What are Romance languages?
The word romance implies love and affection, however, if you capitalize the letter "R", it refers to a set of languages. The Romance languages all derive from Vulgar Latin also called “Romance”, an ancient Italic language of the Indo-European family.
Latin was the language spoken in the Roman Empire, however it’s classical form was not a reflection of the language used in everyday life. Romans spoke and wrote in a less polished language than its classical form and called it Vulgar Latin or Latin “for the crowd”. This was the language that soldiers used to interact with foreign native languages during the colonization and later evolved into what we recognize today as Romance languages.
Nowadays, there are several languages which are considered to be derived from Vulgar Latin: French, Italian, Catalan, Portuguese, Spanish and Romanian. These languages form a “dialect continuum”.
However, Romanian is not intelligible by other languages part of this family. Why?
Friedrich Diez (the first Romance philologist) indicated in 1836 that it was “only a semi-Romance language” due to historical events. Romanian has many unique characteristics that are not present in any other Romance language. Let’s take a look:
Translation of the word “man” in Romance Languages:
Romanian – bărbat
Spanish – hombre
French – homme
Italian – uomo
Portuguese – homem
Catalan – home
Latin – homo
As a fun fact, Galician is also a Romance Language and it is also Home
Philologists indicate that the Romanian language has been influenced by Slavic and East European languages such as Macedonian, Bulgarian, Albanian, and Serbian that are spoken in neighbouring countries. Romanian is the official language of Romania.Approximately 24 million people speak Romanian as their primary language. An additional four million people speak it as their secondary language. The language itself is about 1,700 years old, when the Kingdom of Dacia was taken under Roman control for 170 years.
For these reasons, Romanian is the Romance language that is usually left out or forgotten, but it has resilient Latin roots despite the fact that Hungarian and Slavics took over Dacia afterwards. The reason why this happened is a great mystery for scholars as other countries colonized by Romans didn’t necessarily adopt the language (Britannia). Moreover, there is not enough records regarding the language spoken before Romans, although it must have been influenced by Celts and Greeks.