Did People ever Speak Latin?

Very few people who study Latin today expect to speak it or even to read it. It is used mostly by scholars. We know consider Latin a “dead language” for this reason. But Latin was once a living language.

After Rome was founded in 753 B.C., The small town began to grow. Within a limited area around the town, Latin was a common language spoken by the people. This language was named after the Latini. One of the tribes living in the Tiber Valley.

This early Latin was a combination of the tongues spoken by all the people in the neighborhood of Rome. It was heavy and unwieldy, not a graceful language at all, and very few traces of this early Latin remain.

At this time latins had no literature. By the year 240 B.C., Rome had conquered Greece, and Greek literature provided an example to the Romans. The common people who could neither read or write were greatly interested in the theater. So Latin writers created plays for their amusement.

By this time Latin had developed in may ways. There was written Latin with regular rules for spelling and grammar, and there were records of both the common and refined way of speaking.

In other words, the foundation was laid for later writers who made Latin a truly beautiful and expressive language. While the literally language of Latin was developing, the true speech of Rome was Vulgar Latin.

It was quite different from the written language. Most of the people of Rome could not use the polished written language. It was used mostly by highly educated literary men. The Vulgar Latin of the people was an everyday language, easily understood and not always grammatically correct.      

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