Meaning of ROMANCE LANGUAGES in English


Figure 2: Distribution of Romance languages in Europe. group of related languages all derived from Vulgar Latin within historical times and forming a subgroup of the Italic branch of the Indo-European language family. The major languages of the family include French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian, all national languages. Catalan also has taken on a political and cultural significance; among the Romance languages that now have less political or literary significance or both are the Occitan and Rhaetian dialects, Sardinian, and Dalmatian (extinct), among others. Of all the so-called families of languages, the Romance group is perhaps the simplest to identify and the easiest to account for historically. Not only do Romance languages share a good proportion of basic vocabularystill recognizably the same in spite of some phonological changesand a number of similar grammatical forms, but they can be traced back, with but few breaks in continuity, to the language of the Roman Empire. So close is the similarity of each of the Romance languages to Latin as currently known from a rich literature and continuous religious and scholarly tradition that no one doubts the relationship. For the nonspecialist, the testimony of history is even more convincing than the linguistic evidence; Roman occupation of Italy, the Iberian Peninsula, Gaul, and the Balkans accounts for the Roman character of the major Romance languages. Later European colonial and commercial contacts with parts of the Americas, of Africa, and of Asia readily explain the French, Spanish, and Portuguese spoken in those regions. also called Romanic, group of related languages all derived from Vulgar Latin within historical times and forming a subgroup of the Italic branch of the Indo-European language family. Nearly 400,000,000 people today claim a Romance language as their native tongue. There are also about 5,700,000 speakers of French, Portuguese, and Spanish creoles in North America, the West Indies, and various islands of the Pacific and Indian oceans. The most important Romance languagesFrench, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Romanianare all national languages. Probably the most internationally important of the Romance languages is French. It is the official or co-official language in almost 30 countries in Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Throughout France and Corsica people use it as their first language; it is also the native tongue of substantial numbers of people in Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, Monaco, the Italian Valle d'Aosta, and the United States (especially Maine and Louisiana). Also, numerous Africans and Indo-Chinese use it as their international language. The first document apparently written in French, the Strasbourg Oaths, ostensibly dates from 842. The authenticity of the text is doubtful, however, and its dialect is uncertain. The second oldest existing text, from 880882, is definitely in the Picard dialect. Other early texts are in various dialects, Norman and Picard being among the most prestigious. Francien, the dialect of Paris and the le de France, assumed importance in the second half of the 12th century and was established as the official language in 1459. Writers continued to cherish dialectal features until the 17th century, when French was standardized to an unprecedented degree. Spanish is the Romance language having the greatest number of speakers and is the official language of 18 American countries and Spain. Spoken widely throughout Central America, South America (with the exception of Brazil), and the Caribbean, Spanish is also the native language of a sizable minority in the United States. There are also many Judeo-Spanish speakers and Spanish speakers in Africa. The first known texts in Spanish date from the 10th century. Two of these texts from different regions show few dialectal differences; a third is Leonese in character. The next oldest texts are in Mozarabic, a very conservative dialect used by Christian town-dwellers in Arab-occupied Spain. Castilian literature appeared in the 12th century and was destined to gain supremacy, but literary works were produced in Aragonese and Leonese until the beginning of the 15th and the 14th centuries, respectively. Portuguese is the official language of Brazil and Portugal, and is spoken by sizable groups in Africa and by smaller groups in Goa and the United States. Galician, a Portuguese dialect strongly influenced by Castilian, is widely spoken in northwestern Spain. The first known Portuguese document is dated 1192. During the next two centuries Gallego-Portuguese was used by court poets all over the Iberian Peninsula, save in Catalonia. Galician lost ground in the 15th century and in the year 1500 was replaced by Castilian as the official language of Galicia. In the 16th century, Portuguese and Galician grew further apart with the consolidation of standard Portuguese. All the dialects of Portuguese are mutually comprehensible, and Portuguese speakers have little difficulty speaking and understanding Spanish. Italian is spoken throughout Italy and by large groups in France, Yugoslavia, and Switzerland. There are also large numbers of Italian speakers in the United States, Argentina, and Brazil. The earliest known texts that are unquestionably in Italian date from the 10th century. Standard Italian, developed as a literary language in the 14th and 15th centuries, is based on a Florentine dialect. It is understandable to speakers of any of the numerous Italian dialects, which constitute a continuum of intelligibility, although geographically distant dialects may be