The Info List - Romance Languages

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_Pontic Steppe_

* Domestication of the horse * Kurgan * Kurgan culture

* Steppe cultures

* Bug-Dniester * Sredny Stog * Dnieper-Donets * Samara * Khvalynsk

* Yamna

* Mikhaylovka culture


* Maykop


* Afanasevo

_Eastern Europe_

* Usatovo * Cernavodă * Cucuteni

_Northern Europe_

* Corded ware

* Baden * Middle Dnieper

------------------------- Bronze Age

_Pontic Steppe_

* Chariot * Yamna * Catacomb * Multi-cordoned ware * Poltavka * Srubna

_Northern/Eastern Steppe_

* Abashevo culture * Andronovo * Sintashta


* Beaker * Globular Amphora culture * Corded ware * Tumulus * Unetice * Urnfield * Lusatian * Nordic Bronze Age * Terramare * Trzciniec


* BMAC * Yaz * Gandhara grave

------------------------- Iron Age


* Chernoles


* Thraco-Cimmerian * Hallstatt * Jastorf


* Colchian


* Painted Grey Ware * Northern Black Polished Ware

Peoples and societies Bronze Age

* Anatolians * Armenians * Mycenaean Greeks * Indo-Iranians

Iron Age


* Indo-Aryans


* Iranians

* Scythians * Persians * Medes


* Celts

* Gauls * Celtiberians * Insular Celts

* Hellenic peoples * Italic peoples * Germanic peoples

* Paleo- Balkans /Anatolia :

* Thracians * Dacians * Illyrians * Phrygians

Middle Ages


* Tocharians


* Balts * Slavs * Albanians * Medieval Europe


* Medieval India


* Greater Persia

Religion and mythology _Reconstructed_

* Proto-Indo-European religion * Proto-Indo-Iranian religion

------------------------- _Historical_

* Hittite


* Vedic

* Hinduism

* Buddhism * Jainism


* Persian

* Zoroastrianism

* Kurdish

* Yazidism * Yarsanism

* Scythian

* Ossetian


* Armenian


* Paleo- Balkans * Greek * Roman

* Celtic

* Irish * Scottish * Breton * Welsh * Cornish

* Germanic

* Anglo-Saxon * Continental * Norse

* Baltic

* Latvian * Lithuanian

* Slavic * Albanian


* Fire-sacrifice * Horse sacrifice * Sati * Winter solstice / Yule

Indo-European studies _Scholars_

* Marija Gimbutas * J.P. Mallory


* Copenhagen Studies in Indo-European


* _ Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture _ * _ The Horse, the Wheel and Language _ * _ Journal of Indo-European Studies _ * _ Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch _ * _ Indo-European Etymological Dictionary _

* v * t * e

The ROMANCE LANGUAGES (sometimes called the ROMANIC LANGUAGES, LATIN LANGUAGES, or NEO-LATIN LANGUAGES) are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin between the sixth and ninth centuries and that thus form a branch of the Italic languages within the Indo-European language family .

Today, around 800 million people are native speakers worldwide, mainly in Europe , Africa and the Americas , but also elsewhere. Additionally, the major Romance languages have many non-native speakers and are in widespread use as lingua francas . This is especially the case for French, which is in widespread use throughout Central and West Africa , Madagascar , Mauritius and the Maghreb .

The five most widely spoken Romance languages by number of native speakers are Spanish (410 million), Portuguese (250 million), French (80 million), Italian (60 million), and Romanian (25 million).

Because of the difficulty of imposing boundaries on a continuum, various counts of the modern Romance languages are given; for example, Dalby lists 23 based on mutual intelligibility . The following, more extensive list, includes 35 current, living languages, and one recently extinct language, Dalmatian :

* Iberian Romance : Portuguese , Galician , Mirandese , Asturian , Leonese , Spanish (Castilian) , Aragonese , Ladino ; * Occitano-Romance : Catalan/ Valencian , Occitan (langue d\'oc) , Gascon ; * Gallo-Romance : the 22, mostly extinct Langues d\'oïl , which became modern, standard French , Franco-Provençal (Arpitan) ; * Rhaeto-Romance : Romansh , Ladin , Friulian ; * Gallo-Italic : Piedmontese , Ligurian , Lombard , Emilian-Romagnol ; * Venetian ; * Istriot ; * Italo-Dalmatian : Italian , Tuscan , Corsican , Sassarese , Sicilian , Neapolitan , Dalmatian (extinct in 1898); * Sardinian ; * Eastern Romance : Daco-Romanian , Istro-Romanian , Aromanian , Megleno-Romanian .

It should be noted that any count of the number of Romance languages should be taken as an approximation entirely dependent upon the criteria adopted for selection. Lists such as the one above are accurately interpreted as typologies, i.e. under any single label is a collection of varieties that share many features but are sufficiently distinct in detail to be considered separate languages unto themselves. By way of example, in the collection under Ligurian, an item as basic as 'mirror' can vary as much as Eastern Ligurian , Central Ligurian , Western Ligurian , while 'flour' is , , , , or , depending upon the locale. Similar differences can be present in syntax and morphology.


* 1 Origins * 2 Name * 3 Samples

* 4 History

* 4.1 Vulgar Latin * 4.2 Fall of the Western Roman Empire * 4.3 Early Romance * 4.4 Recognition of the vernaculars * 4.5 Uniformization and standardization

* 5 Modern status

* 6 Classification and related languages

* 6.1 Proposed divisions

* 6.1.1 Italo-Western vs. Eastern vs. Sardinian * 6.1.2 Gallo-Romance languages

* 6.2 Pidgins, creoles, and mixed languages * 6.3 Auxiliary and constructed languages

* 7 Linguistic features

* 7.1 Basic features * 7.2 Changes from Classical Latin

* 7.3 Phonology

* 7.3.1 Vowels * 7.3.2 Consonants * 7.3.3 Lexical stress

* 7.4 Nominal morphology

* 7.4.1 Number * 7.4.2 Gender * 7.4.3 Case

* 7.5 Pronouns, determiners

* 7.5.1 Personal pronouns

* Development from Latin * Clitic pronouns * Familiar–formal distinction

* 7.5.2 Articles

* 7.6 Verbal morphology

* 7.7 Lexicon

* 7.7.1 Loanwords * 7.7.2 Lexical innovation * 7.7.3 Latinisms

* 8 Sound changes

* 8.1 Consonants

* 8.1.1 Apocope * 8.1.2 Palatalization * 8.1.3 Lenition * 8.1.4 Prosthesis

* 8.2 Stressed vowels

* 8.2.1 Loss of vowel length, reorientation * 8.2.2 Latin diphthongs

* 8.2.3 Further developments

* Metaphony * Diphthongization * Nasalization

* 8.2.4 Front-rounded vowels

* 8.3 Unstressed vowels * 8.4 Intertonic vowels

* 9 Writing systems

* 9.1 Letters

* 9.2 Digraphs and trigraphs

* 9.2.1 Double consonants

* 9.3 Diacritics * 9.4 Upper and lower case

* 10 Vocabulary comparison * 11 See also * 12 Notes * 13 References * 14 External links


Romance languages are the continuation of Vulgar Latin , the popular and colloquial sociolect of Latin spoken by soldiers , settlers, and merchants of the Roman Empire , as distinguished from the classical form of the language spoken by the Roman upper classes, the form in which the language was generally written. Between 350 BC and 150 AD, the expansion of the Empire , together with its administrative and educational policies, made Latin the dominant native language in continental Western Europe. Latin also exerted a strong influence in southeastern Britain , the Roman province of Africa , western Germany , Pannonia and the Balkans north of the Jireček Line .

During the Empire's decline, and after its fragmentation and collapse in the fifth century, varieties of Latin began to diverge within each local area at an accelerated rate and eventually evolved into a continuum of recognizably different typologies. The colonial empires established by Portugal , Spain , and France from the fifteenth century onward spread their languages to the other continents to such an extent that about two-thirds of all Romance language speakers today live outside Europe.

Despite other influences (e.g. _substratum _ from pre-Roman languages, especially Continental Celtic languages ; and _superstratum _ from later Germanic or Slavic invasions), the phonology , morphology , and lexicon of all Romance languages consist mainly of evolved forms of Vulgar Latin. However, some notable differences occur between today's Romance languages and their Roman ancestor. With only one or two exceptions, Romance languages have lost the declension system of Latin and, as a result, have SVO sentence structure and make extensive use of prepositions .


Romance languages in Europe

The term _Romance_ comes from the Vulgar Latin adverb _romanice_, derived from _Romanicus_: for instance, in the expression _romanice loqui_, "to speak in Roman" (that is, the Latin vernacular ), contrasted with _latine loqui_, "to speak in Latin" (Medieval Latin , the conservative version of the language used in writing and formal contexts or as a lingua franca), and with _barbarice loqui_, "to speak in Barbarian " (the non- Latin languages of the peoples living outside the Roman Empire ). From this adverb the noun _romance_ originated, which applied initially to anything written _romanice_, or "in the Roman vernacular".

The word 'romance' with the modern sense of romance novel or love affair has the same origin. In the medieval literature of Western Europe, serious writing was usually in Latin, while popular tales, often focusing on love, were composed in the vernacular and came to be called "romances ".


Lexical and grammatical similarities among the Romance languages, and between Latin and each of them, are apparent from the following examples having the same meaning in various Romance lects :

English: She always CLOSES the window before she DINES / before DINING.

Latin _(Ea) semper antequam cenat fenestram claudit._

Vulgar Latin _(Ea) claudi semper illa fenestra antequam de cenare_

Apulian _(Jèdde) akjude sèmbe la fenèstre prime de mangè._

Aragonese _(Ella) zarra siempre a finestra antes de cenar._

Aromanian _(Ea/Nâsa) ãncljidi/nkidi totna firida/fireastra ninti di tsinã._

Asturian _(Ella) pieslla siempres la ventana enantes de cenar._

Bolognese _(Lî) la sèra sänper la fnèstra prémma ed dsnèr._

Catalan _(Ella) sempre tanca/clou la finestra abans de sopar._

Corsican _Ella chjode/chjude sempre u purtellu nanzu di cenà_ (Northern Corsican); _Edda/Idda sarra sempri u purteddu nanzu di cinà_ (Southern Corsican).

Emilian _(Lē) la sèra sèmpar sù la fnèstra prima ad snàr._

Extremaduran _(Ella) afecha siempri la ventana antis de cenal._

Franco-Provençal _(Le) sarre toltin/tojor la fenétra avan de goutâ/dinar/sopar._

French _Elle ferme toujours la fenêtre avant de dîner/souper._

Friulian _(Jê) e siere simpri il barcon prin di cenâ._

Galician _(Ela) pecha/fecha sempre a fiestra/xanela antes de cear._

Gallurese _Idda chjude sempri lu balconi primma di cinà._

Italian _(Ella/Lei) chiude sempre la finestra prima di cenare._

Judaeo-Spanish .אֵלייה סֵירּה סײֵמפּרֵי לה בֵֿינטאנה אנטֵיס דֵי סֵינאר‎; _Ella cerra siempre la ventana antes de cenar._

Ladin _(Ëra) stlüj dagnora la finestra impröma de cenè._ (badiot) _(Ëila) stluj for l viere dan maië da cëina._ (gherdëina)

Centro Cadore: _La sera sempre la fenestra gnante de disna._ Auronzo di Cadore: La sera sempro la fenestra davoi de disnà.

Leonese _(Eilla) pecha siempre la ventana primeiru de cenare._

Ligurian _(Le) a saera sempre u barcun primma de cenà._

Lombard (east.) (Bergamasque) _(Lé) la sèra sèmper sö la finèstra prima de senà._

Lombard (west.) _(Lee) la sara sù semper la finestra primma de disnà/scenà._

Magoua _(Elle) à fàrm toujour là fnèt àvan k'à manj._

Milanese _(Le) la sara semper sü la finestra prima de disnà._

Mirandese _(Eilha) cerra siempre la bentana/jinela atrás de jantar._

Mozarabic _إليا كلودت سامبرا لا فينسترا أبنتا دا جنارا._ (reconstructed)

Mozarabic _Ella cloudet sempre la fainestra abante da cenare._ (reconstructed)

Neapolitan _Essa nzerra sempe 'a fenesta primma 'e magnà._

Norman _Lli barre tréjous la crouésie devaunt de daîner._

Occitan _(Ela) barra/tanca sempre/totjorn la fenèstra abans de sopar._

Picard _Ale frunme tojours l’ creusèe édvint éd souper._

Piedmontese _Chila a sara sèmper la fnestra dnans ëd fé sin-a/dnans ëd siné._

Portuguese _(Ela) fecha sempre a janela antes de jantar._

Brazilian Portuguese _(Ela) sempre fecha a janela antes de jantar_

Romagnol _(Lia) la ciud sëmpra la fnèstra prëma ad magnè._

Romanian _Ea închide întotdeauna fereastra înainte de a cina._

Romansh _Ella clauda/serra adina la fanestra avant ch'ella tschainia._

Southern Sardinian _Issa serrat semp(i)ri sa bentana in antis de cenài_

Northern Sardinian _Issa serrat semper sa bentana in antis de chenàre._

Sassarese _Edda sarra sempri lu balchoni primma di zinà._

Sicilian _Iḍḍa chiui sempri la finesṭṛa anti ca pistìa/mancia._

Spanish _(Ella) siempre cierra la ventana antes de cenar._

Tuscan _Lei serra sempre la finestra avanti cena._

Umbrian _Essa chjude sempre la finestra prima de cena'._

Venetian _Eła ła sara/sera sempre ła fenestra vanti de xenàr/disnar._

Walloon _Ele sere todi li finiesse divant di soper._


Haitian Creole _Li toujou' fèmen fenêt'-la avant li manger._

Mauritian Creole _Li touzour pou ferm lafnet la avan (li) manze._

Seychellois Creole _Y pou touzour ferm lafnet aven y manze._

Chabacano _Ta cerrá él con el puerta antes de cená._

Papiamento _E muhe closes e porta promé na dine._

Cape Verdean Creole _Êl fechâ porta antes de jantâ._

Some of the divergence comes from semantic change : where the same root word has developed different meanings. For example, the Portuguese word _fresta_ is descended from Latin _fenestra_ "window" (and is thus cognate to French _fenêtre_, Italian _finestra_, Romanian _fereastră_ and so on), but now means "skylight" and "slit". Cognates may exist but have become rare, such as _finiestra_ in Spanish, or dropped out of use entirely. The Spanish and Portuguese terms _defenestrar_ meaning "to throw through a window " and _fenestrado_ meaning "replete with windows" also have the same root, but are later borrowings from Latin.

Likewise, Portuguese also has the word _cear_, a cognate of Italian _cenare_ and Spanish _cenar_, but uses it in the sense of "to have a late supper" in most varieties, while the preferred word for "to dine" is _jantar_ (related to archaic Spanish _yantar_ "to eat") because of semantic changes in the 19th century. Galician has both _fiestra_ (from medieval _fẽestra_, the ancestor of standard Portuguese _fresta_) and the less frequently used _ventá_ and _xanela_.

As an alternative to _lei_ (originally the genitive form), Italian has the pronoun _ella_, a cognate of the other words for "she", but it is hardly ever used in speaking.

Spanish, Asturian, and Leonese _ventana_ and Mirandese and Sardinian _bentana_ come from Latin _ventus_ "wind" (cf. English _window_, etymologically 'wind eye'), and Portuguese _janela_, Galician _xanela_, Mirandese _jinela_ from Latin *_ianuella_ "small opening", a derivative of _ianua_ "door".

Sardinian _balcone_ (alternative for _ventàna_/_bentàna_) comes from Old Italian and is similar to other Romance languages such as French _balcon_ (from Italian _balcone_), Portuguese _balcão_, Romanian _balcon_, Spanish _balcón_, Catalan _balcó_ and Corsican _balconi_ (alternative for _purtellu_).



Main article: Vulgar Latin

Documentary evidence is limited about Vulgar Latin for the purposes of comprehensive research, and the literature is often hard to interpret or generalize. Many of its speakers were soldiers, slaves, displaced peoples, and forced resettlers, more likely to be natives of conquered lands than natives of Rome. In Western Europe, Latin gradually replaced Celtic and Italic languages , which were related to it by a shared Indo-European origin. Commonalities in syntax and vocabulary facilitated the adoption of Latin.

