THE ORIGINS OF VERNACUALR LANGUAGES
The following paper presents a brief history of the Latin language origin, providing a synopsis of the creation of the very first writing method that went through changes and how it spread out the world. In addition and where appropriate, it is indicated how Charlemagne had an influence on the continuity of Latin.
Even thought Latin is defined as a dead language and has no real future it has a long history. Latin was commonly used until the twelfth century by educated people, in literature and also in Christian churches in the Roman Empire. Its use went through many changes and took different forms depending on the people using it as a written or spoken purpose and also due to the influences of other surrounding oral communication. (Sayre, 2010) However, Latin was not the first language created by the human being and learning the birth of a written form help to understand where Latin comes from. The very first language was introduced back in 3,000 BC by the very first ancient civilization, the Sumerians. The Sumerians lived in Mesopotamia – modern Southern Iraq – and were an active economical population. Because of a need to record their production and trade was becoming a problem of memory they invented a form of recording using soft clay tablets with the slanted edge of a stylus humid argil and sharp tools to write signs down. Thus, the “cuneiform” which means “wedge-shape” was born and writing became a significant aspect of wealth, power and organization. With the time, Sumerians started to assemble signs in order to make sounds and developed and spoken language, which brought later on the use of letters and envelopes. Reading and writing cuneiform was tough to boys but rarely girls. Those who had that privilege were called the dubsar and became members of the upper-class. As cuneiform gained acceptance throughout the Middle East, it could be understood by all ethnic groups even though the groups spoke different languages and dialects. (Britishmuseum, n.d.) The Akkadians adopted it followed by Babylonians and Assyrians. The expansion of cuneiform outside Mesopotamia began during the 3rd millennium BC. While Elan – southwestern modern Iran - adopted it, the Hurrians adopted the Addadian cuneiform version to then pass it to the Hitties who had invaded Asia Minor. Thus, cuneiform spread out among the Middle East and became the universal medium of written communication. After the fell of Assyrian and Babylonian empires in the 7th and 6th centuries BC Aramaic which is the ancestor of Arabic and Hebrew, became the common language. Because of its non-alphabetic way of writing and the successfully introduction of the alphabetic system invented by the Phoenicians, Israelits and Greek, cuneiform lost its adepts and slowly disappeared. However, many priest and scholars kept using the writing form until the first century AD. (Burenhult , 1994) As the centuries go on, and because of many battles, invasions and influences from others cultures the spread of what was at the beginning the cuneiform, took many different aspects all around the world. The exact origin of Latin stays very vague but most of historians associate the birth of the language to the dialect spoken by the Latini people who lived in Latium, the region of central western Italy. In 753 BC, when the city of Rome was founded and grew to be the capital city of the Roman Empire Latin was the language spoken by several thousand of people in and near Rome. In a little over a century, the Latin Romans would fall under the Etruscan kings and thus, Latin’s evolution was affectively influenced by them. Later on, Latin was also affected by the Celtic migrations and their Northern Italy dialects and by the dominant culture of the Greek. Then its spread will quickly reach not only reach a large part of Italy but also a large portion of