I recently became very intrigued about the development of the Romance languages. While surfing around, I came across this very interesting interview:
(Unfortunately, if you can’t understand Spanish, you’ll miss out on it. I’m not a linguist, so I don’t know how “traditional” linguists would respond to all the points Carme Jiménez Huertas*, philologist specialized in linguistics, makes.)
This then led me to post on latindiscussion.com
The more I questioned and raised points, the unhappier some people got – especially those that didn’t have answers to many points I was raising. The moderator apparently became very unnerved and quickly moved to censor my participation. No questions allowed, obviously.
From what I remember reading, Latin is considered to have ceased being the natural language of the people around the 6th-8th centuries, depending on regions.
I think this is the opposite of what happened.
The Roman conquest of the Iberian peninsula is ridiculously late. It would seem to me that the “vulgarization of Latin” theory that is told is exactly the opposite of what happened. Latin died out (classical and vulgar) because it never was the autochthonous language to begin with, it was never the language spoken by the majority of the people – it just influenced the multiple variations already in place of older Romance languages.
Nothing explains the profound syntactic differences between Latin and the Romance languages. Especially to claim that people who are very disconnected from each other in terms of communication and cultural practices (like Portugal and Southern Italy) are all going to effect these profound syntactic changes **at the same time** spontaneously.
See more here:
the syntax of the Romance languages in many fundamental ways does not match Latin AT ALL, BUT it is very similar across all Romance languages. Obviously, this blows a hole the size of a crater in the theory that says that Romance languages are DERIVED from Latin. They cannot be, simply cannot be.
Aquilina New Member
You actually think so?
You think it’s much more likely that these languages-despite their incredible similarity to Latin- simply popped out of nowhere? Of course the countries had a different language BEFORE the romans invaded them, but they didn’t keep it. Just like North Italy today talks Italian, not German, because Austria lost it to the Italians.
There is a small village, all right, where they talk more German, and in the past they wore blue aprons, to show they didn’t want to be part of Italy. It’s a funny dialect though, quite hard to understand.
In England it was similar. even though English is not a romance language, it got mixed up and now you got TWO words for just about anything. One that is close to Latin and the other is close to German
libertas – liberty/freedom – Freiheit
and if you look at the other romance languages you’ll find this:
libertas – libertad – libertà – liberté
If you study a few you’ll realize that there is actually a pattern.
Words, that in Latin end in -as will end in -ad in Spanish, their Italian ending is -à, their French is -é
even the conjugations are related
Latin Fench Latin French
ego sum je suis nos sumus nous sommes
tu es tu es vos estis vous etes
ea est elle est eae sunt ells sont
Look at the irregular verbs in Italian and -sure enough- they are the same as in Latin.
ex: Latin Italian
to open, opened aperire, aperta aprire, aperta (although you’d think it’s “aprito”)
to laugh, laughed ridere, risa ridere, risa
(I used the feminine form of the participle, in case you wonder why there is always the -a at the end. It just fits better with Italian)
Even the syntax doesn’t change that much.
Latin: Te amo. Italian: Ti amo.
When it DOES change it is usually due to the fact that the Italian langage uses a “the” (il/la/l’), “a” (un/una) and praepositions which make the declension of nouns unnecessary.
Marcus Elenae florem dat.
Marcus dà un fiore a Elena.
So if you take all this into account I think it’s safe to say that Latin kind of “evolved ” to form the romance languages.
It seems very unlikely that the languages resemble each other so much without being derived from Latin.
It’s true that grammar and syntax of Romance languages are utterly different from Latin, but I’d also find it hard to believe that such a resemblance in vocabulary and part of the conjugation be possible if they didn’t come from Latin.
Now even admitting there would have been another language common to all the Latin/Romance area, which would have been very influenced by Latin with regards to vocabulary and conjugation but not for the rest, how could such a widely spoken language have left no trace whatsoever, not an inscription, nothing, while we do have traces of both Latin and various regional languages spoken in the same areas and that survived along with Latin here and there for some time, even influencing the regional Latin, before they got overcome by it? We would have traces of those regional languages, and no trace of a common one spoken over such a wide area?