Vulgar Latin is believed to have already had most of the features shared by all Romance languages, which distinguish them from Classical Latin, such as the almost complete loss of the Latin grammatical case system and its replacement by prepositions ; the loss of the neuter grammatical gender and comparative inflections ; replacement of some verb paradigms by innovations (e.g. the synthetic future gave way to an originally analytic strategy now typically formed by infinitive + evolved present indicative forms of 'have'); the use of articles ; and the initial stages of the palatalization of the plosives /k/, /g/, and /t/.

To some scholars, this suggests the form of Vulgar Latin that evolved into the Romance languages was around during the time of the Roman Empire (from the end of the first century BC), and was spoken alongside the written Classical Latin which was reserved for official and formal occasions. Other scholars argue that the distinctions are more rightly viewed as indicative of sociolinguistic and register differences normally found within any language. Both were mutually intelligible as one and the same language, which was true until very approximately the second half of the 7th century. However, within two hundred years Latin became a dead language since "the Romanized people of Europe could no longer understand texts that were read aloud or recited to them," i.e. Latin had ceased to be a first language and became a foreign language that had to be learned, if the label Latin is constrained to refer to a state of the language frozen in past time and restricted to linguistic features for the most part typical of higher registers.


During the political decline of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century, there were large-scale migrations into the empire, and the Latin-speaking world was fragmented into several independent states. Central Europe and the Balkans were occupied by the Germanic and Slavic tribes, as well as by the Huns , which isolated the Vlachs from the rest of Romance-speaking Europe .

British and African Romance , the forms of Vulgar Latin used in southeastern Britain and the Roman province of Africa , where it had been spoken by much of the urban population, disappeared in the Middle Ages (as did Pannonian Romance in what is now Hungary and Moselle Romance in Germany). But the Germanic tribes that had penetrated Roman Italy , Gaul , and Hispania eventually adopted Latin/Romance and the remnants of the culture of ancient Rome alongside existing inhabitants of those regions, and so Latin remained the dominant language there.


Over the course of the fourth to eighth centuries, Vulgar Latin, by this time highly dialectalized, broke up into discrete languages that were no longer mutually intelligible. :5 Clear evidence of Latin change comes from the _ Reichenau Glosses _, an eighth-century compilation of about 1,200 words from the fourth-century Vulgate of Jerome ) that were no longer intelligible along with their eighth-century equivalents in proto- Franco-Provençal . The following are some examples with reflexes in several modern, closely related Romance languages for comparison:


once _semel_ _una vice_ _una fês_ _une fois_ (ina giada) (una volta) _una vez_ _uma vez_ (odată) _una vegada_ (un cop, una volta) (una borta)

children _liberi_ _infantes_ _enfants_ _enfants_ _unfants_ (bambini) / _infanti_ (niños) / _infantes_ (crianças) (copii) (nens, etc.) / _infants_ (pipius) / (pitzinnos)

to blow _flare_ _suflare_ _soflar_ _souffler_ _suflar_ _soffiare_ _soplar_ _soprar_ (a) sufla (bufar) _sulai_ / _sulare_

to sing _canere_ _cantare_ _çhantar_ _chanter_ _chantar_ _cantare_ _cantar_ _cantar_ (a) cânta _cantar_ _cantai_ / _cantare_

the best (plur.) _melior_ _meliores_ los _mèljörs_ les _meilleurs_ ils _megliers_ i _migliori_ los _mejores_ os _melhores_ (optimi, cei mai buni) els _millors_ _is mellus_ / _sos menzus_

beautiful _pulchra_ _bella_ _bèla_ _belle_ _bella_ _bella_ (hermosa, bonita) / _bella_ _bela_ / (formosa/bonita) frumoasă (bonica) / _bella_ _bella_

in the mouth in _ore_ in _bucca_ en la _boçhe_ dans la _bouche_ in la _bucca_ nella _bocca_ en la _boca_ na _boca _ (a îmbuca) a la _boca_ _in sa buca_

winter _hiems_ _hibernus_ _hìvern_ _hiver_ _inviern_ _inverno_ _invierno_ _inverno_ _iarnă_ _hivern_ _ierru_ / _iberru_

In all of the above examples, the words appearing in the fourth century Vulgate are the same words as would have been used in Classical Latin of c. 50 BC. It is likely that some of these words had already disappeared from casual speech; but if so, they must have been still widely understood, as there is no recorded evidence that the common people of the time had difficulty understanding the language.

By the 8th century, the situation was very different. During the late 8th century, Charlemagne , holding that " Latin of his age was by classical standards intolerably corrupt", :6 successfully imposed Classical Latin as an artificial written vernacular for Western Europe . Unfortunately, this meant that parishioners could no longer understand the sermons of their priests, forcing the Council of Tours in 813 to issue an edict that priests needed to translate their speeches into the _rustica romana lingua_, an explicit acknowledgement of the reality of the Romance languages as separate languages from Latin. :6 By this time, and possibly as early as the 6th century according to Price (1984), :6 the Romance lects had split apart enough to be able to speak of separate Gallo-Romance , Ibero-Romance , Italo-Romance and Eastern Romance languages . Some researchers have postulated that the major divergences in the spoken dialects began in the 5th century, as the formerly widespread and efficient communication networks of the Western Roman Empire rapidly broke down, leading to the total disappearance of the Western Roman Empire by the end of the century. The critical period between the 5th–10th centuries AD is poorly documented because little or no writing from the chaotic "Dark Ages " of the 5th–8th centuries has survived, and writing after that time was in consciously classicized Medieval Latin , with vernacular writing only beginning in earnest in the 11th or 12th centuries.


Between the 10th and 13th centuries, some local vernaculars developed a written form and began to supplant Latin in many of its roles. In some countries, such as Portugal , this transition was expedited by force of law; whereas in others, such as Italy , many prominent poets and writers used the vernacular of their own accord – some of the most famous in Italy being Giacomo da Lentini and Dante Alighieri .


The invention of the printing press brought a tendency towards greater uniformity of standard languages within political boundaries, at the expense of other Romance languages and dialects less favored politically. In France, for instance, the dialect spoken in the region of Paris gradually spread to the entire country, and the Occitan of the south lost ground.


Main articles: Romance-speaking Europe , Latin America , Latin Union , Romance-speaking Africa , Romance-speaking Asia , and Romance-speaking world Romance languages, 20th-century Number of native speakers of each Romance language, as fractions of the total 690 million (2007)

The Romance language most widely spoken natively today is Spanish (Castilian), followed by Portuguese , French , Italian and Romanian , which together cover a vast territory in Europe and beyond, and work as official and national languages in dozens of countries. Romance languages in the World

French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Romanian are also official languages of the European Union . Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Romanian, and Catalan are the official languages of the Latin Union ; and French and Spanish are two of the six official languages of the United Nations . Outside Europe, French , Portuguese and Spanish are spoken and enjoy official status in various countries that emerged from the respective colonial empires . Spanish is an official language in nine countries of South America , home to about half that continent's population; in six countries of Central America (all except Belize ); and in Mexico . In the Caribbean , it is official in Cuba , the Dominican Republic , and Puerto Rico . In all these countries, Latin American Spanish is the vernacular language of the majority of the population, giving Spanish the most native speakers of any Romance language. In Africa it is the official language of Equatorial Guinea , but has few native speakers there.

Portuguese, in its original homeland, Portugal , is spoken by virtually the entire population of 10 million. As the official language of Brazil , it is spoken by more than 200 million people in that country, as well as by neighboring residents of eastern Paraguay and northern Uruguay , accounting for a little more than half the population of South America. It is the official language of six African countries ( Angola , Cape Verde , Guinea-Bissau , Mozambique , Equatorial Guinea , and São Tomé and Príncipe ), and is spoken as a first language by perhaps 30 million residents of that continent. In Asia, Portuguese is co-official with other languages in East Timor and Macau , while most Portuguese-speakers in Asia—some 400,000 —are in Japan due to return immigration of Japanese Brazilians . In North America 1,000,000 people speak Portuguese as their home language. In Oceania, Portuguese is the second most spoken Romance language, after French, due mainly to the number of speakers in East Timor . Its closest relative, Galician, has official status in the autonomous community of Galicia in Spain , together with Spanish.

Outside Europe, French is spoken natively most in the Canadian province of Quebec , and in parts of New Brunswick and Ontario . Canada is officially bilingual, with French and English being the official languages. In parts of the Caribbean, such as Haiti , French has official status, but most people speak creoles such as Haitian Creole as their native language. French also has official status in much of Africa, but relatively few native speakers. In France's overseas possessions, native use of French is increasing.

Although Italy also had some colonial possessions before World War II , its language did not remain official after the end of the colonial domination. As a result, Italian outside of Italy and Switzerland is now spoken only as a minority language by immigrant communities in North and South America and Australia . In some former Italian colonies in Africa—namely Libya , Eritrea and Somalia —it is spoken by a few educated people in commerce and government. Romania did not establish a colonial empire, but beyond its native territory in Southeastern Europe , it also spread to other countries on the Mediterranean (especially the other Romance countries, most notably Italy and Spain ), and elsewhere such as Israel , where it is the native language of five percent of the population, and is spoken by many more as a secondary language; this is due to the large numbers of Romanian-born Jews who moved to Israel after World War II . Some 2.6 million people in the former Soviet republic of Moldova speak a variety of Romanian, called variously Moldovan or Romanian by them.

The total native speakers of Romance languages are divided as follows (with their ranking within the languages of the world in brackets):

* Spanish ( Hispanosphere ) 49% (2nd ) * Portuguese ( Lusosphere ) 26% (6th ) * French ( Francophonie ) 8.6% (18th ) * Italian 7.7% (23rd ) * Romanian 3.0% (49th ) * Catalan 0.9% (not in the top 100 ) * Others 3.6%

Catalan is the official language of Andorra . In Spain, it is co-official with Spanish (Castilian) in Catalonia , the Valencian Community , and the Balearic Islands , and it is recognized, but not official, in La Franja , in Aragon . In addition, it is spoken by many residents of Alghero , on the island of Sardinia , and it is co-official in that city. Galician , with more than a million native speakers, is official together with Spanish in Galicia , and has legal recognition in neighbouring territories in Castilla y León . A few other languages have official recognition on a regional or otherwise limited level; for instance, Asturian and Aragonese in Spain; Mirandese in Portugal; Friulan , Sardinian and Franco-Provençal in Italy; and Romansh in Switzerland.

The remaining Romance languages survive mostly as spoken languages for informal contact. National governments have historically viewed linguistic diversity as an economic, administrative or military liability, as well as a potential source of separatist movements; therefore, they have generally fought to eliminate it, by extensively promoting the use of the official language, restricting the use of the "other" languages in the media, characterizing them as mere "dialects", or even persecuting them. As a result, all of these languages are considered endangered to varying degrees according to the UNESCO Red Book of Endangered Languages , ranging from "vulnerable" (e.g. Sicilian and Venetian ) to "severely endangered" ( Arpitan , most of the Occitan varieties). Since the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, increased sensitivity to the rights of minorities has allowed some of these languages to start recovering their prestige and lost rights. Yet it is unclear whether these political changes will be enough to reverse the decline of minority Romance languages.


Chart of Romance languages based on structural and comparative criteria, not on socio-functional ones. FP: Franco-Provençal, IR: Istro-Romanian. Eastern and Western Romance areas split by the La Spezia–Rimini Line Main article: Classification of Romance languages

The classification of the Romance languages is inherently difficult, because most of the linguistic area is a dialect continuum , and in some cases political biases can come into play. Along with Latin (which is not included among the Romance languages) and a few extinct languages of ancient Italy, they make up the Italic branch of the Indo-European family .


Classical Latin

Vulgar Latin

Continental Romance

Sardinian language


African Romance

Eastern Romance

Western Romance


Balkan Romance















Extent of variation in development (very conservative to very innovatory) Form ("to sing") LATIN Nuorese Sardinian ITALIAN SPANISH PORTUGUESE Central Catalan ROMANIAN FRENCH

Infinitive cantāre cantare cantare cantar cantar 1 cantar cânta(re) chanter

Past part. cantātum cantatu cantato cantado cantado cantat cântat chanté

Gerund cantandum cantande cantando cantando cantando cantant cântând chantant

1s indic. cantō canto canto canto canto canto cânt chante

2s indic. cantās cantas canti cantas cantas cantes cânți chantes

3s indic. cantat cantat canta canta canta canta cântă chante

1p indic. cantāmus cantamus cantiamo cantamos cantamos cantem cântăm chantons

2p indic. cantātis cantates cantate cantáis cantais canteu cântați chantez

3p indic. cantant cantant cantano cantan cantam canten cântă chantent

1s sbjv cantem cante canti cante cante canti cânt chante

2s sbjv cantēs cantes canti cantes cantes cantis cânți chantes

3s sbjv cantet cantet canti cante cante canti cânte chante

1p sbjv cantēmus cantemus cantiamo cantemos cantemos cantem cântăm chantions

2p sbjv cantētis cantetis cantiate cantéis canteis canteu cântați chantiez

3p sbjv cantent cantent cantino canten cantem cantin cânte chantent

2s impv. cantā canta canta canta canta canta cântă chante

2p impv. cantāte cantate cantate cantad cantai canteu cântați chantez

1 Also are all possible allophones of in this position.

There are various schemes used to subdivide the Romance languages. Three of the most common schemes are as follows:

* Italo-Western vs. Eastern vs. Southern. This is the scheme followed by Ethnologue , and is based primarily on the outcome of the ten monophthong vowels in Classical Latin. This is discussed more below . * West vs. East. This scheme divides the various languages along the La Spezia–Rimini Line , which runs across north-central Italy just to the north of the city of Florence (whose speech forms the basis of standard Italian). In this scheme, "East" includes the languages of central and southern Italy, and the Balkan Romance (or "Eastern Romance") languages in Romania, Greece, and elsewhere in the Balkans; "West" includes the languages of Portugal, Spain, France, northern Italy and Switzerland. Sardinian does not easily fit in this scheme. * "Conservative " vs. "innovatory". This is a non-genetic division whose precise boundaries are subject to debate. Generally, the Gallo-Romance languages (discussed further below) form the core "innovatory" languages, with standard French generally considered the most innovatory of all, while the languages near the periphery (which include Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Romanian) are "conservative". Sardinian is generally acknowledged the most conservative Romance language, and was also the first language to split off genetically from the rest, possibly as early as the first century BC. Dante famously denigrated the Sardinians for the conservativeness of their speech, remarking that they imitate Latin "like monkeys imitate men".

Italo-Western Vs. Eastern Vs. Sardinian

The main subfamilies that have been proposed by Ethnologue within the various classification schemes for Romance languages are:

* Italo-Western , the largest group, which includes languages such as Catalan, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, and French. * Eastern Romance , which includes the Romance languages of Eastern Europe, such as Romanian. * Southern Romance , which includes a few languages with particularly archaic features, such as Sardinian and, partially, Corsican. This family is thought to have included the now-vanished Romance languages of Africa (or at least, they appear to have evolved their vowels in the same way).

This controversial three-way division is made primarily based on the outcome of Vulgar Latin (Proto-Romance) vowels:


short A /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/

long A

short E /ɛ/ /e/ /ɛ/ /ɛ/

long E /e/ /e/ /e/

short I /ɪ/ /i/

long I /i/ /i/ /i/

short O /ɔ/ /o/ /o/ /ɔ/

long O /o/ /o/

short U /ʊ/ /u/ /u/

long U /u/ /u/

Italo-Western is in turn split along the so-called _La Spezia–Rimini Line _ in northern Italy, which divides the central and southern Italian languages from the so-called Western Romance languages to the north and west. The primary characteristics dividing the two are:

* Phonemic lenition of intervocalic stops, which happens to the northwest but not to the southeast. * Degemination of geminate stops (producing new intervocalic single voiceless stops, after the old ones were lenited), which again happens to the northwest but not to the southeast. * Deletion of intertonic vowels (between the stressed syllable and either the first or last syllable), again in the northwest but not the southeast. * Use of plurals in /s/ in the northwest vs. plurals using vowel change in the southeast. * Development of palatalized /k/ before /e,i/ to /(t)s/ in the northwest vs. /tʃ/ in the southeast. * Development of /kt/, which develops to /xt/ > /it/ (sometimes progressing further to /tʃ/) in the northwest but /tt/ in the southeast.

