A Natural History of Latin

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Beginning in Rome around 600 BC, Latin became the language of the civilized world and remained so for more than two millennia. French, Spanish, Italian, and Romanian are among its progeny and it provides the international vocabulary of law and life science. No known language, including English - itself enriched by Latin words and phrases - has achieved such success and longevity. Tore Janson tells its history from origins to present. Brilliantly conceived and written with the same light touch as his bestselling history of languages, A Natural History of Latin is a masterpiece of adroit synthesis. The author charts the expansion of Latin in the classical world, its renewed importance in the Middle Ages, and its survival into modern times. He shows how spoken and written Latin evolved in different places and its central role in European history and culture. He ends with a concise Latin grammar and lists of Latin words and phrases still in common use. Considered elitist and irrelevant in the second half of the twentieth century and often even banned from schools, Latin is now enjoying a huge revival of interest across Europe, the UK, and the USA. Tore Janson offers persuasive arguments for its value and gives direct access to its fascinating worlds, past and present.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 144 x 214 x 20mm | 419.99g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0199214050
  • 9780199214051
  • 183,200

Review quote

Review from previous edition Natural History of Latin is an authoritative introduction to arguably the most influential language of all time. Chicago Tribune This always readable book is full of interest. The Scotsman It is hard to imagine how this book could be improved... From now on, if anyone who has never studied Latin askes me to recommend a short, readable book in which they can find out about the history of Latin and get a feel for the grammar, I will be able to answer unhesitatingly. Linguist Listshow more

About Professor of African Languages Department of Oriental and African Languages Tore Janson

Tore Janson was Professor successively of Latin and African Languages at the University of Goteborg and is a world expert on the history of Languages. His books include A Short History of Languages (OUP 2002; hardback edition 2007).show more

Table of contents

PART I LATIN AND THE ROMANS ; 1. Lingua latina: a first acquaintance ; 2. The earliest period of Rome ; 3. How Latin became Latin ; 4. From small town to great power ; 5. How bad were the Romans? ; 6. A voice from early Rome ; 7. The meeting with Greece ; 8. Theatre for the people ; 9. The age of revolutions ; 10. Writing, reading, listening, and speaking ; 11. Speeches, politics, and lawsuits ; 12. Cicero and rhetoric ; 13. The language of history ; 14. Imperium romanum: Augustus and the Roman Empire ; 15. Name and family ; 16. Years and months ; 17. Latin becomes the language of Europe ; 18. Poets and poetry ; 19. Philosophy: Lucretius, Cicero, Seneca ; 20. The Schools and Quintilian ; 21. The sciences ; 22. Everyday language ; 23. Laws and legal language ; 24. Tacitus, the emperors, and Britain ; 25. Christianity: from dangerous sect to state religion ; PART II LATIN AND EUROPE ; 26. Europe after Rome ; 27. From Latin to the Romance languages ; 28. Missionaries, Latin, and foreign languages ; 29. Latin in Britain ; 30. Latin in schools ; 31. Speaking and spelling ; 32. Books and scribes ; 33. Saints and heretics ; 34. The guardians of the heritage ; 35. Poetry after antiquity ; 36. Abelard and Heloise ; 37. The thinkers ; 38. The Renaissance ; 39. Doctors and their language ; 40. Linnaeus and Latin ; 41. Physicists, chemists, and others ; 42. Alchemy, witchcraft, and Harry Potter ; 43. Loanwords and neologisms ; 44. Latin and German ; 45. Latin and French ; 46. Latin and English ; 47. Latin and us ; PART III ABOUT THE GRAMMAR ; 48. Introduction ; 49. Pronunciation and stress ; 50. Sentences, verbs and nouns ; 51. Words and word classes ; 52. Nouns ; 53. Adjectives ; 54. Pronouns ; 55. THe forms of the verb ; 56. Amandi and amanda ; 57. How words are formed ; Glossary of words and expressions ; PART IV BASIC VOCABULARY ; PART V COMMON PHRASES AND EXPRESSIONS ; Suggested reading ; Indexshow more