Last edited by Pacis puella, Sunday at 6:20 AM
In my experience, those who reject evidence and evidence based, empirical, approaches tend not so much to be the kind persuaded by reason. Conspiracy theories and pseuda historia are a matter of belief, often national feeling, and not logic. Waste not your words.
Indeed, a load of wishful and magical thinking (or should I say poppycock?) by a person who studied Catalan philology at the university of UOC, had only two semesters of Latin, two semesters of the history of Catalan, and can be considered an authority on the subject just as much as students in gymnasiums are here. I don’t see them writing notorius books though.
I am normally rather fond of magical thinkingbut not in this case. Romance, however we define it, or reconstruct its history, is obviously derived from Latin
Latin in something reasonably close to her Classical form survived in Church use for many centuries after her vulgar form had degenerated, which meant that people in western Europe heard it and to an extent interacted with it on at least a weekly basis, and those whose mother tongues were of Latin origin would have probably had some risidual understanding of it reinforced by their constant exposure to it in that context.
That said, however, it is still quite a mystery how Vulgar Latin devolved along such similar lines across the far flung remains of a fallen empire with a fast degenerating infrastructure. I have always thought that the total dissappearance of the mediopassive in all regions without exception were very difficult to explain on any model.
Last edited by Abbatissæ Scriptor, Sunday at 12:34 PM
From the little I know, the same question can be asked about where is all the written proof that Latin was changing into all the major Romance languages from the 4th to the 8th century? There is none. Isn’t all we have just Latin? Your theory goes like this: in the 4th century, there was Latin; in the 8th, there was old Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, French. So we should have plenty of written records, century by century, of this exact transformation. There aren’t.
In my lay opinion, this more ancient Romance language had already morphed into dozens of its variations all through the Western European region in the first centuries of the first millennium. Because of geographic isolation, you would already have various geographic variations of this much older Romance Mother tongue, variations like we have today: Portuguese, Spanish, Italian. Except that at that time (the first centuries), there were many more variations; each little region was always developing their own language that was based on this older Mother Romance language (side by side with other languages, like Basque). The political and cultural divisions were much, much smaller than today. These multiple cultures and languages suffered unification into the major languages we know today much later. And it doesn’t mean that this older Mother Romance language at some point in its past doesn’t join its roots with an even older Western European mother language (including something Latinish). If I remember correctly, what we call the Latin language originated (coalesced into what we call old Latin) in a relatively small part of Italy. And obviously Europe was full of other peoples already speaking their own local languages. Then the Romans come and they impose Latin from above.
If “vulgar Latin” was spoken by millions of people for the 4 or 5 centuries in question (4th to the 8th), it would seem that even though classical Latin was the official written language, that there would still be many people who for various reasons would record endless examples of vulgar Latin from the 4th to the 8th century, showing us how vulgar Latin magically transformed itself into all the major Romance languages we know of today. This doesn’t exist as far as I know.
Then, adopting vocabulary from another language is a process that is not so complicated, but changing several of the most fundamental syntactic mechanisms across populations that had very little contact with each other, no mass school system enforcing these changes – it simply doesn’t add up.
The theory that the Romans come and simply wipe out all these languages and cultures in a few centuries seems very questionable.
There may be no written evidence of an increasingly vulgarised Latin gradually loosing its morphology and being therefore forced to change its syntax, but there is no written record of this supposed alternative Romance Mother Tongue either. Colloquial dialects tend not to be written when literacy is very limited and closely bound to a formal litterary dialect, or if they are written will appear only as comic dialogue. In any case the idea of a parallel language being so very much like Latin at the level of its most basic vocabulary is very difficult to credit. Linguistic borrowing rarely extends to the most simple and basic of everyday words, and would never involve the vast majority of such words.
Ah, if only you had read what I wrote, you’d see that it has nothing to do with claiming that any language simply pops out of nowhere.
Your own example above works against your theory. Syntacticly, there are great, fundamental differences between the Latin and the Italian.
So it seems to me.
