October 11, 2014



Our Latin teacher used to greet us with, "Salvete, discipuli," and we would respond with, "Salve tu quoque, magistra" (I think?)

[deactivated user]

    It is interesting to think how Italians are the direct descendants of Ancient Romans! Their language is one of the closest living languages to Latin.


    I read somewhere that Sardinian is actually closest to Latin.

    [deactivated user]

      Right. But Italian is still *one of the closest :)


      I witnessed that myself. I've spend two weeks on Sardegna and it's amazing how similar it is.


      That sounds exciting! I've only been to the generic tourist-y parts of Italy, but I hope to see Sardegna some day. I knew that fact because I was obsessed with regional languages for a while.


      Sardegna is touristy as well; at least for the italians. :)


      Yes, i have heard this. There are some very un-italian sounding words in sard. Like "porcu" meaning "pig". And actually a common surname in sardinia.


      "Porco" exists in Italian. It means pig, but it's mostly used to describe a lascivious man (not a compliment then)


      You should come to Romania to hear it every day used on both the animal and man


      I'm fortunate to have been 30 or so times to Sardinia now and always love hearing the Sardinian language even though i have no idea what people are saying :-)

      It's such a wonderful place. You can hear lots of counting in Sardinian (e.g. chimbe is cinque) language in their numbers game Sa Murra: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5E1A2Y7O548


      I read somewhere it's actually Romanian, of which didn't even know it's based on Latin. Always assumed it was Slavic..


      It's my understanding that Romansch is the closest spoken language to Latin. It's used in the eastern part of Switzerland, Canton Graubuenden. It's also one of their 4 official languages. I spent a few years there, about 25 years ago.


      Italians are actually a more racially mixed bunch than some like to admit - not all the descendants of romans by a long chalk. Austrian, german, french, greek, slav, africans, arabs. Mussolini of course tried to tell them they were all arian which i always found profoundly funny. He couldn't have looked at the sards much on his triumphal visits to open public works etc.


      I think what he meant was the Language not the genetical inheritage. Whole Europe is an extremely heterogenous region, culture- and genetics-wise. But Latin inherited it's vocabulary to Italian and with it most of its characteristics like flecting words. E.g.: Germanic and slavic languages conjugate verbs by adding personal pronouns. While they do exist in romance languages, they are only used for emphasis. Latin was agglutinative language, which first declinates nouns via changing their ending and second determining tempus, modus and persona via suffixed added to the verb - a feat that all Latin students learned to hate. These characteristics are still very prominent with all romance languages, though they did undergo minor changes and influences here and there.


      mm - I seem to remember from my long distant trials trying to translate Latin that it had an unfortunate tendency to insist on putting the verb at the back end of the sentence. And if Latin and Italian are so close, why, in real life, is my Italian getting better (thanks DL) while this improvement has done nowt to make Latin inscriptions clearer to me. They never were to me years ago when got my Latin O level. The sound of the languages (I mean looking at them both and hearing Italian - it always amuses me when folks insist that Latin was pronounced a certain way) is also very different. See the references to Latin and Sard above - many of the words that apparently have Latin roots do not look Italian to me. Kyro:";interesting to think how Italians are the direct descendants of Ancient Romans" WAS referring to the people as well. It is also my understanding by the way that many many any of the common people in ancient Rome spoke Greek day to day. And that Latin was the language of their masters and used for official business/inscriptions etc. And if there was a direct easy line between Latin speaking Ancient Romans and modern Italians, how was it that until the second half of the twentieth century dialect was so prevelent in Italy and only then, with the advent of TV and Mike Buonguiorno, did Italians really move in a big way to a unified language?


      Interesting. I seem to recall an Italian telling me that the Florentine dialect was chosen as the national common language well after WWII, mainly bc it is the language of Dante. (also, perhaps bc Florence was once the capital of Italy). To this day, different dialects are spoken at home, but are not taught in schools. She said a person from Sicily, e.g., is typically unable to understand the dialect of, say, the Veneto.


      I'm not sure this is true. Many words might have latin roots (as they do in english) but what about the other language components - grammar, structure, sound even. Can you elaborate?


      My understanding - which I'm by no means sure is correct - is that Italian is closest to Latin in vocabulary, while Romanian is closest in grammar and structure. Catalan Spanish (I've heard) is the closest in pronunciation to Vulgar Latin, which is what was actually spoken by your average Roman. The formal Latin we learn in school was mostly used for writing.


      Thank you macossay. And for correcting the delusion some i fear have that your average roman spoke like a tombstone.


      Interesting! We were taught that classical Latin was "Golden Latin", while the Latin used later by the RC Church was "Silver Latin".


      we visited Barcelona and Catalonia recently and the Catatonia language appeared closer to Italian than Spanish, from what little i know of Italian.\


      Sure it is. Latin is the one and only substrate language of Italian. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vulgar_Latin#Grammar There you have some of the changes that occurred from Latin to Italian (+ to the other Romance languages).


      And i bet you've never used it since. I do hope that you pronounced it correctly just as the romans used to do


      could not 'salve' be translated as 'greetings' as well?


      I agree here. "Salve" seems too formal to simply be translated as "hello".


      My dictionary gave both hello and hi. Even I never say Hi (much). Too informal (and new).


      I put 'greetings' as well which is more formal in english then 'hello.'


      I concur and tried it. DL said no. I reported it. February 2020

      [deactivated user]

        And can you say "salvete" for plural?

        It would also be just like in Latin by the way.


        No, it doesn't change :)


        Was stupid enough to write 'Hail'....


        yeah - that's what i thought too. should be correct.


        when in a more formal situation, when you want to be extra polite.


        I heard it used to greet priests by the older people in Umbria.


        Is it apropiate to reply with "Ciao" ?


        My understanding is that salve is always used for those you would use Lei with and ciao is for those you would use tu with


        Hello is ciao. Salve means greetings.


        I guess "Hi there!" WAS just a bit too informal for this particular DL lesson...


        Can it also mean:"bye"? I heard some italians using it in that context


        The Latin equivalent of a farewell greeting was "Vale", if I remember correctly.


        Could be that I misheard it. Ty.


        I would like to know under what circumstances we would use salve as opposed to other forms of greeting we learned earlier.


        I didn't put the exclamation mark and was marked wrong. I didn't hear an exclamation mark and don't always use one when writing "Hello" in English.

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