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How did Latin become Castilian Spanish in Spain?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
none/ apprx Masters in Latin (language) & Greek (language), Lund University
Henry de la Cuesta said:

“Also, people “realise” that they are not really speaking Latin, and motivated by politics, not linguistics, name them after their identity:”

Now, this is actually a rather curious realisation. Most people in England don’t realise that they don’t speak the same English as Chaucer and as Shakespear. Especially as Shakespear. The spelling being identical hides the fact that the pronunciation, after the Great Vowel Shift, isn’t.

If the clergy in Mass had always pronounced Latin as the Romans did, the realisation would have come much sooner, wouldn’t it? In fact, in this[1] text

Nam et leonem et ursum interfeci ego servus tuus: erit igitur et Philisthaeus hic incircumcisus, quasi unus ex eis. Nunc vadam, et auferam opprobrium populi: quoniam quis est iste Philisthaeus incircumcisus, qui ausus est maledicere exercitui Dei viventis?

The spelling “ursum” would probably have been pronounced “oso”.

A little reconstitution of what it may have sounded like, before this realisation:

Na e león y oso interfece yo servos tuyos …

If you think this is exaggeration consider a Latin phrase from the Camino like “ultreya e suseya” and then try to spell this as Latin words. I get it to “ultrerior et surserior” or “ultrerius et surserius” - (su)RS as in sursum becomes the (su)S of suseya. RY as in the endings becomes Y.

So, the moment the Castilians realise that they are not speaking Latin, is the moment when they start to pronounce the letters ursum as ursum and not as oso.

This happens at the Council of Burgos. This took place in 1080.[2]


[1] Latin Vulgate Bible [I Kings, 17:9]
[2] Council of Burgos – Spanish Linguist

When did the infinitive ending “-en” start going out of fashion in English?

Answer requested by

Hans-Georg Lundahl
amateur linguist
After Chaucer, but before Shakespear.

Geoffrey Chaucer[1] (/ˈtʃɔːsər/; c. 1340s – 25 October 1400) was an English poet, author, and civil servant best known for The Canterbury Tales.[1]

William Shakespeare[2] (Baptised 26[a] April 1564 – 23 April 1616)[b] was an English playwright, poet and actor.

So, between 1400 and 1564 = within pretty specific 164 years. One big author between them was Malory.

Thomas Malory[3]
Born c. 1393 or 1425 England
Died c.1470 or later

So, if you can find out whether the ending is consistently used in Morte d’Arthur or not, you have narrowed the span down to the first or second half of the mentioned span of 164 years.

This is supposed to be from Caxton’s original preface[4] to Le Morte d’Arthur:

Then to proceed forth in this said book, which I direct unto all noble princes, lords and ladies, gentlemen or gentlewomen, that desire to read or hear read of the noble and joyous history of the great conqueror and excellent king, King Arthur, sometime king of this noble realm, then called Britain. I, William Caxton, simple person, present this book following, which I have emprised to imprint; and treateth of the noble acts, feats of arms of chivalry, prowess, hardiness, humanity, love, courtesy and very gentleness, with many wonderful histories and adventures.

If the people on wikisource have not modernised the forms, the printer in 1485 was already no longer using -en. This narrows the timespan down to 85 years, from the death of Chaucer to the printing by Caxton of Malory, between 1400 and 1485.

It is possible that it started going out of fashion before Chaucer died, but that -en was at the time still used by the older generation. Caxton, like Mallory / Malory, was born in the 1420’s.[5]


[1] Geoffrey Chaucer - Wikipedia
[2] William Shakespeare - Wikipedia
[3] Thomas Malory - Wikipedia
[4] Le Morte d'Arthur/Preface - Wikisource, the free online library
[5] William Caxton - Wikipedia