Whenever I try to learn a language, as much as possible, I like to learn much about the history of the language.

These days, I am hyper-focused on Spanish.

When taking a break from studying the language itself, I have been reading about the language… by reading The Story of Spanish.

In chapter 1, I came across a paragraph that will come across as no surprise to most readers:

“The story of Spanish really starts with Rome.  The language the Romans brought to Hispania would survive other conquering empires as it evolved into a modern tongue.  It would one day travel across the globe where it would grow to become the world’s third language, spoken by five hundred million in two dozen countries.”               

This, however (also from chapter one), may surprise more than a few.  As I have pointed out in my book, Via, the Romans themselves didn’t really speak the Classical Latin we insist on pounding into the heads of innocent students.

THIS is what Latin teachers aren’t telling you:

“Linguists say that we ‘write in a language but speak in a dialect,’ meaning that there is a big difference between how a language is written, in its standard form, and how it is spoken colloquially.  This is true of all languages and was the reason Vulgar Latin existed. 

In short, the popular masses in the Roman Empire, including Hadrian, never spoke Classical Latin.  Classicus means, literally, ‘first class’ or ‘classy.’  It was the language of the educated, and it was hard to learn, even for them.  Like German and Russian, Latin is a case language—each noun ends with a particular suffix (called a case) that indicates its function in a sentence.  Latin sentences had no fixed word order because they didn’t need it.  People figured out the meaning of a sentence through the case endings.  Whether you said Marcus canem amat or Amat canem Marcus or even Canem Marcus amat, you were saying ‘Marcus loves his dog.”

– Chapter 1, The Land of Rabbits, page  19

If you want to read along with me, just click on the image below.  The link will take you over to Amazon (affiliate link) and you can order the book there.

More to come….