radically different. Romanian is the official language of Romania and is spoken in Moldova and other parts of the Balkan region. Standard Romanian is based on the Walachian dialect of the Daco-Romanian group of dialects. The earliest extant text in this dialect is dated 1521. Writers of the 17th century greatly expanded Romanian. Now Bucharest usage provides the model for standard Romanian. Other Romanian dialects are scattered through the Balkans and Asia Minor. Two other Romance languages of literary importance that also have many speakers are Occitan and Catalan. Occitan is spoken in southern France. Although in Occitania the language is known by different names (Lemos, Proensal), all the dialects are homogeneous, except for Gascon. Occitan, also known as Languedoc, or Provenal, was the poetic language of France and northern Spain until the north crushed the political power of the south (120829). Since the French Revolution, French has been penetrating into popular usage in Occitania, although in the last 100 years there has been a movement to reestablish Occitan as a literary language. Northwest of Occitania, along the French, Swiss, and Italian frontiers, are the Franco-Provenal dialects. These dialects share characteristics of both French and Occitan, so that the validity of this grouping is debated. Since the 12th century a small amount of literature has been produced in these dialects, although there is no standard literary language. Catalan is the official language of Andorra and also is spoken by minorities in Spain, France, and the town of Alghero, Sardinia. The earliest surviving written materials in Catalan date from the 12th century. Catalan was a vigorous literary language from the 13th to the 15th century, when the union of Castile and Aragon set it into decline. From 1137 to 1749 it was the official language of Aragon, but it was not until the 20th century that it received renewed interest as a literary language. Sardinian, spoken on Sardinia, is incomprehensible to speakers of Italian. Sardinian was used for legal documents from the 11th to the 17th century, but virtually no literature now exists except for folk verse and occasional journals. The Rhaetian dialects, of the southern Switzerland Alps and northern Italy, are of uncertain origin. Texts have been found dating back to the 12th century. Additional reading Iorgu Iordan and John Orr, An Introduction to Romance Linguistics, 2nd ed. rev. with a supplement by Rebecca Posner (1970; originally published in Romanian, 1962), describes 19th- and 20th-century scholarship and provides an extensive bibliography on the family as a whole and on individual languages; it may be supplemented by Rebecca Posner and John N. Green (eds.), Trends in Romance Linguistics and Philology, 5 vol. (198093). Useful works on the Romance languages in general include W.D. Elcock, The Romance Languages, new and rev. ed. revised by John N. Green (1975), a philologically oriented work; Rebecca Posner, The Romance Languages (1996), a linguistically oriented work; and Martin Harris and Nigel Vincent (eds.), The Romance Languages (1988). Yakov Malkiel, Essays on Linguistic Themes (1968), includes several articles on the Romance languages and Romance linguistics. On the individual languages, recommended works are L.R. Palmer, The Latin Language (1954, reprinted 1988); Bruno Migliorini, The Italian Language, abridged by T. Gwynfor Griffith (1966, reissued 1984; originally published in Italian, 1960); Alfred Ewert, The French Language, 2nd ed. (1961); Peter Rickard, A History of the French Language, 2nd ed. (1989, reissued 1993); R. Anthony Lodge, French: From Dialect to Standard (1993); William J. Entwistle, The Spanish Language, Together with Portuguese, Catalan, and Basque, 2nd ed. (1962); Ralph Penny, A History of the Spanish Language (1991); and John M. Lipski, Latin American Spanish (1994). Rebecca Posner Marius Sala Latin and the development of the Romance languages Latin and the protolanguage Latin is traditionally grouped with Faliscan among the Italic languages, of which the other main member is the Osco-Umbrian group (see also Italic languages). Oscan was the name given by the Romans to a group of dialects spoken by Samnite tribes to the south of Rome. It is well attested in inscriptions and texts for about five centuries before Christ and was used in official documents until approximately 9089 Bc. The absence of great dialectal variations in the texts suggests that they are written in a standardized form, though three alphabets are evidentthe local one (derived from Etruscan), the Greek (in the southern cities), and the Latin (in more recent inscriptions). In early times, Umbrian was spoken northeast of Rome, to the east of the Etruscan region, and possibly as far west as the Adriatic Sea at one period. It is attested mainly in one series of texts, the Iguvine Tables (Tabulae Iguvinae), dated from 400 to 90 Bc, and it is similar to Oscan. Probably Latin and Osco-Umbrian were not mutually intelligible; some claim they are not closely related genetically but that their common features arose from convergence as a result of contact. The Roman dialect was originally one of a number of Latinian dialects, of which the most important was Faliscan, the language of Falerii (modern Civita Castellana), the most important Faliscan city, located 32 miles (51 kilometres) north of Rome. The Faliscans were probably a Sabine tribe that early fell under Etruscan domination. The dialect is known mainly from short inscriptions dating to the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC and probably survived until well after the conquest of Falerii by the Romans in 241 BC. The earliest Latinian