When we think of languages, we often think about the English, Chinese, Spanish, French. But have you ever heard about the Romance languages. These languages include French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and the list goes on. They are a group of languages that have a fascinating history and strong connection to one another.
Romance languages are derived from vulgar Latin, spoken by the populace during the period of the Roman Empire. Vulgar Latin is a collection of local dialects and, distinct from Classical Latin, is a standardized version of the language used in religious and scientific contexts. The spread of the Roman Empire led to the widespread use of vulgar Latin throughout Europe. However, as communities became more isolated and kingdoms formed, languages gradually split apart and developed into separate languages.
2. Common features
The Latin-derived languages share many similarities in terms of grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. This is because they all originated from a common ancestor, Latin. Depending on the Romance language you learn, you can understand more or less another Romance language, so that why a Spanish, an Italian and Portuguese speaker can easily understand each other (except French, we will see in this post). The Romance languages are a window into the past, allowing us to explore the history and culture of the ancient Romans and their descendants.
Despite their common origins, the family of languages has some differences in terms of sound and tone (personal feeling). French is known, for its formal structure and elegant vocabulary, and French people really love polite, while Italian is a piece of music and emphasis on melody (personally, Italian is the most beautiful in the word). Spanish is lively rhythms, sound sexy. Portuguese is more relaxed and easy-going nature.
3. How big is the community of romance languages today?
The community of Romance languages is quite large, according to DonneesMondiales with estimates suggesting that around 1.2 billion people speak one or more of the top five Romance languages, which include French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Romanian. This represents a significant portion of the world’s population.
4. Which Romance language is closest to Latin?
Italian is considered to be the closest language to Latin when compared to others. There are a few comments that I have stumbled across on the internet as follows that will help you visualize the relationship between Latin and Romance languages more easily:
- Latin: the mother
- Italian: the favorite child
- Spanish & Portuguese: the twins
- Romanian: child of different father
- French: adopted cousin
5. Why do people think that these languages are the most beautiful and attractive languages to learn?
Beauty is a subjective thing, maybe I think it’s beautiful and you’re not. Here are just a few examples of why people might think Romance languages are charming:
- Melody sounds: Romance languages are known for their melodious sounds through songs, which can be pleasing to the ear.
- Rich Vocabulary and Expression: Romance languages have a rich vocabulary that can be used to express a wide range of feelings and ideas.
- Cultural significance: Romance languages are closely associated with the cultures and histories of many countries in Europe and Latin America, and people can find them beautiful because of the connections between these cultures.
By studying the Romance languages, we gain a deeper understanding of the past and can appreciate the linguistic and cultural heritage that continues to shape the present. Whether you’re a student of linguistics, a lover of language, or simply interested in the history of the world, the Vulgar Latin languages are a fascinating and endlessly rewarding subject to explore.
If you’re looking to learn more about Romance-derived languages, I highly recommend you check out this channel, @LigaRomanica. They are a group of 4 YouTubers teaching French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, in their videos you can listen and learn the 4 major Romance languages at the same time, it’s an awesome idea.