Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

writers. Brodium we find in St. Gaudentius; testa, with the signifi. cation of capo, in Ausonius; camesia is recorded by St. Gerolonius; torta is to be found in the Vulgate ; cribellare in Palladium ; bramosus, grossus, bucca in St. Zenone; minare in Apulius,—whence the Ital. ian minare. Nanus is mentioned by Gelius; letamen is used by Pliny ; jornus and tonitrus appear in Seneca ; also, retornare, putilla, puta, strata, are frequently to be met with in early Latin writers. The cultivated classes of Rome would use esse, hyems, minae, pecutere; the lowest characters in Plautus say essere, vernus, ininacia, batuere. Bellus and russus, which we find in Catullus; and caballus, to be met with in Horace, were used by the plebeian to express pulcher rubens, and equus. Now all of these words were simply fragments of the ancient tongue of Italy, which afterward became modern Italian. It is certainly curious to observe, even, while they seemed to court corruption, in the form of their language, how fast the people held on to their dear old words. And so, when literary Rome arose, two distinct languages appear. The language of education became the language of the gentry, — the plebeian simply continued the talk of the old tongue.

When the barbarians thundered at the gates of Rome, these two languages still continued to exist, - as they had existed for centuries, side by side, – throughout the length and breadth of the Roman empire. As the invaders spread themselves over the country, the common people must have been brought in daily, hourly contact with them. The gentry, on the other hand, shut themselves up in their castles and strongholds, kept themselves to themselves, and rarely associated with the barbarians. Hence the intruder, if he was in

. clined to learn the language of the one, had very little opportunity to do so; the patois of the other he heard spoken almost every moment of the day. The accommodating forms of the vulgar speech made it much more easy to be expressed and understood. In the language of the gentry, most of the old inflections remained; and so the talk of the people owed its preservation to its weakness, while the grammatical forms of the language of classical Italy was the very cause of its decay.

Let us see what was the Latin of Italy in the Carta plenariæ se. curitatis, dated in the thirty-eighth year of Justinian. This, be it remembered, was only forty-five years after the death of Theodoric, the first of the Italian Gothic kings. Here we have an Italian vocabulary, Italian idiomatic phrases, Italian rules and construction, diametrically opposed to those of the Latin. Again, in this document prepositions are everywhere to be met with, fixing the signs of the case. Further,

we notice the employment of particles in the ablative absolute, singular, although preceded by nouns in the plural. Take the following extraordinary phrases : Arcas olearias duas valente siliqua una, and Casali Petroniano, fundi Saviliano. Here is a more extended quotation: “ Item notitia quod accipit supra scriptus Gratianus de domus quae sunt in diversis territoriis, et ex domo quae est ad Sanctæ Agathæ Rav. secundum fidem documenti, uncias duas ex domo quae est post basilica Sancti Victoris Rav. secundum fidem donationis ; uncias quatuor ex casa qui appelatur Casa-Nova Rav, territ secundum fidem donationis uncias quatuor ex fundi Saviliano, quod obvenit per donatione Gunderit uncias duas ex casale Petroniano," etc. Now all of this long extract might be translated into modern Italian without changing the position of a single word.

Among the curious documents that have reached down to our times is the Lombard code of laws. Let us see how it reads. In the enactments of Lutpraud, promulgated A. D. 724, we have the following; “Non reputetur culpa ad proprium dominum." What is that but Italian? “Non sia imputata la colpa al propio padrone?" Take this : Veruntamen non occidatur, nec si scematio corporis fiat.” Nothing more this but nondimeno non uccisa fia, ni lei scematio di corpo fia. Again the following occurs : “Fit traditus in manus de parentibus ipsius mulieris, nam non in manu mariti sui,” which in Italian would be, Sia tradito in mani de parenti delli moglie stessu non in mano del suo marito."

