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History of Romance Languages

A couple standing near the Eiffel Tower

Whether you realize it or not, the romance languages spark emotion. When you think about the term “romance language,” what do you imagine? Is it a French-speaking tour guide, leading you through the streets of Paris? Is it an Italian waitress communicating the best dishes to order at a restaurant in Rome? Or, is it the sweet melody of a Spanish love song accompanied by the strum of an acoustic guitar? 

Regardless of what you imagine, romance languages are known to exhibit these strong feelings of emotion. Why is this? And how did the romance languages come into existence? 

In today’s blog, our team at Akorbi helps you to understand the origins and history of romance languages. 

What Are Romance Languages? 

Romance languages (also known as Romantic languages) come from Vulgar Latin and are a part of the Indo-European language family. The most well-known and widely spoken romance languages are: 

  • Spanish
  • Italian
  • Portuguese
  • French 
  • Romanian

There are also regionally spoken languages that many consider to fall in the romance language category, such as Sardinian, Catalan, and Occitan. The formal designation of a language can be a bit subjective due to linguistic and political differences, so depending on those factors, more languages could be added to this list. 

The Origins of Romance Languages 

Languages are considered “Romance languages” because of their ancient Roman roots. As the Roman empire spread, their speaking of Latin also spread widely throughout Europe. 

When Rome conquered cities, the area’s current inhabitants picked up speaking Vulgar Latin. As the Roman Empire fell and conquered populations isolated, Latin dialects evolved into what we consider our modern-day languages. 

What Makes Romance Languages Unique

People often consider romance languages to be sweet, melodic, and pleasing to the ear. Have you ever wondered why?

To start, there are at least two unique reasons why this perception has become popular. 

First, romance languages tend to use vowels more frequently and they are found in consistent places, which is different from Germanic languages such as English or Dutch. 

Secondly, the patterns of intonation and stress make romance languages more attractive to the ear. English tends to place the accent of a word on the first or middle syllable of a word, while romance languages tend to place the accent on the last syllable, which gives romance languages a smooth and harmonious sound.                                                                                                                                  

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