One, two, many Latins
Roth, Kevin Richard
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From the modern perspective the divide between Latin and the Romance Languages is so well established that one is tempted to regard such a development as inevitable. The terms “Vulgar Latin” and “Classical Latin” are so familiar that it is easy to imagine that the former changed over time into the Romance Languages while the latter remained the same. This scenario, however, does not take into account the ability of languages to be sufficiently elastic that the written form can retain archaic grammar and vocabulary while the spoken form advances. The preponderance of surviving evidence supports the view that Latin and forms of Romance were not consciously distinguished from one another until the Carolingian Renaissance c. AD 800. This eventual dichotomy seems to have been prompted, not by natural development, but rather by a reform in the pronunciation of Latin that was promoted at this time by the monk Alcuin. The new pronunciation eventually occasioned written forms of the Romance Languages.
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