Talk:Old Latin

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Early comments[edit]

How come the old latin third declension is identical to the classical? - Christopher 19:45, 16 October 2006 (UTC)

It isn't, at least in the version as of today. Note the changes e/i and o/u between OL and CL. 22:46, 12 June 2007 (UTC)

Shouldn't the vocative singular of the 2nd declension be -e? Vegfarandi 19:40, 24 October 2006 (UTC)

Only in Classical Latin. Old Latin had -ō instead. Then this shortened to -ŏ which shifted to Classical -ĕ. Ciacchi 22:21, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

Should the ordering of the cases be the same as in the Latin declension article? Or is there some reason why it is different here 23:18, 1 January 2007 (UTC)

Don't take any of these answers seriously. I don't know why non-Latinists were working on this article. Sheer bravado I guess. If you don't know anything, don't guess, find out.Dave (talk) 02:19, 23 October 2009 (UTC)


It looks like there was no interword separation in this era? Was there punctuation? Was the text direction always boustrophedon? -- Beland 18:57, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

If you look at the picture, there appears to be three-dotted lines between several letters, similar to an interpunct. (Theyre hard to spot at the photo of the inscription, though...) 惑乱 分からん * \)/ (\ (< \) (2 /) /)/ * 12:34, 28 April 2007 (UTC)
I'm glad you mentioned those things even though almost two years ago. They are more than I got in mind at the moment but they should be in there somewhere. I believe the script is a different topic and you appear to be aiming at the script. It evolves out of the Etruscan alphabet of course. So, there should be an initial section on the script, followed by the spelling, the phonetics, morphology and of course syntax, which isn't even dreamed of yet in our philosophy Horatio. That seems to be a good plan.Dave (talk) 20:57, 9 February 2009 (UTC)

Borrows from Greek[edit]

I read somewhere that the Old Latin endings -os and -om (later Latin -us and -um), as well as the diphthongs such as oi and ei (later Latin ū or oe, and ī) are obvious borrows from Greek. Can anyone give a source on that? Helladios 08:18, 29 May 2007 (UTC)

Not true. They are common inheritances in Greek and Latin from Proto-Indo-European. (It's not exactly surprising that the further back you go in either Greek or Latin, the more similar to one another they become.) 22:43, 12 June 2007 (UTC)
Yes, it is true: the Archaic Latin, i.e. the earliest recorded Latin, found in inscriptions from the beginning of the sixth century BC,borrowed some endings from Greek.

See for example the nominative singular -OS , the accusative singular -OM, and the dative singular –OI, which in classical Latin became respectively -US , –UM, -O.

As a source, I can suggest an inscription on a gold brooch,the Fibula Praenestina (ca. 600 BC) discovered in Palestrina (ancient ancient city of Praeneste, east of Rome). It is inscribed with the Archaic Latin text MANIOS MED FHEFHAKED NVMASIOI, which, in Classical Latin, is: MANIVS ME FECIT NVMERIO, i.e "Manius made me for Numerius".

From this source we know for example that –OS became -US and –OI became –O.

Moreover I can mention other sources like the Duenos Vase, discovered near the Quirinal Hill in Rome; the Ficoroni cista, which probably dates back to the 4th.century BC, and two religious documents, i.e. two prayers named the "Carmen Arvale" (chant of the Arval priests) and the "Carmen Saliare" (chant of the Salian priests, i.e. "jumping priests"). Both these prayers seem to date back to the Romulean age, i.e. to the foundation of Rome in 753 BC or to the reign of King Numa Pompilius, who was the second king of Rome, succeeding Romulus.

In short, from all these sources that are generally considered to be the oldest extant examples of the Latin alphabet we know that some archaic endings and diphthongs borrowed from ancient Greek have changed in classical Latin, i.e. beginning from the 3rd.century BC.

