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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Latin Studies

Professor Charles Carlton: “Champion of Romania”

Much of Professor Charles Merritt Carlton’s work has been on the study of the origins of the Romance and Vulgar Latin.  This eventually led to the analysis of Old English and it’s relation to Romance and Vulgar Latin. These languages have evolved and branched out into several other languages, one of which is the most universal language of modern day. Professor Carlton would revise his works as more information became available for the sake of accuracy and relevance. His contribution to the comprehension of Latin and Romance may be constituted as the basis for future linguist to analyze and interpret. As a result, a definite understanding of the languages that serve as the fundamental essence of the English language is forthcoming.

Professor Charles Carlton, an acclaimed expert of Latin and Neo-Latin languages, taught at the University of Rochester for thirty three years. Carlton was credited for his devotion to his pupils and a blatant infatuation with a variation of languages and cultural influences, notably the rather spurned analysis of the Romanian culture. Carlton was some-what of a mediator of Romanian charters and English translations. His literary works consisted of a translation of Romanian dissertation and structural description of Old English rudiments (University of Rochester Press).

Carlton acquired his doctorates in Romance linguistics in the year nineteen sixty three from the University of Michigan and arrived at the University of Rochester in the year nineteen sixty six. Carlton was a constituent and authority of both the French and linguistics programs at variant circumstances during his term at Rochester. His infatuation with the Romance language was initiated during his involvement with the “National Defense Foreign Language” fellowship at University of California, Los Angeles in the year nineteen seventy simultaneously with his acquisition of fellowship to examine the Romanian culture. Carlton stated during one of his previous interviews that he developed a sincere adoration for Romanian “picturesque countryside of tucked-away villages, old wooden churches, shepherds tending flocks,” and the overall benevolence of its culture (University of Rochester Press).

For an excess of thirty years, Carlton was renowned as a “champion of Romania.” He spoke to regional organizations regarding Romanian society, co-founded the Society for Romanian Studies, translated literary works of Romania, and edited the Miorita: A Journal of Romanian Studies. He presided as editor of the Comparative Romance Newsletter and kept an archive of Romania-Rochester contacts with names of pupils, scholars, lecturers, and other guest (University of Rochester Press).

Carlton’s examination of Old English grammar and syntax has undergone a series of phases. Initially, Carlton and other linguist would assume that a change in the form of a word to express a grammatical function was the only allowable explanation of relationship between constituents of Romance and Vulgar Latin. This theory was expressed in a Ph. D. dissertation which was later titled and published as the Studies in Romance Lexicology. Displeased with the findings of the original study, Carlton wrote a revised version of the dissertation that examined the phonology of the Romanian language (The Descriptive Syntax of Old English Charters).

Latin, also known as the “Romance Language,” was considered to be the language of the enlightened and was only used by the privileged and educated individuals during the medieval period.  Not only did Latin influence the English language directly but indirectly through a medium of Neo- Latin/Anglo-Saxon dialects also. The English language consists of a variation of Latin, Neo-Latin languages such as French and Italian, and words from other regions that are probably supplementary to Latin as well.  Acknowledging the significance of the “Romance Language,” there is no wonder why scholars like Charles Merritt Carlton found an interest in the dynamics of the language.

Following a subsequent phase of studies, Carlton wrote one of his finest works, A Linguistic Analysis of a Collection of Late Latin Documents Composed in Ravenna between A.D. 445 and 700. This was a fundamental augmentation to the examination of the essentials of Latin and Romance languages, and critically acclaimed by a variation of renowned linguistic intellectuals. Particularly, this work was a reexamination of the Studies in Romance Lexicology and the analysis of Vulgar Latin which is the informal language of the classical era. This work is a rectified segment of a Ph. D. dissertation that Carlton believed to be dissatisfying based on the approach of interpretation (Linguistic Analysis of a Collection of Late Latin Documents Composed in Ravenna between A.D. 445 and 700).

A Linguistic Analysis of a Collection of Late Latin Documents Composed in Ravenna between A.D. 445 and 700 is a reexamination and comparison of related studies that originally focused on the vocabulary rather than the phonology of Romance and Vulgar Latin. At the time, Carlton and other linguist believed the relevant approach to the comprehension of the sequential evolution of dialect was to focus solely on the phonology of the language. Phonology examines the role of certain sounds within a language, or contrary to other languages, to interpret the connotation of words. In this this study, linguist examined the similitude of Indo-European languages (Linguistic Analysis of a Collection of Late Latin Documents Composed in Ravenna between A.D. 445 and 700).

Professor Carlton then went on to write The Descriptive Syntax of Old English Charters. Based on the latest and an even more thorough examination of facts, an even broader range of abstract studies has indicated that the reliance of syntax and arrangement of word that is present in in modern English was also conventional during the time of Old English. Carlton used the methods of modern linguistics to analyze Old English. In doing so, he hoped to discover the definite truth about the syntax and structure of sentence, and how it affects the interpretation of individual words in certain charters (The Descriptive Syntax of Old English Charters)

The history of the English language clarifies the relevance of Professor Carlton’s work. For several centuries, during the course of Germanic tribes’ occupation of Britain, their presence had a substantial influence on the initial development of the English language. The fusion of various languages of Germanic and Celtic tribes assimilated a language that is known today as Old English. Though the English language is rooted from a Germanic lineage of words, there are far more words in the English vocabulary that are Latin based than there are of German origins. Hence, there is a minor relation between today’s English and Old English, but modern English did evolve from these languages. Latin-based words account for roughly sixty percent of the words in the English language due to its influential prevalence in history (A History of the English Language).

Carlton was the author and/or translator of eleven works; in thirty-eight publications; in one language and five hundred ninety five library holdings. A majority of professor Carlton's narrations were an abstract concentration of Latin, Neo-Latin, and its function in the overall disposition of European languages. His works also included: Studies in Romance lexicology, based on a collection of Late Latin documents from Ravenna (A.D. 445-700); Romanian poetry in English translation: an annotated bibliography & census, 1740-1996; Romanian poetry in English translation: an annotated bibliography & census of 283 poets in English (1740-1989); The biography of "The idea of literature": from Antiquity to the Baroque ( World Cat Identities)

Carlton was remembered as a passionate individual that valued insight of knowledge and was willing to share it.  Armed with an exceptional personality, professor Carlton would also share his wit and humor with both his pupils and his peers. "I will never forget his office on the fourth floor of Dewey Hall—a sort of museum, full of memorabilia from several Romance language-speaking parts of the world—and his amazing collection of French grammar books whose 'aesthetic beauty' he was in a unique position to appreciate" said one of his colleagues. "Charles was a man who quite simply loved languages, he was always so easy to engage him in discussions about language, whatever the language and whatever the facts, he loved it all, and was ever eager to share as much as he could. This came through in his love of teaching" said another colleague (University of Rochester Press).

Professor Charles Merritt Carlton was born on December 12, 1928 and was deceased on March 09, 2008 at the age of 79. Professor Carlton last lived in Fairport, New York in Monroe County. He left behind his wife Mary, his three sons, his sister, and four grandchildren (Contemporary Authors Online).


Submitted: December 11, 2014

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