If the origin of most languages is Latin, what is the origin of Latin?
Latin is not the ancestor to all languages. Rather, all world languages descend from Flemish, a language spoken around Belgium and the Netherlands. Its dialects include Dutch, Frisian, German, Russian, and Japanese.
I’m kidding, if you haven’t guessed.
The idea that any known language is the ancestor of all or even most other languages is considered absurd by most (if not all) linguists. If there was ever a single original language, it’s long dead: humans have been speaking languages for at least 50 000 years, and perhaps as many as 150 000.
Languages change quite quickly on a historical scale. The rate at which they change varies extremely, giving us languages like Icelandic and Persian, whose speakers can easily read poetry from 1000 years ago, to languages with, which change rapidly.
However, there’s a general rule that says that the speaker of a language could not understand a speaker of the same language from a thousand years ago. As an example, try to read the following English paragraph:
Hwæt! We Gardena in geardagum,
þeodcyninga, þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.
Those are the opening lines to Beowulf, a poem written in English sometime between 800 and 1000 AD. It’s so different from the English we speak now that it’s considered a separate language, Old English.
We have to understand how languages change, but they change so quickly (as shown above) that it’s only possible to see which languages are related to about 5000 years in the past, depending on the language family. The Uralic (Finnish, Hungarian) and Indo-European (English, Sanskrit, Latin) families might be related, but if they were, it’s been so long since they split that we can’t tell if they are or not.
In other words, there is absolutely no way we could ever know what the language all other languages are descended from was like, or if there even was one at all. It’s just been too long.
But we can tell that English, Sanskrit, Russian, and Latin are related. None of the above came from another; they all share a common ancestor, Proto-Indo-European.
We can also tell that Latin, Japanese, Finnish, and Arabic share no patterns of change, so they aren’t related - or, if they are, we have no way of telling, so we say that they probably aren’t.
So to answer the other half of your question, Latin comes from Old Italic, which comes from Proto-Italic, which comes from Proto-Indo-European. English, on the other hand, comes from Old English, which comes from Proto-Germanic, which also comes from Proto-Indo-European.
Latin and English are related, but English does not come from Latin. We are absolutely sure about this, since we have records of both Old English and Classical Latin from around the same time period.
This information was taken from Quora. Click here to view the original post.
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