and giving rise to the different modern Indo-European languages, which constitute the “second generation” of the Indo-European family.
In some cases, the language that has given rise to these modern languages is well known, since its literature is preserved (case of the ancient Indian, the ancient Persian civilization, the Greek, or the Latin). In other cases, however, such as that of the Germanic or Slavic languages, no written testimony of the common primitive “mother” language is preserved.
Origins and evolution of the Latin language
Latin appears around the year 1000 BC in the center of Italy, south of the Tiber River, in a region called Latium (Lazio in Italian). That was also the inspiration for the name of the language.
Of the various dialectical forms of primitive Latin (each city of Latium had its own), it soon ended up imposing that of Rome, because of its prompt hegemony over the entire region.
The Latin “Roman” was extended as the domain of Rome extended, first in Italy, later in the western Mediterranean riparian countries (including the Iberian Peninsula) until finally covering Central Europe, from the British Isles to Romania.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, which occurred in the fifth century, Latin continued to be the common language of much of this territory, until it was fragmented and transformed into the different languages.
They are, then, two thousand years of uninterrupted use of Latin, from before even after Rome existed, until after it ceased to be the capital of the Empire.