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Latin Alive: The Survival of Latin in English and the Romance Languages.

Latin Alive: The Survival of Latin in English and the Romance Languages. Joseph B. Solodow. Cambridge University Press. ?55.00 (US$89.00). xii + 356 pages. ISBN 978-0-521-51575-7. Prof. Solodow. who keeps the general reader in mind, sets out here to describe how Latin developed into the Romance languages, in particular Italian, French, and Spanish and how; through Norman French, it started to infiltrate English. He begins, as he must, with Latin's Indo-European background and then traces the development of Greek and Latin, ending his first section with an important analysis of 'vulgar' Latin, i.e. the Latin as spoken through history and throughout the empire, not as in classical texts and schoolboys' textbooks, e.g. the dropping of the ablative and of the neuter case. From this spoken language he naturally charts the development of the Romance languages in Part II as logical, arguably inevitable, consequences of Vulgar Latin. The second part of his survey is devoted to the vocabularies of Romance languages and changes in usages and definitions and to borrowings. In Part III he looks at the sound of what is now 'Proto-Romance' as well as its nouns and verbs and in the final part he provides texts in French, Italian and Spanish to illustrate his points. It is a fascinating journey and written in a way to attract anyone interested in the history of language. (G.R.R.)
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Publication:Contemporary Review
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 1, 2011
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