On Sunday, January 11, 2004, at 12:20 AM, Mark J. Reed wrote:

> On Sat, Jan 10, 2004 at 07:00:15PM -0500, Doug Dee wrote:
>> According to _Vulgar Latin_ by Jozsef Herman (Translated by Roger Wright)
>> ,
>> the loss of the Latin /h/ phoneme "happened in the Republican period,
>> that is,
>> even before the Empire".
> Really!  So Gaius Iulius didn't pronounce his <h>s?  Interesting!

Probably made a conscious effort to do so when speaking to people of
rank, especially in formal settings; but I suspect he didn't when in
circumstances.  Certainly what evidence we have (chance graffiti etc)
that his soldiers didn't pronounce theirs.  The evidence is that before the
end of the 1st cent. BCE, the ordinary Roman soldiers, merchants and so on,
those who actually spread the spoken Latin ("Vulgar Latin") over the
Empire didn't
sound their aitches.

Once imagines that schoolmasters & rhetorician did their best to keep [h]
but they were fighting a losing battle.  [h] had disappeared from spoken
long before the break-up into the various Proto-Romance dialects (tho, as
Christophe has pointed ought, [h] was for a time re-introduced in
from Germanic vernaculars in certain areas.

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"A mind which thinks at its own expense will always
interfere with language."         J.G. Hamann, 1760