Latin Variants

Andrew Dunning andrew.dunning at
Fri Mar 11 14:54:39 CET 2016

Now that the Elfdalian conversation is dying down again, it’s probably a good time to address various points. My sense is that there is broad agreement that a Classical Latin variant could be meaningfully defined, but that the definition of medieval and modern/neo Latin may be too slippery for the time being. Am I correct in this assessment? If so, I will submit a new form for a ‘classlat’ (?) variant only. This would also broadly parallel Greek’s distinction between el/grc (I assume that the latter would be a subtag if redone today).

> On 11 Mar 2016, at 12:05 pm, Arthur Reutenauer <arthur.reutenauer at> wrote:
> On Sat, Feb 27, 2016 at 03:57:57PM +0000, Michael Everson wrote:
>> As a publisher of Latin I would be interested in options for i/j/u/v but the scheme you propose doesn’t seem to take this into account, being defined by period (which is problematic) rather than by orthography. 
>  I'm willing to submit registration forms for that.  According to your
> observations, that coincide with mine, there are three different common
> variants:
>> 1. Use of i for /i, j/ and u for /u, v/ throughout.
>> 2. Use of i for /i, j/ and u for /u/ and v for /v/.
>> 3. Use of i for /i/ and j for /j/ and u for /u/ and v for /v/.

Michael knows this, but for the record, in the first of these V rather than U is used in the majuscule (e.g. Veni, uidi, uici). Would these work better as script subtags rather than language variants? While j/v were only introduced in the late Middle Ages, any variant of Latin printed today can theoretically use one of these combinations (though one really only sees 1 and 3 in practice). This isn’t just a Latin thing, and also applies to premodern variants of Romance languages. (But the rules could historically be fluid, with v and j being used decoratively for a long time before they were used as consonants.)

On punctuation practices, one can add:

> On 27 Feb 2016, at 3:57 pm, Michael Everson <everson at> wrote:
> a. Use of capital letters at the beginnings of sentences and proper names
> b. Use of capital letters only for proper names

c. Use of capital letters only at the beginnings of sentences (a common medieval practice, but modern editors often normalize to add capitals to proper names).

> On 29 Feb 2016, at 3:29 am, John Cowan <cowan at> wrote:
>> How does la-GB differ from la-SE in the first place?
> Probably not much (except in pronunciation, which did come in national
> variants).

There are also differences in spelling and vocabulary. It’s different enough that there is both a _Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources_ and a _Glossarium till medeltidslatinet i Sverige_.

All best,


More information about the Ietf-languages mailing list