Hope all is clear enough. Best regards, Maria (from

No, it is not true. You have cited that the older Latin forms are similar to the Greek forms, but correlation does not imply causation. The mainstream view in modern linguistics (which some say actually helped develop modern linguistics from philology) is not that the Latin forms derive from the Greek, but that they derive from a common source, which no longer exists. Cognates of the endings are found in a great many languages across the entire Indo-European family. —Muke Tever talk 20:28, 20 July 2007 (UTC)

Instrumental Case[edit]

I read in the *History of Latin* page that *Vestiges of the instrumental case may remain in adverbial forms ending in -ẽ*. I couldn't find any other information on it. Should it be included here? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:54, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

Sure, if it can be referenced to a reliable source. —Angr If you've written a quality article... 19:35, 6 December 2007 (UTC)
Hello, hello. The instrumental had already merged with the ablative in Old Latin; that is, they had the same endings by then so for this set of endings, some uses were in fact instrumental. To find out when the merger probably took place you'd have to do a lot of non-original research on any sources you can find to find the guru of the merger. I pass, not relevant to this article.Dave (talk) 12:38, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
PS. The ablative is the biggest source of adverbs; sometime it is called "the adverbial case." I didn't check your source but as quoted it is oversimple. Sure that is true but only a small part of the picture. Mainly the instrumental went into the ablative.Dave (talk) 12:42, 18 October 2009 (UTC)

Please Expand[edit]

This article does nothing more than point out a few differences between Old Latin and Classical Latin. I would think that a more complete article on Old Latin would require sections on Classification/Relation to other Indo-European Languages of the era, possible ancestor/influencing/sub-strata languages, etc.--William Thweatt Talk | Contribs 18:46, 16 December 2008 (UTC)

Actually, I just found much of what I was looking for at History of Latin. However, as this article is the oldest form of the language for which Wikipedia has an article, some of the History article should be integrated into this article. I will try to do so this week.--William Thweatt Talk | Contribs 18:51, 16 December 2008 (UTC)
Hello William. I am glad you found what you want. Actually, Old Latin is not another language, it is the same Latin as classical Latin. Analogy: you wouldn't treat Elizabethan English as a new language you had to specify from the beginning. You would just give the Elizabethan forms. So it is correct only to give the differences. Sometimes the classical good old boys would throw in a few Old Latin forms just to show they were good old boys, so there no language barrier. Let's just play it by ear. No need to repeat all the Latin articles as Old Latin articles. I think history of the Latin language belongs where it is, under history of the Latin language.Dave (talk) 21:06, 9 February 2009 (UTC)
A general problem of this article, however, is how it covers a period ranging from the oldest Archaic Latin (6th century, perhaps even 7th) to the end of the Old Latin period in the early 1st century BC, when the language was already essentially identical with the classical standard (which was to some extent artificial, conservative and rigid, while the Old Latin undercurrent continued via spoken Latin into early Romance – Vulgärarchaismen are a striking phenomenon in Old Latin and demonstrate the artificial nature of Classical Latin: if anything, Romance descends from what is essentially a late form of Old Latin, not the classical written language, whose spelling conventions in particular preserve notable archaisms from Archaic Latin). Latin has changed a great deal in every respect during that period, as evidenced by the phonetic/phonological differences as well as the grammatical and lexical ones which serve to make 6th century Latin impenetrable to the average person educated in the classical standard. The difference could be compared to 13th century Middle English vs. the essentially modern language of the 17th or 18th, if an equally long period be used for illustration. Or Middle High German vs. Modern High German. Treating both in a single article and using the same paradigms to cover the entire period would be ridiculous. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 20:09, 23 November 2011 (UTC)

Not much proof of inflection ...[edit]

