Latin has changed through history, obviously, and many times the correct answer to a question is going to depend on which era the OP is talking about. What are the right high-level tags to describe the various major eras of Latin?

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    I read that as "You were the Latin language"
    – Nic
    Commented Feb 27, 2016 at 2:59

2 Answers 2


The following, primarily from Wikipedia, is now live on tag wikis of each era:

The primary eras of Latin, with approximate dates, are:

For the spoken Latin of the common people until the 6th century, use .

For changes in Latin within and especially across eras, use .

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    I feel like we also need a tag to encompass the era during which Latin was actively spoken versus when it was a dead language. I've used "classical Latin" as an umbrella term for that in my question, which groups the first three entries you give so that's likely to cause some confusion and require a fair amount of policing.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 22:30
  • @Lilienthal I think that usage will lead to confusion... I understood "classical" in that question narrowly, not broadly. I'd probably not tag such a question with one of these tags anyway, because that's more of a pedagogy question than a question about the actual language. Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 22:36
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    I should have been clearer: it's users like me, who use the term too broadly and are unaware of it's more narrow definition, that would pollute the tag which could confuse users who come across the tag later. The tag should probably be monitored closely to ensure that it's used correctly. At the very least the tag wikis should explictly mention the approximate date range.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 22:40
  • @Lilienthal Yes; definitely. As soon as we have users with enough rep to update excerpts we should do so. Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 22:42
  • @Lilienthal: So would you say dacrima was "classical"?
    – Cerberus Mod
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 4:55

There is a major oversight here. Between Old and Medieval Latin, there existed spoken Latin. Scholars are pretty clear than the language of Cicero and Caesar or, conversely, Seneca and Quintilian were of a written style we call Classical, but that's not what the common people spoke. The common Latin, called vulgar (from sermo vulgaris) or colloquial, is not a regional variation of the Latinity of the orators, but was the lived language and was concurrent with the literary style.

While many will probably come here because of questions of literary Latin (in fact, the overwhelming majority will), surely some will come here for spoken Latin of the Republic and early Principate, and already some questions have been asked about the Vulgate (guess how it got its name!). With that, I propose , with the initial date left off (so, "spoken Latin until the sixth century").

  • If it's an oversight, it was an intentional one; I see vulgar-latin as a worthwhile tag but not one that strictly fits in with the idea of "era" like these do. I see it as more similar to things like ecclesiastical-latin. See Should we tag geographical/contextual variations in Latin language, and if so, how? Commented Feb 27, 2016 at 0:37
  • I don't see how it cannot fit. Colloquial Latin strongly influenced late Classical but is independent from it. Why wouldn't it fit? Ecclesiastical Latin seems to me to be an entirely separate development.
    – cmw Mod
    Commented Feb 27, 2016 at 0:40
  • So... what's your suggestion? I have no objection to the creation of vulgar-latin with an excerpt like what you suggest. Are you suggesting something like "add a subbullet between 'late' and 'medieval' that says 'Vulgar (to 600) vulgar-latin' and apply to all relevant tag wikis"? Commented Feb 27, 2016 at 1:03
  • @Nathaniel I haven't thought about it too much, so I'm of course open to other suggestions, but I can't see your suggestion above hurting. Things never are that neat and clearly delineated.
    – cmw Mod
    Commented Feb 27, 2016 at 1:06
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    @Nathaniel I think C.M.Weimer is trying to say that if we're going to provide a guide to our tags (for example in tag wikis), then we should probably also mention [vulgar-latin], even if it doesn't fit neatly into the above scheme. I guess it could be separate, something like [•your, •list, •of, •tags, •by, •era] Also see [vulgar-latin] /* explanation */.
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Feb 27, 2016 at 8:16
  • I've updated new-latin (link) based on these suggestions. We can roll them out to the other tags if you think this is sufficient. Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 17:46

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