In fact, the reality is somewhat more complex. All of the "southeast" characteristics apply to all languages southeast of the line, and all of the "northwest" characteristics apply to all languages in France and (most of) Spain. However, the Gallo- Italic languages are somewhere in between. All of these languages do have the "northwest" characteristics of lenition and loss of gemination. However:

* The Gallo‒ Italic languages have vowel-changing plurals rather than /s/ plurals. * The Lombard language in north-central Italy and the Rhaeto-Romance languages have the "southeast" characteristic of /tʃ/ instead of /(t)s/ for palatalized /k/. * The Venetian language in northeast Italy and some of the Rhaeto-Romance languages have the "southeast" characteristic of developing /kt/ to /tt/. * Lenition of post-vocalic /p t k/ is widespread as an allophonic phonetic realization in Italy below the La Spezia-Rimini line, including Corsica and most of Sardinia.

On top of this, the ancient Mozarabic language in southern Spain, at the far end of the "northwest" group, had the "southeast" characteristics of lack of lenition and palatalization of /k/ to /tʃ/. Certain languages around the Pyrenees (e.g. some highland Aragonese dialects) also lack lenition, and northern French dialects such as Norman and Picard have palatalization of /k/ to /tʃ/ (although this is possibly an independent, secondary development, since /k/ between vowels, i.e. when subject to lenition, developed to /dz/ rather than /dʒ/, as would be expected for a primary development).

The usual solution to these issues is to create various nested subgroups. Western Romance is split into the Gallo-Iberian languages, in which lenition happens and which include nearly all the Western Romance languages, and the Pyrenean-Mozarabic group, which includes the remaining languages without lenition (and is unlikely to be a valid clade ; probably at least two clades, one for Mozarabic and one for Pyrenean). Gallo-Iberian is split in turn into the Iberian languages (e.g. Spanish and Portuguese ), and the larger Gallo-Romance languages (stretching from eastern Spain to northeast Italy).

Probably a more accurate description, however, would be to say that there was a focal point of innovation located in central France, from which a series of innovations spread out as areal changes . The La Spezia–Rimini Line represents the farthest point to the southeast that these innovations reached, corresponding to the northern chain of the Apennine Mountains , which cuts straight across northern Italy and forms a major geographic barrier to further language spread.

This would explain why some of the "northwest" features (almost all of which can be characterized as innovations) end at differing points in northern Italy, and why some of the languages in geographically remote parts of Spain (in the south, and high in the Pyrenees) are lacking some of these features. It also explains why the languages in France (especially standard French) seem to have innovated earlier and more completely than other Western Romance languages.

Many of the "southeast" features also apply to the Eastern Romance languages (particularly, Romanian), despite the geographic discontinuity. Examples are lack of lenition, maintenance of intertonic vowels, use of vowel-changing plurals, and palatalization of /k/ to /tʃ/. (Gemination is missing, which may be an independent development, and /kt/ develops into /pt/ rather than either of the normal Italo-Western developments.) This has led some researchers to postulate a basic two-way East-West division, with the "Eastern" languages including Romanian and central and southern Italian.

Sardinian does not fit well at all into this sort of division. It is clear that Sardinian became linguistically independent from the remainder of the Romance languages at an extremely early date, possibly already by the first century BC. Sardinian contains a large number of archaic features, including total lack of palatalization of /k/ and /g/ and a large amount of vocabulary preserved nowhere else, including some items already archaic by the time of Classical Latin (first century BC). Sardinian has plurals in /s/ but post-vocalic lenition of voiceless consonants is normally limited to the status of an allophonic rule (e.g. _ane_ 'dog' but _su_ _ane_ or _su_ _ane_ 'the dog'), and there are a few innovations unseen elsewhere, such as a change of /au/ to /a/. Use of _su_ < _ipsum_ as an article is a retained archaic feature that also exists in the Catalan of the Balearic Islands and that used to be more widespread in Occitano-Romance, and is known as _article salat_ (literally the "salted article"), while Sardinia shares delabialization of earlier /kw/ and /gw/ with Romania: Sard. _abba_, Rum. _apă_ 'water'; Sard. _limba_, Rom. _limbă_ 'language' (cf. Italian _acqua_, _lingua_).

Gallo-Romance Languages

Main article: Gallo-Romance languages

Gallo-Romance can be divided into the following subgroups:

* The Langues d\'oïl , including French and closely related languages. * The Franco-Provençal language (also known as Arpitan) of southeastern France, western Switzerland, and Aosta Valley region of northwestern Italy.

The following groups are also sometimes considered part of Gallo-Romance:

* The Occitano-Romance languages of southern France namely, Occitan and Gascon .

* The Catalan language of eastern Iberia is also sometimes included in Gallo-romance. This is however disputed by some linguists who prefer to group it with Iberian Romance , since although Old Catalan is close to Old Occitan, it later adjusted its lexicon to some degree to align with Spanish. In general however, modern Catalan, especially grammatically, remains closer to modern Occitan than to either Spanish or Portuguese.

* The Gallo-Italian languages of northern Italy, including Piedmontese , Ligurian , Western Lombard , Eastern Lombard , Emilian and Romagnol . Ligurian and Eastern Lombard retain the final -o, being the exception in Gallo-Romance. * The Rhaeto-Romance languages , including Romansh , and Friulian , and Ladin dialects.

The Gallo-Romance languages are generally considered the most innovative (least conservative) among the Romance languages. Characteristic Gallo-Romance features generally developed earliest and appear in their most extreme manifestation in the Langue d\'oïl , gradually spreading out along riverways and transalpine roads.

In some ways, however, the Gallo-Romance languages are conservative. The older stages of many of the languages preserved a two-case system consisting of nominative and oblique, fully marked on nouns, adjectives and determiners, inherited almost directly from the Latin nominative and accusative and preserving a number of different declensional classes and irregular forms. The languages closest to the oïl epicenter preserve the case system the best, while languages at the periphery lose it early.

Notable characteristics of the Gallo-Romance languages are:

* Early loss of unstressed final vowels other than /a/—a defining characteristic of the group.

* Further reductions of final vowels in Langue d\'oïl and many Gallo- Italic languages , with the feminine /a/ and prop vowel /e/ merging into /ə/, which is often subsequently dropped.

* Early, heavy reduction of unstressed vowels in the interior of a word (another defining characteristic). * Loss of final vowels phonemicized the long vowels that used to be automatic concomitants of stressed open syllables. These phonemic long vowels are maintained directly in many Northern Italian dialects; elsewhere, phonemic length was lost, but in the meantime many of the long vowels diphthongized, resulting in a maintenance of the original distinction. The langue d'oïl branch is again at the forefront of innovation, with no less than five of the seven long vowels diphthongizing (only high vowels were spared). * Front rounded vowels are present in all four branches. /u/ usually fronts to /y/, and secondary mid front rounded vowels often develop from long /oː/ or /ɔː/. * Extreme lenition (i.e. multiple rounds of lenition) occurs in many languages especially in Langue d\'oïl and many Gallo-Italian languages . * The Langue d\'oïl , Swiss Rhaeto-Romance languages and many of the northern dialects of Occitan have a secondary palatalization of /k/ and /ɡ/ before /a/, producing different results from the primary Romance palatalization: e.g. _centum_ "hundred" > _cent_ /sɑ̃/, _cantum_ "song" > _chant_ /ʃɑ̃/. * Other than the Occitano-Romance languages , most Gallo-Romance languages are subject-obligatory (whereas all the rest of the Romance languages are pro-drop languages). This is a late development triggered by progressive phonetic erosion: Old French was still a null-subject language, and this only changed upon loss of secondarily final consonants in Middle French.


Some Romance languages have developed varieties which seem dramatically restructured as to their grammars or to be mixtures with other languages. It is not always clear whether they should be classified as Romance, pidgins , creole languages , or mixed languages . Some other languages, such as English , are sometimes thought of as creoles of semi-Romance ancestry. There are several dozens of creoles of French , Spanish , and Portuguese origin, some of them spoken as national languages in former European colonies.


* Antillean ( French Antilles , Saint Lucia , Dominica ) * Haitian (one of Haiti 's two official languages) * Louisiana (US) * Mauritian (_lingua franca _ of Mauritius ) * Réunion (native language of Réunion ) * Seychellois ( Seychelles ' official language)


* Chavacano (in part of Philippines) * Palenquero (in part of Colombia)


* Angolar (regional language in São Tomé and Principe) * Cape Verdean (Cape Verde's national language; includes several distinct languages) * Forro (regional language in São Tomé and Príncipe) * Kristang (Malaysia) * Macanese (Macau) * Papiamento (Dutch Antilles official language) * Upper Guinea (Guinea-Bissau's national language)


Main articles: Constructed language and International auxiliary language

Latin and the Romance languages have also served as the inspiration and basis of numerous auxiliary and constructed languages, so-called "neo-romantic languages".

The concept was first developed in 1903 by Italian mathematician Giuseppe Peano , under the title Latino sine flexione . He wanted to create a _naturalistic_ international language, as opposed to an autonomous constructed language like Esperanto or Volapuk which were designed for maximal simplicity of lexicon and derivation of words. Peano used Latin as the base of his language, because at the time of his flourishing it was the _de facto_ international language of scientific communication.

Other languages developed since include Idiom Neutral , Occidental , Lingua Franca Nova , and most famously and successfully, Interlingua . Each of these languages has attempted to varying degrees to achieve a pseudo- Latin vocabulary as common as possible to living Romance languages.

There are also languages created for artistic purposes only, such as Talossan . Because Latin is a very well attested ancient language, some amateur linguists have even constructed Romance languages that mirror real languages that developed from other ancestral languages. These include Brithenig (which mirrors Welsh ), Breathanach (mirrors Irish ), Wenedyk (mirrors Polish ), Þrjótrunn (mirrors Icelandic ), and Helvetian (mirrors German ).



Romance languages have a number of shared features across all languages:

* Romance languages are moderately inflecting , i.e. there is a moderately complex system of affixes (primarily suffixes ) that are attached to words to convey grammatical information such as number , gender , person , tense , etc. Verbs have much more inflection than nouns. The amount of _synthesis _ is significantly more than English , but less than Classical Latin and much less than the oldest Indo-European languages (e.g. Ancient Greek , Sanskrit ). Inflection is fusional , with a single affix representing multiple features (as contrasted with agglutinative languages such as Turkish or Japanese ). For example, Portuguese _amei_ "I loved" is composed of _am-_ "love" and the fusional suffix _-ei_ "first-person singular preterite indicative". * Romance languages have a fairly strict subject–verb–object word order, with predominant use of head-first (right-branching ) constructions. Adjectives, genitives and relative clauses all follow their head noun, although (except in Romanian ) determiners usually precede. * In general, nouns, adjectives and determiners inflect only according to grammatical gender (masculine or feminine) and grammatical number (singular or plural). Grammatical case is marked only on pronouns, as in English; case marking, as in English, is of the nominative–accusative type (rather than e.g. the ergative–absolutive marking of Basque or the split ergativity of Hindi ). A significant exception, however, is Romanian , with two-case marking (nominative/accusative vs. genitive/dative) on nominal elements. * Verbs are inflected according to a complex morphology that marks person , number (singular or plural), tense , mood (indicative, subjunctive, imperative), and sometimes aspect or gender . Grammatical voice (active, passive, middle/reflexive) and some grammatical aspects (in particular, the perfect aspect ) are expressed using periphrastic constructions, as in the Italian present perfect (_passato prossimo_) _io ho amato_/_io sono stato amato_ "I have loved/I have been loved". * Most Romance languages are null subject languages (but modern French is not, as a result of the phonetic decay of verb endings). * All Romance languages have two articles (definite and indefinite ), and many have in addition a partitive article (expressing the concept of "some"). In some languages (notably, French ), the use of an article with a noun is nearly obligatory; it serves to express grammatical number (no longer marked on most nouns) and to cope with the extreme homophony of French vocabulary as a result of extensive sound reductions. * The phonology of most Romance languages is of moderate size with few unusual phonemes. Phonemic vowel length is uncommon. Some languages have developed nasal vowels or front rounded vowels . * Word accent is of the stress (dynamic) type, rather than making use of pitch (as in Ancient Greek and some modern Slavic languages), and is free, occurring more or less unpredictably on one of the last three syllables. In practice, the stress is largely predictable, due to the many morphological and phonological stress-related patterns.


Loss of the case system

The most significant changes between Classical Latin and Proto-Romance (and hence all the modern Romance languages) relate to the reduction or loss of the Latin case system , and the corresponding syntactic changes that were triggered.

The case system was drastically reduced from the vigorous six-case system of Latin. Although four cases can be constructed for Proto-Romance nouns (nominative, accusative, combined genitive/dative, and vocative), the vocative is marginal and present only in Romanian (where it may be an outright innovation), and of the remaining cases, no more than two are present in any one language. Romanian is the only modern Romance language with case marking on nouns, with a two-way opposition between nominative/accusative and genitive/dative. Some of the older Gallo-Romance languages (in particular, Old French , Old Occitan , Old Sursilvan and Old Friulian , and in traces Old Catalan and Old Venetian ) had an opposition between nominative and general oblique, and in Ibero-Romance languages, such as Spanish and Portuguese, as well as in Italian (see under Case ), a couple of examples are found which preserve the old nominative. As in English, case is preserved better on pronouns.

Concomitant with the loss of cases, freedom of word order was greatly reduced. Classical Latin had a generally verb-final (SOV) but overall quite free word order, with a significant amount of word scrambling and mixing of left-branching and right-branching constructions. The Romance languages eliminated word scrambling and nearly all left-branching constructions, with most languages developing a rigid SVO, right-branching syntax. ( Old French , however, had a freer word order due to the two-case system still present, as well as a predominantly verb-second word order developed under the influence of the Germanic languages .) Some freedom, however, is allowed in the placement of adjectives relative to their head noun. In addition, some languages (e.g. Spanish, Romanian) have an "accusative preposition" (Romanian _pe_, Spanish "personal _a_") along with clitic doubling , which allows for some freedom in ordering the arguments of a verb.

The Romance languages developed grammatical articles where Latin had none. Articles are often introduced around the time a robust case system falls apart in order to disambiguate the remaining case markers (which are usually too ambiguous by themselves) and to serve as parsing clues that signal the presence of a noun (a function that used to beserved by the case endings themselves).

This was the pattern followed by the Romance languages: In the Romance languages that still preserved a functioning nominal case system (e.g., Romanian and Old French), only the combination of article and case ending serves to uniquely identify number and case (compare the similar situation in modern German ). All Romance languages have a definite article (originally developed from _ipse_ "self" but replaced in nearly all languages by _ille_ "that (over there)") and an indefinite article (developed from _ūnus_ "one"). Many also have a partitive article (_dē_ "of" + definite article).

Latin had a large number of syntactic constructions expressed through infinitives, participles, and similar nominal constructs. Examples are the ablative absolute , the accusative-plus-infinitive construction used for reported speech , gerundive constructions, and the common use of reduced relative clauses expressed through participles. All of these are replaced in the Romance languages by subordinate clauses expressed with finite verbs, making the Romance languages much more "verbal" and less "nominal" than Latin. Under the influence of the Balkan sprachbund , Romanian has progressed the furthest, largely eliminating the infinitive. (It is being revived, however, due to the increasing influence of other Romance languages.) Other changes

* Loss of phonemic vowel length , and change into a free-stressed language. Classical Latin had an automatically determined stress on the second or third syllable from the end, conditioned by vowel length; once vowel length was neutralized, stress was no longer predictable so long as it remained where it was (which it mostly did). * Development of a series of palatal consonants as a result of palatalization . * Loss of most traces of the neuter gender. * Development of a series of analytic perfect tenses , comparable to English "I have done, I had done, I will have done". * Loss of the Latin synthetic passive voice, replaced by an analytic construction comparable to English "it is/was done". * Loss of deponent verbs , replaced by active-voice verbs. * Replacement of the Latin future tense with a new tense formed (usually) by a periphrasis of infinitive + present tense of _habēre_ "have", which usually contracts into a new synthetic tense. A corresponding conditional tense is formed in the same way but using one of the past-tense forms of _habēre_. * Numerous lexical changes. A number of words were borrowed from the Germanic languages and Celtic languages . Many basic nouns and verbs, especially those that were short or had irregular morphology, were replaced by longer derived forms with regular morphology. Throughout the medieval period, words were borrowed from Classical Latin in their original form (_learned words_) or in something approaching the original form (_semi-learned words_), often replacing the popular forms of the same words.



