Changes of the latin language in aquitaine as reflected by the inscriptions

Krisztina Fodor
2009 Acta Antiqua Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae  
The aim of this study is to demonstrate what kind of changes took place in the Latin language in Aquitaine according to the inscriptions. All of the relevant inscriptions were examined up to this time, so we can form an opinion on the remarks made by József Herman, who was the first to deal with the development of the Latin of the Three Gauls in detail and who intended to write the history of this language. The categories of the computerized database are used for the analysis of the changes and
more » ... of the changes and some examples for the changes found are mentioned. Before presenting what kind of Vulgar Latin features appear in these inscriptions, we have to establish some important factors. Firstly, the number of the inscriptions preserved in the territory of the Three Gauls is very small compared to other Roman provinces. While Italy shows a value of 13 inscriptions/100 ha, Africa 12, Gallia Narbonensis 6.1, Aquitania and Lugdunensis show values of only 1.1 inscriptions, and Belgica a value of 1.9. 1 These low values are due to the extremely irregular distribution of the inscriptions. The density of the inscriptions, which is an index of Romanization, is influenced by various factors. Firstly, there are geographical factors, especially mountains and river valleys, which had an effect on the distribution. Concentrations of inscriptions tend to be larger in river valleys, as in the Rhône valley, but there are very few inscriptions in the mountains, which had been areas of low population in every period. 2 The second major factor seems to have been the Roman communication system. Towns, which were situated at key points on the road network, and usually were administrative and cultural centres, produced much more inscriptions than other towns of similar size with fewer connecting roads and those of less importance. 3 Thirdly, the Roman colonial and military establishment accounts for many of the details of the distributions. 4 Along the line of the frontiers, the concentration of inscriptions is larger than in the demilitarized areas. Furthermore, it is important to emphasize some general facts concerning the Latin language of Gaul. First and foremost, because of the paucity of the people represented in inscriptions we cannot draw conclusions from the grammatical mistakes regarding the everyday usage of Latin in the whole population of Gaul. We are only able to inspect what kind of changes took place in the spoken Latin in the background of the texts. In addition, Celtic dialects that were spoken by the inhabitants co-existed with Latin and as a result a different kind of bilingualism could develop here. It is possible that the use of Latin and Celtic was functionally separated in a community: Celtic was used at home and in private life, while Latin was the language of administration. 5 In one of his articles, József Herman describes the characteristics of the Latin in Gaul: he states that consonants were relatively stable, while vowels were quite apt to change. 6 He also claims that the changes of the vowels e and i are more frequent in this province than in the others, but the changes of the vowels o and u are rare and isolated compared to the changes of e and i. Moreover, Gaul preceded the other regions since here not only the vowels in unstressed syllables were subject to change, but also those in stressed syllables. 7 The omission of final consonants, especially m, s, t is comparatively rare here, although it was general elsewhere. The inconsistent use of the consonants b and v is almost non-existent in 1
doi:10.1556/aant.49.2009.1.5 fatcat:wn7bbke6eje45ovb3a56yplxem