In one of these laws we find habeo as an auxiliary used precisely in the same manner as may be noticed in the laws of the twelve tables quoted before, and exactly as may be seen in some of the Neolatin languages to-day. In another of these acts we have: “ Hæc autem rei veritas, pervenit ad nos, quod quidem homo diabolo instigante dixisset ad servum alienum. Veni et occide dominum tuum et ego tibi habeo facere bonitatem quam volueris." The preamble goes on to say: “Feri eam et adhuc, nam si non faceris, ego te ferire habeo.

Certain notarial acts of this period, published by the learned Muratori, it would be impossible to fuliy comprehend without some knowledge of the Italian. Take the following, with dates attached : “ De uno latere corre via publica, et de alium latere est terrula Pesinnali plus menus modiorum dua,” etc. (Antiq. it med. ævi, t. iii., A. 730). “Usufructu de ipsas res et filio aut filia de conjuge mea Alder: ada abuero et ipsi sic persolvo in ipsa ecclesia . . . . et si ipsa con. juge super me vixere et lecto custodierit, avea medietate ipso usufructum" (Id., A. 763). “Persolvere debeamus tres urnas de vino,

” et uno porco tremesiale et uno berbice, similiter valente uno tre

66

misse” (Id., A. 776). The Italian of the last paper quoted is particularly to be noticed. We meet here the article uno precisely as it would be used to-day. In a donation cited by Muratori (Antiq. et dess, xxxi.), Charlemagne cedes to the church of Saint Anastesius in Sienna: “ La terra di Ansidonia.” Here we notice not only the defi. nite article la, but an entire Italian sentence, exactly as it would be expressed now.

There is a curious manuscript of the VIIIth century, entitled “Compositiones adtingenda musiva, pellas et ad deaurendum ferrum,” etc., to be found in one of the libraries of Lucca. This Muratori has inserted in his twenty-fourth dissertation, with the following remark: “Nusquam menini me videre monumentum serae antiquitates italicae vulgaris linguae frustulis tam saepe immixtum ; i. e., ejicis, at refridet, secundo quod, pro secundo che; cuse ipsas pellas pro cuci le stesse pelli ; laxas desicarre, pro lasci siccare; pone ad battere;" etc.

The following extract from this manuscript may not be uninteresting. Under the head, “De mosibum de argento," we have this sentence: “Mesibum de argento secondo quod superius exposuimus ita omnia facies.” In the chapter “De petalo auri” we have the following instructions : “Batte lacmina ..... et si una longa fuerit vel curta, per martellam adequator tam de latam quam de longam. De illi, -duas octo petiae fieri debent. Scaldate illo in foco batte, et tene illud cum tenalia ferea, sed tornatur de intro in foras.” One more extract, and we will close this part of our subjeet. In a document of the Xth century, also published by Muratori, we find this passage: “Da piede lo ponte della Liccia et da capite la Castellazzo ex latere la strada e lo Molino e lo Gargalo di Casa Luna, etc. Item damus vobis lo Piano della cerchis."

Now, it must not be forgotten that all this jumble was not intended for Italian, but Latin; not the first trying to express itself in the last, but the Latin trying to express itself in Latin. The vulgar spoken tongue, no doubt, was much more Italian than any of the documents we have given. Indeed it is said, in the reign of the Emperor Mauricius (A. D. 582–662), while a battle was waging, some one called out, Torna, torna, frater!" and the army took to flight. Now it is evi. dent from this that they must have spoken very good Italian in those days; and it does look as if the whole Roman army understood it.

But what could be more complete in a mixture of language than the extracts we have given above? Here, while we find more Italian than Latin, we have the Latin and Italian words in the same sentence,—the two different forms of declension and conjugation side by side. But was the language of Chaucer any better when the vernac

a

ular had already become English? Here we find both the English I and the Anglo-Saxon Ic, of, Gods gifte; of loves (in the last, both forms in the same word). The use of the article a, and sometimes the omission of it, even in his prose, where there was no necessity for omitting it ; the use of both the English and Anglo-Saxon future, both forms of the infinitive, etc. Is the language of Chaucer any more intelligible now to the general English reader?-nay, is it as intelligible as the Italian-Latin we have just been quoting would be to any Italian to-day? We doubt it.