"There is not much actual proof of the inflection of Old Latin verb forms ". One has to be careful how to take this. By default, if there is no evidence, the inflection of Old Latin words is the inflection of classical Latin words. Classical Latin had to come from somewhere, right? What is the point of calling Old Latin Old "Latin" if classical Latin is not from Old Latin? So, in order to say that Old Latin varies, you first have to have evidence of its variance. No evidence, no variance. Old Latin is not a different language and that approach in this article is wrong. I note the author claims to be putting in "reconstructed" forms by "scholars" but he gives no scholars or references on the supposed reconstructions. How are we to know they are not his reconstructions? This will have to be checked out and I suppose I will work on that since I am here for the time. I suspect there are no reconstructed forms. Certainly they would have to be carefully distinguished from the ones that are evidenced. So, I plan to change these sections quite lot depending on what I can find in all these ample refs available on the Internet. Also, word formation is morphology while syntax is the arrangement of words so some reorg is appropriate.Dave (talk) 09:43, 10 February 2009 (UTC)

What is meant is probably that not as many forms are attested as for classical Latin, probably due to the corpus being much smaller. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:43, 9 July 2015 (UTC)

The oversimple grammar and morphology[edit]

Just when I thought I was more or less done I gave the grammar and morphology a good look. As usual incomprehensible because oversimple. It didn't, for example point out that these are paradigms, so it has some poor student running around looking for the locative of puella. Locative indeed! Don't you wish it, students. I've had some run-ins with some of us about the length and complexity of articles. I find that their oversimplification of the material denudes it beyond the point of comprehensibity. To you I say, if you are gong to be that way about it, forget Wikipedia; following your policies, it is completely worthless. For one thing this is encyclopedic. If the reader is not prepared to study compacted statements let him go to a textbook not an encyclopedia. Wiki does textbooks but I've never tried to use any. For another thing, the original Wikipedia had severe space constraints similar to what you see in Britannica or Encarta online. I don;t know how he did it but Wales seems to have gotten unlimited space for us; however, by definition articles are article-sized not book-sized. So what I am doing to make this comprehensible without blowing up the article is adding compact note-like explanations of the items in the tables. Oh by the way the table gave no line-item sources so some of it is wrong (not really badly). I'm fixing it and adding sources for the fixes, mainly the line-items from the bibliography already there. It was old, but old is not necessarily bad in this field. I did add Buck. Intermediate sources seem to be in short supply; the books are too simple or too complex. Ciao.Dave (talk) 13:02, 18 October 2009 (UTC)

PS Some notes on the table - The editor is mixing up Old Latin, Faliscan, Oscan. Make up your mind, what do you want to do, reconstruct proto-Italic or give the forms of Old Latin? The first task would be original research, so we can't do that anyway. If you have material on it, that goes under Italic languages or Latino-Faliscan.Dave (talk) 20:15, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
With Numasioi a probable fake, Latin dative singular o-declension should go to long o.Dave (talk) 20:19, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

If you are really right, duenoi is not dative and the translation reproduced below is incorrect.

   b. duenos mēd fēced en mānōm einom duenōi nē mēd malo(s) statōd
   c. Bonus me fecit in manom einom bono, ne me malus (tollito, clepito)
   d. A good man made me in his own?? hands for a good man, in case an evil man take me.

My funniest translation referred to there treats it as plural nominative.

One paradigm?[edit]

In classical Latin, which has a lot of text to support it, you can pick a noun stem, any stem, and add the endings appropriate to the declension with the justified expectations that, somewhere is all those millions of words, are a certain number of instances of the paradigm. You can't do that in Old Latin, there are too many variations and not enough text. You might find one ending in the early part of the period and another in the later. Some words are never used with some endings. It makes me wonder if a single paradigm is really useful the way it is for classical Latin, or does it give the wrong idea? Most of the forms in the paradigm were never attested. These thoughts nag at me as I work on the tables. I wonder if it might not be better just to list different attested words for each case of each paradigm. If anyone has a sincere opinion, why not share it with us?Dave (talk) 00:26, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

Old Latin form of the names[edit]

For example, Romulus must be Romolos... What else? There must be a list about Old Latin forms of the names.... Böri (talk) 14:32, 13 February 2010 (UTC)