It’s sadly true that we have few traces of the real vulgar Latin for the reasons AS said, but we have a few hints to later Romance evolution here and there in inscriptions (and in some late authors); for a few examples, the confusion of cases – mainly ablative and accusative, with accusative absolutes etc. -, the increasing use of prepositions – ad + acc. instead of the dative, de + abl. or acc. instead of the genitive -, the loss of gender distinction in the relative pronouns – [female name] qui vixit annis… and such things aren’t rare in inscriptions -, various morphologic/orthographic (and so hints to pronunciation) changes, and even a trace of the new Romance future tense (coming from infinitive + habere) which supplanted the classical latin one – I remember one inscription that combines both this and a “normalized” form of the verb esse, in fact already the Italian one: quod sumus, essere habetis… “What we are (i.e. bones…), you have to be = you will be”.
Last edited by Pacis puella, Sunday at 6:03 PM
That’s not what Carme Jiménez Huertas says.
I don’t see why that would be, since we’re talking about the same geographic region.
Marcus Elenae florem dat.
Marcus dà un fiore a Elena.
In fact, regarding the example above, German, English, and all the Romance languages have the same syntax. But not Latin – it’s completely different than this entire group of geographically neighboring languages.
Much like what German linguists call a sprachbund.
In any case it is normal for a Language to loose syntactic freedom as it looses morphology and needs to rely on syntax to carry the burden of grammer; and when syntax needs to be limited to a set pattern, there are really not that many patters to choose from.
It’s what every reputable linguist says however. I’m all for mind shattering new theories like when we found the Indo-European language family, or oral theory, or were able to read hithero unreadable Italic documents and so on and forth…it has to be strongly evidence based.
What a lot of people don’t understand is that philology is empirical and predicative to the point where we’re able to decode and read new languages. I’m tired of petty arguments.
Also as for the Latin > Romance shift (talking to the sane people here) we do have rather a lot of evidence spread out. Firstly we have a good amount of Romans talking about their language(s) which is wonderful, we also have a LOT of colloquial Latin from around the empire. Everybody cites Pompeian graffiti and thinks that’s it. No, we have lots of stuff from Britain, as in letters, legal documents, curses and so on. Egypt is an absolute goldmine of actual Latin too. This isn’t mentioning scholia, literature with a colloquial bent etc either.
The only controversy is that linguists have traditionally been unwilling to examine substrata, creolisation and so on with connection to our western languages until recently so the traditional modern is Romance = modern Latin which is increasingly not being seen as the case. Rather they’re Latin derived, but there’s been a lot of input from their respective environments.
If you want some book recommendations I would recommend the following: J.N Adams “The Regional Diversification of Latin”. It’s a wonderful textbook, the most up to date. It also goes well with his other work on register and bilingualism (both important for the development of Latin); Dickey and Chahoud “Colloquial and Literary Latin” not as directly applicable but more approachable if you’re not 100% up on linguistics and doesn’t bombard you with sheer amount of evidence cited, its very much literary in orientation so that’s good.
Alessandra says: That’s not what Carme Jiménez Huertas says.==========
Lyceum says: It’s what every reputable linguist says however.
I don’t care about reputation in that sense that adulation by others is no guarantee of one’s ability to think or to question anything. I’d be more interested to know why she is saying what she says.
Is that all? Because, first, that is no evidence at all from Portugal, Spain, France, or Italy. You say there is evidence of colloquial Latin -something that was never questioned – but what evidence do you have that shows what you claim is the in-between stage of Latin and Portuguese or Spanish, for example? This in-between language would be neither Latin, nor Portuguese; neither Latin, nor Spanish – and it would only be spoken for a a few centuries. What book do you know of that specifically shows proof of this magical language transition all across Western Europe during the 4-th to 8th centuries? And why didn’t this same magical language transformation take place in Northern Africa, for example? Or in many other Latin/Roman conquered places? Did Egypt generate a language that is derived from Latin? Which language is that?
