Classical v Mediaeval Latin

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Classical v Mediaeval Latin

Postby Quintus Marius Primus on Fri Sep 03, 2004 2:05 pm

Salvete omnes

I've been reading about the Battle of Hastings recently and therefore have been looking at the Bayeux Tapestry and noticed that the Latin in use on the Tapestry differed slightly to Classical Latin, and got me thinking about how Mediaeval Latin did differ from the language of Cicero.

So, simple question for you all then - how did the two forms of Latin compare - what were their similarities and what were their differences?

Avete
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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Fri Sep 03, 2004 2:59 pm

Salve Prime,

As to the grammar, perhaps better latinists could shed more light on this.

What I do know is that the pronunciation was rather different. Due to this, in many movies, the Latin they use is ecclesiastical instead of classical, making it sound much more like Italian.

Notable differences are the transformation of the [ae] to [e] although it is still written <ae>. Same goes for <oe>, which was most likely pronounced [oi] but also shifted to [e]. Another difference is the pronunciation of the <c>. In classical Latin, it is [k] in each instance, but in ecclesiastical Latin, the <c> is palatalised in front of frontal vowels (I don't have the adequate phonetic symbols here to represent that sound). Um, it sounds a bit like <ch> in <church> in these instances.

Optime vale,
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Postby Quintus Marius Primus on Fri Sep 03, 2004 4:11 pm

Thanks Draco - I was more interested in the grammar side to be honest. I was aware that the pronunciation differed and was generally influenced by the local dialect/language. For example the medieval latin in England differed to that of say Spain, and towards the latter half of the middle ages Latin could be incomprehensible to speakers of the same language from different parts of Europe.

The pronunciation you described is that of Church Latin and was only made the "correct" speech in the Catholic Church in the beginning of the 20th century, and was modern Italian pronunciation of Latin. This was not how Latin was pronounced throughout Europe during the middle ages (as I described above).

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Postby Quintus Pomponius Atticus on Fri Sep 03, 2004 4:33 pm

Salve Prime,

As the infamous Latin Inquisition only closes its doors at 5 PM, even on fridays, allow me to mention that "ave" (as well as "salve") is only used for greeting a person. To say "goodbye" only "vale" and its variants ("vale bene/optime", "cura ut valeas" etc.) are used.

Vale optime ! :wink:
And have a nice weekend

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Postby Lucius Tyrrhenus Garrulus on Sat Sep 04, 2004 7:55 am

Salve.

I think Medieval Latin is a very broad category. There were huge differences according to location, time period, even the class of the author. For instance, when first looking at Bernardo Rategno's Tractatus de Strigibus it is hard to tell that it is actually Latin. However Burchard of Worms' Collectarium Canonum looks very much like Ciceronian.
I think of the differences as such: Classical Latin is a violin, Medieval Latin is a fiddle, while Vulgate Latin is a talentless child who can't play either.
At any rate, you might want to check out this site which gets into the differences between the two.

Vale bene.
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Medieval Latin?

Postby Aldus Marius on Fri Dec 03, 2004 4:47 am

Salvete amici...

A comment got made in Comitia (in response to my proposed use of a Medieval-Latin praenomen) that "...many Medieval or Renaissance latinisations of names are atrocious." Perhaps I have been looking at different texts and different names, for I have not found them so; although, I suppose, there are horror stories everywhere, they don't seem to be the going thing.

I myself have rather enjoyed my readings from that period, both as to language and as to subject-matter. Medieval Latin is simpler than the Classical variety, always providing that one is familiar with the topic being discussed. Like its ancestor, it is capable of both bawdiness and grace. I am beginning to think we should introduce the prospective Latinist to Medieval Latin first, before upgrading to the Classical stuff. The subjects are closer to our own age, as are some of the attitudes. Read a Cicero speech?? --Yawn!; a drinking-song...? --That may have a bit more appeal to the student. Also, it is interesting to see how the people of, say, the 1300's conceived of Ancient Rome. There are various collections of Res Gestae Romanorum, and while they don't bear much resemblance to history, they are certainly entertaining!

Quid censetis, amici: Are the criticisms often levelled here against Medieval Latin accurate...? Are they justified...?

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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Fri Dec 03, 2004 1:16 pm

Salve Mari,

Indeed these drinking songs are fairly interesting :). That's why I put some of them up at the site. Largely under my impulse, the student's club I am in the presidency of has even reverted to using the classical pronunciation in these songs rather than the Medieval one (with Dutch replacements intermixed). Hooray!

However, what I meant by atrocious names are things like "Gerardus", which is nothing more than a non-Latin name with -us sticked to it at the end. While at least Gerardus would sound a bit like older Latin, there are also combinations possible which include sounds and grapheme clusters that are totally alien to Latin (even ecclesiastical Latin). These aberrations are also found in biology sometimes. This may sound like an oversensitive reaction at first, but then I am very sensitive for use of language. I have been known to literally cringe when reading bad syntax or spelling... it hurts :roll: (I'm talking about Dutch or English here, my Latin is not good enough for that).

Vale bene!
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Re: Medieval Latin?

Postby Quintus Pomponius Atticus on Sun Dec 05, 2004 9:54 pm

Marius Peregrine wrote:[color=darkblue]A comment got made in Comitia (in response to my proposed use of a Medieval-Latin praenomen) that "...many Medieval or Renaissance latinisations of names are atrocious." Perhaps I have been looking at different texts and different names, for I have not found them so; although, I suppose, there are horror stories everywhere, they don't seem to be the going thing.