Is Romolos actually attested, or just reconstructed? +Angr 14:59, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
Good question, but I'm asking the same question. In Greek, it is Ρωμύλος (Romylos)...The names of Romulus, Numa Pompilius, Tullus Hostilius, Ancus Marcius, etc. were not like that in Old Latin. How can we find the Old Latin forms? Böri (talk) 15:35, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
& Poplios Valesios = Publius Valerius, see Lapis Satricanus article Böri (talk) 12:18, 26 February 2010 (UTC)


In Cato's De Re Rustica (chapter 156), I find many forms like esto/comesto (eat); facito (make); statuito (set); demittito (sink); conicito (throw together); contundito (macerate); exurgeto (squeeze); etc. These are all translated as imperatives (plural?) in the Loeb Classical Library. Can we formulate a general rule for imperatives in Old Latin? Was there a vowel shift from -o to -e? Peter Chastain (talk) 16:51, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

These are future imperatives. If necessary they can be translated "you shall eat", "you shall make" etc., but in practice there's very little semantic difference between a present imperative and a future imperatives. Imperatives are by their nature future, as it doesn't usually make sense to tell someone to do something they're already doing (unless you're saying "keep doing that", I guess, but even then you're saying "continue doing that into the future"). Angr (talk) 21:29, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
I guess there could be a difference between telling someone to do something now and telling someone to do something from this point going forward. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:00, 9 July 2015 (UTC)

On the writing of x for gs[edit]

This message would especially be for the user Botteville, since he added the section to the article on the orthography, but if you know about it then feel free to answer me. I think that this article about Latin is really great, and it has proven very useful for me. For a couple of days I researched some matters, and especially I came up with questions about the proof of the orthography. I went through the whole book Remnants of early Latin, and through the book Specimens of early Latin, but I have found no words written by gs instead of x. I would really like to know where to find these examples, and I would surely like to see about ten of them, so that I have at least a little more confidence that it was written this way. Once again, I find it a really great article, and thank you for all your contributions to it! -- Dyami Millarson (talk)

Future in Old Latin[edit]


what would the first person future active for the Old Latin form of Classical Latin 'sospitare' or 'servare' be?

Greetings HeliosX (talk) 16:24, 3 June 2013 (UTC)

The article says, "There is little evidence of the inflection of Old Latin verb forms and the few surviving inscriptions hold many inconsistencies between forms", so your question might not be answerable. Angr (talk) 17:58, 3 June 2013 (UTC)
Ok, but I found a text about the future in Old Latin, which describes also a future with "-bo" for the first person singular.
So do you know the Old Latin forms for 'sospitare' or 'servare'?
Greetings HeliosX (talk) 07:22, 4 June 2013 (UTC)
Lewis and Short's entry for sospito includes the future sospitabo from Plautus, so that one's even attested. (In fact, since Plautus is considered Old Latin, I don't see how we can say "there is little evidence of the inflection of Old Latin verb forms": Plautus is full of inflected verbs. I think that statement must apply only to inscriptions.) No attestation is given for Plautus's future of servo, but his other tenses of servo are all the same as in Classical Latin, so plain old servabo seems likely. Angr (talk) 10:50, 4 June 2013 (UTC)

Declension tables[edit]

The declension tables would be a lot more useful if they used the normal case order and included comparisons with classical Latin and Greek. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:45, 9 July 2015 (UTC)

Fragments & Inscriptions[edit]

It's unclear to me what the following phrase, which appears under that heading, means:

Chant put forward in classical times as having been sung by the Salian Brotherhood . . . 700 BC.

The confusion arises from the phrase "put forward" and the fragmentary nature of the phrase. Do you mean that classical authors argued or claimed that the chants in question dated to 700 BC? If so, this would work:

Chants that classical authors attributed to the Salian Brotherhood (700 BC)

I'd have changed it myself, but I wanted to be certain of the intended meaning. KC 02:41, 10 April 2016 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Boydstra (talkcontribs)