In 1822, Mr. S. W. Singer edited the works of Chaucer. The first line of the works,- for the “Canterbury Tales " always come first, runs, as everybody knows, this wise:

“When Aprill with his showeres sote.” Now Mr. Singer, in the vocabulary attached to the works, says sote is a Saxon noun, and translates it soot. Could any ordinary English reader, unaided and unassisted, do any better than this, now?

It must be noticed in the extracts we have given of this Latin about to become Italian, that the prepositions in, de, con, appear to have a great deal to do, and that the inflections, under their influence, rapidly disappear. Indeed, there seems to be a tendency, as much as possible, to simplify the language. The sign of the Latin masculine nouns (s) is one of the first letters to to go. Next comes the substitution of habco as an auxiliary verb; volo, likewise, assisting in the same kind offices,—all of which may be seen in the ancient Latin inscriptions long before the classics appeared.

It will also be remembered in these extracts of Latin-Italian, or Italian-Latin,—whatever the language may be considered, -that all the principles of Italian grammar may be noticed. They hold a pretty full vocabulary besides. More may be found in other documents, certainly not more recent than the Xth century,—.g.: Unu, quatro, trenta, quaranta, cinquanta, conciare, cappare, viticella, rio, riba. riola, mulino, mulinaio, gronda, fontana, prato, pratanella, pantano, pantanello, strata, ambascia scotella capo, cambiare, favellare, causa rocca, botecha.

The origin of some of these words is curious. Ambacht, in the Gothic, is a servant. In the low Latin we have ambaria, ambactus, from whence ambassine, and our English ambassador. But the Italian still preserves in ambascia something of the original meaning of the word, by inference, in shortness of breath, the being out of breath, weariness, trouble, distress, anguish.

All of the Neolatin languages are homogeneous in their general character; they only differ in some forms and details, as each completed

its system apart. Those nearest to Rome, it would only be reasonable to suppose, should have the closest resemblance to the Latin and each other; but was it always so ? The natal homes of the Italian and Daco-Roman, or Wallachian, were widely divided; and yet the resemblance between them is something wonderful. Why might not that be? The fountain-source from which both sprung was identical. The province of Dacia, in the last days of the Roman empire, was completely cut off from Rome; yet the two languages remained one and the same, none the less.

The truth is, the Daco-Roman, like the modern Italian, came directly from the Roman patois; both were nothing more or less than the common vulgar speech, developed and purified. There can be no doubt that changes were left all over the face of the land, as invasion after invasion swept over it; but the two languages, in all of their most prominent features, remained the same. The barbarian might mar, but he could not make, the tongues of the people,—that had already been done, before he came.

It must be noticed, even in the most superficial comparison of the two, that when the Latin ceased to be the language of Italy, it had lost most in the elimination of its consonants. The middle ones, in all probability, were the first to go. P and c, when joined with t, were likewise rejected. Also m preceding n,--no doubt to save an effort in pronunciation. As a rule, whenever a consonant occasioned any difficulty, it was suppressed. The Latin diphthongs were replaced by single vowels. In the roots of the verbs of the second and third conjugation, the changes were considerable.

If the substitution of vowels for consonants was most frequent in these changes, there was an intrusion of consonants as well. One of the most eurious of all of these intrusions, however, is the o in the Latin vidua, whereby the word was brought back almost to Sanscrit, in which it appears as vid'ava.

L, of the Latin group pl and fl, was vocalized in the Italian. Instead of plaga, pluvia, pluma, and flamma of the Latin, the Italian has piaga, piova, or pioggia, piuma, and fiamma.

The hardest struggle the language seems to have had was for its pronunciation. Sometimes the rougher, northern elements would win, but it was not often. One evidence of a triumph appears in the tch pronunciation of ciclo and cibo. To northern influence the language owes the introduction of the letter d before g when the last is followed by e or i, as in gli. The same influence is apparent in certain verbs. Not infrequently we find the Teutonic hard g intruded between n and the final o of words, as, pongo, rimango, tango; or the g is doubled, as, seggo, traggo, etc.

« AnteriorContinuar »