If I understand you and your claim correctly, you believe this profound and radical transformation of colloquial Latin spoken **everywhere** simply popped out of nowhere in the 4th century – for no discernible reason, without being imposed from above – and then, in many ways, it simply comes to an abrupt end four centuries later. For example, I, no specialist, can read many texts from 800 years ago in the Romance languages. That’s 800 years – no major radical change. And yet you claim there was a radical transformation of Latin **all around Europe** in three to five hundred years – while the official language imposed and stressed upon continues to be Latin! And then, in the Iberian Peninsula, for example, you have the same period of conquest from a people with another language (4 to 7 centuries). Why didn’t this same magical transformation of all the autochthonous languages take place generating new languages that were neither Latin, Romance, nor Arabic – but Arabic-derived? Languages which were 90% based on Arabic vocabulary?
Please continue addressing “the sane people here,” what you call sane notions are quite amusing.
English used to have a case system as well, and lost it as well, even later than Latin/Romance did.
And German still has a case system, so, though I don’t know it, I don’t think it has the same syntax as Romance languages.
Yes because clearly ones ability in an area is defined by adulation right? As for your other question, ineptitude is the most logical answer.
Sigh. Yes we have rather a lot of evidence from those places too. I don’t understand what you find magical about the transformation? languages change and the major changes in Latin, collapse of some dipthongs, simplification of the verbal system, prepositions replacing the need for case usage and so on are not only easily accounted for but quite common in all inflected languages throughout history. Also, if you really don’t know what happened to Egypt to keep there from being a modern spoken Romance language there well…you really have serious gaps in your general education.
Well clearly you don’t understand. Moreover, If you think there’s been no appreciable change in the Romance languages for the past 8 centuries…well I don’t know what to say, there is an appreciable change from the first Beneventine inscriptions to Dante to modern Italian, likewise from Old French to the modern vernacular. A passive intelligibility doesn’t mean there’s been no change. I can pick up and read Digenes Akritas without any medievalist training, doesn’t make it modern Greek.
No, what I call sane as notions corroborated by an unimaginable wealth of evidence constantly reviewed and challenged by several highly trained linguistics across several disciplines for a few centuries now. Please don’t confuse your lack of knowledge for some sort of…profound iconoclasm. In fact, I’ve cited two or three good books and there are several others out there, feel free. Or otherwise stop wasting everyone’s time.
It would be much easier to carry on here if we could know how Alessandra sees the relationship between Latin and Romance. Does she suppose them to be sister languages? If indeed they be sisters, by her analysis, how and when did they diverge, and how should we account for their similarities as well as their differences?
There has often been a clear confusion between ability and adulation, between being right and being capable of questioning what is blindly accepted as so.
Where? Could you point me to a book that chronicles all this evidence regarding a specific language. Let’s take Portuguese or Spanish. I asked you for such a book, and you refused to answer. You know of no such book then? There is nothing?
But why not? Your great thesis says this happened all at the same time for millions and millions of people! And yet, where is the evidence?
Why only Egypt? Let’s take every single conquered territory of the Romans – which according to your thesis must for no reason at all suddenly start to change profound syntactic mechanisms, in the same way, at the same time across an area of the size of Northern Africa.
Here you have a brief account of the Roman occupation of North Africa:
How many Romance languages developed from the “vulgar Latin” spoken all across North Africa – such as you claim is exactly what happened in Europe – and for no reason? You are right, you need to enlighten us. Which Romance languages evolved in Northern Africa out of the vulgar Latin there? Surely, you must know of one or two!
Ah, but I didn’t say there has been no change.
Such an unimaginable wealth of evidence and yet when I ask you for all this evidence, here’s what you say: “prepositions replacing the need for case usage and so on are not only easily accounted for.” Oh! So all you have is a tremendous wealth of imaginary evidence! Perhaps when you were referring to ability above, you meant a solid imaginary ability as well?
I took a quick look at “J.N Adams “The Regional Diversification of Latin”” and interestingly enough it has nothing of what I asked you for! I didn’t find a “whole wealth of evidence” chronicling this intermediary language you claim existed between Latin and and the Romance languages from 400 and 800 AD. If his book goes up to 600AD, and you claim it’s between 400 and 800 AD that all this Romance language transformation and creation took place – creating completely separate languages from Latin – it means that from 400 to 600 AD, that’s half the time of your Great Romance Language Creation Period. And yet what Adams basically talks about is Latin, Latin, and more Latin. Where is the interval language? Maybe you should read his book before recommending it!
