Historical language names

During the 13th century, what did people call their languages? Did they call latin by the name "latin"?
Various german tongues, french tongues?
Is there a resouce some where for this?

If you find a good one, let me know.

"Languages" are often as narrow as "this valley". There were very few "national tongues" as we know them now, since the countried didn't exist- how can there be a "French", when there is, as yet, no "France" to unify it? So, languages were just named for their regions or peoples- Norman, for instance, or the official version of English which became "The King's English", as opposed to flatlands, or highlands, or whatever sub-version dialect might else have been spoken. Oy.

For instance, often in game terms, we roughly break "French" down into 2 subgroups - Lange d'oil (what became "French", spoken in the north), and the langue d'oc, (aka Occitan or Provençal). But this is much like saying that Quebecoise, Parisian French, Cajun French and Central African French are all just "French"- only worse, because back then, they never heard each other to balance things out, so the shock value was usually overwhelming. (Or, for those from the US, compare West Coast "Newscaster English" to Inner-city urban black dialect. Again, without modern telecommunications to have experienced it regularly. Ouch.)

What we now see as "France", for instance, (and this is rough) once included many regional tongues and dialects, most of which have been lost to us, broken down into such area-identifiable dialects as Norman, Britton, Gascon, Provence (aka Langue-d'oc), Parisian, a NE "Allsace-lorraine" version, Frankish (N'n France), and a southern flatlands French- and that doesn't include all the local dialects and etc. you might run into in the older, larger, more historically independent cities and valleys such as Marseille, perhaps.

Here's a good political map of the 1200's, and the languages were, to some extent, reflective of those political boundaries. If you can make out the political names, you'll recognize the languages therein.

If you wanted to fake it, look at the AM map, and just assume there's a regional language for each area listed at that scale. You won't be technically accurate, but you won't be all that far off either.

Or start here:

Oh, and Latin was just called Latin, altho' there was the vulgar (which the common folk spoke, and was as subject to changes and slang as any language), and... um... High Latin(i think?), which was used for Church services etc.

While I am not in any way a scholar, I've often read the local romanized languages (such as castillian in Iberia and Italian in Italy) referred to as the "local vulgar latin."

I would presume, that Latin was referred to as "Latin," at least by the Church.


A great ressource for different names around the world :

So I am writing a story from the point of view of a Guernicus apprentice who says he has been ordered to keep a journal now that he can write the "latin tongue" and he mentions that he needed to learn to speak "like a scholar". So I think it sounds reasonably accurate. Thanks.
[edit] to correct spelling mistakes. [edit]
BTW, he is an 11 year old Aethiopian boy named Opalulus, but he calls himself Opalus.

To speak of "the Latin tongue" implies there are "Latins" out there somewhere, and this is their native tongue. And that could well be a perfectly understandable misconception of a boy from Ethiopia.

If I read Eric correctly, he's simply remarking that "Latin is Latin"- the -um and -us endings mark the root word as "subject" or "object" in a sentence (the diff between "he" and "him", etc.) But his point is that (in English) it would be referred to as Latin, just "Latin".

Classical Latin is the language of the ancient Roman academics, while "vulgar Latin" is more related to a common usage spoken by the clerisy, and used in their Latin translation of the Bible (aka the vulgate, referring to both that usage, and that Bible.)

[i](Classical Latin allows one to talk like Yoda, putting words in any order in a sentence for rhetorical emphasis, but the "conjugation" of the various words keeps allows the reader/listener to clearly understand the meaning, as can be seen in Eric's sentence. Know you what mean I.

Vulgar Latin was far less complex, and relied more on sentence order.)[/i]

(In game terms, if a magus is speaking Latin 4 (or less), he's probably speaking Vulgate. If 6+, they've probably progressed to Classical Latin. At 5, might depend on the specialty.)

Because the extent of my Latin required me to confirm my memory of some of the above, below are some links, and the definitions from Answers.com.

the quick and dirty- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vulgar_Latin
the long- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latin


Classical Latin

Classical Latin, distinguished by its formality and elegance, was greatly influenced in vocabulary, grammar, and style by Greek. By the end of the Roman Republic (1st cent. B.C.) classical Latin had become a suitable medium for the greatest poetry and prose of the day. Grammatically, classical Latin featured five declensions and six cases in its inflection of the noun; there was no definite article. Noun subclassifications included three genders (masculine, feminine, and neuter) and two numbers (singular and plural). Verb inflection was highly developed, expressing tense, mood, voice, person, and number. Latin is written in the Roman alphabet, which was apparently derived from the Etruscan alphabet. The latter, in turn, was adapted from the Greek alphabet (see Greek language).

