Time changes and as everything around us evolves, even our language undergoes the same evolution. In our daily routine we use English words, our vocabulary is updating day by day, but today I would like to concentrate on how at least we Italians, still keep our old linguistic roots alive!
By this I mean that nowadays we still use Latin words or expressions such as: carpe diem, curriculum vitae, alias, Deo gratias,etc., which have an Italian equivalent. But my question is: Why do we do that? If no one speaks Latin anymore in our daily basis?!?
Do we do that to show others how intellectual we Italians can be? Or because those specific Latin words or expressions really mean what we want to say?
To help me solve what we may call this little «mystery» of mine, since my curiosity keeps getting ahead of me, I had an interesting conversation with one of my dearest friends about it, we have been knowing each other since many many years ;). He is an Italian, Latin, History and Geography professor and he is also qualified to teach Greek; he lives in one small and beautiful town of the South of Italy named Mesoraca and I asked him his opinion in order to compare our points of view and of course to learn more from an expert like him. His name is Francesco Grano and here I report his explanation:
He says that we use those Latin words or expressions because they are “linguistic fossils“, some of which of a cultured matrix that by time spread in our daily talk. Many of them are common sayings that we have never forgotten, because they are present in our historical and linguistic memory, such as : sic et simpliciter (thus and simply), ex abrupto (without preparation),etc. Some are coming from the literary tradition like the famous latinisms that are still used in literature nowadays; these belong to the courtly lexicon of poets and prose writers. Others are cultured quotes repeated by heart as well as present in the works of who preceeded us (for example “carpe diem“/seize the day/ by Horace, “alea iacta est” quote /the dice has been thrown/ by Cesar and so on.). They have a various continuity.
I loved reading his messages! To know so many things is fascinating! But what I loved most was the quote he began with: “If you think well Italian is Latin!”. So it makes me think that we have a huge cultural and linguistic baggage that we will always take with us.
A special thanks is dedicated to my wonderful friend Francesco Grano, who is just not a cultured professor but he is a beautiful and warm heartful human being!
I hope you enjoyed this article!