For a language that has been widely spoken until the 1900s, it is quite a big question how it is no longer that popular today. In fact, since no one speaks Latin as a native language anymore, it is already considered dead. Though some people may argue that the death of Latin is just a matter of semantics. It can’t be denied that it is no longer used on a daily basis. So, how did the Latin language die? A lot of people outside the religious circles where the language used to thrive are not even familiar of any Latin word at all.
Remnants of the Latin Language
The good thing about Latin is that a huge part of the language was preserved. Since it has a huge number of speakers in the past, a lot of words were kept in books, oral traditions and other references. This is the reason why until now, it is still a language that people can study. In fact, there are still a lot of universities around the world that offer Latin language courses. The Roman Catholic Church also provides updates written in Latin every now and then. Some people would even argue that the language lives on and is still familiar to millions of people around the globe.
How was Latin Used in the Past?
Latin was as popular as English during its peak. Latin literature flourished with lots of authors and poets writing exclusively in Latin. Their works spread all over Europe and were carried in various parts of the world. This is why it has gotten so popular. However, the main reason behind Latin’s popularity is because it was the official language of the Roman Empire. Being the most powerful ruling group during those times, everyone had to speak Latin in order to survive. In fact, the Romans were successful in standardizing the language to a certain extent so that people could speak Latin with uniformity.
How Did the Latin Language Die?
There are several reasons why the language has gradually died. One of them is contact with outside civilizations. With more people from other parts of the world reaching the Roman Empire, not only their food and culture were introduced, but also the language. However, the main reason why it was no longer spoken was the fall of the Roman Empire. The Empire was the ultimate reason why the whole of Europe was unified. Since there is no more reason to unite the continent, people began learning their own language of choice. Variations of Latin started to be formed up until they became unique languages that have their own classifications. Over the years, Latin has changed in various regions and idiosyncrasies were developed. Dialects were also based from Latin, but they were hardly Latin in any sense.
Today, most of the “spinoff” languages of Latin are known as the Romance languages that include Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and many more. There is a little spoken language in Switzerland though that is deemed as the modern version of Latin due to its close resemblance.
Latin might have died since it is no longer spoken in regular conversations, but its spirit lives on. We can only thank the brilliant minds of native Latin speakers for they have created masterpieces that showcased the beauty of the language.