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In the roman empire did north africa speak latin?

Did people in north africa speak latin under roman empire? Also did israelites speak latin when israel was under roman rule? A specific answer would help, since I am doing something on the influence of latin.

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  • 9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Latin was the language of the western half of the empire, including north Africa. How deeply it had soaked into the local population would depend on exactly where, when, and what social class of person you're talking about. Upper classes "Romanized" more thoroughly and earlier than anyone else, and some areas Romanized more thoroughly than others. John Ashtone's answer that most ordinary folks continued to speak their local languages is true for Britain, but Britain was a pretty isolated backwater of the Empire and Romanization was always pretty superficial there. If you look at Gaul or Spain, Latin was used pretty thoroughly by all social classes by the end of the empire - that's why Spanish and French are Romance languages rather than Celtic.

    Africa, I'm pretty sure, was more like Gaul than Britain. It was much more of a core province of the empire. If you read Augustine's Confessions from 395 AD, even though his mother seems to have been more of an ordinary African woman (even her name is Punic rather than Roman), he makes no reference whatsoever to any language barriers or to Latin being a "foreign" language he had to learn at school (though he says that people noticed his African accent when he went to Italy).

    In the eastern empire, Latin was the language of government only. Educated people spoke Greek. Local languages were much more persistent than in the west, especially because they had literate elites and written traditions of their own - Coptic in Egypt, etc. Hardly anyone was saying "Israelites" any more in the Roman period unless they were quoting the Hebrew scriptures, the inhabitants of Jerusalem were "Judaeans" (from which we get "Jews"). Hebrew was the language of the scriptures for them but on the street they mostly spoke Aramaic, or Greek if they were more upper-class.

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    As a generality, Brainstorm has the closest answer. Latin was used for admin across the Roman Empire, and as long as you, the local person, acknowledged that Rome was the greatest you could carry on using your local language among friends and family. So indeed Latin was widely spoken in North Africa in Roman times, as were local languages. In days when most people were illiterate you only have the records of the literate conquerors to go by, so 'specific' is not a word you can reallly use.

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    The Romans conquered a lot of different people who spoke a wide variety of languages. They imposed their own language, Latin, across the empire as the language of administration and the lingua franca. In North Africa Latin would've been used for administration. It was probably also spoken by Roman settlers and by the more Romanized inhabitants of the area, i.e. in cities. But many people probably continued to speak their native Berber languages, just like the did before and after Roman rule. The same thing probably applied in Israel. Latin being used for official purposes, while the common people speaking whatever Semitic language they spoke at the time. Think of it like the British Empire- in the British colonies of Africa and Asia English was the language of administration but most people spoke local languages in everyday life.

  • 9 years ago

    You need to be specific about the dates. Rome conquered north Africa's most important city state ,Carthage, in 146 BC so until then the Carthaginians would have spoken Phoenician. After the fall of Carthage then yes, the Romans would have indoctrinated the populace to speak Latin. No, the Israelites definitely did not speak Latin. Though some were interpreters, the Israelites never accepted the language or customs of the Romans.

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  • ?
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    Only when dealing with the Romans, most areas within the Empire kept their local Languages, hence when the Romans left Britannia little Latin remained it was mostly Celtic Languages until the Anglo Saxon invasions.

    North Africa and the Middle East were the same.

  • ?
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    The Roman Empire had a great linguistic divide. In the West - Italia, Illyria, Gaul, Britannia, Hispania, Germania, Mauretania, Africa (that meant roughly Tunisia in those days) - they spoke Latin.

    In the East - Achaea, Dacia, Asia, Pontus, Syria, Judea, Aegyptus - they spoke Greek.

    Of course, local languages survived - and in most cases merged with the language of rule to create something new.

  • 9 years ago

    Latin was the common language throughout the Roman Empire , used for administration and law. The common people may not have spoken it

  • 7 years ago

    DACIA spoke greek??!!?? You hurt my feelings,as a dacian, and you are completely FALSE!!we spoke and speek LATIN!!!!

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