Comic lexicon: searching for 'submerged' Latin from Plautus to Erasmus

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The chapter presents the results of a fresh analysis of all lemmata found in Plautus and Terence. The aim is to assess lexical evidence that may support the ‘karstic’ theory, according to which a stream of Latin flowed from Plautus’ time to the late empire, but was ‘submerged’ in the classical period. The chapter shows that only few comic words are rarely or never attested in Classical Latin but do occur in late Latin, medieval Latin, or Romance. Moreover, in most cases the continuity between early and late Latin is only apparent, as the word is likely to be a (literary) revival and/or an independent re-coinage. The amount of comic Latin that clearly was submerged in CL is extremely small: many of these words are Greek and/or technical nouns; others, however, strongly point to continuity between early and late Latin and are discussed at length in the chapter, as good candidates for ‘submerged’ Latin.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEarly and Late Latin
Subtitle of host publicationContinuity or Change?
EditorsJ. N. Adams, Nigel Vincent
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages33
ISBN (Electronic)9781316723210
ISBN (Print)9781107132252
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


  • Latin literature
  • Medieval manuscripts
  • Linguistics

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