I was more than usually pleased to see Arika Okrent’s latest mental_floss post, 5 Annoying Latin Errors from an Ancient List That Predicted Latin’s Descendants, because for decades now I’ve been trying to remember or find out the source of my vague memory of a Late Latin peever’s list of incorrect words that were actually (in hindsight) proto-Romance, and this is it!
Sometime around the 7th century, a grammarian got fed up and started collecting all the annoying mistakes that people kept making in Latin. He wrote them up in the Appendix Probi, a straightforward list of the “say this, not that” variety. The most interesting thing about the Appendix Probi is not that it shows that people have always been making usage errors, but that the errors people made in Latin show the specific ways that Latin turned into its descendants, the Romance languages, including Spanish, French, and Italian.
The Appendix Probi, that’s the ticket! Arika quotes “Februarius non Febrarius,” “Auris non Oricla,” “Calida non Calda,” “Exequiae non Execiae,” and “Tabula non Tabla,” and you can see the whole magnificent list here. Another long-time dream fulfilled by the internet; thanks, 21st century!