Medieval Latin - Changes in orthography

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Medieval Latin - Changes in orthography

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Excerpt from Wikipedia (Medieval Latin article):

Changes in orthography

The most striking differences between classical and medieval Latin are found in orthography. Some of the most frequently occurring differences are:

* The diphthong ae is usually collapsed and simply written as e (or e caudata, ę); for example, puellae might be written puelle (or puellę). The same happens with the diphthong oe, for example in pena, Edipus, from poena, Oedipus. This feature is already found on coin-inscriptions of the fourth century (e.g. reipublice for reipublicae). Conversely an original "e" in Classical Latin was often represented by "ae" or "oe" (e.g. "aecclesia" and "coena" )
* Because of a severe decline of the knowledge of Greek, in loanwords and foreign names from or transmitted through Greek, y and i might be used more or less interchangeably: Ysidorus, Egiptus, from Isidorus, Aegyptus. This is also found in pure Latin words: ocius ('more swiftly') appears as ocyus and silva as sylva, this last being a form which survived into the eighteenth century and so became embedded in modern botanical Latin.
* h might be lost, so that habere becomes abere, or mihi becomes mi (the latter also occurred in Classical Latin); or, mihi may be written michi, indicating the h came to be pronounced as k, which is its pronunciation even today in Ecclesiastical Latin[citation needed] (this pronunciation is not found in Classical Latin).
* The loss of h in pronunciation also led to the addition of h in writing where it did not previously belong, especially in the vicinity of r, such as chorona for corona, a tendency also sometimes seen in Classical Latin.
* -ti- before a vowel is often written as -ci-, so that divitiae becomes diviciae (or divicie), tertius becomes tercius, vitium vicium.
* The combination mn might have another plosive inserted, so that alumnus becomes alumpnus, somnus sompnus.
* Single consonants were often doubled, or vice versa, so that tranquillitas becomes tranquilitas and Africa becomes Affrica.
* vi, especially in verbs in the perfect tense, might be lost, so that novisse becomes nosse (this occurred in Classical Latin as well but was more frequent in Medieval Latin).

These orthographical differences were often due to changes in pronunciation or, as in the last example, morphology, which authors reflected in their writing. By the 16th century, Erasmus complained that speakers from different countries were unable to understand each other's form of Latin.[2]

The gradual change of Latin did not escape the notice of contemporaries. Petrarch, writing in the 14th century, complained about this linguistic "decline", which helped fuel his general dissatisfaction with his own era.