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Not to be confused with Latin profanity and the Vulgate, the Latin translation of the Bible used by the Catholic Church.

Vulgar Latin is a generic term for the nonstandard (as opposed to classical) sociolects of Latin from which the Romance languages developed. The word vulgar in this case refers to its original meaning of common or vernacular, and not the more pejorative usage, tasteless or indecent. Works written in Latin during classical times used Classical Latin rather than Vulgar Latin (originally called sermo vulgaris), with very few exceptions (most notably sections of Gaius Petronius' Satyricon). Because of its nonstandard nature, Vulgar Latin had no official orthography. Vulgar Latin is sometimes also called colloquial Latin, or Common Romance (particularly in the late stage). In Renaissance Latin, Vulgar Latin was called vulgare Latinum or Latinum vulgare.

The broad term Vulgar Latin should not be confused with the specific term Proto-Romance, which refers to the theoretical common ancestor to the modern Romance languages. Proto-Romance, however, may have been only one of the Vulgar Latin languages and only a very late stage language of its branch.


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