How close is the Roman dialect of Italy to Latin

bubbyx

Member
Vietnamese
Just wondering, since the Roman dialect is spoken in Rome. It must have some sort of special relationship with Latin :) (both classical and vulgar). What are the similarities between Roman dialect and Latin? Also, does the Roman dialect have any prestige in modern Italy? Do Italians look up to Rome and it's inhabitants? Do they see them as descendents of the Roman Empire?
 
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  • Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Just wondering, since the Roman dialect is spoken in Rome. It must have some sort of special relationship with Latin :) (both classical and vulgar). What are the similarities between Roman dialect and Latin? Also, does the Roman dialect have any prestige in modern Italy? Do Italians look up to Rome and it's inhabitants as descendents of the Roman Empire?
    Already in the imperial time the original Romans were just a little elite among slaves, retired soldiers, immigrants from other parts of Italy and the whole Roman Empire. In the early middle ages the city was depopulated, and populated again in later times, by people from different parts of Italy, so claiming one's origins from the genuine old Romans would be far fetched. The same can be said of the language, there is no special reason for which the city should speak a dialect closer to Latin than other parts of central Italy. Actually the most "Latinate" Italian "dialect" (now classified as a language) is spoken in Sardinia.
     

    bubbyx

    Member
    Vietnamese
    Yes the fact that the city has been depopulated or received immigrants etc may be true, but does this change the perception of the city? I mean many westerners look up to Rome as the cradle of western civilisation and the people who live in Rome (or even Italians from all of Italy) are generally considered the closest to the ancient Romans who lived there. Even though this may not be a scientific fact. Just like how we assume that the people who live in Greece are descendents of Ancient Greece, Chinese descendent of ancient China, Scandinavian descendents of Vikings etc even though many events in history have changed that.

    Anyway this thread is not about whether the modern Romans are descendents of ancient Romans or not, but about the relationship between the Roman dialect and Latin. And also about how Italians see Rome and modern Romans. I am not saying that Roman dialect is the closest to Latin, nor that it is special comparing to other Romance languages. I am just saying that I suspected a special relationship, since it is spoken in Rome, and this may not be true. That is why I opened this thread to compare Roman dialect and Latin. Also I am not asking whether modern Romans are descendents of ancient Romans, I am just wondering how Italians see Rome, Romans and Roman dialect and whether they make any connection between them and the Roman Empire of the past.
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I am not saying that Roman dialect is the closest to Latin, nor that it is special comparing to other Romance languages. I am just saying that I suspected a special relationship, since it is spoken in Rome, and this may not be true. That is why I opened this thread to compare Roman dialect and Latin. Also I am not asking whether modern Romans are descendents of ancient Romans, I am just wondering how Italians see Rome, Romans and Roman dialect and whether they make any connection between them and the Roman Empire of the past.

    You wrote "It must have some sort of special relationship with Latin :) (both classical and vulgar)". What kind or relationship to Latin do you expect then, if not linguistic?
    By the way, the Sicilian dialect is said to be strongly influenced by immigrants from northern Italy in the early Middle Ages.
     

    bubbyx

    Member
    Vietnamese
    Yes I meant linguistic, but this doesn't mean that my opinion is right. It is normal to assume something like that since the dialect is spoken within the city itself. This is why I opened the thread for comparison. I was simply interested in the relationship between Roman dialect and Latin :)

    Thank you for replying by the way! :)
     
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    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Yes I meant linguistic, but this doesn't mean that my opinion is right. It is normal to assume something like that since the dialect is spoken within the city itself. This is why I opened the thread for comparison. I was simply interested in the relationship between Roman dialect and Latin :)

    Thank you for replying by the way! :)
    I am not a specialist in Italian language, but I have read about Italian dialects and languages, and never found anything about a special relationship between the Roman dialect of today and Latin.
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    What are the similarities between Roman dialect and Latin?

    There are not special similarities between the Roman dialect and Latin. The Roman dialect is a Romance language, like Italian, Tuscan, Neapolitan, Sicilian and so on.
    Italian dialects spoken south of the La Spezia-Rimini are mutually intelligible (some more, some less) and very similar.

