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Languages and Poems of the 12th Century Lingua latina est mater linguarum europae – Latin is the mother language of all European languages. Due to the conquests of the Roman Empire, Latin acquired the international language status and kept it until the fall of the Western Roman Empire…
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Download file to see previous pages Another strong reason of degradation of Latin in the 12th century was associated with the emergence of unitary nations. The 12th century was the era of national development, the basis of which was laid by the previous evolution of feudalism, especially within its last period, when the distinctions between towns and villages became sharper; there was a rapid growth of crafts, trade; and when migration of people broke the isolated nature of separate feudal states. New national cultures, that required unity and full understanding of all members of new societies, could not just preserve the former language practice with its bilingualism, fragmented local dialects and dead literary language. In contrast to the linguistic fragmentation of the feudal period, a language unity throughout a nation was required, and that common language could not be dead, it had to be capable of flexible and rapid development (Ruhlen, 1996). Three major problems, related to languages, appeared: 1) creation and development of vernacular languages; 2) studying and mastering different languages ??on an international scale; 3) review of the Ancient linguistic heritage (Greenberg, 1972). At different peoples the process of formation of nations and vernacular languages ??progressed at different epochs and environments, at different speed and with different results. It depended primarily on the intensity of growth and decay of feudal relations in a country, composition of its population and its geographical range. A significant role in the process belonged to lines of communication and cross-cultural companionship: so, maritime states (Italy, Holland, Spain and later on France and England) entered the path of transformations first (Baldi, 1983). The first eminent herald of the Latin language downfall in literature was Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), who wrote the book of poems Vita nuova (The New Life,1290), dedicated to beloved Beatrice, in Italian, not Latin, and later defended the use of the new national language in the Latin tractate De vulgari eloquentia (On the Eloquence of Vernacular) and Italian II convivio (The Banquet), where he wrote that out of one thousand people who know Latin, only one is wise, others just use their knowledge seeking money and honors. So, he wrote not in Latin but in Italian, as it was not the language of chosen ones but of the vast majority. According to Dante, the vernacular language was nobler than Latin, as it was natural and Latin - artificial. The Divine Comedy by Dante, Petrarch’s sonnets and The Decameron by Boccaccio, are a brilliant proof of the convenience and superiority of the new national language (Wendell, 1980). In the new vernacular language the records of the great journeys of Columbus and Vespucci were written. A philosopher Giordano Bruno and Galileo, a scientist, also switched from Latin to the national language. Galileo, defending his position, said that he saw no necessity in Latin books and works, as an ordinary person with a good native wit could not read them anyway. He also stated that by no means all technical trade terms could be expressed in Latin; at the same time even the worst artisans and peasants knew that terminology in the national lang ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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