Latin. The liveliest language in the world


It is the common platform for all Romance languages, it is the real network of Europe that owes the Roman Empire, it is a gigantic reservoir from which Germanic and Slavic languages also fish, a conceptual apparatus that favours communication between cultures… It is the Latin language. The most alive in the world. The most spoken in its historical transformations: 500 million through Spanish, 230 million with Portuguese, 100 million with French, 65 million with Italian, 35 million with Romanian… and you get to almost a billion people who “speak Latin”. Not only that. Even today East and West organize space in Latin; time is marked in Latin with the names of the months of the calendar; many words of law and religion, of economy and trade, of administration, of urban planning and of the most diverse techniques that Roman cultural colonization has spread throughout the world are Latin; and Latin roots have the most relevant terms of mass political ideologies, from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, that have influenced millions and millions of people.
In this “Dictionary of Latin. La rete comune d’Europa” (pp. 352, euro 19.50), Paolo Cesaretti and Edi Minguzzi, the first professor at the University of Bergamo, the second at the State University of Milan, already authors of the successful “Dictionary of Greek. Le parole dei nostri pensieri” (The words of our thoughts) always propose with the Scholé trademark – of Morcelliana – more than 900 words, grouped in about 300 entries linked by etymological affinities, chosen in the chronological span that goes from the VI century B.C. to the most recent formulations. Each term is reconstructed first of all through the primitive value etymology and examination of the historical-cultural context, then the evolution in space and time to the most recent results in modern languages (from tutor to mass media to privacy to sponsor); and also the meaning (sometimes surprising) that emerges from the comparison with the oldest “network” to which Latin belongs, that of the Indo-European languages of the origins (Sanskrit, Greek, Celtic, Germanic, Slavic languages); in some cases, through Latin even Etruscan people still live today. The recovery of the past thus becomes the means for a wider and more perceptive understanding of the present.
A precious work for those who love classical culture, without distinction of age and preparation, for those who know Latin or do not know it. And with an appendix that contains Latin expressions of common international use (to use “cum grano salis”), Anglo-Latinisms, etc.. A book that, from the cover image (with the map drawn by Sasha Trubetskoy, reproducing the most important Roman roads as the lines of a gigantic underground ideally built in 125 AD), returns that ‘immense network of relationships and communications constituted by Latin in the classical age, the basis of subsequent developments of European civilization and companion of our days.
Because, yes, as we read in “Memoirs of Hadrian” by Marguerite Yourcenar “In the smallest city, wherever there are magistrates intent on checking the weights of merchants, sweeping and illuminating the streets, to oppose anarchy, neglect, injustice, fear, interpreting the laws by the light of reason, there Rome will live. Rome will perish only with the last city of men.



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