Evolution of the Latin language

Tokyo

I have great respect for Roger Pulvers’ insightful articles including his Counterpoint March 3 titled “The days may be numbered for English as a universal second language.” But I would like to point out one linguistic inaccuracy.

Pulvers says that Latin eventually died out except for its use by the Roman Catholic Church. Latin did not die out; it evolved. When the Roman Empire broke up, the parts of Europe where Latin had been adopted as the common language gradually developed their own ways of speaking until these diverged so far that they became mutually unintelligible — expect perhaps on the Iberian Peninsula — giving the various languages: Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian and the rest.

For centuries their only written language was standard Latin until the various areas developed ways of writing the language that they were actually speaking. At this point, Latin as we know it became simply a lingua franca used throughout Europe for official documents and church ritual.

It is quite possible that, in future ages, the English now spoken in certain areas of the world will diverge so far from the norm as to form separate languages.

hugh wilkinson
tokyo

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

  • Darryl McGarry

    Like in America

    • Greg Hutchinson

      American usage is one of the most standard, probably “thanks” to TV. The only country I can think of with a more standard usage is Canada. England is immediately post-Babal by comparison. There’s the lovely RSV and then a daunting variety.