Why did so many Romans speak Greek?
What languages did they speak?
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What languages did they speak?
We learn Latin in school as "the" language of the ancient Romans. But weren't there other languages in ancient Rome that could be heard on the street? Isolde from Munich is interested in the languages of the ancient Romans.The Roman Empire had its greatest expansion around 117 - it stretched from the British Isles to Africa and stretched from the Iberian Peninsula to far into the Middle East.
The language that gradually spread throughout the empire was spoken Latin as the common people spoke it, not the written Latin of poets and philosophers. Because the Romans who conquered the countries and territories were simple soldiers. This is how the so-called "Vulgar Latin", the common everyday language, was spoken on the street.
Of course, as Latin spread across North Africa, Spain, and Gaul, it developed local differences. These emerged because the indigenous people living there had their own language habits, which flowed into Latin. But they also came from the fact that the Roman settlers themselves had different dialects. Finally, the Roman soldiers, merchants and peasants who settled in the provinces of the empire came from different parts of Italy and thus had certain dialectical peculiarities from home. So a North African, a Gallic and a Spanish form developed.
But even so, at the time of the collapse of the Roman Empire, the languages of Gaul and Spain were essentially the same. A Gaul and a Spaniard could communicate as well as a Bavarian and a North German.
Children and adults who enjoyed school and lessons from philosophers and teachers also learned written Latin and Greek, because Greek culture was considered something very special. So educated people could also read and write Latin and Greek.
From the spoken Latin, which was passed on from generation to generation and which was constantly evolving, gradually emerged the languages that are nowadays known as Romance: Spanish, French, Romanian or Italian.
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