    Also, does the Roman dialect have any prestige in modern Italy?

    Like any other dialect. As far as I know, the most used accents in filmography are: Romano, Siciliano, Milanese, Napoletano.

    By the way, the Sicilian dialect is said to be strongly influenced by immigrants from northern Italy in the early Middle Ages.

    Really? In what? :D
     

    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    Also, does the Roman dialect have any prestige in modern Italy? Do Italians look up to Rome and it's inhabitants? Do they see them as descendents of the Roman Empire?

    The standard Italian written language is based on the older form of the dialect of Florence.
     

    Gezedka

    New Member
    Basque
    Not much acquainted with Italian dialects. But knowing the history of Rome, it is very unlikely that they could keep any original accent, vocabulary or any linguistic feature from Latin any better than other regions of Italy. The city was devastated, abandoned and cleansed many times and the 'patrician' classes left for safe havens long before the alleged 'Germanic Invasions'. On one occasion, after a plague, the population was reduced from 500,000 to some 500. After that, and keeping its status as administrative capital city, it has been massively populated by new ruling classes and armies, and impoverished migrants. You might be luckier looking for Latin heritage in the quiet province than in Rome. Now, as for prestige, pride and the rest of your question, everybody is entitled to their own beliefs and myths... . My impression is that every Italian feels proud of their heritage in the same extent and no one would differentiate themselves when thinking of Ancient Rome, even if they are not from modern Rome. As said, that has been my experience so far.
     
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    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    There are not special similarities between the Roman dialect and Latin. The Roman dialect is a Romance language, like Italian, Tuscan, Neapolitan, Sicilian and so on.
    Italian dialects spoken south of the La Spezia-Rimini are mutually intelligible (some more, some less) and very similar.



    Like any other dialect. As far as I know, the most used accents in filmography are: Romano, Siciliano, Milanese, Napoletano.



    Really? In what? :D
    Really.
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Ahhh.
    If we speak of the Norman influence (only on vocabulary), it's ok.
    If we speak of the "Lumbard" influence, well, most of those (few) words are common to all Italian dialects (suocero, cognato, figlioccio, orbo, onde).
    It's too little to say that Sicilian language was "strongly influenced by immigrants from northern Italy".

    Phonology and grammar (as well as 98% of vocabulary) are equal to those of the other dialects spoken south of the La Spezia-Rimini line.






     

    bubbyx

    Member
    Vietnamese
    The city was devastated, abandoned and cleansed many times and the 'patrician' classes left for safe havens long before the alleged 'Germanic Invasions'. .

    Interesting. Where did the Patrician classes go for safe havens?
     
    http://roma.andreapollett.com/S8/dialect.htm
    http://it.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialetto_romanesco
    From what I see, the modern Romanesque dialect is generally more advanced than the literary language based on the medieval Florentine dialect. On the other hand, some characteristics of the Tuscan dialects were either not codified as literary (gorgia, explained as an Etruscan trait) or developed later (other peculiarities of the consonantism): http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuscan_language

    In the Romance philology the situation with Florentine and Roman dialects is often regarded as a classical illustration of the case when the dialect of the homeland is more derived than some of the dialects spoken by descendants of early assimilated speakers of a totally alien language (Etruscans).
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    From what I see, the modern Romanesque dialect is generally more advanced than the literary language based on the medieval Florentine dialect. On the other hand, some characteristics of the Tuscan dialects were either not codified as literary (gorgia, explained as an Etruscan trait) or developed later (other peculiarities of the consonantism)

    Yes, the Italian language is the most conservative.

    focu(m) (Classical Latin) --> foco (Vulgar Latin) --> foco (Romanesque) --> focu (Sicilian) --> foco [fɔho] (Tuscan) --> fuoco (Italian)
    mandāre (Classical Latin) --> mandare (Vulgar Latin) --> mandare (Italian and Tuscan) --> mannari (Sicilian) --> mannà (Romanesque)

    It depends from word to word, but in general, from a grammatical point of view, all Italian dialects are quite different from Classical Latin and are very similar to each other.
     

