Latin

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  • AWE has a page on the dead language spoken by the Romans in the times of the Roman Republic and Empire (i. e. from about 500 BCE to about 500 CE), and later in education and the (Roman Catholic) church - see Latin (language). Because of the far-reaching influence of Ancient Rome, many other meanings are derived from the name of the language. (This is similar to the many meanings derived from Rome or Roman itself: see, for example, Romance language family and romance.) Latin is usually used as implying a descent from the classical Roman civilization:
    • Since the division of the Roman Empire into two administrations, the eastern Empire, based in Constantinople and the western Empire based in Rome, the heirs, political, religious and cultural as well as genetic, of the eastern Empire have been called 'the Greeks', Greek having been the language of Byzantium; those of the western Empire being called 'the Latins'. These terms, Latin and Greek, became shorthand for the two sides of the Great (East-West) Schism, the Latins loyal to the then Latin-speaking Roman Catholic Church and the Greeks loyal to the Eastern Orthodox Church.
      • Before they went on to found the Latin kingdoms (County of Edessa, Principality of Antioch, Kingdom of Jerusalem (overlord of Galilee; Jaffa and Ascalon; Oultrejordain; Sidon; and Tripoli)), the Crusaders of the Fourth Crusade earned themselves obloquy by sacking Constantinope in 1204 under the local name of the Latins. They ruled lands taken from Constantinople under the name of the Latin Empire from 1204 to 1261.
                                      Do not confuse the Latin Empire with the Roman Empire 
    • the Latin peoples are those living on the western half of the northern shores of the Mediterranean Sea who speak Romance languages, such as the Spanish and Portuguese, the Italians and the French (particularly of southern France).
      • Such people have been regarded by old-fashioned Britons as being more emotional and less disciplined than Anglo-Saxons: they are said to have Latin temperaments, as well as the darker, olive-coloured skins that may be described as latin colouring.
    • More specifically, Latin America is that part of the American continent in which the dominant language is Spanish (for example Mexico, Cuba and Chile) or Portuguese (as in Brazil). So
      • Latin American dances are those (of a powerful rhythmic character, with sensuous steps and embraces) first developed in Latin America, such as the tango, habanera, rumba and samba.
    • In the United States, 'Latins' are mostly immigrants (without appropriate documents) from Mexico. These are so common that the words Latina (for a female) and Latino (for a male) have evolved to label individuals.
    • The sailing rig consisting of one triangular sail set on a high yard associated in British eyes with dhows is called a lateen rig. This is a representation of the French voile latine, 'latin sail'. Paradoxically, this rig appears to have been developed by Arabs, possibly in the Indian Ocean, and so refers to the eastern Mediterranean rather than the western half, which is that usually implied by 'Latin'
    • Latten is an alloy of copper and tin, used in the past as a cheaper substitute for brass.


Etymological note: The adjective (and noun) Latin was the name of the original inhabitants of the district of Italy known as Latium. This is now called, in Italian, Lazio, and is the name of one of the football teams in Italy's Serie a, or Championship (Premier) Division. Latium, itself is connected with latus, 'broad', which may refer to the region's geography being essentially that of a coastal and riverine plain. Its people before the dominance of Rome are best called the Latini.