Latin originates from the ancient province of Latium in Italy, which includes the city of Rome. With the growth of the Roman Republic and then the Roman Empire, Latin became the lingua franca of the Mediterranean Sea. Latin pushed out and replaced the indigenous European languages, especially the Celtic ones, during the Roman Empire's height. After the fall of the Empire, Latin progressively vanished as a spoken language except to act as a language for academia and the Roman Catholic Church.
Latin has had an indelible mark on the history of Europe. The Romance Languages - Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Romanian, Catalan, and a handful of lesser-known languages, each generally spoken in only one island or province within a larger nation - are all descended from Latin. Latin was critical to science and literature on a continental scale in Europe until it was replaced by French in the 17th century. Latin still maintains a position within science, for example in the naming of species. Latin also maintains a central position within the Roman Catholic faith.
Latin was one of two official languages of the Roman Empire in 1315. It was generally considered less cultured than Greek, the other official language.
Latin in "Bluff"
By the 22nd century, Latin had regained its status as the lingua franca of academia. The crew of the William Howells used Latin in most interactions. Some spoke Latin but not English.
In Agrippan Rome, daily life was conducted in neoLatin, a language which developed out of Classical Latin during the Empire's more than two thousand years of existence. Its grammar was simpler, dropping most of the cases which are characteristic of Classical Latin - parallel with the development of Latin-descended languages in the home timeline. Classical Latin was still extensively used as the language of the government administration as well as in literature. Knowledge of Classical Latin was a major status symbol marking out the Empire's rich.
Knowledge of Classical Latin, gained through the home timeline's implants, was a major asset for Jeremy Solters and his sister Amanda when suddenly stranded in besieged Polisso. Their perfect knowledge of Latin marked them as members of the elite, and forced local rich people to take them seriously despite their youth. When challenged by Roman government agents to produce a report about the origin of the goods which they were selling, which actually came from the home timeline, Jeremy used the ambiguities of Latin grammar to compose an impressive-looking report which contained no real information.
In an uncharted alternate, Rome's defeat in the Samnite Wars meant that Latin and its derivatives never spread across Europe, thus the area that would have been Spain was inhabited by Basque- and Punic-speakers.
The Federated Commonwealths of America, a nation which modeled itself on the Roman Republic, used Latin sayings on monuments, government buildings, and plenty of courtroom terminology. It was not the common language of people in the FCA, however. American humans mostly spoke English, as their ancestors had come primarily from England, and the sims spoke no language at all but used a system of hand gestures instead.
In the 30th century, Latin was still an important liturgical language. It was also one of the root languages of Spanglish, the lingua franca of humanity. For this reason, Professor Jennifer Logan found it odd that her human students had so much difficulty with the Latin chapter titles in A Canticle for Leibowitz.
When Cade Curtis was surprised by three North Koreans in January 1951, while fleeing the disaster by Chosin Reservoir, he despaired and began saying the Ave Maria in Latin. To his astonishment, the three crossed themselves and one continued the prayer also in Latin. Christians of all denominations were persecuted by Kim Il-sung's administration so they assisted in Curtis getting back to American lines. Small groups would pass him along from one to the next, giving him shelter during daylight hours and food. Curtis could speak with Catholics, after a fashion, in Latin but made do with sign language with Protestants.
When 20th Century attorney Nicole Gunther was transported back to the 2nd-Century Roman Empire, the gods Liber and Libera provided her with a complete knowledge of the Latin language, including even literacy in it (which Umma, whose body Gunther inhabited, did not have). When later coming in contact with the Emperor Marcus Aurelius and his aides, she realized that the Latin with which she had been provided was a provincial dialect in which the final consonants were not voiced (anticipating the later development of French and other Latin-descended languages) while members of the Imperial Court spoke a far more refined and "pure" form of Latin.
On returning to the 20th Century and Los Angeles, Nicole retained her knowledge of Latin. She had little practical use for it, but it helped convince her that her time in the Roman Empire had been a reality and not an illusion.
John F. Kennedy had a good Catholic education which included basic Latin. When President Kennedy was time displaced from 1963 to the post-Roman dark ages, he discovered that just enough individuals in "Cam'lod'n" spoke enough Latin so that he could make his needs known to them and seek help in correcting his situation.
Gordon McSweeney, a soldier in the United States Army during the Great War, was a Presbyterian who had an obsessive bigotry against most other Christian denominations, and often spoke about the evils of Roman Catholicism. This phobia could be easily aroused by hearing the Latin language, and he frequently advised anyone who would listen about the iniquities perpetrated in that tongue. On one occasion he heard another soldier in his unit speaking in what he perceived to be Latin, but it turned out the man was speaking Greek, not Latin.
Latin, the liturgical language of Christianity, served Europeans as an international language, much as Arabic served the wider civilized world.