Or did I misunderstand you? Is your great thesis that Portuguese, Spanish, French, and Italian were all created in 200 years, meaning from 600-800 AD, just like that? I’m sure you must have an even greater wealth of imaginary evidence that proves that!
Seems to me that it’s more logical to think of Latin as the Aunt, not the Mother. As to when, how, and why – that’s what I would like to know. As you can see, I’m not satisfied with all the imaginary evidence that is claimed for the “vulgar Latin is the Mother and it all happened in 400 years” theory. The gap between Latin and the Romance languages (even a lot of the old texts) is quite profound.
ETA: I guess one would have to have a better idea of all the local languages across Europe before the Roman conquest to start putting the puzzle together. What happened to these languages?
Last edited by Alessandra, Yesterday at 12:35 PM
Ah, but I never said all of these languages have the same syntax.
And I am yet to see any Romance language having the same case system as its touted Latin Mother language! As the wiki page says, Old English has more to do with classical Latin in terms of grammar than the Romance languages. Why would that be? Isn’t it curious? I don’t speak German, but it would be my guess that the “Latin” grammar of Old English comes from its Germanic grammar roots. Would this similar grammar in Old German have some kind of same root with Latin at some point in their pasts?
Another thing that is interesting is the period from 700-1400 AD regarding Old/Middle English because of the intense changes.
Last edited by Alessandra, Yesterday at 12:36 PM
You did… Here:
No Romance language has the same case system as Latin, no one will say the contrary. But it doesn’t mean they don’t come from it. I talked about Old English to give an example of another language which lost its case system, to show that the loss of case system from Latin to Romance languages was not something unseen elsewhere, since the same happened from old to modern English. So unless you also deny modern English comes from Old English, there’s nothing unique about a child language having a different syntax than its mother. On the other hand I think it’s impossible to have several languages with about 99% (way of speaking, I don’t know the exact percentage but it mustn’t be far from it) of their vocabulary obviously coming from a more ancient and common one, as is the case with Romance languages and Latin, without their directly descending from it.
Something strange also is that you seem bothered by the relative “lack of evidence”* from the period of transition from Latin to Romance, but you advocate for the existence of another common ancestor for which we have no evidence AT ALL, not a single trace!
* Though it’s true the remains of vulgar Latin are scarce because those who wrote the most were the educated, had literary pretentions and classical Latin was the written standard one tried to imitate more or less successfully, we do have traces of the changes. If you read an author like Cicero and then late authors, you see some changes and you see it gets closer on some points to romance languages. Then there are also inscriptions I’ve already talked about.
Last edited by Pacis puella, Yesterday at 1:55 PM
Alessandra dixit: ↑Ah, but I never said all of these languages have thesame syntax.
You did… Here:
Alessandra dixit: ↑In fact, regarding the example above, German, English, and all the Romance languages have the same syntax. But not Latin – it’s completely different than this entire group of geographically neighboring languages.
Oh heavens, PP, read the whole sentence. I’m referring to the sentence given in the example. In all the languages cited, the syntax is the same – for the sentence in the example!
Something strange also is that you seem bothered by the relative “lack of evidence”* from the period of transition from Latin to Romance, but you advocate for the existence of another common ancestor for which we have no evidence AT ALL, not a single trace!
In part because the transition period is the latest period. I don’t know what evidence exists for these dozens and dozens of ancient European languages. It seems clear to me that you don’t know either.
I found this very enlightening however – grand ol’ wiki comes to the rescue:
The broad term Vulgar Latin should not be confused with the more specific term Proto-Romance, which refers specifically to the theoretical common ancestor to the modern Romance languages, as such Proto-Romance may have been only one of the Vulgar Latin languages and only a very late stage of that language branch.
It cannot be supposed that the spoken language was a distinct and persistent language so that the citizens of Rome would be regarded as bilingual. Instead, Vulgar Latin is a blanket term covering the popular dialects and sociolects of the Latin language throughout its range from the hypothetical prisca latinitas of unknown or poorly remembered times in early Latium to the death of Latin after the fall of the empire.
