Autor: Ivana Recmanová (School of European Languages, Culture and Society; University College London)


Languages, provided they are given enough time, keep evolving. Latin and Spanish are no exception apart from the fact that Latin died out centuries ago as a native tongue. This does not mean we cannot observe any traces it left – the birth of Romance languages that developed from Italic Latin and its history show the inheritance of Latin is present even nowadays within vocabulary, grammar and other aspects. In my essay, I will focus on the shift from Latin to Spanish and its following evolution until the present time with regards to morphosyntactic structures. Although Spanish is a descendant of Latin, it is much different to its ancestor in various aspects, such as parts of speech and declination. I will also discuss the grammatical changes from the points of view of the Constant Rate Hypothesis and Lloyd’s model based on analogy.

roman coins

The Reasons for The Change

Latin, the official language of the Roman Empire, spread into many colonies where it started its way in the form of various dialects that became Romance languages. With the decline of the Roman Empire, the official language became to decline. Although Latin continues to be used up to present days (and is the official language of the Vatican), there are no native speakers and the language is not evolving.

 

According to Jean Aitchison, all syntactic changes involve variation.1 According to the Constant Rate Hypothesis, syntactic variation, contrary to the phonetic one, occurs at the same rate all the time and does not mean switching from one form to another, but rather a presence of two competing forms with the identical meaning2 where one may finally prevail over the other.

 

Morphosyntactic changes are, as the name suggests, a product of changes within morphology and syntax. However, these aspects do stand alone with regards to the change – the examples that I will provide demonstrate that even phonetics and phonology play part in the process (such as apocope). Some of these changes are also affected by external acquisitions where specific derivational rules of another language may be applied, irrespective of the “regular“ patterns (for instance, the comparative mejor of the word bueno as opposed to other comparatives made up by “más“ and adjective).

 

Lloyd’s model applied for the explanation of morphological changes is based on analogy. It is described by this scheme:3

 

a/b : c/d

where a is a base word and b is a derived word in acquiring language, c is a base word and d is a derived word in acquired language. This means that the same change that affects the derivation from a to b also applies to c and d. However, there are more factors involved in the process of derivation that lead to a specific word and its deviation from the stem word. Two of these examples are phonetic and phonological changes, because even “ordinary sound change can produce ‘irregular‘ forms in a paradigm“.4

 

The Development of Articles in Spanish

Latin language has never possessed any articles although it used several demonstrative pronouns to denote familiarity and distance from speaker from the target audience. At first, there were three degrees: approximity to the speaker, proximity to the audience and distance from both the speaker and the audience (hic, haec, hoc; iste, ista, istud; ille, illa, illud). However, such system was simplified to a two-degree one and comprised only proximity to the speaker and distance from them.3 The actual Spanish definite articles (el, la, los, las) developed from Latin ille.4 The shift from ille to the current definite articles was not straightforward as we can see in MS Aemilianensis where elo functions as a definite article as well.5 Spanish also mandatorily makes contractions between a and el and de and el leading to al and del respectively. Although such contractions are not based on Latin, we can suppose they take place for reasons related to phonological economy, quite similar to the apocope that shortened elo to el and una to un for a short period.

 

With regards to Spanish indefinite articles (un, una, unos, unas), we can see an evolution from Latin unus and unas meaning “some“. Initially, Spanish applied apocope for the feminine indefinite article if it preceded a word beginning with a vowel.6 Nowadays, no apocope is applied in this respect. These indefinite articles used to be extended to negative constructions where they are not placed in Modern Spanish.7

 

From the aforementioned examples, we can conclude that the tendency in Spanish has been to replace Latin demonstratives ille, illa and illud and to contract and shorten articles with the exception of indefinite articles that also disappeared from negative constructions as their function is not significant there.

 

Allomorphs and Inflectional Suffixes

Although Modern Spanish has preserved several allomorphs within irregular verbs (for instance, morir, tener or decir), older versions of Spanish possessed even more of them. “The flection inherited from Latin coexisted with analogical forms“10, such as andide, anduve and andove. Some verb conjugations even comprised of eight forms.11 Some phonetic changes, mostly syncopes and apocopes, were applied to such Spanish verbs, such as asconder (from abscondere), beber (from bibere) or comer (from comedere).12

 

The ancestors of the Spanish future-tense conjugations, called analytic Romance future tense, appear in MS Aemilianensis (kaderat and tardarsan).13 The conditional mood started appearing perhaps in the 13th century, which is observable from Calila e Dimna where its several forms, for example avería, detenermeía or morría, emerge.14

 

The perfect tense in Late Latin acquired the suffix –ai (or its allomorphs  –ui and –i)15 that could have been the basis of the current Spanish past perfect tense where suffix –í takes place in the first person singular for regular verbs that end with –ir or –er in the infinitive.

