Cultural Studies

Topics in Cultural Studies

The origin and spread of Latin vernacular language

Latin belongs to the wider Italian family languages, with its alphabet emerging from the traditional italic alphabets. The italic alphabets were derived from the Greek and Phoenician scripts. The history of the Latin language dates back to the Latium region where the first Roman civilization took place. There is a long debate on how the Latin language, historically adopted by the Romans (Comrie, 2013). The Latinos from Northern Italy, central Italy and Greek from the southern part of Italy have various influences on the Latin. Latin language originated in Italy in the mid second millennium, forming a separate linguistic group. During the pre-literary period, only minute groups of people living along the lower Tiber River spoke Latin. The Latin language spread throughout Italy between 240 and 100BC due to the increase in the Roman political powers.

The spread of the language further expanded during the classical period from 100 to 14 BC when the Roman power spread across the Mediterranean basin. Furthermore, during this period, the language advanced in its grammar and vocabulary. Between 14 BC and 200AD, the colloquial Latin became the predominant language in most parts of the western and southern Europe (Fishman, 2010). It also spread to the Mediterranean and coastal regions of Africa. Between 600 and 1300 AD, the Latin language was adopted as an official language in all the western European countries. During this period, the language absorbed new vocabularies from the local languages to meet the social and intellectual conditions of the society. Between 1600 and 1900, Latin was gradually replaced in modern languages. For example, during this period Latin was vital as the diplomat language in European universities until the late 19th century.

Latin influence in Western language development

Latin language influenced the development of five other western languages. These languages are Italian, Portuguese, French, Spanish and Romanian. Due to the influence of Norman French, Latin has a great influence on the expansion and use of the English language as a mode of communication. Latin is currently significant in the medical, legal and Vatican language.  The modern romance languages spoken by more than 800 billion populace originates from the colloquial Latin. Furthermore, the historical and contemporary use of the Latin of scholarly articles in the field of science influences the use of this language in the west. Latin has a significant influence on the development of common language, applied across all boundaries of local law (Piirainen, 2010).

The influence of the Latin language began with the conquest of the Roman forces, leaving imprints in the vocabulary and the literary language. The Latin language spread to other parts in Europe through trade, roman soldiers’ settlers and administrators. Furthermore, Latin has a paramount impact on English language since most of the English vocabularies come from Latin. The languages descending from Latin in the contemporary society are applicable many countries. For instance, Latin was commonly useful in the Spanish peninsula during the third century BC, while in other instances the language was forced upon the natives as a matter of convenience and prestige (Harguindéguy & Cole, 2013). The missionaries also travelling to new lands spread the language throughout the world, such as American coast influencing the language of the native people. Over the years through conquest, the coalition and integration of Latin to other languages, the language has spread from Europe to Asia and African countries.




Comrie, B. (Ed.). (2013). The world’s major language. Routledge.

Fishman, J. A. (2010). European Vernacular Literacy: A Sociolinguistic and Historical Introduction (Vol. 19). Multilingual Matters.

Harguindéguy, J. B. P., & Cole, A. (2013). Ethnolinguistic Mobilization in Europe. An Introduction. Regional & National federal Studies23(1), 1-6.

Piirainen, E. (2010). Common features in the phraseology of European languages: cultural and areal perspectives. en KORHONEN, Jarmo, 15-27.


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