When and why did these words supersede the verbs 'to place' and 'to find' and their derivatives? 'He located [=placed] the wine-glass on the table'. 'He located [=found] the lost sixpence under the table'. Two perfectly decent monosyllables with totally different meanings seem to have been replaced by a single ambiguous latinism, thus affording opportunities for confusion.
Latin Prose Composition (and, I suspect, its parallels in other ancient and modern languages) disciplined learners. You gave somebody the task of translating into Latin "What is your location?" You watched him flapping through dictionaries getting more and more worried. She then brought up to your desk some such nonsenses as "Quae est tua locatio? You then worried at him for a minute or two, getting her to think what the words 'really' meant, until ...Triumph of Paedogogy! ... he came back with "Ubi es?"
Simple, clear, chaste, unpompous. Yet by diabolical malevolence, the Me-Important classes think that Latin is impressive ... so we get ad hoc and argumentum ad hominem and endless other latinisms which the poor silly fellows almost invariably misunderstand and misapply. Some of this may lie in the desire of clerklets to sound Important and Official. One train company (I'm not making this up) has this announcement: "Safety Information is located adjacent to the doors". I would have written "Safety Information is by the doors".
This is not simply a matter of words of teutonic origin being preferable to gallicisms, latinisms and grecisms (although it often may be ... I remember as an eight year old being - helpfully - advised to write begin rather than commence). The meanings of words have always been unstable: 'place' may itself have started its long life as plateia, the broad boulevard in Hellenistic town planning, upon which the confusions of Menandrian New Comedy were played out. The problem is not, I think, that curmudgeonly old retired Educators dislike linguistic evolution as that the evolution of modern English is dragging the language towards incomprehension and logical dissolution. You no longer listen to the words someone says, because they, in themselves, might give you quite the wrong 'take'. Instead, you attempt to guess, from context and tone, what the speaker might be getting at. And this is far more dangerous than allowing words to have meanings.
I am toying with the theory that the disintegration of our previous class-system may have something to do with it. Once upon a time, the gentle and the educated talked in one way among themselves; in a different way when addressing their social inferiors. (Does anybody nowadays ever read U and Non-U?) But today, We Are All Middle-Class. So everybody wants to sound Latinate ... and, for those who do not know Latin, that, poor things, is quite burden. But they work manfully at it, and for all their pains just end up looking silly. In the previous culture, only those who had done their mensa mensa mensam risked Latin. Now everybody has a (disastrous) go at it.
A fairly recent example: mitigate and militate. I was once at a Planning Enquiry where there was much talk of mitigation ... which, perfectly correctly, was used to mean moderating, making less dreadful, the results of building a new railway line: mitis+ago. But there is a similar word militate, which means fight: miles is a soldier. So now you hear poor confused people (ex.gr. Nicola Sturgeon the other day) talking about "mitigating against X". And I have not the faintest idea what that is supposed to mean: does it mean 'fight' or does it mean 'moderate'? . Perhaps I don't need to. Perhaps I am expected just to register that (a) the speaker is in an unspecified way opposed to X, and that (b) she wants to say this in a posh way ...
And there is the disintgration in the understanding of how to construct relative clauses. As in "This is the thing which everybody wants it." Very Semitic ...