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By J. N. Adams

Languages express adaptations in keeping with the social classification of audio system and Latin used to be no exception, as readers of Petronius are conscious. The Romance languages have frequently been considered as constructing out of a 'language of the typical humans' (Vulgar Latin), yet experiences of recent languages reveal that linguistic switch doesn't only come, within the social experience, 'from below'. there's swap from above, as status usages paintings their approach down the social scale, and alter can also take place around the social periods. This ebook is a historical past of a number of the advancements passed through via the Latin language because it turned into Romance, demonstrating the various social degrees at which swap used to be initiated. approximately thirty subject matters are handled, a lot of them extra systematically than ever earlier than. Discussions usually begin within the early Republic with Plautus, and the booklet is as a lot in regards to the literary language as approximately casual forms.

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We offer some categories of evidence, along with comments on their reliability. (i) Grammarians and their pronouncements will occupy a prominent place in this book. They were not much interested in the speech of lower classes as such, though there are some exceptional texts such as Consentius’ Ars de barbarismis et metaplasmis, and scattered pronouncements on barbarisms and the like. Occasionally indeed stigmatised usages are linked to specific social groups. –): per immutationem fiunt barbarismi sic: litterae, ut si quis dicat bobis pro uobis, peres pro pedes, stetim pro statim, quod uitium plebem Romanam quadam deliciosa nouitatis affectione corrumpit (on this passage see Adams : ).

Vulgar’ is not a judgmental term here, but has its etymological sense, ‘of the vulgus, the common people’. An extreme view of the distinction between (Classical) Latin and Vulgar Latin has been called by Wright (: ) the ‘two-norm theory’. According to this Latin went on being spoken well into the medieval period by the educated, whereas the uneducated at the same time were speaking evolved vernaculars (see Wright : – for a collection of such opinions). Various questions are raised by such distinctions.

Stylistic variations themselves are not absolute, or, as Labov (: ) puts it, ‘all-or-none signals’. They form a continuum. Three other influences studied by Labov, ethnicity (see Labov : – ), sex (–) and age (–) (see particularly Labov : – on the intersection of sex, age and social class), must be mentioned here, though they will not be dealt with in this book (see now Clackson c: – on the evidence for variation in Latin related to sex and age, with bibliography).

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