Every language has a different set of vowels from every other. Common characteristics are as follows:

* Most languages have at least five monophthongs /a e i o u/. The parent language of most of the Italo- Western Romance languages (which includes the vast majority) actually had a seven-vowel system /a ɛ e i ɔ o u/, which is kept in most Italo-Western languages. In some languages, like Spanish and Romanian, the phonemic status and difference between open-mid and close-mid vowels was lost. French has probably the largest inventory of monophthongs, with conservative varieties having 12 oral vowels /a ɑ ɛ e i ɔ o u œ ø y ə/ and 4 nasal vowels /ɑ̃ ɛ̃ ɔ̃ œ̃/. European Portuguese also has a large inventory, with 9 oral monophthongs /a ɐ ɛ e i ɔ o u ɨ/, 5 nasal monophthongs /ɐ̃ ẽ ĩ õ ũ/, and a large number of oral and nasal diphthongs (see below). (The phonemic status of /ɐ ɨ/ is somewhat doubtful, however, and neither phoneme exists in Brazilian Portuguese ). * Some languages have a large inventory of falling diphthongs . These may or may not be considered as phonemic units (rather than sequences of vowel+glide), depending on their behavior. As an example, French, Spanish and Italian have occasional instances of putative falling diphthongs formed from a vowel plus a non-syllabic /i/ or /u/ (e.g. Spanish _veinte_ "twenty", _deuda_ "debt"; French _paille_ "straw", _caoutchouc_ "rubber"; Italian _lui_ "he", _potei_ "I could"), but these are normally analyzed as sequences of vowel and glide. The diphthongs in Romanian, Portuguese, Catalan and Occitan, however, have various properties suggesting that they are better analyzed as unit phonemes. Portuguese, for example, has the diphthongs /aj ɐj ɛj ej ɔj oj uj aw ɛw ew iw (ow)/, where /ow/ (and to a lesser extent /ej/) appear only in some dialects. All except /aw ɛw/ appear frequently in verb or noun inflections. (Portuguese also has nasal diphthongs; see below.) * Among the major Romance languages, Portuguese and French have nasal vowel phonemes, stemming from nasalization before a nasal consonant followed by loss of the consonant (this occurred especially when the nasal consonant was not directly followed by a vowel). Originally, vowels in both languages were nasalized before _all_ nasal consonants, but have subsequently become denasalized before nasal consonants that still remain (except in Brazilian Portuguese , where the pre-nasal vowels in words such as _cama_ "bed", _menos_ "less" remain highly nasalized). In Portuguese, nasal vowels are sometimes analyzed as phonemic sequences of oral vowels plus an underlying nasal consonant, but such an analysis is difficult in French because of the existence of minimal pairs such as _bon_ /bɔ̃/ "good (masc.)", _bonne_ /bɔn/ "good (fem.)". In both languages, there are fewer nasal than oral vowels. Nasalization triggered vowel lowering in French, producing the 4 nasal vowels /ɑ̃ ɛ̃ ɔ̃ œ̃/ (although most speakers in France nowadays pronounce /œ̃/ as /ɛ̃/). Vowel raising was triggered in Portuguese, however, producing the 5 nasal vowels /ɐ̃ ẽ ĩ õ ũ/. Vowel contraction and other changes also resulted in the Portuguese nasal diphthongs /ɐ̃w̃ õw̃ ɐ̃j̃ ẽj̃ õj̃ ũj̃/ (of which /ũj̃/ occurs in only two words, _muito_ /mũj̃tu/ "much, many, very", and _mui_ /mũj̃/ "very"; and /ẽj̃ õw̃/ are actually final-syllable allophones of /ẽ õ/). * Most languages have fewer vowels in unstressed syllables than stressed syllables. This again reflects the Italo-Western Romance parent language, which had a seven-vowel system in stressed syllables (as described above) but only /a e i o u/ (with no low-mid vowels) in unstressed syllables. Some languages have seen further reductions: e.g. Standard Catalan has only in unstressed syllables. In French, on the other hand, any vowel may take prosodic stress. * Most languages have even fewer vowels in word-final unstressed syllables than elsewhere. For example, Old Italian allowed only /a e i o/, while the early stages of most Western Romance languages allowed only /a e o/. The Gallo-Romance languages went even farther, deleting all final vowels except /a/. Of these languages, French has carried things to the extreme by deleting all vowels after the accented syllable and uniformly accenting the final syllable (except for a more-or-less non-phonemic final unstressed that occasionally appears). Modern Spanish now allows final unstressed /i u/, and modern Italian allows final unstressed /u/, but they tend to occur largely in borrowed or onomatopoeic words, e.g. _guru_ "guru", _taxi_ "taxi", Spanish _tribu_ "tribe" and _espíritu_ "spirit" (loanwords from Classical Latin ), Italian _babau_ "bogeyman" (onomatopoeic, cf. English "boo!"). The apparent Spanish exception _casi_ "almost" originates from Latin _quasi_ "as if" < _quam sī_, and was probably influenced by _si_ "if". * Phonemic vowel length is uncommon. Vulgar Latin lost the phonemic vowel length of Classical Latin and replaced it with a non-phonemic length system where stressed vowels in open syllables were long, and all other vowels were short. Standard Italian still maintains this system, and it was rephonemicized in the Gallo-Romance languages (including the Rhaeto-Romance languages ) as a result of the deletion of many final vowels. Some northern Italian languages (e.g. Friulan ) still maintain this secondary phonemic length, but in most languages the new long vowels were either diphthongized or shortened again, in the process eliminating phonemic length. French is again the odd man out: Although it followed a normal Gallo-Romance path by diphthongizing five of the seven long vowels and shortening the remaining two, it phonemicized a third vowel length system around 1300 AD in syllables that had been closed with an /s/ (still marked with a circumflex accent), and now is phonemicizing a fourth system as a result of lengthening before final voiced fricatives. * In modern spoken and literary Romanian, Slavic influences are evident in phonetics and morphology. Phonetic Slavicisms include the iotation of the initial _e_ in words such as _el_, _ea_, _este_ pronounced , , (compare Spanish : _el, ella, estamos_, without the Slavic iotation effect).


Most Romance languages have similar sets of consonants. The following is a combined table of the consonants of the five major Romance languages (French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian).


* BOLD: Appears in all 5 languages. * _italic_: Appears in 3–4 languages. * (parentheses): Appears in 2 languages. * ((double parentheses)): Appears in only 1 language.

Notable changes:

* Spanish has no phonemic voiced fricatives (however, occur as allophones of /b d ɡ/ after a vowel and after certain consonants). The equivalent of /v/ merged with /b/, and all the rest became voiceless. It also lost /ʃ/, which became /x/ or /h/ in some other dialects. * The western languages (French, Spanish, Portuguese) all used to have the affricates /ts/, /dz/, /tʃ/, /dʒ/. By the fourteenth century or so, these all turned into fricatives except for Spanish and dialectal Portuguese /tʃ/. (Spanish /ts/ ended up becoming /θ/, at least in Northern and Central Spain; elsewhere, it merged with /s/, as in the other languages.) Romanian /dz/ likewise became /z/. * French, and most varieties of Spanish, have lost /ʎ/ (which merged with /j/). Romanian merged both /ʎ/ and /ɲ/ into /j/. * Romanian was influenced by Slavic phonology, mostly the palatalization of consonants in the plural form (for example _pom-pomi_ and _lup-lupi_, pronounced and ) and changing of /l/ to /r/, for instance Latin _schola/scola_ > Slav. школа, _shkola_ > modern Romanian _şcoală_ "school".

Most instances of most of the sounds below that occur (or used to occur, as described above) in all of the languages are cognate. However:

* Although all of the languages have or used to have /tʃ/, almost none of these sounds are cognate between pairs of languages. The only real exception is many /tʃ/ between Italian and Romanian, stemming from Latin C- before E or I. Italian also has /tʃ/ from Vulgar Latin -CY-, and from -TY- following a consonant (elsewhere /ts/). Former French /tʃ/ is from Latin C- before A, either word-initial or following a consonant; Spanish /tʃ/ is from Latin -CT-, or from PL, CL following a consonant; former Portuguese /tʃ/ is from Latin PL, CL, FL, either word-initial or following a consonant. * Italian and former Romanian /dz/ (from some instances of Vulgar Latin -DY-) are not cognate with former western /dz/ (from lenition of /ts/).

Romance consonants

BILABIAL Labio- dental INTERDENTAL Dental / Alveolar Post- alveolar PALATAL Velar / Uvular GLOTTAL








K ɡ


(ts) ((dz)) _tʃ_ (dʒ)


F _v_ ((θ))

S _z_ _ʃ_ _ʒ_












Lexical Stress

Word stress was rigorously predictable in classical Latin except in a very few exceptional cases, either on the penultimate syllable (second from last) or antepenultimate syllable (third from last), according to the syllable weight of the penultimate syllable. Stress in the Romance Languages mostly remains on the same syllable as in Latin, but various sound changes have made it no longer so predictable. Minimal pairs distinguished only by stress exist in some languages, e.g. Italian _Papa_ "Pope" vs. _papà_ "daddy", or Spanish _límite_ " limit", present subjunctive _limite_ " limit" and preterite _limité_ " limited".

Erosion of unstressed syllables following the stress has caused most Spanish and Portuguese words to have either penultimate or ultimate stress: e.g. Latin _trēdecim_ "thirteen" > Spanish _trece_, Portuguese _treze_; Latin _amāre_ "to love" > Spanish/Portuguese _amar_. Most words with antepenultimate stress are learned borrowings from Latin, e.g. Spanish/Portuguese _fábrica_ "factory" (the corresponding inherited word is Spanish _fragua_, Portuguese _frágua_ "forge"). This process has gone even farther in French, with deletion of all post-stressed vowels, leading to consistent, predictable stress on the last syllable: e.g. Latin _Stephanum_ "Stephen" > Old French _Estievne_ > French _Étienne_ /e.ˈtjɛn/; Latin _juvenis_ "young" > Old French _juevne_ > French _jeune_ /ʒœn/. This applies even to borrowings: e.g. Latin _fabrica_ > French borrowing _fabrique_ /fa.ˈbʀik/ (the inherited word in this case being monosyllabic _forge_ < Pre-French *_fauriga_).

Other than French (with consistent final stress), the position of the stressed syllable generally falls on one of the last three syllables. Exceptions may be caused by clitics or (in Italian) certain verb endings, e.g. Italian _telefonano_ "they telephone"; Spanish _entregándomelo_ "delivering it to me"; Italian _mettiamocene_ "let's put some of it in there"; Portuguese _dávamo-vo-lo_ "we were giving it to you". Stress on verbs is almost completely predictable in Spanish and Portuguese, but less so in Italian.


Nouns, adjectives, and pronouns can be marked for gender , number and case . Adjectives and pronouns must agree in all features with the noun they are bound to.


The Romance languages inherited from Latin two grammatical numbers, singular and plural; the only trace of a dual number comes from Latin _ambō_ > Spanish and Portuguese _ambos_, Old Romanian _îmbi_ > Romanian _ambii_, Old French _ambe_, Italian _ambedue, entrambi_.


Most Romance languages have two grammatical genders , masculine and feminine. The gender of animate nouns is generally natural (i.e. nouns referring to men are generally masculine, and vice versa), but for nonanimate nouns it is arbitrary.

Although Latin had a third gender (neuter), there is little trace of this in most languages. The biggest exception is Romanian , where there is a productive class of "neuter" nouns, which include the descendants of many Latin neuter nouns and which behave like masculines in the singular and feminines in the plural, both in the endings used and in the agreement of adjectives and pronouns (e.g. _un deget_ "one finger" vs. _două degete_ "two fingers", cf. Latin _digitus_, pl. _digiti_).

Such nouns arose because of the identity of the Latin neuter singular _-um_ with the masculine singular, and the identity of the Latin neuter plural _-a_ with the feminine singular. A similar class exists in Italian, although it is no longer productive (e.g. _il dito_ "the finger" vs. _le dita_ "the fingers", _l'uovo_ "the egg" vs. _le uova_ "the eggs"). A similar phenomenon may be observed in Albanian (which is heavily Romance-influenced), and the category remains highly productive with a number of new words loaned or coined in the neuter (_(një) hotel_ one hotel(m) vs. _(tri) hotele_ three hotels (f)). (A few isolated nouns in Latin had different genders in the singular and plural, but this was an unrelated phenomenon; this is similarly the case with a few French nouns, such as _amour_, _délice_, _orgue_.)

Spanish also has vestiges of the neuter in the demonstrative adjectives: _esto_, _eso_, _aquello_, the pronoun _ello_ (meaning "it") and the article _lo_ (used to intensify adjectives). Portuguese also has neuter demonstrative adjectives: "isto", "isso", "aquilo" (meaning "this ", "this/that ", "that ").

Remnants of the neuter, interpretable now as "a sub-class of the non-feminine gender" (Haase 2000:233), are vigorous in Italy in an area running roughly from Ancona to Matera and just north of Rome to Naples. Oppositions with masculine typically have been recategorized, so that neuter signifies the referent in general, while masculine indicates a more specific instance, with the distinction marked by the definite article. In Southeast Umbrian , for example, neuter _lo pane_ is 'the bread', while masculine _lu pane_ refers to an individual piece or loaf of bread. Similarly, neuter _lo vinu_ is wine in general, while masculine _lu vinu_ is a specific sort of wine, with the consequence that mass _lo vinu_ has no plural counterpart, but _lu vinu_ can take a sortal plural form _li vini_, referring to different types of wine. Phonological forms of articles vary by locale.


Latin had an extensive case system, where all nouns were declined in six cases (nominative , vocative , accusative , dative , genitive , and ablative ) and two numbers. Many adjectives were additionally declined in three genders, leading to a possible 6 × 2 × 3 = 36 endings per adjective (although this was rarely the case). In practice, some category combinations had identical endings to other combinations, but a basic adjective like _bonus_ "good" still had 14 distinct endings.

Spanish pronoun inflections CASE "I" "THOU" "ONESELF" "HE" "SHE" "WE" "YE" "THEY"

NOMINATIVE _yo_ _tú_ — _él_ _ella_ _nosotros_ _nosotras_ _vosotros_ _vosotras_ _ellos_ _ellas_

DISJUNCTIVE _mí_ _ti_ _sí_

ACCUSATIVE _me_ _te_ _se_ _lo_ _la_ _nos_ _os_ _los_ _las_

DATIVE _le_ _les_

GENITIVE _mío_ _tuyo_ _suyo_ _suyo; de él_ _suyo; de ella_ _nuestro_ _vuestro_ _suyo; de ellos_ _suyo; de ellas_

POSSESSIVE _mi_ _tu_ _su_ _su_

WITH _CON_ _conmigo_ _contigo_ _consigo_ _con él_ _con ella_ _con nosotros_ (archaic _connosco_) _con nosotras_ (archaic _connosco_) _con vosotros_ (archaic _convosco_) _con vosotras_ (archaic _convosco_) _con ellos_ _con ellas_

In all Romance languages, this system was drastically reduced. In most modern Romance languages, in fact, case is no longer marked at all on nouns, adjectives and determiners, and most forms are derived from the Latin accusative case. Much like English, however, case has survived somewhat better on pronouns.

Most pronouns have distinct nominative, accusative, genitive and possessive forms (cf. English "I, me, mine, my"). Many also have a separate dative form, a _disjunctive _ form used after prepositions, and (in some languages) a special form used with the preposition _con_ "with" (a conservative feature inherited from Latin forms such as _mēcum_, _tēcum_, _nobiscum_).