Vulgar Latin

Vulgar Latin differed from classical Latin in its increased use of prepositions, its less frequent employment of inflection, its greater regularity of word order, and, to some extent, in its vocabulary. Classical Latin was more formal and elegant stylistically. With the triumph of Christianity in the 4th cent. A.D., Vulgar Latin grew in literary significance, as evidenced by the Vulgate, St. Jerome's translation of the Bible into Vulgar Latin. The new religion stressed equality before God, and its advocates tried to reach as many in the empire as possible through the everyday speech of the common people.

You sure that's right? Usually the verb "to be" in most languages is a copula and does not take a direct object, but I never really studied latin, so I could be uninformed.
In English it is "I am I" not "I am me", but I understand the difference between vulgate and classical latin including cases, declensions, moods, word order, etc... I mostly just was wondering what a 13th century boy who is learning latin would call the language we now know as latin. He is Ethiopian, and was rescued from slavery by his master. Would his native tongue be an vulgar Ethiopian latin or another Ethiopian tongue? Like a spanish boy would possibly speak a spanish vulgate?...
Hmm, let me have him tell it in his own words and maybe the smarter ones here can tell me if it is horribly anachronistic.

My master has instructed me to keep a journal, now that I can read and write the latin tongue. He says that the will beat me if I do not, which is an empty threat, but I am eager to please him. The difficult part was not learning to write, as the letters took little time to recognize and only a little longer to write legibly, but learning to speak like the scholar I am to become, and my master is, will take time. He often corrects me about my accent and grammar, though nobody else ever seems to notice. The color of my skin draws more comments than my speech.

I do not know what I should write about. I suppose a journal is a record of daily activities, as boring as that sounds. So - This week I started reading a large book by the founder Bonisagus, the Theory of Magic. Some of what he says I have already been taught by my master, but other things are confusing. The book itself is almost too heavy to lift, and the words are heavy themselves. Sometimes I feel as if the words will fall to the ground on their own as I doze off and they slip from my mind. Last night I heard them clattering on the floor of the library, I swear.

Today I learned the names of the Arts, the Great Arts that make up our magic. As I said, I already knew them, but now I am expected to know the differences between them. Now when my master asks, I should tell him that breaking a piece of pottery where it stands requires "perdere", while throwing that pottery against the wall requires "regere" even if it then breaks. To repair the pot requires "creare", unless I "regare" it together as if with glue, or "mutare" it into sand and sweep it under the rug, or is that "perdare" again? I am not sure if I will ever "intellegere" the difference. The pot is broken in any case, is it not?

Good point- dunno. In most of the latinate languages, there is a difference between "I" and "me", even with "to be/ is", altho' poetically anything is possible for rhetorical effect. That, in part, was what Classical Latin had over the Vulgate.

Different dialects certainly did exist, tho' they aren't addressed by the canon rules. Many SG's simplify and reduce the stunning variety of historical languages at this time. The clerisy would have some standardization, from their study of a common translation of the Bible.

Depending on the age at which he was enslaved, he may well have learned to speak the language of his master, or the slaver- Arabic? Ethiopia was one of the "Christianized" kingdoms, early on, and latin could conceivably have been his "native tongue", depending on his upbringing.

No, not positively. My score in Latin is only a 3 at best, and this does not fall within my specialty. :slight_smile: What I intended to convey was 'Latin is "Latin."'

Well, you have studied much more latin than I have, but I studied linguistics. Which means I can talk about grammar, but I can't have a conversation. Now who's the REAL geek?

Oh and Cuchulain: I like the Arabic idea. Gonna steal it. (See, that is called "relaxed American vernacular". I never knew I was multi-lingual.)

From a five year Latin student, Erik...you are correct.

Grammar in classical Latin is really only a matter of endings and declensions. Word order is a moot point. you probably knew that already, though.

However, in Vulgate, that's not as true, right? Like Old English vs Modern English? (I think I got that right, above.)

(btw- hdk - another linguist student here, but it's been a while.) :unamused:

Hell, take a step further.

Vulgar Latin is even pronounced differently.

Prime example of that? (which annoys me to no end) The "C" is pronounced as a "CH" sound.