Right there, this covers such a long period of time and a wide geographic area that the initial question that must be asked is: what are all these dialects and sociolects? This period is about 1000 years!
Around 200BC, you have dozens of languages spoken in Western Europe. Where was Vulgar Latin spoken then? Who spoke it? Between 200BC and 1AD, you have a great Roman expansion. So then you would have all these non-Latin languages competing with Latin. For some reason, all the local languages are completely abandoned with the arrival of the Romans conquerors? Only basque survived? Doesn’t it seem a bit weird? They say that citizens of Rome couldn’t be regarded as bilingual – but what about everyone else? Why didn’t the disappearance of the original language happen in so many other places that have had a similar occupation – including the Iberian Peninsula – which was conquered after the Romans? Why didn’t it happen in Africa?
There is also another point: I guess “Vulgar Latin” is used to refer to dozens and dozens languages (or sociolects) in so many different stages of development for such a long time, that I was thinking of the term in a much more restricted sense.
Last edited by Alessandra, Yesterday at 5:27 PM
You confess of not being an expert on the matter of Latin philology, but for some strange reason you have decided to blindly follow someone who has just as much classical training as high school students.
I am not sure whether you are even aware of the number of romance languages that died out.
These are just a few:
Then there is IstroRomanian which will most likely die out very soon, and some others, some extinct, some still alive that formed in the areas of the Roman Empire, about whom I doubt the author of the book you are quoting even heard anything, and even less studied enough to make a proper judgment:
You seem very fond of quoting wikipedia – so here you go – chapter on African Romance:
That book has more than 800 pages. Unless you have magical powers you won’t be able to find anything “by taking a quick look”.
And your “abundance of evidence” seems to amount to randomly chosen Wikipedia articles and a book by an author with very disputable knowledge and no credentials whatsoever.Matthaeus likes this.
This thread does seem to be going around in circles.
I have heard your position argued by an eminent scholar Alessandra, so I won’t dismiss it out of hand. If you want to carry out a reasoned discussion in this thread, however, you should provide concrete evidence supported by published references.
Alessandra New Member
Are you saying that I cannot ask any questions? In your view, asking a question is not part of a reasoned debate?
If you had actually looked at the Adams book that was referred to in the thread, it’s clear it doesn’t answer any of my questions. Perhaps this is why you say the thread is going around in circles. The people who claim to have the answers cannot provide them or sustain their arguments with concrete evidence supported by published references.
That is certainly not anything we can call “reasoned.” But it seems you just want to close down the questioning. In that case, any excuse will do.
Maybe you have missed the point of the post you quote – state and support with evidence. Otherwise this just seems like spamming with pseudotheories without any proper back up.
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Your actions in this message (when did latin die?) are not appropriate. I have heard your position argued by an academic whom I greatly respect, so I am very interested to hear any evidence you have for it. You do need, however, to present this evidence. Sweeping unsupported statements and references to Wikipedia do not count as evidence. Asking a question is acceptable, but at the moment your posts are closer to trolling.
Your account’s access may be limited based on these actions. Please keep this in mind when posting or using our site.
I don’t understand what evidence you want me to present. Could you clarify? I also have no idea what unsupported statements are you referring to that I cannot make here. It’s a little odd that Pixie made several referrals to wikipedia, but apparently you have no trouble with that. I guess the validity of evidence on wikipedia depends on who makes the reference…
Anyways, these are my latest thoughts:
Pixie says: “You confess of not being an expert on the matter of Latin philology, but for some strange reason you have decided to blindly follow someone who has just as much classical training as high school students.”
The reason is not strange at all. She is asking questions and pointing out problems with your theories that you can’t answer properly or not at all. So it’s not following blindly – it’s wanting answers that up to here, not only were you incapable of answering, but you have no extant evidence for most of what is called “Vulgar Latin” which is supposed to cover what, 1000-1500 years of language development?
“The broad term Vulgar Latin should not be confused with the more specific term Proto-Romance, which refers specifically to the theoretical common ancestor to the modern Romance languages, as such Proto-Romance may have been only one of the Vulgar Latin languages and only a very late stage of that language branch.”
