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The Romance Languages

I guess this is the part where I make a cliché joke about the language of "romance."

Ok, Cut! Cliché joke over. Finished.

Hello everyone! Welcome to the LangFocus channel, and my name is Paul.

Today I'm going to be talking about the Romance languages.

Not the language of Romance, but the Romance languages.

Why should you care about the Romance languages?

Well, the most important Romance languages are: French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Romanian.

They are some of the most widely spoken languages in Europe,

and some of them are spoken widely around the entire world.

There are 800 million native speakers of Romance languages around the world.

That's why you should care.

They are a group of languages that belong to the Italic subfamily of the Indo-European language family.

The Italic languages are languages originating in what is now Italy.

What is the capital of Italy?

Yes, it's Rome.

For answering that question correctly, you win...

absolutely nothing!


"Italy", "Italic"

"Rome", "Romance"

I see a connection.

Which brings me to my a frequently asked question.

Why are they called the "Romance Languages"?

They're called the Romance Languages because they all developed from Latin

which was the language of the Romans and the Roman Empire.

As the Roman Empire spread throughout Western Europe,

the local population in most of those areas adopted Latin.

Two forms of Latin were used throughout the Empire.

One of them was Classical Latin, which was the formal language used by the upper classes.

And there was Vulgar Latin which was the common, everyday speech of the common-day people.

Vulgar Latin is the Latin that spread amongst the local populations of the Roman Empire.

They called it "Vulgar Latin" because they used to say things like

[censored] you, mother[censored]!

Get [censored]!

Actually, that's not true. "Vulgar" just means "common or vernacular".

Over time, Vulgar Latin in the different areas of the Roman Empire evolved separately into different varieties of spoken Latin.

And after the fall of the Roman Empire, they started to diverge even more, and eventually, they evolved into separate languages.

Unlike today, in those days there was no TV, no radio, no universal education

to keep people anchored to the standard form of Latin. So the spoken forms of Latin diverged quite easily.

It's hard to count the number of Romance languages in existence, because they form a dialect continuum.

That means that if you draw a line from Portugal to Italy, or from Southern France to Northern France,

any two villages along the way would be able to understand each other.

But if you move further along that line,

it becomes more difficult for them to communicate because their dialects become more divergent.

So it was difficult to determine where one language ended and the other began.

But, when modern nation-states arose, and free education was introduced,

certain local dialects were chosen to become standard, national languages

such as Parisian French in France and Castilian Spanish in Spain.

This has caused many of the old dialects to collapse into a smaller number of national languages and regional languages.

The main Romance languages of today are : * Spanish with 410 million native speakers

* Portuguese with 216 million native speakers * French with 75 million native speakers

* Italian with 60 million native speakers and * Romanian with about 25 million native speakers

I should probably also mention Catalan, which has 4 million native speakers.

Catalan is a language spoken in the Catalonia region of Spain.

42% of the EU's population (or 210 million people) are Romance Language speakers.

That's only 26% of the total number of Romance language speakers.

So... where are the others?

As European countries like France, Spain and Portugal colonized the world,

they spread their languages to countries all over the globe.

Today, Spanish is spoken by 377 million people in the Western Hemisphere,

where it is the official language of 19 countries.

Spanish is not the only language spoken in the Western Hemisphere.

Portuguese is spoken by 202.6 million in Brazil.

That makes Portuguese the majority language in South America, even though it's only spoken in that one country.

Portuguese is also spoken in 5 African countries.

It's an official language in Macau, but it doesn't seem to be used much anymore.

And some people still use it it in East-Timor where it used to be the official language.

Actually, Portuguese is now once again one of East-Timor's official languages.

As, for French, it is spoken as a native language by 7.7 million people in Canada,

10 million people in the Carabbean

It is also widely spoken as a second language and a lingua franca in Africa,

where it is spoken by 115 million people in 31 different countries.

Inside Europe, it is not only spoken in France, but also inside Belgium and Switzerland.

And Luxembourg and Monaco.

Unlike Spain, France and Portugal, Italy started building colonies quite late in the game.

So they didn't really established their language abroad very much.

It was spoken in Lybia and Somalia, but now, it seems to be only spoken by a handful of elderly people there.

Within Europe though, Italy is spoken as a native language in Italy, and also San Marino,

The Vatican and Monaco.

And it's also widely spoken as a second language in some nearby countries, like Croatia, Slovenia, Albania and Malta.

Standard Italian is based on the dialect of Tuscane,

but there are numerous other varieties of Romance speech in Italy, some of which can be considered their own languages.

One example of that is Sardinian, which is spoken on the island of Sardinia, by approximately 1 million people.

But, these days, the younger generation doesn't seem to speak Sardinian very much.

Instead, they learn a mixture of Sardinian and Standard Italian which has kind of become a regional dialect of Standard Italian.

Another language that has declined somewhat in this way is Occitan,

which is spoken over an area covering part of northern Italy, southern France and a little bit of Spain.

Like Sardinian, Occitan is mainly used amongst the older generation,

and while young people can understand it, they don't really speak it that much.

Occitan forms a dialect continuum with the Catalan language in Spain.

That means that a Catalan speaker and an Occitan speaker from nearby regions can understand each other,

even though they are speaking different languages.

Unlike Occitan which is fading, Catalan is a thriving regional language in the Spanish region of Catalonia.

It has 4 million native speakers and 5 million second language speakers there.

There are several other regional languages that are co-official with Castilian Spanish in the respective regions in Spain.

These regional languages have remained much stronger amongst the younger generations, than the regional languages of France and Italy have.

Are the Romance Languages mutually intelligible?

Well, I want all the speakers of Romance Languages to comment on that down below and share their experiences.

Can you understand people when they speak other Romance Languages? Let us know.

But generally, it seems that the answer is yes and no.

Sometimes, in certain cases, they can understand each other but only to a certain extent.

And in other cases, communication is quite straight-forward.

From what I understand, the hignest degree of mutual intelligibility is between Spanish and Portuguese,

or between Spanish and Italian, or between Italian and Romanian.

But sometimes, that intelligibilty goes mostly in one direction.

For example, Portuguese speakers can often understand Spanish people very well.

But Spanish speakers can't understand the Portuguese speakers because of the complex phonology.

Will learning one Romance Language help you learn another one? The answer is YES!

It won't make it automatic or super easy, but it will help, of course, because...

all of them come from the same Latin roots. And much of the vocabulary comes from Latin.

And much of the grammatical structure is similar and is based in Latin.

So, if you love learning languages and you want a language that you can use in lots of places around the world,

then one of the major Romance Languages would be a great choice.

So get on it. Learn a Romance language. A language of love.

Thank you for watching the Langfocus Channel. Be sure to leave your comments down below.

Especially if you speak a Romance language. Tell us your experiences.

Alright. Have a good day.

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