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Latin Alive: The Survival of Latin in English and the Romance Languages Paperback – 20 May 2010

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (20 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521734185
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521734189
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.1 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 947,478 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"Joseph Solodow, lecturer in Classics at Yale, joins the expanding ranks of scholars writing accessible histories of Latin, with his Latin Alive...the readers will be attracted by the mixture of perspectives, and the majority of readers will learn details they had not realized before....We can all read it with pleasure. " --BMCR

Book Description

Joseph Solodow tells the story of how Latin developed into modern French, Spanish, and Italian, and also deeply affected English. Offering a gripping narrative of language change, Solodow charts Latin's course from classical times to the modern era, with particular focus on the first millennium of the Common Era.

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Format: Paperback
This book is a veritable treasure trove for anyone who cares about the language(s) we use and seeks to understand the past that has made us. There are a number of excellent studies about on the history and subsequent course of the Latin language, in tandem with the Roman Empire and the Roman Catholic Church (Palmer's 1954 book and Nicholas Ostler's more recent work 'Ad Infinitum' are very helpful here), but this is the best and most detailed work for the so-called general reader that I know of to deal with the question of how Latin has come to shape the English language and how it gave birth to the main Romance languages studied in the Anglosphere: French, Spanish and Italian.
The work is marked by a clear historical progression in its treatment of the material: 1. the growth and spread of the Latin language (literary and Vulgar or popular Latin, the mother of the Romance languages); 2. the Romance vocabulary (how and why words came to shift in meaning and form in post-Empire western Europe); 3. common features in the grammar and sounds of the Romance languages and how these arose (many illuminating observations from the world of linguistics); 4. how the languages diverged, as witnessed in the earliest texts of French, Italian and Spanish.
It is not necessary to be a Latin specialist (increasingly a rara avis today) to appreciate this book, since many of the distinctive features of Latin and its grammar are explained in user-friendly language in part one. I enjoyed reading this book through in consecutive order (with its many diversions into etymologies, where I learnt something new on every page) but the book will also serve as a useful reference work, through its handy indices. Most students today will be studying Latin's grandchildren - and in particular French and Spanish - rather than the grandmother herself. This engagingly written book will show students how these languages came to be. It has its fingers on the pulses of both ages - and the old lady isn't dead!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars 23 reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something for All 24 Jun. 2010
By Amanda G - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Whether an introduction to linguistics, a refresher, or a reference, this book renders the intricacies of Latin's evolution with such clarity, such grace, and such attention to detail that I cannot imagine any work ever surpassing it. The book includes a general explanation of Latin's origins in Indo-European, provides a cursory examination of the Latin language itself and it's speakers' history, and finally explores the multifaceted relationship between Latin, the Romance languages, and English. There is no want for context, yet readers of all knowledge-levels will find that they are well served, neither bored nor left behind. Solodow has a gift for lucid explanations, and his mastery of the subject is evident from the start, but what makes this book particularly enjoyable - even for those who may not feel especially passionate about etymologies or Latin roots - is Solodow's charming sense of humor and the obvious care with which this book was researched and written. This is a veritable gift to the classics community, and a gem for anyone with an interest in language.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars splendid book 26 May 2010
By Jean - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a splendid book: beautifully written, erudite without being at all pendantic, and simply illuminating. It is a pleasure to read. It makes clear the rich variety of linguistic associations and changes that linked yet differentiated Latin, French, Spanish, and English; the book makes you understand and appreciate the living process of linguistic evolution in which we all participate. I've read many books on the history of English, French, and Latin, yet Solodow's work still provided many welcome new delightful factual tidbits as well as deeper insights. If you have any interest in language or history at all, read this book. It is not only fascinating, it is a charming and absorbing read.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Latin Alive 2 Jun. 2010
By C. Chauvigne - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Latin Alive by Professor Joseph Solodow is surely one of the best such work about Latin's influence and longevity to this day on English, French, Spanish and Italian. Latin Alive is indeed a remarkable compendium of research while its composition could not be better. The vast knowledge of Professor Solodow and his grasp of pertinent details with abundant litterary or colloquial examples are enlightened here and there with delightful touches of humour. The whole book is a pleasure to read and own. I only wish Professor Solodow would have included Portuguese in that gallery to show how Latin has sailed through times side by side with the rich Arabic input. Of course, that goes for Spanish too but one must limit the scope of any Great Story and Professor Solodow succeeds here very well.
C. Chauvigne, French Professor Emeritus
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Latin Teacher Must Read 10 July 2010
By katyred - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a Latin teacher I am grateful to have a resource that will better enable me to answer students' questions about Latin's transformation into the Romance languages. I particularly enjoyed the plethora of examples of words' transformations. As a Latinist who has studied Romance languages, I can't help but think this book's logical explanation of how verbs changed from Latin into Italian would have made my study of Italian immensely easier. I believe that this is a much have resource for Latin teachers.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All Roads Lead to Rome! 29 May 2013
By George T. Anagnost - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Prof. Solodow's Latin Alive is wholly "as advertised" and may be highly recommended to a wide audience of teachers, high school and college students, parents, history buffs, and anyone else inclined to look at European culture through the lens of language. His impressive connecting of Latin grammar, the evolution of the Romance Languages, and an array of anecdotes and examples of how Latin (classic and the common-spoken "vulgar") provide an excellent primer on linguistic structure and the dynamics of social change of the spoken word. His impressive command of history, language, and word origins is quite readable and entertaining. Almost like a "Da Vinci Code" novel, Prof. Solodow offers clues that leave one wanting to know more about Latin and its long pedigree into all of modern language. Why did a German auto engineer name his car the "Audi", why is cheese in Italian called formaggio?, what is the origin and meaning of the word "Canaveral" at the space center in Florida? How many of us know that the Hungarian Diet conducted proceedings in Latin as late as the year 1868? Great book, five stars!
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