Is Latin a Dead Language？
Benjamin Plackett 本杰明·普莱克特
The Latin language used to be spoken all over the Roman Empire. But no country officially speaks it now， at least not in its classic form. So， did Latin really peter out when the Roman Empire ceased to exist？
The answer to the question of when Latin， ancient Rome's language， died is a complicated one. There's no date in the annals of history to mark the end of Latin as a spoken language， and some would argue that's because it never really died.
The Vatican may still deliver some masses in Latin， but virtually no one in Italy is using Latin on a day-to-day basis. Nevertheless， this doesn't equate to the death of Latin， said Tim Pulju， a senior lecturer in linguistics and classics at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.
“Latin didn't really stop being spoken，”Pulju told Live Science. “It continued to be spoken natively by people in Italy， Gaul， Spain and elsewhere， but like all living languages， it changed over time.”
Crucially， the alterations to Latin were particular to the many different regions of the old Roman Empire， and over time these differences grew to create entirely new but closely related languages. Those new languages are what we now refer to as the Romance languages， which include French， Italian， Portuguese， Romanian and Spanish.
Such linguistic evolutions happen with every language. Take English， for example.“English has been spoken in England for over a millennium， but it has changed over time， as is obvious if you compare present-day English to Elizabethan English，as seen in Shakespeare，” Pulju said. “Elizabethan English， from about four centuries ago， is still mostly comprehensible to us， but Chaucer's English， dating from the 14th century， is much less so. And the English of‘Beowulf，’ from about the year 1000， is so different from modern English [it's] not comprehensible to us today.” But no one would say English is a dead language —it simply changed very gradually over a long period of time.
The only difference between English and Latin is that old English developed into modern English and modern English alone， whereas classical Latin diversified and gave rise to a number of different languages. That's why people tend to think， perhaps erroneously， of Latin as an extinct language.
Languages can go extinct， though; sometimes native speakers of a language all die， or over time their first language switches until eventually there are no fluent speakers left. UNESCO estimates that at least half of the world's 7，000 languages spoken today will be extinct before the end of this century.
So， when did Latin die？ It didn't，it simply evolved.