 

Late Latin declensions were reduced to three16 therefore it is not surprising that, within this new system, the functions of several cases merged. This is clear from Gómez-Moreno whose letter lists examples such as “umum atmancio nostro“ where is no distinction between accusative and dative cases.17 Penny explains that “the fact that the number of prepositions was larger than that of case-endings meant that prepositions performed this function more efficiently and the case-endings became mere redundant exponents of values better expressed by accompanying prepositions“.18 Again, this can be demonstrated by another example from Gómez-Moreno’s letter, “de tvo anvlo, de fibola“ where the original genitive, dative and ablative cases are represented by prepositions.19 Although the cases are no longer present in Spanish grammar, Latin ancestry can still be found, for example in the days of the week.20

 

From the examples mentioned above, we can observe the presence of several competing forms of some verbs where only one of them actually prevailed. This conforms to the Constant Rate Hypothesis, but it also complements the analogy model quite well, because the similar suffixes that were applied in Latin conjugations exist even in Spanish. However, they are not exactly the same for they have undergone several phonetic and phonological changes. The evolution of nouns led to the reduction of cases where the cases firstly merged and then, in competition with prepositional phrases, became redundant.

 

Word Order

Various sources show that the word order of early Spanish was different to the current one. “The vulgar order preferred putting together modified and modifying words. /…/ Through a slow process, the hyperbaton started disappearing in the spoken language.“22 Apart from that, complementisers were originally inserted between verbs and adjectives,23  but they were omitted in the 15th century as Memoirs of Doña Leonor López de Córdoba show.24 Later development led to verb-subject order19 and quantifiers preceding verbs.25

 

However, there was no unique word order, which can be proved by a letter found in Gómez-Moreno. In the letter, sentences as “ut tibi fraudem non faciant“ and “ut ajvtet ibi unum quina de siriola“ demonstrate the inconsistency of the positions of objects; in the first case, both objects precede the verb whereas the second example shows that both objects follow after the verb.26 Another example from the same source is represented by contrasting “uide illas tegolas“ and “illas cupas collige calas“ where the objects are placed inconsistently.27 Because cases were still present in the language, it did not complicate the meaning of the utterances.

 

The memoirs also show economical expressions that were, compared to Modern Spanish, considerably reduced. In the example I mentioned before, a complementiser denoting object was omitted. However, we can find an example of such a complementiser in the same texts (“aquel mi fijo, que le decian”) although “que” is used in this context instead of nowadays accepted “a quien”.28 Other syntactic contractions may be found in the preamble to Diccionario de Autoridades where conditional potasis is applied (“à no tener un fomento tan elevado”)29 as well as gerund constructions (“contribuyendo mucho para ello” or “haviendo sido Don Sebastian de Covarrubias el priméro”) instead of subordinate clauses.30

 

First two examples of the word order (Gómez-Moreno and the memoirs) conform to the Constant Rate Hypothesis in the sense that there were competing forms of the word order and the presence of complementisers, whilst the last example (Diccionario de Autoridades), compared to Modern Spanish, shows that despite the phrases were economically contracted, Modern Spanish has prolonged them with complementisers.

 

Conclusion

The shift from Latin to Spanish resulted in various morphosyntactic changes. While they were in agreement with Constant Rate Hypothesis they were also affected by other factors, such as phonological changes (apocope and articles and verb conjugations). The analogy model succeeds in the case of verb conjugations, but not where the evolution led to simplification (cases). This shows the morphosyntactic changes led not only to analogic forms, but also to the redundancy of several grammatical features or their emergence where necessary to avoid ambiguity (prepositional phrases and articles).

 

Bibliografie

  • AITCHISON, Jane. Language Change: Progress or Decay?. 1. vyd. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. ISBN 9781107678927
  • LAPESA, Rafael. Historia de la Lengua Español. 1. vyd. Madrid: Biblioteca Románica Hispánica, 1965. ISBN 8424900723
  • LLOYD, Paul M. From Latin to Spanish: Volume 1, Historical Phonology and Morphology of the Spanish Language. 1. vyd. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1987. ISBN 0871691736
  • PENNY, Ralph. A History of the Spanish Language. 1. vyd. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. ISBN 0521011841
  • POUNTAIN, Christopher J. A History of the Spanish Language Through Texts. 1. vyd. Londýn: Routledge, 2001. ISBN 0203186052

 

Apendix

A text from Gómez-Moreno:

[domno] paulo faustinus saluto tvam

[claritat]em et rogo te domne et comodo consu

[etum es]t facere ut per te ipsut oliballa quollige

[incell]a ut ipsos manicipios jn jva iemento

[peter]e debeas ut tibi fraudem non fa

[cian]t illas cupas collige calas

 