    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    focu(m) (Classical Latin) --> foco (Vulgar Latin) --> foco (Romanesque) --> focu (Sicilian) --> foco [fɔho] (Tuscan) --> fuoco (Italian)

    I do not know what you mean with your little arrows. Surely you are not claiming that Tuscan comes from Sicilian.

    "fuoco" is Old Tuscan, [fɔho] is modern Tuscan.
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    I do not know what you mean with your little arrows.

    I ordered these words form the most similar to the least similar to Classical Latin.
    I didn't intend to say that Tuscan comes from Sicilian, absolutely :) (I thought it was clear...)
     

    Gezedka

    New Member
    Basque
    Alleged "Germanic Ivasions", hm, interesting. Do you believe in the existence of the alleged "Julius Ceasar", "alleged Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus Nero" and many others then?

    Certain Germanic tribes were already on Rome's payroll. They were called foederati. Research on the state of economy, immigration and public health if you still believe Rome was defeated by a concerted alliance of Germanic peoples.
     

    Gezedka

    New Member
    Basque
    Interesting. Where did the Patrician classes go for safe havens?

    The equestrian classes had business and public positions all across the Roman Empire. After the 170s and 270s pandemics, people stayed close to their investments and working places and rented out their villas. Just pick Italian wealthy families from the Middle Ages and try to track back their ancestors to any gens from Latio. You can use the Wikipedia for that. You won't find many links. They more likely intermarried with local overlords and other financially powerful families.
     
    In historical linguistics, the antonym of conservative is innovating.

    Advanced makes little sense as a term in this context.
    It will mean as much and as little as in the evolutionary biology as soon as people forget about current ideological fashion (AKA political correctness) and start thinking scientifically. These two terms mean absolutely the same. Just don't ascribe positive or negative connotations to the degree of changes a certain language exhibits.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    It will mean as much and as little as in the evolutionary biology as soon as people forget about current ideological fashion (AKA political correctness) and start thinking scientifically. These two terms mean absolutely the same. Just don't ascribe positive or negative connotations to the degree of changes a certain language exhibits.
    No it doesn't. It only makes sense in the context of purpose-directness of an evolution. And this is not the case here. Italian phonology is not better/worse, more primitive/more advanced, more this or more that than Latin phonology, it is just different. The term advanced makes only sense in relation to a hypothetical end point of the evolution of Romance languages.

    In how far advanced makes sense as a term in evolutionary biology is a different matter and is not relevant here.
     
    The evolutionary biology doesn't discuss the directedness of the evolution either, at least not in the mainstream. Moreover, we often have no idea why a certain evolutionary change turns out more advantageous for its bearers.

    The terms we are discussing are aimed to reflect the amount of changes counted from a certain starting point. Primitive/conservative or advanced/innovative are just synonyms of near and far on the evolutionary tree: conservative and innovative describe the rate of changes, whereas primitive and advanced describe the result, both pairs being just ways to describe the evolutionary distance of a particular aspect of organism or language.
     

    bearded

    Senior Member
    As a matter of fact, in the Roman dialect there are some features which are 'directly' inherited from Latin, e.g. in the conjugation of verbs:
    avemo (we have), Lat habemus - Italian: abbiamo
    venimo (we came),Lat. venimus - Italian: venimmo
    amamo (we love), Lat. amamus - Italian: amiamo.
    There also rare traces of ancient Latin pronunciation, e.g. amichi (pronounced ameeki), as in 'li amichi mia' (my friends) which make us think of the Latin pronunciation of c+i as ki before the palatization.
    Anyhow, modern Roman ('romanesco') is strongly influenced by Southern Italian dialects, which originally reflected how Latin was pronounced by peoples of Southern Italy (Osci, Samnites, etc.), and - as has been correctly said before - the most conservative among Italian dialects are nowadays the Sardinian dialects. In some Sardinian dialects, you can even form sentences that are at the same time Latin ones, like ''teneba(t) duo panes in sportula'' (he had two breads in his bag).
     

