Latin is alive and kicking and part of a very modern English language

31.03.2015
Latin is alive and kicking and part of a very modern English language

Many may say that Latin is a ‘dead language’ – but they are very wrong. Latin is in use in every day modern English and has influenced the way we speak since Roman times.

The origins of Latin

Latin was first spoken by the Romans. It derives its name from Latium in Italy, the region the Romans lived in.

With the Roman invasion, languages took on the influence of Latin and soon the Romance languages of Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian had very strong links and roots in the Latin language.

The use of Latin in English

Latin has heavily influenced the development of English for centuries.

Anglo Saxon English (Old English) borrowed many Latin words. These were either used directly or through French Latin words. The Norman Conquest was the catalyst for the influence of Latin in the development of English and there are still many words which are wholly related to Latin or part words which have their origins stretching back many centuries.

Use of Latin in modern English

Certain groups of words owe their origin to Latin. These include:

  • Animals
  • Physiology
  • Sociology
  • Astronomy

There are also many words which still exist where there is an indirect link to Latin. These are words  which are often taken from the Romance languages and have seen adaptation over time through changes in spelling or pronunciation.

Of the current Shorter Oxford Dictionary, almost 29% of the words in the English language have direct Latin roots. Add the 28% which come from French and Old Norman and 25% which come from Germanic words which themselves have Romance language and Latin origins, this adds up to a huge amount of modern English having either pure Latin as the primary concept of the word or a very strong link through the borrowing or adaptation of Latin-linked languages. Proof indeed that Latin is still very much part of our lives.