Universiteit Leiden

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PhD project

Linguistic Contact in Italic Prehistory

The Latin language is a descendant of the widespread Indo-European family of languages. Recent ancient genetic studies have helped shed light on the likelihood that the Indo-European languages spread into a Europe that had already been populated by farmers for thousands of years.

Andrew Wigman

On its journey from its homeland on the Pontic-Caspian steppe to the Italian peninsula, Latin would have come into heavy contact with these peoples. We can apply what we know about inherited words in Latin to uncover which words Latin speakers borrowed from these non-Indo-European peoples. And by comparing the borrowed words in Latin to the borrowed words in other Indo-European languages, we can begin to understand the route that Latin speakers took to get to the Italian peninsula as well as what kind of languages they came into contact with along the way.

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