Latin Variants

Andrew Dunning andrew.dunning at
Mon Feb 22 11:12:15 CET 2016


1. Name of requester: Andrew Dunning
2. E-mail address of requester: andrew.dunning at
3. Records Requested:

   Type: variant
   Subtag: classic
   Description: Classical Latin
   Prefix: la
   Comments: Latin dialects up to approximately the third century.

   Type: variant
   Subtag: medieval
   Description: Medieval Latin
   Prefix: la
   Comments: Latin dialects from approximately the fourth to fifteenth centuries.

   Type: variant
   Subtag: neo
   Description: Neo-Latin
   Description: New Latin
   Description: Modern Latin
   Prefix: la
   Comments: Latin dialects from c.1500 to the present.

4. Intended meaning of the subtag:

   Classification of Latin variants, which differ in spelling, hyphenation practices, and vocabulary.

5. Reference to published description of the language (book or article):

   * Clackson, James, ed. 2011. *A Companion to the Latin Language*. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell. doi:10.1002/9781444343397.

   * Glare, P.G.W., ed. 2012. *Oxford Latin Dictionary*. 2nd ed. 2 vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

   * Knight, Sarah, and Stefan Tilg, eds. 2015. *The Oxford Handbook of Neo-Latin*. Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199948178.001.0001.

   * Latham, R.E., D.R. Howlett, and R.K. Ashdowne, eds. 1975–2013. *Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources*. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

   * Mantello, Frank Anthony Carl, and A. G. Rigg, eds. 1996. *Medieval Latin: An Introduction and Bibliographical Guide*. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press.

   * Niermeyer, J.F., and C. van de Kieft. 2002. *Mediae Latinitatis lexicon minus*. Edited by J.W.J. Burgers. Rev. ed. 2 vols. Leiden: Brill.

   * Wheelock, Frederic M, and Richard A LaFleur. 2011. *Wheelock’s Latin*. 7th ed. New York: Collins.

6. Any other relevant information:

   There are several different ways of classifying Latin variants. Clackson (2011) provides Archaic and Old Latin; Classical Latin; Late Latin; Medieval Latin; Neo-Latin. Mantello and Rigg (1996) categorize authors as Ancient; Late Antique; Medieval; Renaissance. Wheelock and LaFleur (2011) suggest Archaic; Late Republican and Augustan; Post-Augustan; Patristic; Medieval; Renaissance to the Present. A case could hence be made for creating tags covering five to seven variants, but given that a division is only made between Ancient and Modern Greek in the registry (grc and el), this may be excessive.

   For simplicity, I have for now proposed only three common variants. The practicality of treating Latin prior to the third century as a single entity has been established by dictionaries such as Glare (2012), and medieval Latin by Niermeyer and van de Kieft (2002). The division of Classical Latin, Medieval Latin, and Neo-Latin is found, for example, in Knight and Tilg (2015), and scholarship tends to fall along these lines. These broader divisions also provide the most practical benefit in language tagging. For example, many words were introduced in late and medieval Latin that should be rejected by a spelling checker for classical Latin; and it is only in Neo-Latin that the letters v and j were consistently introduced. TeX provides separate hyphenation patterns for classical and medieval/modern Latin.

   Tagging according to region also allows for further categorization of medieval and modern Latin. The language of a dictionary such as Latham et al. (1975–2013), covering Anglo-Latin of the Middle Ages, would thus be described through the tag la-GB-medieval.

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