text is an inscription on a cloak pin (fibula) of the 6th century BC, from Palestrina (Praeneste). Other Latinian inscriptions show marked differences from Roman Latin, for which there is, however, little evidence before the end of the 3rd century BC. What is certain is that the language changed so rapidly between the 5th century (the date of a mutilated inscription, probably a religious prescription, found in the Roman Forum and of the Twelve Tables, the contents of which are known from later evidence) and the 3rd century BC that older texts were no longer intelligible. During this period the Romans subjugated their Latin neighbours (by 335 BC), and their language began to establish itself as a standard form, absorbing features from other dialects. The first author of any note was the comic dramatist Plautus (c. 254184 BC), whose language is thought to reflect a spoken idiom, some features of which appear to have survived into Romance. By 265 Rome had conquered Magna Graecia, in the south of the Italian Peninsula, and had begun to absorb Greek literary and cultural ideals. Poetic language was especially influenced by Greek until Latin poetry reached its zenith with Virgil. In the 1st century BC a literary prose developed; it emphasized elegance and clarity and rejected vulgarity and rusticity. Grammatical rules were codified and tightened and vocabulary pruned, and the cult of the harmonious, balanced period held sway in rhetorical circles. With Cicero the prose style of the Golden Age attained its highest point; for the linguist, the distinction Cicero makes between the style of his letters and that of his speeches is especially interesting in that it provides evidence that even educated speech differed from written language. When Cicero uses the sermo plebeius (plebeian speech), his language is more elliptical, with shorter, less complex sentences and more colourful vocabulary (including plentiful diminutives). It seems obvious that truly popular language differed even more from the elaborate, sophisticated, classical literary idiom; there is evidence that archaic features, banned from literary style, survived in common speech right through to the Romance stage of the language. It is sometimes claimed that the language of the Roman historian and politician Sallust (c. 8635/34 BC) approximated popular usage, but it is more probable that his archaizing style derives more from conscious imitation of old Roman poetry. The Roman judge of elegance Petronius Arbiter (d. AD 66) is thought to be imitating vulgar speech in the language of the character Trimalchio in the Cena Trimalchionis (Banquet of Trimalchio) section (chapters 2678) of his Satyricon. Notable characteristics of Classical Latin The sound of Classical Latin Evidence for pronunciation of Classical Latin is often difficult to interpret. Orthography is conventionalized, and grammarians' comments lack clarity, so that to a considerable extent it is necessary to extrapolate from later developments in Romance in order to describe it. The most important of the ambiguities bears on Latin intonation and accentuation. The way in which vowels developed in prehistoric Latin suggests the possibility of a stress accent on the first syllable of each word; in later times, however, the accent fell on the penultimate syllable or, when this had light quantity, on the antepenultimate. The nature of this accent is hotly disputed: contemporary grammarians seem to suggest it was a musical, tonal accent and not a stress accent. Some scholars claim, however, that Latin grammarians were merely slavishly imitating their Greek counterparts and that the linking of the Latin accent with syllable vowel length makes it unlikely that such an accent was tonal. Probably it was a light stress accent that was normally accompanied by a rise in pitch; in later Latin, evidence suggests that the stress became heavier. The system of syllable quantity, connected with that of vowel length, must have given Classical Latin distinctive acoustic character. Broadly speaking, a light syllable ended in a short vowel and a heavy syllable in a long vowel (or diphthong) or a consonant. The distinction must have been reflected to some extent in Late Latin or early Romance, for, even after the system of vowel length was lost, light, or open, syllables often developed in a different way from heavy, or closed, syllables. Because the system of vowel length was lost after the Classical period, it is not known with any certainty how vowels were pronounced at that period; but, because of later developments in Romance, the assumption is that the vowel-length distinctions were also associated with qualitative differences, in that short vowels were more open, or lax, than long vowels. Standard orthography did not distinguish between long and short vowels, although in early times various devices were tried to remedy this. At the end of the Roman Republic a so-called apex (one form looked somewhat like a hamza ) often was used to mark the long vowel, but this mark was replaced in imperial times by an acute accent ( ). In Classical Latin the length system was an essential feature of verse, even popular verse, and mistakes in vowel length were regarded as barbarous. In later times, however, many poets were obviously unable to conform to the demands of classical prosody and were criticized for allowing accent to override length distinctions. Besides the long vowels a, e, i, o, u and the short vowels a, e, i, o, u educated speech during the Classical period also used a front rounded vowel, a sound taken from Greek upsilon and pronounced rather like French u (symbolized by in the International Phonetic AlphabetIPA) in words borrowed from