Spanish inflectional classes


SINGULAR chico chica hombre mujer

PLURAL chicos chicas hombres mujeres

The system of inflectional classes is also drastically reduced. The basic system is most clearly indicated in Spanish, where there are only three classes, corresponding to the first, second and third declensions in Latin: plural in _-as_ (feminine), plural in _-os_ (masculine), plural in _-es_ (either masculine or feminine). The singular endings exactly track the plural, except the singular _-e_ is dropped after certain consonants.

The same system underlines many other modern Romance languages, such as Portuguese, French and Catalan. In these languages, however, further sound changes have resulted in various irregularities. In Portuguese, for example, loss of /l/ and /n/ between vowels (with nasalization in the latter case) produces various irregular plurals (_nação – nações_ "nation(s)"; _hotel – hotéis_ "hotel(s)").

In French and Catalan, loss of /o/ and /e/ in most unstressed final syllables has caused the _-os_ and _-es_ classes to merge. In French, merger of remaining /e/ with final /a/ into , and its subsequent loss, has completely obscured the original Romance system, and loss of final /s/ has caused most nouns to have identical pronunciation in singular and plural, although they are still marked differently in spelling (e.g. _femme – femmes_ "woman – women", both pronounced /fam/).

Romanian noun inflections DEFINITENESS CASE "BOY" "GIRL"


INDEFINITE Nominative Accusative băiat băieți fată fete

Genitive Dative fete

VOCATIVE băiatule, băiete băietilor fato (fată) fetelor

DEFINITE Nominative Accusative băiatul băieții fata fetele

Genitive Dative băiatului băieților fetei fetelor

Noun inflection has survived in Romanian somewhat better than elsewhere. :399 Determiners are still marked for two cases (nominative/accusative and genitive/dative) in both singular and plural, and feminine singular nouns have separate endings for the two cases. In addition, there is a separate vocative case, enriched with native development and Slavic borrowings (see some examples here ) and the combination of noun with a following clitic definite article produces a separate set of "definite" inflections for nouns.

The inflectional classes of Latin have also survived more in Romanian than elsewhere, e.g. _om – oameni_ "man – men" ( Latin _homo_ – _homines_); _corp – corpuri_ "body – bodies" ( Latin _corpus_ – _corpora_). (Many other exceptional forms, however, are due to later sound changes or analogy, e.g. _casă – case_ "house(s)" vs. _lună – luni_ "moon(s)"; _frate – fraţi_ "brother(s)" vs. _carte – cărţi_ "book(s)" vs. _vale – văi_ "valley(s)".)

In Italian, the situation is somewhere in between Spanish and Romanian. There are no case endings and relatively few classes, as in Spanish, but noun endings are generally formed with vowels instead of /s/, as in Romanian: _amico – amici_ "friend(s) (masc.)", _amica – amiche_ "friend(s) (fem.)"; _cane – cani_ "dog(s)". The masculine plural _amici_ is thought to reflect the Latin nominative plural _-ī_ rather than accusative plural _-ōs_ (Spanish _-os_); however, the other plurals are thought to stem from special developments of Latin _-ās_ and _-ēs_.

Evolution of case in various Romance languages ( Latin _bonus_ "good")


MASCULINE SINGULAR NOMINATIVE bonus bueno buens buns bun


ACCUSATIVE bonum buen biVn




MASCULINE PLURAL NOMINATIVE bonī buenos buen biVni buni


ACCUSATIVE bonōs buens buns

GENITIVE bonōrum

DATIVE bonīs


FEMININE SINGULAR NOMINATIVE bona buena buene buna bună



GENITIVE bonae bune



FEMININE PLURAL NOMINATIVE bonae buenas buenes bunas bune



GENITIVE bonārum

DATIVE bonīs


A different type of noun inflection survived into the medieval period in a number of western Romance languages ( Old French , Old Occitan , and the older forms of a number of Rhaeto-Romance languages ). This inflection distinguished nominative from oblique, grouping the accusative case with the oblique, rather than with the nominative as in Romanian.

The oblique case in these languages generally inherits from the Latin accusative; as a result, masculine nouns have distinct endings in the two cases while most feminine nouns do not.

A number of different inflectional classes are still represented at this stage. For example, the difference in the nominative case between masculine _li voisins_ "the neighbor" and _li pere_ "the father", and feminine _la riens_ "the thing" vs. _la fame_ "the woman", faithfully reflects the corresponding Latin inflectional differences (_vicīnus_ vs. _pater_, _fēmina_ vs. _rēs_).

A number of synchronically quite irregular differences between nominative and oblique reflect direct inheritances of Latin third-declension nouns with two different stems (one for the nominative singular, one for all other forms), most with of which had a stress shift between nominative and the other forms: _li ber – le baron_ "baron" (_barō_ – _barōnem_); _la suer – la seror_ "sister" (_soror_ – _sorōrem_); _li prestre – le prevoire_ "priest" (_presbyter_ – _presbyterem_); _li sire – le seigneur_ "lord" (_senior_ – _seniōrem_); _li enfes – l'enfant_ "child" (_infāns_ – _infantem_). :36–39

A few of these multi-stem nouns derive from Latin forms without stress shift, e.g. _li om – le ome_ "man" (_homō_ – _hominem_). All of these multi-stem nouns refer to people; other nouns with stress shift in Latin (e.g. _amor_ – _amōrem_ "love") have not survived. Some of the same nouns with multiple stems in Old French or Old Occitan have come down in Italian in the nominative rather than the accusative (e.g. _uomo_ "man" < _homō_, _moglie_ "wife" < _mulier_), suggesting that a similar system existed in pre-literary Italian.

The modern situation in Sursilvan (one of the Rhaeto-Romance languages ) is unique in that the original nominative/oblique distinction has been reinterpreted as a predicative/attributive distinction: :381

* _il hotel ej vɛɲiws natsionalizaws_ "the hotel has been nationalized" * _il hotel natsionalizaw_ "the nationalized hotel"


As described above, case marking on pronouns is much more extensive than for nouns. Determiners (e.g. words such as "a", "the", "this") are also marked for case in Romanian.

Most Romance languages have the following sets of pronouns and determiners:

* Personal pronouns , in three persons and two genders. * A reflexive pronoun , used when the object is the same as the subject. This approximately corresponds to English "-self", but separate forms exist only in the third person, with no number marking. * Definite and indefinite articles , and in some languages, a partitive article that expresses the concept of "some". * A two-way or three-way distinction among demonstratives . Many languages have a three-way distinction of distance (near me, near you, near him) which, though not paralleled in current English, used to be present as "this/that/yon". * Relative pronouns and interrogatives , with the same forms used for both (similar to English "who" and "which"). * Various indefinite pronouns and determiners (e.g. Spanish _algún_ "some", _alguien_ "someone", _algo_ "something"; _ningún_ "no", _nadie_ "no one"; _todo_ "every"; _cada_ "each"; _mucho_ "much/many/a lot", _poco_ "few/little"; _otro_ "other/another"; etc.).

Personal Pronouns

Unlike in English, a separate neuter personal pronoun ("it") generally does not exist, but the third-person singular and plural both distinguish masculine from feminine. Also, as described above, case is marked on pronouns even though it is not usually on nouns, similar to English. As in English, there are forms for nominative case (subject pronouns ), oblique case (object pronouns ), and genitive case (possessive pronouns ); in addition, third-person pronouns distinguish accusative and dative. There is also an additional set of possessive determiners, distinct from the genitive case of the personal pronoun; this corresponds to the English difference between "my, your" and "mine, yours".

Development From Latin

The Romance languages do not retain the Latin third-person personal pronouns, but have innovated a separate set of third-person pronouns by borrowing the demonstrative _ille_ ("that (over there)"), and creating a separate reinforced demonstrative by attaching a variant of _ecce_ "behold!" (or "here is ...") to the pronoun.

Similarly, in place of the genitive of the Latin pronouns, most Romance languages adopted the reflexive possessive, which then serves indifferently as both reflexive and non-reflexive possessive. Note that the reflexive, and hence the third-person possessive, is unmarked for the gender of the person being referred to. Hence, although gendered possessive forms do exist—e.g. Portuguese _seu_ (masc.) vs. _sua_ (fem.)—these refer to the gender of the object possessed, not the possessor.

The gender of the possessor needs to be made clear by a collocation such as French _la voiture à lui/elle_, Portuguese _o carro dele/dela_, literally "the car of him/her". (In spoken Brazilian Portuguese , these collocations are the usual way of expressing the third-person possessive, since the former possessive _seu carro_ now has the meaning "your car".)

The same demonstrative _ille_ was borrowed to create the definite article (see below), which explains the similarity in form between personal pronoun and definite article. When the two are different, it is usually because of differing degrees of phonetic reduction. Generally, the personal pronoun is unreduced (beyond normal sound change), while the article has suffered various amounts of reduction, e.g. Spanish _ella_ "she" < _illa_ vs. _la_ "the (fem.)" < _-la_ < _illa_.

Clitic Pronouns

Object pronouns in Latin were normal words, but in the Romance languages they have become clitic forms, which must stand adjacent to a verb and merge phonologically with it. Originally, object pronouns could come either before or after the verb; sound change would often produce different forms in these two cases, with numerous additional complications and contracted forms when multiple clitic pronouns cooccurred.

Catalan still largely maintains this system with a highly complex clitic pronoun system . Most languages, however, have simplified this system by undoing some of the clitic mergers and requiring clitics to stand in a particular position relative to the verb (usually after imperatives, before other finite forms, and either before or after non-finite forms depending on the language).

When a pronoun cannot serve as a clitic, a separate disjunctive form is used. These result from dative object pronouns pronounced with stress (which causes them to develop differently from the equivalent unstressed pronouns), or from subject pronouns.

Most Romance languages are null subject languages . The subject pronouns are used only for emphasis and take the stress, and as a result are not clitics. In French, however (as in Friulian and in some Gallo-Italian languages of northern Italy), verbal agreement marking has degraded to the point that subject pronouns have become mandatory, and have turned into clitics. These forms cannot be stressed, so for emphasis the disjunctive pronouns must be used in combination with the clitic subject forms. Friulian and the Gallo-Italian languages have actually gone further than this and merged the subject pronouns onto the verb as a new type of verb agreement marking, which must be present even when there is a subject noun phrase. (Some non-standard varieties of French treat disjunctive pronouns as arguments and clitic pronouns as agreement markers. )

Familiar–formal Distinction

In medieval times, most Romance languages developed a distinction between familiar and polite second-person pronouns (a so-called _T-V distinction _), similar to the former English distinction between familiar "thou" and polite "you". As in English, this generally developed by appropriating the plural second-person pronoun to serve in addition as a polite singular. French is still at this stage, with familiar singular _tu_ vs. formal or plural _vous_. In cases like this, the pronoun requires plural agreement in all cases whenever a single affix marks both person and number (as in verb agreement endings and object and possessive pronouns), but singular agreement elsewhere where appropriate (e.g. _vous-même_ "yourself" vs. _vous-mêmes_ "yourselves").

Many languages, however, innovated further in developing an even more polite pronoun, generally composed of a noun phrase (e.g. Portuguese _vossa mercê_ "your mercy", progressively reduced to _vossemecê_, _vosmecê_ and finally _você_) and taking third-person singular agreement. A plural equivalent was created at the same time or soon after (Portuguese _vossas mercês_, reduced to _vocês_), taking third-person plural agreement. Spanish innovated similarly, with _usted(es)_ from earlier _vuestra(s) merced(es)_.

In Portuguese and Spanish (as in other languages with similar forms), the "extra-polite" forms in time came to be the normal polite forms, and the former polite (or plural) second-person _vos_ knocked down to a familiar form, either becoming a familiar plural (as in European Spanish) or a familiar singular (as in many varieties of Latin American Spanish). In the latter case, it either competes with the original familiar singular _tu_ (as in Guatemala), displaces it entirely (as in Argentina), or is itself displaced (as in Mexico, except in Chiapas). In American Spanish, the gap created by the loss of familiar plural _vos_ was filled by originally polite _ustedes_, with the result that there is no familiar/polite distinction in the plural, just as in the original _tu/vos_ system.

A similar path was followed by Italian and Romanian. Romanian uses _dumneavoastră_ "your lordship", while Italian the former polite phrase _sua eccellenza_ "your excellency" has simply been supplanted by the corresponding pronoun _Ella_ or _Lei_ (literally "she", but capitalized when meaning "you"). As in European Spanish, the original second-person plural _voi_ serves as familiar plural. (In Italy, during fascist times leading up to World War II , _voi_ was resurrected as a polite singular, and discarded again afterwards, although it remains in some southern dialects.)

Portuguese innovated again in developing a new extra-polite pronoun _o senhor_ "the sir", which in turn downgraded _você_. Hence, modern European Portuguese has a three-way distinction between "familiar" _tu_, "equalizing" _você_ and "polite" _o senhor_. (The original second-person plural _vós_ was discarded centuries ago in speech, and is used today only in translations of the Bible, where _tu_ and _vós_ serve as universal singular and plural pronouns, respectively.)

Brazilian Portuguese , however, has diverged from this system, and most dialects simply use _você_ (and plural _vocês_) as a general-purpose second-person pronoun, combined with _te_ (from _tu_) as the clitic object pronoun. The form _o senhor_ (and feminine _a senhora_) is sometimes used in speech, but only in situations where an English speaker would say "sir" or "ma'am". The result is that second-person verb forms have disappeared, and the whole pronoun system has been radically realigned. However that is the case only in the spoken language of central and northern Brazil, with the northeastern and southern areas of the country still largely preserving the second-person verb form and the "tu" and "você" distinction.


Latin had no articles as such. The closest definite article was the non-specific demonstrative _is, ea, id_ meaning approximately "this/that/the". The closest indefinite articles were the indefinite determiners _aliquī, aliqua, aliquod_ "some (non-specific)" and _certus_ "a certain".

Romance languages have both indefinite and definite articles, but none of the above words form the basis for either of these. Usually the definite article is derived from the Latin demonstrative _ille_ ("that"), but some languages (e.g. Sardinian , and some dialects spoken around the Pyrenees) have forms from _ipse_ (emphatic, as in "I myself"). The indefinite article everywhere is derived from the number _ūnus_ ("one").

Some languages, e.g. French and Italian, have a partitive article that approximately translates as "some". This is used either with mass nouns or with plural nouns—both cases where the indefinite article cannot occur. A partitive article is used (and in French, required) whenever a bare noun refers to specific (but unspecified or unknown) quantity of the noun, but not when a bare noun refers to a class in general. For example, the partitive would be used in both of the following sentences:

* I want milk. * Men arrived today.

But neither of these:

* Milk is good for you. * I hate men.

The sentence "Men arrived today", however, (presumably) means "some specific men arrived today" rather than "men, as a general class, arrived today" (which would mean that there were no men before today). On the other hand, "I hate men" does mean "I hate men, as a general class" rather than "I hate some specific men".

As in many other cases, French has developed the farthest from Latin in its use of articles. In French, nearly all nouns, singular and plural, must be accompanied by an article (either indefinite, definite, or partitive) or demonstrative pronoun.

Due to pervasive sound changes in French, most nouns are pronounced identically in the singular and plural, and there is often heavy homophony between nouns and identically pronounced words of other classes. For example, all of the following are pronounced /sɛ̃/: _sain_ "healthy"; _saint_ "saint, holy"; _sein_ "breast"; _ceins_ "(you) put on, gird"; _ceint_ "(he) puts on, girds"; _ceint_ "put on, girded"; and the equivalent noun and adjective plural forms _sains, saints, seins, ceints_. The article helps identify the noun forms _saint_ or _sein_, and distinguish singular from plural; likewise, the mandatory subject of verbs helps identify the verb _ceint_. In more conservative Romance languages, neither articles nor subject pronouns are necessary, since all of the above words are pronounced differently. In Italian, for example, the equivalents are _sano, santo, seno, cingi, cinge, cinto, sani, santi, seni, cinti_, where all vowels and consonants are pronounced as written, and ⟨s⟩ /s/ and ⟨c⟩ /t͡ʃ/ are clearly distinct from each other.

