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The Vulgar Latin dialect that would later become Romanian diverged somewhat more from the other varieties, as it was largely cut off from the unifying influences in the western part of the Empire.
Latin was used as the language of international communication, scholarship, and science until well into the 18th century, when it began to be supplanted by vernaculars.
Ecclesiastical Latin remains the official language of the Holy See and the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.
By the late Roman Republic (75 BC), Old Latin had been standardised into Classical Latin.
Vulgar Latin was the colloquial form spoken during the same time and attested in inscriptions and the works of comic playwrights like Plautus and Terence.
Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant language, initially in Italy and subsequently throughout the Roman Empire.
Vulgar Latin developed into the Romance languages, such as Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, French, and Romanian.
A number of historical phases of the language have been recognised, each distinguished by subtle differences in vocabulary, usage, spelling, morphology, and syntax.
There are no hard and fast rules of classification; different scholars emphasise different features.
Despite dialectal variation, which is found in any widespread language, the languages of Spain, France, Portugal, and Italy retained a remarkable unity in phonological forms and developments, bolstered by the stabilising influence of their common Christian (Roman Catholic) culture.