R is for Romance Languages

Since I wrote about French in the “P” post, allow me to stay with the Latin/Romance languages and expand, but take the show in a different direction.

For many years I lived in a country with a Latin-derived language (Romania — in light green on the map above).  

A bit strange, as is usually remarked when I described this, for a country surrounded by Slavic-speakers in  just about every direction, to speak a version of Latin closest to Italian and Portuguese.

There are Slavic influences in Romanian, even some Greek and Turkish  (from the Byzantine and Ottoman rule), but as much as 90% of the language is derived from Latin.

A little background:

Before Romania was Romania, it was Dacia and its people spoke an Indo-European language about which little is known.

Dacia became a province of ancient Rome in 106 AD. Soon after, the Romans colonized the area, bringing their language with them.

Although the Romans were forced to withdrawal in the 3rd century, the Latin language influence prevailed and withstood many other wars and occupations.

So, how are the Romance languages interrelated?

It’s impossible to cover everything on Latin-derived languages here, but charts help summarize things. Personally, I love charts and have a fascination with languages, so here’s an easy chart/tree I found.

The Romance  Linguistic Area of Europe, with Latin as the base. Of course, the expanse is much wider if we include Latin and South America.

Well, friends, we made it through three-fourths of the Challenge.

A short post from me today, but I’d love for you to join the conversation.  In Southern California, Spanish is our second language, and I think that’s true for many states. How about where you live?


Images credit: Romance  Linguistic Area of Europe, from Wikimedia Commons; Chart, from jesterbear.com.    


32 responses to “R is for Romance Languages

  1. Well I’m a Londoner and where there are over 250 languages spoken here. Of those I’m only fluent in one – most days anyway! I am interested in languages so really enjoyed your post.

  2. When I lived in Montana we had a lot of people that spoke German. I live on the gulf coast now. We have lots of Spanish and Asian languages. Simply Sarah

  3. I’m in Minnesota, an area that was originally settled by scandinavians, so Swedish and Norwegian derived slang peppers out modern vocabulary. But the immigrant population is much different. The largest Hmong community in the world resides in Minnesota, so that is a common language to hear, especially in St. Paul. There is also a large number of African immigrants from Ethiopia and Somalia in the cities as well, and in my high school that group was by far the largest non-english speaking contingent. But now I live in a suburb with a large Indian community so my kids are growing up with friends who speak dialects of Hindi at home. But that might change once they start Spanish immersion school next year (most of the bilingual kids do the English program it seems)

  4. i found it fascinating that italians and romanian sort of understood each other, well the ones i knew. that’s how i learned that these languages were related. I am fascinated by that.

  5. Very interesting post, Silvia. Here is CT we have a lot of Spanish, but also a small concentrated area of Polish. But being close to NY, we do see a lot of diversity, especially in the Asian cultures.

  6. Spanish is definitely a second language in North Carolina, where Hispanics are the largest growing part of our population. I took French in high school, Spanish in college, but then was confronted by Czech when we lived in Prague, Czech is definitely NOT a Romance language, is related to Russian but not Polish, and was one of the most difficult challenges of my life to master even slightly. Not a lot of Czech speakers in NC!

  7. One would think that the similarities in the languages would assist in understanding. But no. I used to know French but when I was in Cuba I couldn’t understand the Spanish at all. No resemblance to French. French is one of Canada’s two official languages.

  8. I live in Southwestern Utah. There are some Spanish speakers here, but few compared to California. I took French in school, but almost never get a chance to use it.

  9. Fascinating, Sylvia. What an interesting life you’ve had! When I was five, too young to know of such things, I dreamt I was a young Roma woman in the Ardeal region of Romania who had the misfortune to encounter Count Vlad Teppes on a mountain path. Weird, huh? But then, everyone knows writers are crazy! LOL

    • Thanks, Karen. Sure gives me lots of stories to tell. Ha … funny dream. Now, it could’ve also been a love story between the gypsie woman and Vlad … who knows. Yes, writers are … shall we say … different. :)

  10. Fun post! I love looking at language charts and reading about their history.

  11. I guess Spanish would be the seccond language here too, of which I know scarce little. I had both boys take the class, but I’m afraid they learned to test rather than speak. Youngest is finishing up his first year in Russian. His choice. :)

  12. I am very interested in languages and how they evolve. Great post. In Minnesota, it’s all English, with some smattering of Spanish or pockets of people from places like Somalia, or Hmong. As schools continue on their budget cuts and reducing to only necessary basics, all languages are cut except for Spanish.

    Play off the Page

  13. I learn something every day, thanks for a great post!

  14. The study of language is fascinating
    I assumed that region would have been Slavic
    where I live in Cali Spanish is the first english the second

    Happy A to Z

  15. Hi Silvia .. I see English is the third language in the world after Chinese and Spanish .. and it is such a hodge-podge of dialects from across the European continent … I love finding out where the words come from.

    Always amazes me that Spanish and Portuguese are completely different, yet geographically sit next to each other … and Finnish and Hungarian are linked …

    I speak English!!!

    It is fascinating .. cheers Hilary

  16. I live near San Diego and Spanish is indeed a 2nd language. When I was teaching, I was pretty fluent but after a few years, it takes work to understand when Spanish is spoken. Love the language.

  17. The history of languages is fascinating. In northern Virginia we have incredible diversity, but I would have to guess that, besides english, spanish is still the most common language spoken here.

  18. I studied Spanish for 7 years and am hoping to refresh my skills, since it’s such an important language to know. My parents made me take Spanish instead of continuing French, since they said French wasn’t a power language anymore. I later studied Italian and French, and am still upset I was cheated out of learning Latin my last two years of high school when we moved. I’ve found I’m able to read Portuguese, Catalán, and Ladino fairly well because of my knowledge of Spanish.

    There are a lot of Russian immigrants in my area, and I often end up sitting near them at the pool or at social events. Besides that, there are a lot of Spanish-speaking immigrants.

I welcome your thoughts.

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