    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    As a matter of fact, in the Roman dialect there are some features which are 'directly' inherited from Latin, e.g. in the conjugation of verbs:
    avemo (we have), Lat habemus - Italian: abbiamo
    venimo (we came),Lat. venimus - Italian: venimmo
    amamo (we love), Lat. amamus - Italian: amiamo.

    We discussed this very question recently here:
    http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=2891809
    The consensus was that the generalisation of the originally subjunctive ending -iamus is a peculiarity of Tuscan. The retention of -amus, -emus, -imus is not restricted to Romanesco.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Mainly for cultural reasons (literature in Florentine...)
    The fact that it is the language of Dante certainly helped to make it the prestige dialect.

    At the time of Dante, where the modern literary language started to emerge, the prestige of Rome as a city was exceptionally low: The city was run down, the Roman infrastructure that was never seriously maintained had become unusable and the administration was particularly corrupt, even for Italian standards where loyalty to the interests of his own family has always been much more important that a magistrate's loyalty to his constituency. That was why the pope fled the city and went to Avignon.

    ... and because the Florentine dialect was/is so clear, that most Italians understood/understand it without difficulty.
    Such ex post explanations always make me wary. Is a dialect adopted as standard because it is so easily understood or is it so easily understood because it had been adopted as standard register and everybody is accustomed to it?
     
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    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    You are right, fdb. The retention of those verbal endings (-amus -emus - imus) is common to other Italian dialects as well.
    I am surprised there was no intent to reestablish -amo, -emo, -imo as the standard conjugation. It obviously is closer to the original Latin than -iamo for all three verb groups.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I am surprised there was no intent to reestablish -amo, -emo, -imo as the standard conjugation. It obviously is closer to the original Latin than -iamo for all three verb groups.
    Why would that matter to modern speakers? Do you as a modern English speaker feel any urge to revive the old -eth third singular conjugation just because it is closer to Old English?
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    Why would that matter to modern speakers? Do you as a modern English speaker feel any urge to revive the old -eth third singular conjugation just because it is closer to Old English?
    On occasion I just might use an -eth. He who giveth, taketh away. :)
    In the 15-17th century many many older forms that had fallen out of use in Spanish were reinstated out of a sincere desire to bring the language in line with Latin and recorrect what was considered wrong. I assumed in that timeframe with a similar cultural climate Italians would have followed suit. But then again I've noticed fewer latinisms in Italian or relatinizing attempts. The tendency is always to simplify. Just at some point of time they decided to get rid of many apostrophes.
    If parlamo, bevemo, finimo were commonplace in most regional dialects, plus it was the official successor to -amus,-emus, -imus, and the verb type -are, -ere, -ire was clearly seen, I don't see any reason why someone would not have tried to reinstate it and get rid of the universal -iamo, if not now, at least in Renaissance/ Baroque time.
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    In the 15-17th century many many older forms that had fallen out of use in Spanish were reinstated out of a sincere desire to bring the language in line with Latin and

    and they introduced a lot of irregularities, like "hecho"/"perfecto" :)

    (I don't know if the "cto"/"cho" was a regular process and if "perfecto" is a learned word. Do you know something more about it?).
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    In the 15-17th century many many older forms that had fallen out of use in Spanish were reinstated out of a sincere desire to bring the language in line with Latin and recorrect what was considered wrong. I assumed in that timeframe with a similar cultural climate Italians would have followed suit. But then again I've noticed fewer latinisms in Italian or relatinizing attempts. The tendency is always to simplify. Just at some point of time they decided to get rid of many apostrophes.
    If parlamo, bevemo, finimo were commonplace in most regional dialects, plus it was the official successor to -amus,-emus, -imus, and the verb type -are, -ere, -ire was clearly seen, I don't see any reason why someone would not have tried to reinstate it and get rid of the universal -iamo, if not now, at least in Renaissance/ Baroque time.
    True, this happened in French as well. That's why you have book=livre but free=libre. But this usually only affects individual words and not basic morphemes like present tense conjugations. I don't think grammarians would have so much influence, not even in French.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    True, this happened in French as well. That's why you have book=livre but free=libre. But this usually only affects individual words and not basic morphemes like present tense conjugations. I don't think grammarians would have so much influence, not even in French.
    In Spanish final unaccented -e had been dropped from most words by the end of the middle ages. This can be seen in "Cantar del mio Cid" for example. The -e was very actively restored to verb forms during the renaissance. The reinstating was successful with verbs and also pronouns, but less so with nouns, especially after -r and -d.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    And where has this reinstatement survived?