[r]ecortices et sigilla de tuo anvlo et uide

[il]las tegolas cara tritas svnt de fibola quo

[m]odo ego ipsas demisi illum meracium manda

[d]e tiliata uenire ut ajvtet ibi unum quina

et unum atmancio nostro

de siriola pesitula at illa ammica tua oris dirige prodi esto sic

tus custudiat

 

MS Aemilianensis:

Adtendat [katet] unusquisque [qui cataqui] ne munera accipiendo alterius causam malam faciat suam penam si jnjuste judicaverit; accipe pecunie lucrum et jncurrit [kaderat] anime detrimentum. Non se circumueniat qui talis est [non e cuempetet elo vamne en iui]; jn illo enim jmpletur quod scriptum est: jn quo judicio judiocaveritis judicavimini. Forsitam [alquieras] quando jsta predicamus aliqui contra nos jrascuntur hoc jmplere dissimulant [tardar an por jnplire]; jpsi sacerdotes, presuiteres et dicones talia plura conmittunt [tales muito fazen]; et quidam, frates, alicotiens [alquandra beces] uerum est, quod pejus est. Nam aliqui clerici et jnebriari se solent, et causas jnjuste subuertere [tran tornare] et jn festiuitatibus causas dicere et litigare non erubescunt [non e bergudian tramare]. Set num [certe] quid toti condemnandi sunt…

Saluatoris precepta jnsinuo [joca tigo]…qui et nobis tribuat libenter [voluntaria] audire quod predicamus…adjubante domino nostro Jhesu Christo cui est honor et jmperium cum patre et Spiritu Sancto jn secula seculorum [conoajutorio de nue tro dueno, dueno Christo, dueno Salbatore, qual dueno get ena honore, equal duenno tienet ela mandatjone cono Patre, cono Spiritu Sancto, eno ieculo dulo ieculos. Facano Deu omnipotes tal erbitjo fere ke denante ela ua face gaudio o egamus. Amen.]

 

Calila et Dimna:

Et yo, después que me gardé de non creer las cosas de qur non era segoro de non caer en peligro de muerte, dexéme de todas las cosas dubdosas et metíme en fazer pesquisas de las leyes [et] en buscar las más derechas. Et non fallé en ninguno de aquellos noc quien yo fablé esto buena respuesta, quel yo (non) deviese creer. Et dixe en mi coraçón: “Tengo por seso, pues así es, de obligar ala ley de míos padres.“

Pero fue busacando si avería aesto alguna escusaçión e non la fallé. Et membróme el dicho de un omne que comía feo e era tragón, e dixéronle que comía mal e feo, et él dixo: “Así comían mis padres e mis abuelos.“

Et non fallé ninguna escusaçión porque non deviese fincar en la ley del padre, et quíseme dexar de todo e meterme a fazer pesquisas de las leyes et preguntar por ellas e estudiar en ellas. Et estorvóme la fin que es çerca e la muerte que acaesçe tan aína como cerrar el ojo e abrirlo. Et abía fechas algunas obras que non sabríaa si eran buenas, onde por aventura mientra me trabajase de pesquerir las leyes detenermeía de fazer algunt bien, et morría ante que viese lo que quería.

 

Memoirs of Doña Leonor López de Córdoba:

Yo abie grande devocion en estas palabras, rezaba cada noche esta Oracion, rogando à Dios me quisiese librar á mi, y á mis fijos, é si alguno obiese de llevar, llebase el mayor por que era mui doliente; é plugo á Dios que una noche no fallaba quien velase aquel Mozo Doliente, por que havian muerto todos los que hasta entonzes le havian velado, é vino á mi aquel mi fijo, que le decian Juan Fernandez de Henestrosa, como su Abuelo, que era de hedad de doze años, y quatro meses é dixome: Señora no ay quien vele á Alonso estanoche? É dijele: Velarlo vos por Amor de Dios, y respondiome: Señora agora que hán muerto Otros quereis que me mate? É yo dixele: por la Caridad que yo fago, Dios habrá piedad de mi, é mi hijo por no salir de mi mandamiento lo fué á velar, é por mis pecados aquella noche y el enfermo vivió despues haviendo muerto todos los dichos; é Doña Theresa, muger de Don Alfonso Fernandez mi Primo hubo mui gran enojo, por que moria mi fijo por tal Ocacion en su Casa, y la muerte en la Voca lo mandaba sacar de ella, y y estaba tan traspasada de pesar, que no podia hablar del corrimiento que aquellos Señores me hacian; y el trieste de mi hijo dezia; decid á mi Señora Doña Theresa que no me haga echar que agora saldrá mi anima para el Cielo, y aquella noche falleció, y se enterró en Santa Maria La Ccoronada, que es en la Villa.

