Late Latin

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As Late Latin or late Latin ( nominalization of the adjective late Latin ) that is the level of proficiency in the development of Latin called that roughly began in the 2nd or 3rd century and until the end of antiquity took the Latin of the pronounced late antiquity . Late Latin is differentiated on the one hand from classical Latin of the previous epoch and on the other hand from medieval Middle Latin . The transitions between the epochs are fluid and extend over longer periods of time.

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The period of late Latin follows that of silver latinism , which extends into the late 2nd century ( Apuleius ). Late Latin is initially characterized by an increase in the peculiarities of the Silver Latinity. The most prominent tendencies are a particularly abundant use of rhetorical means and an expansion of the vocabulary, which occurs on the one hand through recourse to archaic expressions of the language of Ennius , Plautus and Terence , on the other hand through the formation and inclusion of colloquial words in the written language. Colloquial phenomena also emerge in late Latin syntax . With this, Latin is moving further and further away from the norms of the Golden Latinity , which made a sharp distinction between written and everyday language.

A distinction is made between high and colloquial language (also known as vulgar Latin ) and between classical and late Latin. While the first-mentioned distinction concerns two language levels which coexist in time and which are mixed or separated to a greater or lesser extent depending on the author and epoch, the other is structured according to a chronological point of view. The term “late Latin” is usually used primarily for the written Latin of the late Latin epoch; the spoken language of this time is usually called Vulgar Latin (from Latin vulgaris “everyday”, “ordinary”, “concerning the common people” - not “vulgar” in today's sense of vulgar language ). A vulgar Latin colloquial language did not only exist in the late Latin period, but already in the ancient Latin period , before the beginning of classical latinism. Classical Latinism banished the colloquial from the written language, in late Latin colloquial elements penetrated the written language again. Therefore the late Latin shows similarities with the old Latin. A particularly striking example of this is the colloquial construction of verba sentiendi et dicendi (verbs of communicating, perceiving and thinking) with quod “that” instead of accusativus cum infinitivo . It was already common in ancient Latin colloquial language, but was usually avoided in classical Latin. From the 2nd century onwards it reappeared more frequently in literature, in late antiquity its high-level language use continued to increase, in the Middle Ages it was common (even more often, but apparently by analogy with quia, actually next to "quod" another word for "because ", Replaced).

During the late Latin period and then even more so in the early Middle Ages, the spoken and written language diverged more and more. The written Late Latin as a standard language lived on in Middle Latin; The Romance languages ​​arose from the spoken late Latin, the colloquial language. The high-level language, written in late Latin, was imparted to the Middle Ages in particular by the Christian writers of antiquity - especially the Church Fathers .

See also

Wiktionary: Late Latin  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Late Latin  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  • Karl Langosch : Latin Middle Ages. Introduction to language and literature . Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt, 1963, pp. 34–40.
  • Dag Norberg: Contributions to late Latin syntax . Almqvist & Wiksells, Uppsala, 1944

Single receipts

  1. Duden online: Late Latin