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New Latin

New Latin (or Neo-Latin) is a post-medieval version of Latin, now used primarily in International Scientific Vocabulary cladistics and systematics.

The term came into widespread use towards the end of the 1890s among linguists and scientists.

Classicists use the term "Neo-Latin" to describe the use of the Latin language for any purpose, scientific or literary, after the Renaissance (for which purpose they often use the date 1600), although, for example, the editors of the I Tatti Renaissance Library call their Renaissance Latin language texts Neo-Latin as well.

The binomial nomenclature and classification system for living things devised by Linnaeus is perhaps the most important body of neo-Latin text today, and the chief engine for the development of new Latinate vocabulary today. Important neo-Latin scientific works were written by Isaac Newton and Leibniz during the period; at least during the beginning of the neo-Latin period, scientific works meant to be read by an international audience were still written in Latin in order to address an international academic audience. By stark contrast, Krafft-Ebing couched portions of his Censored page in Latin, but this resort to Latin was a sort of cryptography designed to conceal descriptions of sexual practices from the unlearned: it was designed to shrink his readership, rather than expand it.

A large body of mostly theological work continued to be written in Latin by Roman Catholic writers. Up until the 1960s, Roman Catholic priests studied theology from Latin textbooks, even if the language of instruction in most seminaries was the local vernacular.

Literary work was done in Latin by John Milton, one of the last writers of any significant literary reputation to have written a large body of purely literary work in Latin. Other, later, authors, including Max Beerbohm and Arthur Rimbaud, have written Latin verse, but these texts have been either school exercises or occasional pieces. Various texts — usually children's books — have been translated into Latin in the twentieth century; these include:

These books, too, seem mostly to have been made as teaching tools or as learned stunts. Henry Beard has written a series of books on Latin for All Occasions that attempt to find Latin equivalents for contemporary catchphrases.

Compare: Latino sine flexione.

External links

  • Latin Abbreviations used in modern language.
  • Glossary of Latin Roots of Botanical Terms
  • Latin computer terminology - An example of the constant changes made in modern Latin.
  • A Lost Continent of Literature: The rise and fall of Neo-Latin, the universal language of the Renaissance. - An essay on Neo-Latin literature on the I Tatti Renaissance Library website.

Ages of Latin
—75 BC 75 BC – 1st c. 2nd c. – 8th c. 9th c. – 15th c. 15th c. - 17th c. 17th c. – present
Old Latin Golden Age Latin Silver Age Latin
(Classical Latin)
Late Latin Medieval Latin Humanist Latin New Latin

Last updated: 02-08-2005 14:34:03
Last updated: 02-20-2005 07:16:59