That’s what I was basically doing.
Pixie says: “I am not sure whether you are even aware of the number of romance languages that died out. ”
Are you trying to make a point? What is it?
Pixie says: “Then there is IstroRomanian which will most likely die out very soon, and some others, some extinct, some still alive that formed in the areas of the Roman Empire, about whom I doubt the author of the book you are quoting even heard anything, and even less studied enough to make a proper judgment:”
Which judgment did she fail to make?
Pixie says: “That book has more than 800 pages. Unless you have magical powers you won’t be able to find anything “by taking a quick look”.”
If you had taken even a quick look at the book, you’d have noticed that it doesn’t even begin to present the full transformation going from Latin to Romance, it has a very limited focus on Latin.
Pixie says: “And your “abundance of evidence” seems to amount to randomly chosen Wikipedia articles and a book by an author with very disputable knowledge and no credentials whatsoever.”
Ah, but I never claimed to have an abundance of evidence – you did. And obviously you don’t have it.
Here’s how I see things after this exchange:
One of the problems is the concept of “mother” language. Because if you go from:
Latin -> Vulgar Latin -> Proto-Romance -> Romance
Latin is not the mother of Romance; it’s the great grand-mother. And, as far as the info I have seen, there is basically no extant evidence of most of this huge number of languages covering a very wide geographic area over centuries that are all called “Vulgar Latin. ” To the point that I wonder if many of these sociolects under this umbrella term had already changed so much that they should really be called something other than “Vulgar Latin.”
In the end, classic Latin became such a distant relative of Romance languages that to say that it functions as a mother or as an aunt language is the same thing.
And also, because you basically have no evidence of what Vulgar Latin was like, you have little idea of how it mixes with other languages and why one variant spreads one way or another, how long things take to change, etc. What you seem to have is evidence for classic Latin, and evidence for Romance. Vulgar Latin, very little. It’s these transitional languages that you are missing tons of evidence for.
To answer the initial OP question: Latin died out at various times at various places. “Vulgar Latin” obviously ceases to be Latin at different points. And that is even truer in the Romance languages stage. To say that Latin never died out because it lives on as Romance languages is ludicrous.
And someone asked what is this language that existed aside from classic Latin? Well, it seems that it’s “Vulgar Latin”! The question almost seems to be what Western European language isn’t considered Vulgar Latin?
It’s what PP asked:
“Now even admitting there would have been another language common to all the Latin/Romance area, which would have been very influenced by Latin with regards to vocabulary and conjugation but not for the rest, how could such a widely spoken language have left no trace whatsoever, not an inscription, nothing, while we do have traces of both Latin and various regional languages spoken in the same areas and that survived along with Latin here and there for some time, even influencing the regional Latin, before they got overcome by it? We would have traces of those regional languages, and no trace of a common one spoken over such a wide area?”
“It cannot be supposed that the spoken language was a distinct and persistent language so that the citizens of Rome would be regarded as bilingual. Instead, Vulgar Latin is a blanket term covering the popular dialects and sociolects of the Latin language throughout its range from the hypothetical prisca latinitas of unknown or poorly remembered times in early Latium to the death of Latin after the fall of the empire.”
So, if you are going to take every language development “spoken by the people” from 700 BC to 700 AD and call it “Vulgar Latin” and all of that is running in parallel to (classical) Latin – there’s your “common language” – but which in fact is a big bunch of languages. And there is very little trace of all these oral languages. In addition, only by knowing more of the spoken pre-Latin languages in Western Europe could you know how each and everyone of them affected “Vulgar Latin.” It seems there is basically no evidence of those. How many “Vulgar Latin” sociolects have both a mother and a father language?
Lastly, why, for example, do the major Romance languages use “guerra” for war, and not the classic Latin word? In the Iberian Peninsula, even? Does anyone know the answer?
(end of censored comment)
Pointing out how little evidence there is for all the languages the term “Vulgar Latin” is supposed to denote, how many things are not properly explained, and how many holes there are with so many claims was deemed a thought and speech crime – therefore it was censored.