HGL's F.B. writings : But I AM a Latinist · And a Controversial One at That, Sometimes · Assorted retorts from yahoo boards and elsewhere : Latin Spoken to When? Quora
- Where was Latin last spoken as the common language?
- Hans-Georg Lundahl
- I speak two langs, Latin and Germanic. In a few dialects.
- Answered just now
- 1) I take this question as referring to Latin rather than the commonly identified daughter languages.
- 2) I do not consider a dialectal diversity within spoken Latin as implying necessarily that Latin had been replaced by the daughter languages.
- 3) I would however consider the “generation shift” from Latin to daughter language has taken place when a speech as commonly heard is no longer identified as the spoken version of a text we would from spelling, conuugation, declinsion as so on roughly rather consider as Latin than any daughter language.
First places where it ceased to be spoken as day to day language were perhaps British Isles or Mauretania. There because of other languages (Celtic and Germanic or Berber and Semitic).
Next, France shifts pronunciation of Latin from popular pronunciation in 800 AD. From 813 it is evidenced that the new pronunciation was not understood, was not felt as a mother tongue. By 1000, the one spelling (Latin) of Gregory of Tours and his one pronunciation (still understood by the people up to 800) has been clearly replaced by two spellings and two pronunciations, both equally phonetic, and only the non-Latin one (old pronunciation and new spelling, compared to in before 800) understood by people who have not actively learned Latin as a school subject.
THEN the same shift happens a bit faster in Spain and Italy around 1200 : I think … wait, it seems the Council of Coyanza in 1055 did the same for Spain, or parts of Spain, as Alcuin did for France : introduce a reconstructed or old-new pronunciation of Latin from abroad.
Concilio de Coyanza - Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre
And the Council of Burgos was 1078 or 1080:
Erzbistum Burgos – Wikipedia
“Im 11. und 12. Jahrhundert fanden in Burgos zwei nationale Konzile statt, deren erstes (1078 oder 1080) sich mit der Einführung des römischen Ritus’ in Spanien anstelle des alten mozarabischen Ritus’ befasste.”
Latin writing surviving as spelling of spoken language rather than of a reconstructed pronunciation may have survived even longer than that in Provençal area.
One indication is that Dante in De Vulgari Eloquentia gave as Latin particle of affirmation “oc” - which is how “yes” is said in Provençal (compare “oïl” for French and “si” for Yspani).
One other is that the oldest Cathar ritual was in Latin - and in Latin incorrect enough to be an approximative spelling of spoken language. The Cathar ritual (incomplete) in fragment of Florence is a manuscript from 1235 - 50:
Heresy and Literacy, 1000-1530
published by Peter Biller,Anne Hudson, p. 48
And Dualist Heresy in the Middle Ages, Volume 10 M. Loos states that the faults in language show the ritual to be translated from Provençal.
Dualist Heresy in the Middle Ages, Volume 10
By M. Loos, p. 258
What if they were pronouncing roughly what we call Provençal and writing it in Latin?
If so, Occitan area of North Italy could be the last area where the generation shift occurred.
As to Romania, there was instead of Latin rather Church Slavonic or Greek or Turkish writing among those who wrote, meaning there was no written Latin keeping spoken Latin close to its sources from fairly early on. There the shift was other than in the West.
But there is one possibility of even later shift. Sicily, Corsica and Sardinia have conservative dialects, far from standard Italian. Linguists even consider Sardinian a language of its own (it could be including Corsican).
There may have been small places where the locals understood Latin better than Italian or of course French, and I don’t know for how long.
But, in the main, the shift is accomplished by 1200 and Provençal or Occitan area are the last. Or perhaps Galicia? The oldest text in Galician is actually not from Galicia itself, it is from Burgos, 1228:
O Foro do bo burgo de Castro Caldelas é o documento máis antigo escrito en galego que se coñece no territorio que actualmente constitúe Galiza, entregado en abril de 1228. Neste texto o rei Afonso IX de León outorga ós cidadáns desta vila os seus foros e regula o seu réxime.
This is the city charter of Burgos.
It starts :
Eu don Alfonso porla gratia de Deus Rey de Leon a vos omes [do boo Burgo?], assy aos presentes como aos que an de víír, et a vossos fillos et a toda vossa generacion faço karta de donacion et texto de firmidũe, et dou a vos foros en que sempre vivades.
Foro do bo burgo de Castro Caldelas - Wikipedia, a enciclopedia libre https://gl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foro_do_bo_burgo_de_Castro_Caldelas
But I don’t know how fast the newer pronunciation of Latin replaced the older one in Galicia.