Latin, at least originally, had a three-way distinction among demonstrative pronouns distinguished by distal value: _hic_ 'this', _iste_ 'that (near you)', _ille_ 'that (over there)', similar to the distinction that used to exist in English as "this" vs. "that" vs. "yon(der)". In urban Latin of Rome, _iste_ came to have a specifically derogatory meaning, but this innovation apparently did not reach the provinces and is not reflected in the modern Romance languages. A number of these languages still have such a three-way distinction, although _hic_ has been lost and the other pronouns have shifted somewhat in meaning. For example, Spanish has _este_ "this" vs. _ese_ "that (near you)" vs. _aquel_ (fem. _aquella_) "that (over yonder)". The Spanish pronouns derive, respectively, from Latin _iste_ _ipse_ _accu_-_ille_, where _accu-_ is an emphatic prefix derived from _eccum_ "behold (it!)" (still vigorous in Italy as _Ecco!_ 'Behold!'), possibly with influence from _atque_ "and".

Reinforced demonstratives such as _accu_-_ille_ arose as _ille_ came to be used as an article as well as a demonstrative. Such forms were often created even when not strictly needed to distinguish otherwise ambiguous forms. Italian, for example, has both _questo_ "this" (_eccu_-_istum_) and _quello_ "that" (_eccu_-_illum_), in addition to dialectal _codesto_ "that (near you)" (*_eccu-tē-istum_). French generally prefers forms derived from bare _ecce_ "behold", as in the pronoun _ce_ "this one/that one" (earlier _ço_, from _ecce_-_hoc_; cf. Italian _ciò_ 'that') and the determiner _ce/cet_ "this/that" (earlier _cest_, from _ecce_-_istum_).

Reinforced forms are likewise common in locative adverbs (words such as English _here_ and _there_), based on related Latin forms such as _hic_ "this" vs. _hīc_ "here", _hāc_ "this way", and _ille_ "that" vs. _illīc_ "there", _illāc_ "that way". Here again French prefers bare _ecce_ while Spanish and Italian prefer _eccum_ (French _ici_ "here" vs. Spanish _aquí_, Italian _qui_). In western languages such as Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan, doublets and triplets arose such as Portuguese _aqui, acá, cá_ "(to) here" (_accu_-_hīc_, _accu_-_hāc_, _eccu_-_hāc_). From these, a prefix _a-_ was extracted, from which forms like _aí_ "there (near you)" (_a-(i)bi_) and _ali_ "there (over yonder)" (_a-(i)llīc_) were created; compare Catalan neuter pronouns _açò_ (_acce_-_hoc_) "this", _això_ (_a-(i)psum_-_hoc_) "that (near you)", _allò_ (_a-(i)llum_-_hoc_) "that (yonder)".

Subsequent changes often reduced the number of demonstrative distinctions. Standard Italian, for example, has only a two-way distinction "this" vs. "that", as in English, with second-person and third-person demonstratives combined. In Catalan, however, a former three-way distinction _aquest, aqueix, aquell_ has been reduced differently, with first-person and second-person demonstratives combined. Hence _aquest_ means either "this" or "that (near you)"; on the phone, _aquest_ is used to refer both to speaker and addressee.

Old French had a similar distinction to Italian (_cist/cest_ vs. _cil/cel_), both of which could function as either adjectives or pronouns. Modern French, however, has no distinction between "this" and "that": _ce/cet, cette_ < _cest, ceste_ is only an adjective, and _celui, celle_ < _cel lui, celle_ is only a pronoun, and both forms indifferently mean either "this" or "that". (The distinction between "this" and "that" can be made, if necessary, by adding the suffixes _-ci_ "here" or _-là_ "there", e.g. _cette femme-ci_ "this woman" vs. _cette femme-là_ "that woman", but this is rarely done except when specifically necessary to distinguish two entities from each other.)


See also: Romance verbs


PRESENT INDICATIVE Present indicative

PRESENT SUBJUNCTIVE Present subjunctive

IMPERFECT INDICATIVE Imperfect indicative

IMPERFECT SUBJUNCTIVE Personal infinitive — — — — — — — Imperfect subjunctive / Personal infinitive

FUTURE INDICATIVE — _eres_ ("you are") — — future of "to be" in Old French — — — —

PERFECT INDICATIVE Preterite Simple preterite (literary except in Valencian ) Preterite Simple past (literary) — Preterite (Tuscan Standard Italian); Literary Remote Past (Regional Standard Italian in North); Preterite/Perfect (Regional Standard Italian in South) Simple past (literary except in the Oltenian dialect) In Old Sardinian ; only traces in modern lang


PLUPERFECT INDICATIVE Literary pluperfect Imperfect subjunctive (_-ra_ form) — Second conditional in Old Occitan Second preterite in very early Old French ( Sequence of Saint Eulalia ) — — — —

PLUPERFECT SUBJUNCTIVE Imperfect subjunctive Pluperfect indicative —

FUTURE PERFECT Future subjunctive (very much in use) Future subjunctive (moribund) — possible traces of future subjunctive in Old Occitan — — possible traces of future subjunctive in Old Italian — —

NEW FUTURE infinitive+_habeo_ _voleo_+infinitive _habeo_+infinitive

NEW CONDITIONAL infinitive+_habebam_ infinitive+_habuisset_ infinitive+_habuit_ _habeo_+infinitive (split apart from infinitive+_habeo_ in eighteenth-century Romanian) _habebam_+infinitive

Preterite vs. present perfect (in speech) preterite only (present perfect exists, but has different meaning) both both (but usually an analytic preterite _vado_+infinitive is used) ? present perfect only present perfect only both (Tuscan Standard Italian); present perfect only (Regional Standard Italian in North); preference for preterite (Regional Standard Italian in South) present perfect only present perfect only

Verbs have many conjugations , including in most languages:

* A present tense , a preterite , an imperfect , a pluperfect , a future tense and a future perfect in the indicative mood, for statements of fact. * Present and preterite subjunctive tenses, for hypothetical or uncertain conditions. Several languages (for example, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish) have also imperfect and pluperfect subjunctives, although it is not unusual to have just one subjunctive equivalent for preterit and imperfect (e.g. no unique subjunctive equivalent in Italian of the so-called _passato remoto_). Portuguese and Spanish also have future and future perfect subjunctives, which have no equivalent in Latin. * An imperative mood, for direct commands. * Three non-finite forms : infinitive, gerund, and past participle. * Distinct active and passive voices, as well as an impersonal passive voice . * Note that, although these _categories_ are largely inherited from Classical Latin, many of the _forms_ are either newly constructed or inherited from different categories (e.g. the Romance imperfect subjunctive most commonly is derived from the Latin pluperfect subjunctive, while the Romance pluperfect subjunctive is derived from a new present perfect tense with the auxiliary verb placed in the imperfect subjunctive).

Several tenses and aspects, especially of the indicative mood, have been preserved with little change in most languages, as shown in the following table for the Latin verb _dīcere_ (to say), and its descendants.



LATIN dīcere dīcit dīxit dicēbat dīcat/dīcet dīc

ARAGONESE dicir diz dició deciba/diciba diga diz

ASTURIAN dicir diz dixo dicía diga di

CATALAN dir diu/dit digué/va dir/dit deia digui/diga digues

CORSICAN dì dice/dici disse/dissi dicia dica/dichi dì

EMILIAN dîr dîs l'à détt / dgé dgeva dégga dì

FRANCO-PROVENçAL dire di dè djéve dijisse/dzéze dète

FRENCH dire1 dit dit disait dise dis

GALICIAN dicir di dixo dicía diga di

ITALIAN di(ce)re dice disse diceva dica dì

JUDAEO-SPANISH (LADINO) dezir dize disho dezía diga dezí

LEONESE dicire diz dixu dicía diga di

LOMBARD dì dis ha dii diseva disa dì

MIRANDESE dir diś à dit dgiva diga dì

NEAPOLITAN dicere dice dicette diceva diche dije

OCCITAN díser/dire ditz diguèt disiá diga diga

PICARD dire dit – disoait diche –

PIEDMONTESE dì dis dìsser2, l'ha dit disìa disa dis

PORTUGUESE dizer diz disse dizia diga diz3

ROMANIAN a zice, zicere4 zice zise/a zis zicea zică zi

ROMANSH dir di ha ditg discheva5 dia di

CAMPIDANESE SARDINIAN nai/narri narat at narau naràt nergiat nara

LOGUDORESE SARDINIAN narrer6 narat at naradu naraiat/nabat nerzat/niet nara

SICILIAN dìciri dici dissi dicìa dica7 dici

SPANISH decir dice dijo decía diga di

VENETIAN dir dise – disea diga dì/disi

WALLOON dire dit a dit dijheut dixhe di

BASIC MEANING to say he says he said he was saying he says say

1The spelling is conservative. Note the pronunciations: _dire_ /diʁ/, _dit_ /di/, _disait_ /dizɛ/, _dise_ /diz/, _dis_ /di/. 2Until the eighteenth century. 3With the disused variant _dize_. 4long infinitive 5In modern times, _scheva_. 6Derived from the unrelated Latin verb _narrāre_ "to tell (a story)". Note also the pronunciations: _narrer_ /ˈnarrere/, _narat_ /ˈnarada/, _at naradu_ /a nnaˈradu/, _naraiat_ /narˈaiada/, _nabat_ /ˈnabata/, _nerzat_ /ˈnertsada/, _niet_ /ˈniete/, _nara_ /ˈnara/. 7Sicilian now uses imperfect subjunctive _dicissi_ in place of present subjunctive.

The main tense and mood distinctions that were made in classical Latin are generally still present in the modern Romance languages, though many are now expressed through compound rather than simple verbs. The passive voice, which was mostly synthetic in classical Latin, has been completely replaced with compound forms.

* Owing to sound changes which made it homophonous with the preterite, the Latin future indicative tense was dropped, and replaced with a periphrasis of the form infinitive + present tense of _habēre_ (to have). Eventually, this structure was reanalysed as a new future tense . * In a similar process, an entirely new conditional form was created.

* While the synthetic passive voice of classical Latin was abandoned in favour of periphrastic constructions, most of the active voice remained in use. However, several tenses have changed meaning, especially subjunctives. For example:

* The Latin pluperfect indicative became a conditional in Sicilian, and an imperfect subjunctive in Spanish. * The Latin pluperfect subjunctive developed into an imperfect subjunctive in all languages except Romansh , where it became a conditional, and Romanian, where it became a pluperfect indicative . * The Latin preterite subjunctive, together with the future perfect indicative, became a future subjunctive in Old Spanish, Portuguese, and Galician . * The Latin imperfect subjunctive became a personal infinitive in Portuguese and Galician.

* Many Romance languages have two verbs "to be" . One is derived from Vulgar Latin *_essere_ < Latin _esse_ "to be" with an admixture of forms derived from _sedēre_ "to sit", and is used mostly for essential attributes; the other is derived from _stāre_ "to stand", and mostly used for temporary states. This development is most notable in Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan. In French, Italian and Romanian, the derivative of _stāre_ largely preserved an earlier meaning of "to stand/to stay", although in modern Italian, _stare_ is used in a few constructions where English would use "to be", as in _sto bene_ "I am well". In Old French , the derivatives of *_essere_ and _stāre_ were _estre_ and _ester_, respectively. In modern French, _estre_ persists as _être_ "to be" while _ester_ has been lost as a separate verb; but the former imperfect of _ester_ is used as the modern imperfect of _être_ (e.g. _il était_ "he was"), replacing the irregular forms derived from Latin (e.g. _ere(t), iere(t)_ < _erat_). In Italian, the two verbs share the same past participle, _stato_. _sedēre_ persists most notably in the future of *_essere_ (e.g. Spanish/Portuguese/French/etc. _ser-_, Italian _sar-_), although in Old French the future is a direct derivation from Latin, e.g. _(i)ert_ "he will be" < _erit_. See Romance copula for further information.

For a more detailed illustration of how the verbs have changed with respect to classical Latin, see Romance verbs .

* During the Renaissance , Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and a few other Romance languages developed a progressive aspect which did not exist in Latin. In French, progressive constructions remain very limited, the imperfect generally being preferred, as in Latin.

* Many Romance languages now have a verbal construction analogous to the present perfect of English. In some, it has taken the place of the old preterite (at least in the vernacular); in others, the two coexist with somewhat different meanings (cf. English _I did_ vs. _I have done_). A few examples:

* preterite only: Galician, Asturian, Sicilian, Leonese, Portuguese, some dialects of Spanish; * preterite and present perfect: Catalan, Occitan, standard Spanish; * present perfect predominant, preterite now literary: French, Romanian, several dialects of Italian, some dialects of Spanish; * present perfect only: Romansh

Note that in Catalan , the synthetic preterite is predominantly a literary tense, except in Valencian ; but an analytic preterite (formed using an auxiliary _vadō_, which in other languages signals the future) persists in speech, with the same meaning. In Portuguese , a morphological present perfect does exist but has a different meaning (closer to "I have been doing").

The following are common features of the Romance languages (inherited from Vulgar Latin ) that are different from Classical Latin:

* Adjectives generally follow the noun they modify. * The normal clause structure is SVO , rather than SOV , and is much less flexible than in Latin. * Many Latin constructions involving nominalized verbal forms (e.g. the use of accusative plus infinitive in indirect discourse and the use of the ablative absolute ) were dropped in favor of constructions with subordinate clause. Exceptions can be found in Italian, for example, Latin _tempore permittente_ > Italian _tempo permettendo_; L. _hoc facto_ > I. _ciò fatto_.



Romance languages have borrowed heavily, though mostly from other Romance languages. However, some, such as Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, and French, have borrowed heavily from other language groups. Vulgar Latin borrowed first from indigenous languages of the Roman empire, and during the Germanic folk movements , from Germanic languages , especially Gothic; for Eastern Romance languages, during Bulgarian Empires , from Slavic languages , especially Bulgarian . Notable examples are *_blancus_ "white", replacing native _albus_ (but Romansh _alv_, Dalmatian _jualb_, Romanian _alb_); *_guerra_ "war", replacing native _bellum_; and the words for the cardinal directions , where cognates of English "north", "south", "east" and "west" replaced the native words _septentriō_, _merīdiēs_ (also "noon; midday nap"; cf. Romanian _meriză_), _oriens_, and _occidens_. (See History of French – The Franks .) Some Celtic words were incorporated into the core vocabulary, partly for words with no Latin equivalent (_betulla_ "birch", _camisia_ "shirt", _cerevisia_ "beer"), but in some cases replacing Latin vocabulary (_gladius_ "sword", replacing _ensis_; _cambiāre_ "to exchange", replacing _mūtāre_ except in Romanian and Portuguese; _carrus_ "cart", replacing _currus_; _pettia_ "piece", largely displacing _pars_ (later resurrected) and eliminating _frustum_). Many Greek loans also entered the lexicon, e.g. _spatha_ "sword" (Greek: σπάθη _spáthē_, replacing _gladius_ which shifted to "iris", cf. French _épée_, Spanish _espada_, Italian _spada_ and Romanian _spată_); _cara_ "face" (Greek: κάρα _kára_, partly replacing _faciēs_); _colpe_ "blow" (Greek: κόλαφος _kólaphos_, replacing _ictus_, cf. Spanish _golpe_, French _coup_); _cata_ "each" (Greek: κατά _katá_, replacing _quisque_); common suffixes *_-ijāre/-izāre_ (Greek: -ίζειν _-izein_, French _oyer/-iser_, Spanish _-ear/-izar_, Italian _-eggiare/-izzare_, etc.), _-ista_ (Greek: -ιστής _-istes_ ).

