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Translated by Kenneth Kronenberg
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Harvard University Press
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    The mother tongue of the Roman Empire and the lingua franca of the West for centuries afterward, Latin survives today primarily in classrooms and texts. Yet this "dead language" is unique in the influence it has exerted across centuries and continents. Juergen Leonhardt offers the story of the first "world language," from antiquity to the present.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-72627-7
    Subjects: Linguistics, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface to the German Edition
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Preface to the English Edition
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. 1 Latin as a World Language A Systematic Approach
    (pp. 1-40)

    Of all the traces left by the Romans, the Latin language is probably the most ubiquitous. Latin continued to be the language of record even as the last remnants of the Roman Empire dissolved into new forms of statehood. In this respect it was as if nothing in Europe had changed. Even when, during the early Middle Ages, the various European vernaculars began replacing Latin, for a good thousand years it would have been unthinkable to practice one of the higher professions without a thorough grounding in Latin. In addition, Latin continued to play a crucial role even after the...

  6. 2 The Language of the Empire Latin from Its Beginnings to the End of Antiquity
    (pp. 41-121)

    In terms of the history of Latin, stating that the Roman Empire constituted an epoch all its own is more than to follow the usual landmarks of historiography. This is because, viewed through the lens of linguistic history, Roman power actually made itself felt at two significant points. First, as long as the Roman Empire existed, no new literary language could develop despite the fact that many languages were spoken and written during that time. For more than seven hundred years people made do with Latin, as well as the other languages that had existed before the Romans, namely Greek,...

  7. 3 Europeʹs Latin Millennium From the Beginning of the Middle Ages to 1800
    (pp. 122-244)

    The educational reforms initiated or pursued by Charlemagne in hisEpistola de litteris colendis(Letter on the Cultivation of the Sciences), promulgated in about 785, and theAdmonitio generalis(General Admonition) of 789 proved a crucial turning point in the history of Latin. The reforms meant that the language, which had long depended on the teaching of grammar in schools, did not suffer the fate of literary Babylonian and die out but rather became the most important language in Western Europe for another thousand years. Examining the quantity of texts produced between the Carolingian literary renaissance and today, one is...

  8. 4 World Language without a World Latin as the Language of Culture and Education since 1800
    (pp. 245-276)

    The process by which Latin was finally retired as the indispensable language of communications extended over several centuries. Nonetheless, that process may be said to have largely come to an end around 1800. In a more general sense, the years between 1760 and 1840 mark the end of the Latin millennium in Europe, which had been inaugurated by Charlemagne between 800 and 814. It is more difficult, however, to delineate the individual steps in the retreat of Latin or to describe any particular moment in the eighteenth century when the customs of communication in Europe changed. One of the reasons...

  9. 5 Latin Today
    (pp. 277-292)

    We have good reason to believe that Latin is currently at a watershed moment, the implications of which may be comparable to that reached around 1800. That was when Latin largely ceased to be a language in active use, although it continued to be taught because it was viewed as crucial to the education and cultivation of the individual. Wherever the European tradition of education was valued, Latin continued to hold pride of place in the schools. The question today is whether learning Latin is of benefit to anyone outside the guild of historians and those who prefer to spend...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 295-300)
  11. References
    (pp. 301-320)
  12. Index
    (pp. 321-332)