Make your own free website on Tripod.com
THE ITALIC LANGUAGE FAMILY

The Italic language family, of which its languages are sometimes known collectively as Romance languages, is by far my favorite languages family, due to the fact that my linguistic expertise lies within this subject.  The Italic languages are those whose roots originate from the original languages spoken by inhabitants of the present-day Italian peninsula (including Sicily), notably the Romans.  Other groups include the Etruscans and the Umbrians.  Here is a map where you can take a look at the many ancient ethnic groups of the Italian peninsula.  Naturally, our own alphabet, the Roman alphabet, originated from this language family.  The Roman alphabet is a further adaptation of the Greek alphabet.  Most of these languages are currently spoken in portions of western, southern, and southwestern Europe (except Romania in the East).  Below is a breakdown of the Italic family tree.  The Italic family has three subfamilies:

          (OSCAN)            OLD LATIN             (UMBRIAN)
¦
(Latin)
French
Spanish
Italian
Portuguese
Rumanian
Catalan
Provençal
etc.
 

THE OSCAN LANGUAGE SUB-FAMILY

I) (OSCAN)--This 'dead' language and its relatives were spoken by inhabitants of the geographical region south of Rome.  This area includes the present-day city of Napoli (Naples) and the ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum (destroyed by the nearby Mount Vesuvius).  Due to the region's large area, it had much political influence.  As a result, Oscan was a very important language before the engagement of the Latin language by the Romans.  It had three minor dialects:  Marrucinian, Paelignian and Vestinian.  Its alphabet was based on the Etruscan model (a non-Indo-European language).  Below is the alphabet of the Oscan language.  The alphabet adopted letters and changed over the years.


 

THE OLD LATIN LANGUAGE SUB-FAMILY

Let's take a look at several languages belonging to this language sub-family:

I) (Latin)--Despised by many Catholic school students and often considered a 'dead' language, this language, along with Greek, is DEFINITELY not dead.  This language's influence has been just as important as that of Greek, if not more important.  Three of the world's most widely spoken languages have either evolved or borrowed many words from this mighty language:  French, Spanish and English.  This language, developed and used by the Romans, was mainly used in Rome and the surrounding areas.  It was the first language to use the Roman alphabet (minus j, u and w).  As the Roman Empire spread and developed, the language became official in all conquered areas.  This is why there are so many descendants of the Old Latin sub-family, as future inhabitants and barbarians created their own languages, using Latin as a base.  The language has not been a spoken one since the early 1500's.  It is also the official language of the Roman Catholic Church and the Vatican (this is where Vulgar Latin, or the Vulgate, came into usage).  Originally, the language was highly literary.  It later became much simpler as a vernacular (common form) of the language developed.  As time progressed, Medieval Latin developed during the Middle Ages.  This was a literary form, and the Vulgate of the Church developed from this form of Latin.  Medieval Latin was the form which was used primarily by scholars at universities and religious institutions.  To find out more about how this sub-family developed, check out each individual language explained below.  Here are a couple of Latin inscriptions, as well as the Latin alphabet (note the differences):

The alphabet:   ABCDEFGHIKLMNOPQRSTVXYZ

ELEPHANTUM EX MUSCA FACIS--You're making an elephant out of a fly (version of our "you're making a mountain out of a molehill.")

IN VINO VERITAS--In wine there is truth. (Alluding to the fact that under inebriation, one would always admit things that he/she would not have otherwise.)

SPQR--Senatus Populusque Romanum (The Senate and the Roman people)

INRI--Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum (Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews)

CUIUS REGIO, EIUS RELIGIO--Whose king, his religion. (Reference to Medieval Europe, where, in most cases, one had to abide by the religion of the monarch.)

Here are some examples of English words that have come from Latin roots:

BIBERE (to drink)--beverage
URBS (city)--urban
NAVIS (ship)--navy, naval
VENIRE (to come)--convene ('con' comes from the Latin 'cum', meaning 'with' or 'together')
IUS (law)--justice
PUER (boy)--puerile
PETERE (to seek)--competition ("cum" meaning with); centripetal (force) (force that 'seeks the center')
SCRIBERE (to write)--scribe, inscription, prescription