    All -er verbs for example now have final -e. Today the conjugation is tiene, viene, hace, dice.... not tien, vien, haz, diz. The -e of le is never dropped anymore either: dígole not dígol. For nouns... part became parte, but paz not pace, pared not parede.
     

    killerbee256

    Senior Member
    American English
    All -er verbs for example now have final -e. Today the conjugation is tiene, viene, hace, dice.... not tien, vien, haz, diz. The -e of le is never dropped anymore either: dígole not dígol. For nouns... part became parte, but paz not pace, pared not parede.
    Hmmm tien, vien, haz, diz rather resemble their portugues counter parts tem, vem, faz, diz. Was there no "Restoration" movement in Portugal?
     

    bubbyx

    Member
    Vietnamese
    All -er verbs for example now have final -e. Today the conjugation is tiene, viene, hace, dice.... not tien, vien, haz, diz. The -e of le is never dropped anymore either: dígole not dígol. For nouns... part became parte, but paz not pace, pared not parede.

    I think the restoration made Spanish sound better :D

    Spanish verb conjugations are very close to latin, I wonder why they didn't try to make it closer during the restoration? For example amamos can be restored to amamus? Amais becomes Amatis? They don't sound that much different anyway. Now that I think of it, Spanish is like slurred Latin sometimes :as vida instead of vita etc reminds me of how American English speakers pronounce water instead of the English pronunciation. Also Spanish tends to drop Latin intervocalic consonants like creer instead of credere which reminds me of English slangs :as
     
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    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Hmmm tien, vien, haz, diz rather resemble their portugues counter parts tem, vem, faz, diz. Was there no "Restoration" movement in Portugal?

    I think all depends on pronunciation. If these "e" are pronounced, then the "restoration" can work but if they are not pronounced this restoration simply makes written language different from the spoken language.

    In Portuguese those "e" are not pronounced, neither in Brazil nor in Portugal, and final "e" in other words can be elided in Portugal but is clearly pronounced (with an ) in Brazil (which is the country having more population). So we have "verdade" in Portuguese but "verdad" in Spanish.
     

    bearded

    Senior Member
    Is a dialect adopted as standard because it is so easily understood or is it so easily understood because it had been adopted as standard register and everybody is accustomed to it?

    I think the former is the case: adopted as standard because it is/was so easily understood, as well as for literary-prestige reasons as I wrote before. The Florentine dialect had been well and easily understood long before it was adopted as standard register. An example: comedies by the well-known playwright Goldoni were written in Venetian dialect - which in the 18th century still was the official language and the standard register in the Republic of Venice. But some characters in those comedies came to Venice from other parts of Italy, and when they spoke the Florentine dialect, inhabitants of Venice could understand them without problems. Florentine already had an immense cultural prestige and was well understood, but was not yet the standard register in Italy.
     
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    bearded

    Senior Member
    I wonder why Roman dialect did not gain as much prestige as Venetian and Florentine dialect
    As I explained before, mainly because there was not - during all of the Middle Ages -a comparable literature or cultural tradition in Rome with respect to Florence.
    Anyhow, nowadays the Florentine dialect has partly deviated from its original form and pronunciation, so that in Florence today you can find the Italian language (standard) and the Florentine dialect (similar to Italian, but not identical - especially in pronunciation: e.g. initial c pronounced h in certain conditions....).
    And for the 'defense' of the Roman speech, I would like to add that there is a sort of proverb defining which is the very best Italian pronunciation, which sounds ''lingua toscana in bocca romana'' (Tuscan language as spoken by a Roman mouth).
     
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    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    I add that probably Florentine dialect was understood also because it just was the standard in literature, so all Italian writers were accustomed to it.
    As bearded said, there was also a phonetic reason (Tuscan/Roman pronunciation was well understood).
     
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