Appendix Probi

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The Appendix Probi ("Probus' Appendix") is a palimpsest appended to the Instituta Artium, a work written in the third or fourth century AD. The text only survives in a carelessly transcribed, water-damaged manuscript of the seventh or eighth century.[1] In the past it was attributed to Valerius Probus, but this is now considered wrong.[2] The surviving manuscript is believed to have been transcribed at Bobbio Abbey, and it is currently kept at the Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele III.[3]

The Appendix lists common mistakes in the written Latin of the time. In these mistakes, we can observe tendencies in the grammar, spelling, and pronunciation of the contemporary vernacular which would become the various Romance languages. The author's corrections of these usages give us insight into how Latin was evolving at that time. For example, the instruction PASSIM NON PASSI ("passim, not passi") or NVMQVAM NON NVMQVA ("numquam, not numqua") tells the reader that the Classical Latin word is written with an M at the end, which indicated nasalization. This common spelling error suggests that nasal vowels were being denasalized in Vulgar Latin. Many of these mistakes later became standard spelling, cf. Spanish nunca, from NVMQVA (numqua). In some cases, the document recommends forms that are not the usual Classical ones, for example AMFORA NON AMPORA ("amfora, not ampora") recommends an F, whereas amphora is normally spelled with PH.

The original location of composition of the Appendix is uncertain, but a few theories have been proposed by scholars. Some commentators identify North Africa as the place of composition: for instance, Gaston Paris suggests that the document may have been written in Carthage. Others argue that it was likely written in Rome, citing line 134, VICO CAPITIS AFRICAE, as the name of a neighborhood in Rome. Reconciling these two views, Casimir Jarecki argues that the document is perhaps the work of a teacher born in Africa but living in Rome.[3]


  1. ^ Gerhard Rohlfs, Sermo Vulgaris, 2nd ed. (Tübingen, 1969), 16.
  2. ^ "Marcus Valerius Probus". Encyclopædia Britannica (Eleventh Edition (1910-1911) ed.). Cambridge University Press. 1911. Archived from the original on 2011-05-24. Retrieved 2008-12-14. 
  3. ^ a b Quirk, Ronald J. (2006). The Appendix Probi. ISBN 1588711099. 

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