Greek; in popular speech this was probably pronounced like Latin u, though in later times i was sometimes substituted. A neutral vowel was probably used in some unaccented syllables and was written u or i (optumus, optimus best'), but the latter rendering became standard. A long e, from earlier ei, had probably completely merged with i by the Classical period. Classical pronunciation also used some diphthongs pronounced by educated Romans much as they are spelled, especially ae (earlier ai), pronounced perhaps as an open e in rustic speech, au (rustic open o), and oe (earlier oi, Late Latin e). Linguistic characteristics of the Romance languages As a group, the Romance languages share many characteristics. In comparison with Germanic languages, for instance, they seem musical and mellifluousprobably because of the relatively greater importance of vowels than consonants. On the whole, the vowels are clear and bell-like and articulation energetic and precise, though Portuguese and Romanian convey a more muted acoustic impression. Foreigners often think that Romance speech is particularly rapid and voluble, no doubt because individual words receive only light stress (or, in French, no stress), and elision, the running of words into each other within stress groups, is common. Romanian is something of an exception in that speech tempo is comparatively slow. Intonation patterns, surface manifestations of nonlexical meaning, such as interrogation, exclamation, scorn, surprise, and so forth, seem to some to denote excitability and emotional expressiveness in the speakers. Northern French is comparatively sober, with typically about a one-octave range in intonation, but Italian seems to be sung, with sinuous pitch movement over two octaves, and Castilian jumps jerkily and up and down over about an octave and a third. Grammatically, the modern languages have retained to a greater or lesser extent some of the synthetic character of Latin, principally in the verb, but in Romanian also in the noun. French, since about the 14th century, has undergone the most radical changes in grammatical typology, so that much greater reliance is placed on word order and intonation to convey sentence meaning than on morphological form. Other languages allow a little more flexibility of word order but far less than does Classical Latin. Dominant purist grammarians have always opposed influence from foreign languages and reproved their fellows for sullying their language with lavish borrowing (at present primarily from English), but they have never been able to stem the flood of neologisms. French vocabulary, particularly, has always been receptive to change and has been as quick to lose old words as to adopt new. Codification of grammar, on the other hand, has had a permanent effect on the stability of the standard languages, even feeding back into spoken usage via the education system. Acceptance of the most minor changes follows long debate and deliberation and requires governmental edicts that decree what can be marked as correct in all-important examinations. Curiously enough, this rigidity and consequent self-confidence have resulted in greater teachability, so that standards of correctness of, for instance, French among Africans or Spanish among American Indians are remarkably high. The moves toward codification were, indeed, originally linked to a desire to give the languages international importance, and language teaching, in the Romance ethos, is indissolubly linked to the diffusion of cultural and moral values. Typology As stated previously, the most central Romance language is standard Italian, which has retained and even readopted many Latin characteristics. In some ways its morphology lacks the elegance and efficiency of Castilian, which has most ruthlessly eliminated anomalies during the modern period; there are signs in Italian of historical inertia, a harking back to a glorious past, that has hindered popular development. Romanian remains closest in grammatical type to Latin, though its noun-declension system, based on the placement of the definite article after the noun, and its frequent use of the subjunctive mood may owe much to its Balkan neighbours (or to an earlier linguistic substratum). Its vocabulary has incorporated so many Slavic and Turkish words, however, that it often appears less typical of the Romance languages than the rest. French, by any standard, has diverged mostradical phonetic changes that transformed the outward appearance of the language must have preceded the earliest surviving (9th-century) texts. Such changes are usually ascribed to Celtic and Frankish influence. Another wave of change, with loss of word accent and of many morphological markers, probably dates from the 15th century, but it is difficult to find external motivation for these phenomena. Occitan and Catalan are conservative in character; the long persistence of Roman schools in South Gaul is often seen as the cause of stability there. Spanish and Portuguese are similar enough to lead some scholars to assign their shared characteristics to the influence of an Iberian substratum and a Moorish superstratum. Castilian's forceful character and receptivity to grammatical innovation contrast sharply with Portuguese softness and its inertia in retaining morphological oddities, however. Rhaeto-Romance and Dalmatian peculiarities can most easily be connected with the impact of other languages (mainly German, Italian, and Serbo-Croatian), while Sardinian is often regarded as an extremely conservative, peasant language, some dialects of which have been penetrated by features from Italian and Spanish.

Britannica English vocabulary.      Английский словарь Британика.