Latin Alive

I’ve finished reading Latin Alive: The Survival of Latin in English and the Romance Languages by Joseph B. Solodow. It’s not technical, and one doesn’t need any training in Latin, philology or linguistics to understand it. While it talks a bit about Proto-Indo-European and such, the bulk of book is focused on how the Latin of classical times become the Romance languages (particularly (standard) French, Spanish and Italian; Portuguese and Romanian are only discussed briefly), and how many Latin and Romance words ended up in English. As such, entomology and vocabulary are given a whole section, as he talks about classical Latin words changing or falling by the wayside. Indeed, throughout the book the author is willing to drop the topic at hand to pursue some interesting story of how such-and-such a word changed over time. This could be annoying to some people, but I found it endearing. In addition, the book also talks about the some of the sound changes (e.g. /h/-dropping, loss of final /m/) and the grammatical (e.g. rise of the synthetic passive, the eventual fall of the case system). The final section covers the earliest written instances of the new Romance languages (e.g. the Strassbourg oaths with early French), which shows the grammatical and sound changes from Latin to the new language. It also covers some the stylistic changes from Latin texts.

I enjoyed for the most part. I would recommend it to the curious but uninformed.

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