Lexical Innovation

Many basic nouns and verbs, especially those that were short or had irregular morphology, were replaced by longer derived forms with regular morphology. Nouns, and sometimes adjectives, were often replaced by diminutives , e.g. _auris_ "ear" > _auricula_ (orig. "outer ear") > _oricla_ (Sardinian _origra_, Italian _orecchia/o_, Portuguese _orelha_, etc.); _avis_ "bird" > _avicellus_ (orig. "chick, nestling") > _aucellu_ ( Occitan _aucèl_, Friulan _ucel_, French _oiseau_, etc.); _caput_ "head" > _capitium_ (Portuguese _cabeça_, Spanish _cabeza_, French _chevet_ "headboard"; but reflexes of _caput_ were retained also, sometimes without change of meaning, as in Italian _capo_ "head", alongside _testa_); _vetus_ "old" > _vetulus_ > _veclus_ (Dalmatian _vieklo_, Italian _vecchio_, Portuguese _velho_, etc.). Sometimes augmentative constructions were used instead: _piscis_ "fish" > Old French _peis_ > _peisson_ (orig. "big fish") > French _poisson_. Verbs were often replaced by frequentative constructions: _canere_ "to sing" > _cantāre_; _iacere_ "to throw" > _iactāre_ > *_iectāre_ (Italian _gettare_, Portuguese _jeitar_, Spanish _echar_, etc.); _iuvāre_ > _adiūtāre_ (Italian _aiutare_, Spanish _ayudar_, French _aider_, etc., meaning "help", alongside e.g. _iuvāre_ > Italian _giovare_ "to be of use"); _vēnārī_ "hunt" (Romanian "vâna", Aromanian "avin, avinari") > replaced by *_captiāre_ "to hunt", frequentative of _capere_ "to seize" (Italian _cacciare_, Portuguese _caçar_, Romansh _catschar_, French _chasser_, etc.).

Many Classical Latin words became archaic or poetic and were replaced by more colloquial terms: _equus_ "horse" > _caballus_ (orig. "nag") (but _equa_ "mare" remains, cf. Spanish _yegua_, Portuguese _égua_, Sardinian _ebba_, Romanian _iapă_); _domus_ "house" > _casa_ (orig. "hut"); _ignis_ "fire" > _focus_ (orig. "hearth"); _strāta_ "street" > _rūga_ (orig. "furrow") or _callis_ (orig. "footpath") (but _strāta_ is continued in Italian _strada_, Romanian _stradă_ and secondarily in e.g. Spanish/Portuguese _estrada_ "causeway, paved road"). In some cases, terms from common occupations became generalized: _invenīre_ "to find" replaced by Ibero-Romance _afflāre_ (orig. "to sniff out", in hunting, cf. Spanish _hallar_, Portuguese _achar_, Romanian _afla(to find out)_); _advenīre_ "to arrive" gave way to Ibero-Romance _plicāre_ (orig. "to fold (sails; tents)", cf. Spanish _llegar_, Portuguese _chegar_; Romanian _pleca_), elsewhere _arripāre_ (orig. "to harbor at a riverbank", cf. Italian _arrivare_, French _arriver_) (_advenīre_ is continued with the meaning "to achieve, manage to do" as in Middle French _aveindre_, or "to happen" in Italian _avvenire_) . The same thing sometimes happened to religious terms, due to the pervasive influence of Christianity: _loquī_ "to speak" succumbed to _parabolāre_ (orig. "to tell parables", cf. Occitan _parlar_, French _parler_, Italian _parlare_ ) or _fabulārī_ (orig. "to tell stories", cf. Spanish _hablar_, Portuguese _falar_), based on Jesus' way of speaking in parables .

Many prepositions were used as verbal particles to make new roots and verb stems, e.g. Italian _estrarre_, Aromanian _astragu, astradziri_ "to extract" from Latin _ex-_ "out of" and _trahere_ "to pull" (Italian _trarre_ "draw, pull"), or to augment already existing words, e.g. French _coudre_, Italian _cucire_, Portuguese _coser_ "to sew", from _cōnsuere_ "to sew up", from _suere_ "to sew", with total loss of the bare stem. Many prepositions and commonly became compounded, e.g. _de ex_ > French _dès_ "as of", _ab ante_ > Italian _avanti_ "forward". Some words derived from phrases, e.g. Portuguese _agora_, Spanish _ahora_ "now" < _hāc hōrā_ "at this hour"; French _avec_ "with" (prep.) < Old French _avuec_ (adv.) < _apud hoc_ ("near that"); Spanish _tamaño_, Portuguese _tamanho_ "size" < _tam magnum_ "so big"; Italian _codesto_ "this, that" (near you) < Old Italian _cotevesto_ < _eccum tibi istum_ approx. "here's that thing of yours"; Portuguese _você_ "you" < _vosmecê_ < _vossemecê_ < Galician-Portuguese _vossa mercee_ "your mercy".

A number of common Latin words that have disappeared in many or most Romance languages have survived either in the periphery or in remote corners (especially Sardinia and Romania), or as secondary terms, sometimes differing in meaning. For example, Latin _caseum_ "cheese" in the more outer places (Portuguese _queijo_, Spanish _queso_, Romansh _caschiel_, Sardinian _càsu_, Romanian _caş_), but in the central areas has been replaced by _formāticum_, originally "moulded (cheese)" (French _fromage_, Occitan/Catalan _formatge_, Italian _formaggio_, with, however, _cacio_ also available; similarly _(com)edere_ "to eat (up)", which survives as Spanish/Portuguese _comer_ but elsewhere is replaced by _mandūcāre_, originally "to chew" (French _manger_, Italian _mangiare_, Catalan _menjar_, but Spanish/Portuguese noun _manjar_ "food" or "uplifting meal"). In some cases, one language happens to preserve a word displaced elsewhere, e.g. Italian _ogni_ "each, every" < _omnes_, displaced elsewhere by _tōtum_, originally "whole" or by a reflex of Greek _κατά_ (e.g. Italian _ognuno_, Catalan _tothom_ "everyone"; Italian _ogni giorno_, Spanish _cada día_ "every day"); Friulan _vaî_ "to cry" < _flere_ "to weep"; Vegliote _otijemna_ "fishing pole" < _antenna_ "yardarm"; Aromanian "sprunã" (warm ashes) < pruna (burning coal). Sardinian even preserves some words that were already archaic in Classical Latin, e.g. _àchina_ "grape" < _acinam_, also found in Sicilian _ràcina_.


During the Middle Ages, scores of words were borrowed directly from Classical Latin (so-called Latinisms ), either in their original form (_learned loans_) or in a somewhat nativized form (_semi-learned loans_). These resulted in many doublets —pairs of inherited and learned words—such as those in the table below:


_fragilis_ "fragile" French _frêle_ "frail" _fragile_ "fragile"

_fabrica_ "craft, manufacture" French _forge_ "forge" _fabrique_ "factory"

_fabrica_ Spanish _fragua_ "forge" _fábrica_ "factory"

_fabrica_ Romanian _făură_ "blacksmith (archaic)" _fabrică_ "factory"

_lēgālis_ "legal" French _loyal_ "loyal" _légal_ "legal"

_lēgālis_ Spanish _leal_ "loyal" _legal_ "legal"

_advōcātus_ "advocate (noun)" French _avoué_ "solicitor (attorney)" _avocat_ "barrister (attorney)"

_polīre_ "to polish" Portuguese _puir_ "to wear thin" _polir_ "to polish"

Sometimes triplets arise: Latin _articulus_ "joint" > Portuguese _artículo_ "joint, knuckle" (learned), _artigo_ "article" (semi-learned), _artelho_ "ankle" (inherited; archaic and dialectal). In many cases, the learned word simply displaced the original popular word: e.g. Spanish _crudo_ "crude, raw" ( Old Spanish _cruo_); French _légume_ "vegetable" ( Old French _leüm_); Portuguese _flor_ "flower" ( Galician-Portuguese _chor_). The learned loan always looks more like the original than the inherited word does, because regular sound change has been bypassed; and likewise, the learned word usually has a meaning closer to that of the original. In French, however, the stress of the learned loan may be on the "wrong" syllable, whereas the stress of the inherited word always corresponds to the Latin stress: e.g. Latin _vipera_ vs. French _vipère_, learned loan, and _guivre/vouivre_, inherited.

Borrowing from Classical Latin has produced a large number of suffix doublets. Examples from Spanish (learned form first): _-ción_ vs. _-zon_; _-cia_ vs. _-za_; _-ificar_ vs. _-iguar_; _-izar_ vs. _-ear_; _-mento_ vs. _-miento_; _-tud_ (< nominative _-tūdō_) vs. _-dumbre_ (< accusative _-tūdine_); _-ículo_ vs. _-ejo_; etc. Similar examples can be found in all the other Romance languages.

This borrowing also introduced large numbers of classical prefixes in their original form (_dis-_, _ex-_, _post-_, _trans_-) and reinforced many others (_re-_, popular Spanish/Portuguese _des-_ < _dis-_, popular French _dé-_ < _dis-_, popular Italian _s-_ < _ex-_). Many Greek prefixes and suffixes (hellenisms ) also found their way into the lexicon: _tele-_, _poli-/poly-_, _meta-_, _pseudo-_, _-scope/scopo_, _-logie/logia/logía_, etc.


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See also: Vulgar Latin


Significant sound changes affected the consonants of the Romance languages.


There was a tendency to eliminate final consonants in Vulgar Latin, either by dropping them (apocope ) or adding a vowel after them (epenthesis ).

Many final consonants were rare, occurring only in certain prepositions (e.g. _ad_ "towards", _apud_ "at, near (a person)"), conjunctions (_sed_ "but"), demonstratives (e.g. _illud_ "that (over there)", _hoc_ "this"), and nominative singular noun forms, especially of neuter nouns (e.g. _lac_ "milk", _mel_ "honey", _cor_ "heart"). Many of these prepositions and conjunctions were replaced by others, while the nouns were regularized into forms based on their oblique stems that avoided the final consonants (e.g. *_lacte_, *_mele_, *_core_).

Final _-m_ was dropped in Vulgar Latin. Even in Classical Latin , final _-am_, _-em_, _-um_ (inflectional suffixes of the accusative case ) were often elided in poetic meter , suggesting the _m_ was weakly pronounced, probably marking the nasalisation of the vowel before it. This nasal vowel lost its nasalization in the Romance languages except in monosyllables, where it became /n/ e.g. Spanish _quien_ < _quem_ "whom", French _rien_ "anything" < _rem_ "thing"; note especially French and Catalan _mon_ < _meum_ "my (m.sg.)" pronounced as one syllable (/meu̯m/ > */meu̯n/, /mun/) but Spanish _mío_ and Portuguese and Catalan _meu_ < _meum_ pronounced as two (/ˈme.um/ > */ˈme.o/).

As a result, only the following final consonants occurred in Vulgar Latin:

* Final _-t_ in third-person singular verb forms, and _-nt_ (later reduced in many languages to _-n_) in third-person plural verb forms. * Final _-s_ (including _-x_) in a large number of morphological endings (verb endings _-ās/-ēs/-īs/-is_, _-mus_, _-tis_; nominative singular _-us/-is_; plural _-ās/-ōs/-ēs_) and certain other words (_trēs_ "three", _sex_ "six", _crās_ "tomorrow", etc.). * Final _-n_ in some monosyllables (from earlier _-m_). * Final _-r_, _-d_ in some prepositions (e.g. _ad_, _per_), which were clitics that attached phonologically to the following word. * Very occasionally, final _-c_, e.g. Occitan _oc_ "yes" < _hoc_, Old French _avuec_ "with" < _apud hoc_ (although these instances were possibly protected by a final epenthetic vowel at one point).

Final _-t_ was eventually dropped in many languages, although this often occurred several centuries after the Vulgar Latin period. For example, the reflex of _-t_ was dropped in Old French and Old Spanish only around 1100. In Old French, this occurred only when a vowel still preceded the _t_ (generally /ə/ < Latin _a_). Hence _amat_ "he loves" > Old French _aime_ but _venit_ "he comes" > Old French _vient_: the /t/ was never dropped and survives into Modern French in liaison , e.g. _vient-il?_ "is he coming?" /vjɛ̃ti(l)/ (the corresponding /t/ in _aime-t-il?_ is analogical, not inherited). Old French also kept the third-person plural ending _-nt_ intact.

In Italo-Romance and the Eastern Romance languages , eventually _all_ final consonants were either dropped or protected by an epenthetic vowel, except in clitic forms (e.g. prepositions _con_, _per_). Modern Standard Italian still has almost no consonant-final words, although Romanian has resurfaced them through later loss of final /u/ and /i/. For example, _amās_ "you love" > _ame_ > _ami_; _amant_ "they love" > *_aman_ > _amano_. On the evidence of "sloppily written" Lombardic language documents, however, the loss of final /s/ in Italy did not occur until the 7th or 8th century, after the Vulgar Latin period, and the presence of many former final consonants is betrayed by the syntactic gemination (_raddoppiamento sintattico_) that they trigger. It is also thought that after a long vowel /s/ became /j/ rather than simply disappearing: _nōs_ > _noi_ "we", _se(d)ēs_ > _sei_ "you are", _crās_ > _crai_ "tomorrow" (southern Italian). In unstressed syllables, the resulting diphthongs were simplified: _canēs_ > /ˈkanej/ > _cani_ "dogs"; _amīcās_ > /aˈmikaj/ > _amiche_ /aˈmike/ "(female) friends", where nominative _amīcae_ should produce _**amice_ rather than _amiche_ (note masculine _amīcī_ > _amici_ not _**amichi_).

Central Western Romance languages eventually regained a large number of final consonants through the general loss of final /e/ and /o/, e.g. Catalan _llet_ "milk" < _lactem_, _foc_ "fire" < _focum_, _peix_ "fish" < _piscem_. In French, most of these secondary final consonants (as well as primary ones) were lost before around 1700, but tertiary final consonants later arose through the loss of /ə/ < _-a_. Hence masculine _frigidum_ "cold" > Old French _freit_ > _froid_ /fʁwa/, feminine _frigidam_ > Old French _freide_ > _froide_ /fʁwad/.


For a table of examples of palatalized n and l in the Romance languages, see Palatalization (sound change) § Mouillé .

Palatalization was one of the most important processes affecting consonants in Vulgar Latin. This eventually resulted in a whole series of "palatal " and postalveolar consonants in most Romance languages, e.g. Italian /ʃ/, /ʒ/, /tʃ/, /dʒ/, /ts/, /dz/, /ɲ/, /ʎ/.

The following historical stages occurred:


1 before /j/ (from _e_, _i_ in hiatus ) /t/, /d/ /tsʲ/, /jj~dzʲ~ddʒʲ/ all

2 all remaining, except labial consonants /ttʃʲ~ttsʲ/ < /kj/, /jj~ddʒʲ/ < /ɡj/, /ɲɲ/, /ʎʎ/, /Cʲ/ all except Sardinian

3 before /i/ /k/, /ɡ/ /tʃʲ~tsʲ/, /j~dʒʲ/

4 before /e/ all except Sardinian and Dalmatian

5 before /a/, /au/ /tɕ~tʃʲ/, /dʑ~dʒʲ/ north-central Gallo-Romance (e.g. French , northern Occitan ); Rhaeto-Romance

Note how the environments become progressively less "palatal", and the languages affected become progressively fewer.

The outcomes of palatalization depended on the historical stage, the consonants involved, and the languages involved. The primary division is between the Western Romance languages, with /ts/ resulting from palatalization of /k/, and the remaining languages (Italo-Dalmatian and Eastern Romance), with /tʃ/ resulting. It is often suggested that /tʃ/ was the original result in all languages, with /tʃ/ > /ts/ a later innovation in the Western Romance languages. Evidence of this is the fact that Italian has both /ttʃ/ and /tts/ as outcomes of palatalization in different environments, while Western Romance has only /(t)ts/. Even more suggestive is the fact that the Mozarabic language in al-Andalus (modern southern Spain) had /tʃ/ as the outcome despite being in the "Western Romance" area and geographically disconnected from the remaining /tʃ/ areas; this suggests that Mozarabic was an outlying "relic" area where the change /tʃ/ > /ts/ failed to reach. (Northern French dialects, such as Norman and Picard , also had /tʃ/, but this may be a secondary development, i.e. due to a later sound change /ts/ > /tʃ/.) Note that /ts, dz, dʒ/ eventually became /s, z, ʒ/ in most Western Romance languages. Thus Latin _caelum_ (sky, heaven), pronounced with an initial , became Italian _cielo_ , Romanian _cer_ , Spanish _cielo_ /, French _ciel_ , Catalan _cel_ , and Portuguese _céu_ .

