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Philological analysis of Archaic Latin works, such as those of Plautus, which contain snippets of everyday speech, indicates that a spoken language, Vulgar Latin (termed sermo vulgi, "the speech of the masses", by Cicero), existed concurrently with literate Classical Latin.The informal language was rarely written, so philologists have been left with only individual words and phrases cited by classical authors and those found as graffiti.

As it was free to develop on its own, there is no reason to suppose that the speech was uniform either diachronically or geographically.

On the contrary, romanised European populations developed their own dialects of the language, which eventually led to the differentiation of Romance languages.

Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant language, initially in Italy and subsequently throughout the Roman Empire.

Vulgar Latin developed into the Romance languages, such as Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, French, and Romanian.

Latin is taught in primary, secondary and postsecondary educational institutions around the world.

Latin is a highly inflected language, with three distinct genders, seven noun cases, four verb conjugations, four verb principal parts, six tenses, three persons, three moods, two voices, two aspects and two numbers.

The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets, and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

Latin was originally spoken in Latium, in the Italian Peninsula.

It is attested both in inscriptions and in some of the earliest extant Latin literary works, such as the comedies of Plautus and Terence.

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