Early Latin and late Latin

Michèle FRUYT

University of Paris-Sorbonne (Paris 4)



11. Creation based on existing formations

11.1. Antiquarian authors

Late authors including and after Apuleius and Gellius in the 2nd century AD also enriched the Latin lexicon with new lexemes by extending the patterns already in use in previous periods, including the classical period. These new terms may faithfully reproduce the previous pattern, but some of them are different from the classical formations.

Apuleius, Gellius and, for different reasons, the Christian authors considerably developed the –tor M. agent nouns that were productive in early and classical Latin (Fruyt 2011-b: 159): dēpector (Apul. Apol. 74: litium depector ‘one who arranges discreditably’) is built on the synchronic radical of the infectum stem of the verb depeciscor ‘make a bargain’. Later on, Augustine coins deplorator ‘who complains’ (Aug. Serm. 83,6) on the infectum stem of deplorare ‘complain of’. Temerator (-toris M.) ‘one who violates’ was created in late Latin as an agentive noun for the verb temerare ‘violate, desecrate’ (Stat., Drac.).

Apuleius coins several feminine counterparts in –trīx (-trīcis) F. (Fruyt 2011-b: 159-160): inuentrīx and repertrix ‘inventor, discoverer’ (Apul. Apol. 18,6: paupertas …omnium artium repertrix), on repertory M. ‘inventor’ (Lucr., Sal., Var., Virg., Hor., Quint.). This –trīx formation was productive in the archaic period for lexicalised denominations of professions (nūtrīx) and it occurs in Plautus in some occasional coinages. But in the classical period, we find few new lexemes in -trīx. In the 1st century BC, on cantor M. ‘who sings’ (on the radical can- in canere) Varro coins cantrīx F. as an kind of adjective agreeing with the grammatical gender of auis F. ‘bird’ (Var. R. 3,5,14: aues cantrices ‘singing birds’).

Tertullian, who is the first to mention a specific Christian vocabulary, coined nouns in -tūra F. with a concrete meaning: inscriptūra (Tert. adv.Val. 30,1). Many of these were probably coined by Tertullian himself, but some must have already been in use within Christian circles. This –tūra formation had always been productive in the Latin language, from archaic to late Latin (> Fr. –ture / -ure), but due to the concrete and technical properties of the designata, it has a low frequency in classical texts, especially in poetry.

Classical Latin had only a few –bundus, -a, -um suffixed adjectives, while late Latin developed this group as a kind of present active participle with a durative meaning and therefore used some archaic words built with this suffix. Nonius mentioned dēplōrā-bundus ‘complaining bitterly’, built on the infectum stem of dēplōrā-re and used by Plautus (Pl. Aul. 317).

The –lentus adjectival group also acquired some new lexemes from the 2nd century AD onward, as well as the adjectival determinative compounds in negative in-, which had constituted one of the lexical characteristics of the poetical vocabulary since Ovid.

Many dē- preverbed verbs were coined in late Latin prose and poetry.

11.2. Late Latin hagiography

In very late Latin, such as the hagiographic texts recently published by Goullet (2014) in the Légendier de Turin, we find some new lexemes. But apart from some borrowings for new entities (from Gaulish and Germanic), they result from the mere application of the word-formation productive patterns. Thus they are re-actualisations within productive groups and their formation may be explained by the lexical means of the time.

While the adjective ūtēnsĭlis, -e ‘that can be made use of’ (Varr., Aug.) is built on the synchronic radical ūt- ‘use’ (in the infectum stem of the verb ūtor) with the –tilis / -silis/ adjectival suffix, the Passio Cyrici (Goullet 2014: 18, 129v, 5) used usitilia, built on the allomorphic radical ūs- of the past participle ūsus, -a, um with the suffix –(i)tilis perceived as an allomorph of the deverbal suffix –ĭlis. The pattern was: texere ‘weave’, p.p.p. textus ‘woven’, textĭlis ‘woven’.

In the same Passio Cyrici (18, 131r, 13), the state verb caldēre ‘be warm’ is built on the adjective calidus /caldus ‘warm’ according to the productive pattern albus ‘white’ ⇒ albēre ‘be white’. This new verb has the same denotation as the old calēre, built on the radical cal-, as well as the adjective calidus and the noun calor. The formation of the classical stative calēre ‘be warm’ on a radical cal- ‘warmth’ (which also functioned as a suffixation basis for the noun cal-or ‘warmth’ and the adjective cal-idus ‘warm’) was remodelled according to the productive means of the time: a de-adjectival verb.

In the Conversio Afrae (22, 159v, 2), we find the verb meretricari ‘be a meretrīx’, already in Aug. Psalm. 136,9. It was probably re-created here according to a pattern which had been constantly productive since early Latin: substantive denoting a profession ⇒ deponent verb meaning ‘practise this profession’. The pattern was ancilla ‘female servant’ ⇒ ancillārī ‘be a female servant’.

In the same Conversio Afrae (22, 159v, 4), prostibulum meant ‘brothel’. This spatial meaning concords with the use of –bulum as an instrumental suffix. The nearest word is stă-bulum ‘stable, stall’ associated with the radical st- and the verb stare. But in Plautus (Aul. 285), the term denotated a prostitute, and this was an isolated reference for a –bulum noun.

In the Passio Afrae (23,162r,5-6), lupanaria denotes the prostitute. This coinage was probably perceived as containing the productive profession suffix –ārius M. (carbō « charcoal » ⇒ carbōnārius « charcoal burner ») in the feminine –āria. The suffixation basis being lŭpānăr (-āris) Nt. ‘lupanar’ (Pl., Quint.), lupanaria could be analysed as lupanari-a. But a synchronic interpretation as an –aria suffixed word is probable, since the phonetic phenomenon of haplology was quite common in Latin (*lupān(āri-)āria > lupānāria, segmented as lupān-āria).

In the Passio Eugeniae (30,208r,7), signaculum displays an instrumental –culum suffix on the infectum stem of signāre, a denominative verb from signum, -i Nt. ‘sign’. Signā-culum ‘distinctive mark’ has one of the meanings of signum (cf. Pl., Am. for Iupiter’s hat). It is attested since Apuleius (‘seal’), Tertullian and Augustine. The pattern is umbrā-culum ‘shelter’ on umbrāre ‘make shade’ (⇐ umbra ‘shade’).

In the Passio Marinae (32,221r,8), concuba ‘concubine’ replaces concubīna ‘concubine’. It is built on the relational element con- / com- ‘with’ and the synchronic radical cub- associated with the infectum stem of cubāre ‘lie down’ (cf. °-cumbere). The –īna suffix was no longer productive. Therefore concuba was coined as an actualised agentive form according to the agentive pattern coquus / cocus ‘a cook’ and coquō ‘to cook’.

Vngula ‘bird’s claw’ has a metaphoric meaning for a torture instrument since Tertullian and Augustine. The –ā- denominative verb ungulare ‘manipulate the ungula’ (Passio Marinae 32,223v,2; 32,223v,6) is formed on the most productive denominative pattern in all periods of Latin.

Therefore even in very late Latin the lexical innovations are not totally innovative, but rather based on pre-existing patterns. A lexical reproduction using a pattern or a matrix is, by definition, at the same time a continuation and an innovation.

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