I think many renaissance Latin names are somewhat silly rather than atrocious. E.g. the Dutch all-round savant Justus Lipsius' (principally known as a neo-stoic philosopher) real name was simply Joost Lips. Even less original were Henricus Boesbekius (from Hendrik Boesbeek, the Belgian diplomat who discovered the Monumentum Ancyranum, on which the inscription of Augustus' Res Gestae was found) or the Dutch professor Tiberius Hemsterhusius (from Hemsterhuys). I don't know if the humorous effect of these Dutch examples will be perceived by native speakers of English and other languages as well.

More original perhaps was Luther's companion Schwarzerd, who literally translated his German name into Greek, becoming Melanchton (from "melas" and "chtoon" = "black-earth" or "schwarz-erd").

Valete,

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Postby Q Valerius on Mon Dec 06, 2004 4:17 am

IIRC, the 4th declension dropped into 2nd declension, pronouns became more abundant, and order became butchered.

Ave - Hail!
salvere/valere - to be healthy/well - both OK in beginning and end, or in clauses (Cicero to his family "si tu vales, valeo" or something like that) but generally salve in the front and vale at the end.

I haven't read much on Medieval Latin, although I really would like to. My favorite song though is more Renaissance, Stabat Mater. It's so beautiful.

Stabat Mater dolorosa
iuxta crucem lacrimosa
dum pendebat Filius.

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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Mon Dec 06, 2004 4:35 am

Salve,

Q. Vaemarianus Scerius wrote:IIRC, the 4th declension dropped into 2nd declension, pronouns became more abundant, and order became butchered.


Well, I noticed so during a discussion with a playwright. He wrote a play about St.Hermes, a Roman freedman and close friend of Hadrianus who became a christian and was executed for this reason. In the play, one of the characters says "Credo in unum deo". This had a very unpleasant ring to my ears, but the playwright claimed it was Ecclesiastical Latin (I believe in Classical Latin "credo uno deo" would be the correct phrase?). At any rate, it was another bite of the Medieval pie that I didn't like :).

Cura ut valeas,
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Postby Q Valerius on Mon Dec 06, 2004 5:41 am

Monstrat ne scire quod dedicunt. (de+dico = talking about)
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Postby Anonymous on Fri Dec 31, 2004 5:22 am

I do think the later Latin is far more beautiful than the earlier. It sounds an awful lot like a Greek with a mouthful of pebbles.

After 300 AD, the characteristics which everyone blames on ecclesiastical Latin became widespread, perhaps even universal. Certainly. Mediaeval Latinists had execrable spelling. I have seen phoelis ochreata for felis ocreata for instance.

The late hyms like Dies Irae and Pange Lingua are beautiful, whatever your beliefs, and people often forget there are two Stabat Maters (actually more than two)

The other is Stabat mater speciosa
Iuxta foenum gaudiosa, etc.

The really difficult thing to realise about Mediaeval Latin is that it went through a series of reforms that attempted to return it to Virgilian practice.
I know this was the case for instance in Spain about 1200.
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Re: Classical v Mediaeval Latin

Postby Cleopatra Aelia on Tue Jan 11, 2005 5:13 pm

Quintus Marius Primus wrote:I've been reading about the Battle of Hastings recently and therefore have been looking at the Bayeux Tapestry and noticed that the Latin in use on the Tapestry differed slightly to Classical Latin, and got me thinking about how Mediaeval Latin did differ from the language of Cicero.



I've seen the tapestry when I was in Bayeux and was surprised that I could understand the Latin. Of course I've read what it was about before, it was explained very good at the museum. The Latin was only very simple short sentences so it was easy to understand. But I don't know if there was any difference to what I'd learned in school, that was too long ago.
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Postby Primus Aurelius Timavus on Tue Jan 11, 2005 5:29 pm

The really difficult thing to realise about Mediaeval Latin is that it went through a series of reforms that attempted to return it to Virgilian practice.
I know this was the case for instance in Spain about 1200.


In fact one of our best sources on how Latin was actually used in speech (vulgar Latin) is books aiming to correct usage. The books gave examples of vulgar constructions and vocabulary and then show the Classical equivalent.
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Postby Quintus Marius Primus on Thu Apr 14, 2005 8:51 am

[quote="Gnæus Dionysius Draco"]what I meant by atrocious names are things like "Gerardus", which is nothing more than a non-Latin name with -us sticked to it at the end. While at least Gerardus would sound a bit like older Latin, there are also combinations possible which include sounds and grapheme clusters that are totally alien to Latin (even ecclesiastical Latin). These aberrations are also found in biology sometimes. This may sound like an oversensitive reaction at first, but then I am very sensitive for use of language. I have been known to literally cringe when reading bad syntax or spelling... it hurts :roll: (I'm talking about Dutch or English here, my Latin is not good enough for that).

Salve

I've been thinking about this, and was wondering what the Romans did when they came across and conquered people with non-Latin names. Looking at some of the British tribal chiefs' names and also to tribes' names, it seems that the Romans just Latinised a name and put -us on the end in the case of the personal name, or just called a tribe by its name with -i on the end. Now I don't know if that really is the case or not, but it seems possible that it is.

If that was the case, then the example of "Gerardus" would not be "atrocious" and would be following a Roman practise of naming foreigners.
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