 

Diccionario de Autoridades:

Como basa y fundamento de este Diccionario, se han puesto los Autóres que ha parecido á la Académia han tratado la Léngua Españóla noc la mayor propiedád y elegáncia: conociendose por ellos su buen juício, claridad y proporción, noc cuyas autoridades están afianzadas las voces, y aun algunas, que por no practicadas se ignorá la notícia de ellas, y las que no están en uso, pues aunque son própias de la Léngua Españóla, el olvido y mundaza de términos y voces, noc la variedád de los tiempos, las ha hecho yá incultas y despreciables: como igualmente ha sucedido en las Lénguas Toscana y Francesa, que cada día se han pulido y pefecionado mas? Contribuyendo mucho para ello los Diccionarios y Vocabularios, que de estos Idiómas se han dado à la estampa, y en lo que han trabajado tantas doctas Académias: sobre lo que es bien reparable, que haviendo sido Don Sebastian de Covarrubias el priméro que se decidó àeste nobilissimo estúdio, en que los extrangéros siguiendole se han adelantado noc tanta diligéncia y esmero, sea la Nación Españóla la última à la pefección del Diccionario de su Léngua: y sin duda no pudiera llegar à un fin tan grande à no tener un formento tan elevado como el de su Augusto Monarcha.

 

Notes

AITCHISON, Jean. Language Change: Progress or Decay?. 1. vyd. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. ISBN 9781107678927, 99.

2 Ibid., 110.

LLOYD, Paul M. From Latin to Spanish: Volume 1, Historical Phonology and Morphology of the Spanish Language. 1. vyd. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1987. ISBN 0871691736, str. 58.

Ibid., 61.

Ibid., 158.

Ibid.

7 POUNTAIN, Christopher J. A History of the Spanish Language Through Texts. 1. vyd. Londýn: Routledge, 2001. ISBN 0203186052 , 24.

8 LLOYD, Paul M. From Latin to Spanish: Volume 1, Historical Phonology and Morphology of the Spanish Language. 1. vyd. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1987. ISBN 0871691736, 284-285.

PENNY, Ralph. A History of the Spanish Language. 1. vyd. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. ISBN 0521011841, 178.

10 LAPESA, Rafael. Historia de la Lengua Español. 1. vyd. Madrid: Biblioteca Románica Hispánica, 1965. ISBN 8424900723, 150.

11 Ibid., 151.

12 LLOYD, Paul M. From Latin to Spanish: Volume 1, Historical Phonology and Morphology of the Spanish Language. 1st edition Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1987. ISBN 0871691736, 284-285.

13 POUNTAIN, Christopher J. A History of the Spanish Language Through Texts. 1. vyd. Londýn: Routledge, 2001. ISBN 0203186052, 24-27.

14 LLOYD, Paul M. From Latin to Spanish: Volume 1, Historical Phonology and Morphology of the Spanish Language. 1st edition. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1987. ISBN 0871691736, 155-156.

15 POUNTAIN, Christopher J. A History of the Spanish Language Through Texts. 1. vyd. Londýn: Routledge, 2001. ISBN 0203186052, 17-18.

16  PENNY, Ralph. A History of the Spanish Language. 1. vyd. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. ISBN 0521011841, 116.

17 Ibid.

18 Ibid., 54-56.

19 LLOYD, Paul M. From Latin to Spanish: Volume 1, Historical Phonology and Morphology of the Spanish Language. 1st edition. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1987. ISBN 0871691736, 160.

20 LAPESA, Rafael. Historia de la Lengua Español. 1. vyd. Madrid: Biblioteca Románica Hispánica, 1965. ISBN 8424900723,  53.

21 Ibid.

22 LLOYD, Paul M. From Latin to Spanish: Volume 1, Historical Phonology and Morphology of the Spanish Language. 1. vyd. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1987. ISBN 0871691736, 276.

23 POUNTAIN, Christopher J. A History of the Spanish Language Through Texts. 1st edition. London: Routledge, 2001. ISBN 0203186052, 101-102.

24 LAPESA, Rafael. Historia de la Lengua Español. 1. vyd. Madrid: Biblioteca Románica Hispánica, 1965. ISBN 8424900723, 152.

25 Ibid., 154.

26 POUNTAIN, Christopher J. A History of the Spanish Language Through Texts. 1. vyd. Londýn: Routledge, 2001. ISBN 0203186052, 17-18.

27 Ibid., 101-102.

28 Ibid., 171-172.

29 Ibid.

30 Ibid.