The outcome of palatalized /d/ and /ɡ/ is less clear:

* Original /j/ has the same outcome as palatalized /ɡ/ everywhere. * Romanian fairly consistently has /z/ < /dz/ from palatalized /d/, but /dʒ/ from palatalized /ɡ/. * Italian inconsistently has /ddz~ddʒ/ from palatalized /d/, and /ddʒ/ from palatalized /ɡ/. * Most other languages have the same results for palatalized /d/ and /ɡ/: consistent /dʒ/ initially, but either /j/ or /dʒ/ medially (depending on language and exact context). But Spanish has /j/ (phonetically ) initially except before /o/, /u/; nearby Gascon is similar.

This suggests that palatalized /d/ > /dʲ/ > either /j/ or /dz/ depending on location, while palatalized /ɡ/ > /j/; after this, /j/ > /(d)dʒ/ in most areas, but Spanish and Gascon (originating from isolated districts behind the western Pyrenees ) were relic areas unaffected by this change.

In French, the outcomes of /k, ɡ/ palatalized by /e, i, j/ and by /a, au/ were different: _centum_ "hundred" > _cent_ /sɑ̃/ but _cantum_ "song" > _chant_ /ʃɑ̃/. French also underwent palatalization of labials before /j/: Vulgar Latin /pj, bj~vj, mj/ > Old French /tʃ, dʒ, ndʒ/ (_sēpia_ "cuttlefish" > _seiche_, _rubeus_ "red" > _rouge_, _sīmia_ "monkey" > _singe_).

The original outcomes of palatalization must have continued to be phonetically palatalized even after they had developed into alveolar /postalveolar /etc. consonants. This is clear from French, where all originally palatalized consonants triggered the development of a following glide /j/ in certain circumstances (most visible in the endings _-āre_, _-ātum/ātam_). In some cases this /j/ came from a consonant palatalized by an adjoining consonant after the late loss of a separating vowel. For example, _mansiōnātam_ > /masʲoˈnata/ > masʲˈnada/ > /masʲˈnʲæðə/ > early Old French _maisnieḍe_ /maisˈniɛðə/ "household". Similarly, _mediētātem_ > /mejeˈtate/ > /mejˈtade/ > /mejˈtæðe/ > early Old French _meitieḍ_ /mejˈtʲɛθ/ > modern French _moitié_ /mwaˈtje/ "half". In both cases, phonetic palatalization must have remained in primitive Old French at least through the time when unstressed intertonic vowels were lost (?c.8th century), well after the fragmentation of the Romance languages.

The effect of palatalization is indicated in the writing systems of almost all Romance languages, where the letters have the "hard" pronunciation in most situations, but a "soft" pronunciation (e.g. French/Portuguese , Italian/Romanian ) before ⟨e, i, y⟩. (This orthographic trait has passed into Modern English through Norman French -speaking scribes writing Middle English ; this replaced the earlier system of Old English , which had developed its own hard-soft distinction with the soft ⟨c, g⟩ representing .) This has the effect of keeping the modern spelling similar to the original Latin spelling, but complicates the relationship between sound and letter. In particular, the hard sounds must be written differently before ⟨e, i, y⟩ (e.g. Italian ⟨ch, gh⟩, Portuguese ⟨qu, gu⟩), and likewise for the soft sounds when not before these letters (e.g. Italian ⟨ci, gi⟩, Portuguese ⟨ç, j⟩). Furthermore, in Spanish, Catalan, Occitan and Brazilian Portuguese, the use of digraphs containing ⟨u⟩ to signal the hard pronunciation before ⟨e, i, y⟩ means that a different spelling is also needed to signal the sounds /kw, ɡw/ before these vowels (Spanish ⟨cu, gü⟩, Catalan, Occitan and Brazilian Portuguese ⟨qü, gü⟩). This produces a number of orthographic alternations in verbs whose pronunciation is entirely regular. The following are examples of corresponding first-person plural indicative and subjunctive in a number of regular Portuguese verbs: _marcamos, marquemos_ "we mark"; _caçamos, cacemos_ "we hunt"; _chegamos, cheguemos_ "we arrive"; _averiguamos, averigüemos_ "we verify"; _adequamos, adeqüemos_ "we adapt"; _oferecemos, ofereçamos_ "we offer"; _dirigimos, dirijamos_ "we drive" _erguemos, ergamos_ "we raise"; _delinquimos, delincamos_ "we commit a crime". In the case of Italian, the convention of digraphs and to represent /k/ and /g/ before written results in similar orthographic alternations, such as _dimentico_ 'I forget', _dimentichi_ 'you forget', _baco_ 'worm', _bachi_ 'worms' with or _pago_ 'I pay', _paghi_ 'you pay' and _lago_ 'lake', _laghi_ 'lakes' with . The use in Italian of and to represent /tʃ/ or /dʒ/ before vowels written neatly distinguishes _dico_ 'I say' with /k/ from _dici_ 'you say' with /tʃ/ or _ghiro_ 'dormouse' /g/ and _giro_ 'turn, revolution' /dʒ/, but with orthographic and also representing the sequence of /tʃ/ or /dʒ/ and the actual vowel /i/ (/ditʃi/ _dici_, /dʒiro/ _giro_), and no generally observed convention of indicating stress position, the status of _i_ when followed by another vowel in spelling can be unrecognizable. For example, the written forms offer no indication that in _camicia_ 'shirt' represents a single unstressed syllable /tʃa/ with no /i/ at any level (/kaˈmitʃa/ → ~ ), but that underlying the same spelling in _farmacia_ 'pharmacy' is a bisyllabic sequence of /tʃ/ and stressed /i/ (/farmaˈtʃia/ → ~ ).


Stop consonants shifted by lenition in Vulgar Latin.

The voiced labial consonants /b/ and /w/ (represented by ⟨b⟩ and ⟨v⟩, respectively) both developed a fricative as an intervocalic allophone. This is clear from the orthography; in medieval times, the spelling of a consonantal ⟨v⟩ is often used for what had been a ⟨b⟩ in Classical Latin, or the two spellings were used interchangeably. In many Romance languages (Italian, French, Portuguese, Romanian, etc.), this fricative later developed into a /v/; but in others (Spanish, Galician, some Catalan and Occitan dialects, etc.) reflexes of /b/ and /w/ simply merged into a single phoneme.

Several other consonants were "softened" in intervocalic position in Western Romance (Spanish, Portuguese, French, Northern Italian), but normally not phonemically in the rest of Italy (except some cases of "elegant" or Ecclesiastical words), nor apparently at all in Romanian. The dividing line between the two sets of dialects is called the La Spezia–Rimini Line and is one of the most important isoglosses of the Romance dialects. The changes (instances of diachronic lenition) are as follows:

Single voiceless plosives became voiced : _-p-, -t-, -c-_ > _-b-, -d-, -g-_. Subsequently, in some languages they were further weakened, either becoming fricatives or approximants , , , (as in Spanish) or disappearing entirely (as /t/ and /k/, but not /p/, in French). The following example shows progressive weakening of original /t/: e.g. _vītam_ > Italian _vita_ , Portuguese _vida_ ( European Portuguese ), Spanish _vida_ (Southern Peninsular Spanish ), and French _vie_ . Some have speculated that these sound changes may be due in part to the influence of Continental Celtic languages .

* The voiced plosives /d/ and /ɡ/ tended to disappear. * The plain sibilant _-s-_ was also voiced to between vowels, although in many languages its spelling has not changed. (In Spanish, intervocalic was later devoiced back to ; is only found as an allophone of /s/ before voiced consonants in Modern Spanish.) * The double plosives became single: _-pp-, -tt-, -cc-, -bb-, -dd-, -gg-_ > _-p-, -t-, -c-, -b-, -d-, -g-_ in most languages. In French spelling, double consonants are merely etymological, except for -ll- after -i (pronounced ), in most cases. * The double sibilant _-ss-_ also became phonetically single , although in many languages its spelling has not changed.

Consonant length is no longer phonemically distinctive in most Romance languages. However some languages of Italy (Italian, Sardinian , Sicilian, and numerous other varieties of central and southern Italy) do have long consonants like /ɡɡ/, /dd/, /bb/, /kk/, /tt/, /pp/, /ll/, /mm/, /nn/, /ss/, /rr/, etc., where the doubling indicates either actual length or, in the case of plosives and affricates , a short hold before the consonant is released, in many cases with distinctive lexical value: e.g. _note_ /ˈnɔ.te/ (notes) vs. _notte_ /ˈnɔt.te/ (night), _cade_ /ˈka.de/ (s/he, it falls) vs. _cadde_ /ˈkad.de/ (s/he, it fell), _caro_ /ˈka.ro/ (dear, expensive) vs. _carro_ /ˈkar.ro/ (cart). They may even occur at the beginning of words in Romanesco , Neapolitan, Sicilian and other southern varieties, and are occasionally indicated in writing, e.g. Sicilian _cchiù_ (more), and _ccà_ (here). In general, the consonants /b/, /ts/, and /dz/ are long at the start of a word, while the archiphoneme R is realised as a trill /r/ in the same position. In much of central and southern Italy, the affricates /t͡ʃ/ and /d͡ʒ/ weaken synchronically to fricative and between vowels, while their geminate congeners do not, e.g. _cacio_ /ˈka.t͡ʃo/ → (cheese) vs. _caccio_ /ˈkat.t͡ʃo/ → (I chase).

A few languages have regained secondary geminate consonants. The double consonants of Piedmontese exist only after stressed /ə/, written _ë_, and are not etymological: _vëdde_ ( Latin _vidēre_, to see), _sëcca_ ( Latin _sicca_, dry, feminine of _sech_). In standard Catalan and Occitan, there exists a geminate sound /lː/ written _ŀl_ (Catalan) or _ll_ (Occitan), but it is usually pronounced as a simple sound in colloquial (and even some formal) speech in both languages.


In Western Romance , an epenthetic or prosthetic vowel was inserted at the beginning of any word that began with /s/ and another consonant: _spatha_ "sword" > Spanish/Portuguese _espada_, Catalan _espasa_, Old French _espeḍe_ > modern _épée_; _Stephanum_ "Stephen" > Spanish _Esteban_, Catalan _Esteve_, Portuguese _Estêvão_, Old French _Estievne_ > modern _Étienne_; _status_ "state" > Spanish/Portuguese _estado_, Catalan _estat_, Old French _estat_ > modern _état_; _spiritus_ "spirit" > Spanish _espíritu_, Portuguese _espírito_, Catalan _esperit_, French _esprit_. Epenthetic /e/ in Western Romance languages was also probably influenced by Continental Celtic languages. While Western Romance words undergo word-initial epenthesis (prothesis), cognates in Italian do not: _spatha_ > _spada_, _Stephanum_ > _Stefano_, _status_ > _stato_, _spiritus_ > _spirito_. In Italian, syllabification rules were preserved instead by vowel-final articles, thus feminine _spada_ as _la spada_, but instead of rendering the masculine _*il spaghetto_, _lo spaghetto_ came to be the norm. Though receding at present, Italian once had an epenthetic /i/ if a consonant preceded such clusters, so that 'in Switzerland' was _in_ _Svizzera_. Some speakers still use the prothetic productively, and it is fossilized in a few set phrases as _per iscritto_ 'in writing' (although in this case its survival may be due partly to the influence of the separate word _iscritto_ < Latin _īnscrīptus_).


Loss Of Vowel Length, Reorientation


CLASSICAL Proto- Romance Western Romance Balkan Romance SARDINIAN SICILIAN


_ī_ long _i_ /iː/ /i/ I /i/ /i/ /i/

_ȳ_ long _y_ /yː/

_I (ĭ)_ short _i_ /i/ /ɪ/ ẹ /e/

_Y (Y̆)_ short _y_ /y/

_ē_ long _e_ /eː/ /e/ /e/

_œ_ _oe_ /oj/ > /eː/

_E (ĕ)_ short _e_ /e/ /ɛ/ ę /ɛ/ /ɛ/

_æ_ _ae_ /aj/ >

_ā_ long _a_ /aː/ /a/ A /a/

_A (ă)_ short _a_ /a/

_O (ŏ)_ short _o_ /o/ /ɔ/ ǫ /ɔ/ /o/ /ɔ/

_ō_ long _o_ /oː/ /o/ ọ /o/ /u/

_au_ _(a few words)_ _au_ /aw/ > /oː/

_U (ŭ)_ short _u_ /u/ /ʊ/ /u/

_ū_ long _u_ /uː/ /u/ U /u/

_au_ _(most words)_ _au_ /aw/ AU /aw/

1 Traditional academic transcription in Latin and Romance studies , respectively.

One profound change that affected Vulgar Latin was the reorganisation of its vowel system. Classical Latin had five short vowels, _ă, ĕ, ĭ, ŏ, ŭ_, and five long vowels , _ā, ē, ī, ō, ū_, each of which was an individual phoneme (see the table in the right, for their likely pronunciation in IPA), and four diphthongs , _ae_, _oe_, _au_ and _eu_ (five according to some authors, including _ui_). There were also long and short versions of _y_, representing the rounded vowel /y(ː)/ in Greek borrowings, which however probably came to be pronounced /i(ː)/ even before Romance vowel changes started.

There is evidence that in the imperial period all the short vowels except _a_ differed by quality as well as by length from their long counterparts. So, for example _ē_ was pronounced close-mid /eː/ while _ĕ_ was pronounced open-mid /ɛ/, and _ī_ was pronounced close /iː/ while _ĭ_ was pronounced near-close /ɪ/.

During the Proto-Romance period, phonemic length distinctions were lost. Vowels came to be automatically pronounced long in stressed, open syllables (i.e. when followed by only one consonant), and pronounced short everywhere else. This situation is still maintained in modern Italian: _cade_ "he falls" vs. _cadde_ "he fell".

The Proto-Romance loss of phonemic length originally produced a system with nine different quality distinctions in monophthongs, where only original /ă ā/ had merged. Soon, however, many of these vowels coalesced:

* The simplest outcome was in Sardinian , where the former long and short vowels in Latin simply coalesced, e.g. /ĕ ē/ > /e/, /ĭ ī/ > /i/: This produced a simple five-vowel system /a e i o u/. * In most areas, however (technically, the Italo-Western languages ), the near-close vowels /ɪ ʊ/ lowered and merged into the high-mid vowels /e o/. As a result, Latin _pira_ "pear" and _vēra_ "true", came to rhyme (e.g. Italian and Spanish _pera, vera_, and Old French _poire, voire_). Similarly, Latin _nucem_ (from _nux_ "nut") and _vōcem_ (from _vōx_ "voice") become Italian _noce, voce_, Portuguese _noz, voz_, and French _noix, voix_. This produced a seven-vowel system /a ɛ e i ɔ o u/, still maintained in conservative languages such as Italian and Portuguese, and lightly transformed in Spanish (where /ɛ/ > /je/, /ɔ/ > /we/). * In the Eastern Romance languages (particularly, Romanian ), the front vowels /ĕ ē ĭ ī/ evolved as in the majority of languages, but the back vowels /ŏ ō ŭ ū/ evolved as in Sardinian. This produced an unbalanced six-vowel system: /a ɛ e i o u/. In modern Romanian, this system has been significantly transformed, with /ɛ/ > /je/ and with new vowels /ə ɨ/ evolving, leading to a balanced seven-vowel system with central as well as front and back vowels: /a e i ə ɨ o u/. * Sicilian is sometimes described as having its own distinct vowel system. In fact, Sicilian passed through the same developments as the main bulk of Italo-Western languages. Subsequently, however, high-mid vowels (but not low-mid vowels) were raised in all syllables, stressed and unstressed; i.e. /e o/ > /i u/. The result is a five-vowel /a ɛ i ɔ u/.

The Proto-Romance allophonic vowel-length system was rephonemicized in the Gallo-Romance languages as a result of the loss of many final vowels. Some northern Italian languages (e.g. Friulan ) still maintain this secondary phonemic length, but most languages dropped it by either diphthongizing or shortening the new long vowels.

French phonemicized a third vowel length system around AD 1300 as a result of the sound change /VsC/ > /VhC/ > /VːC/ (where _V_ is any vowel and _C_ any consonant). This vowel length was eventually lost by around AD 1700, but the former long vowels are still marked with a circumflex. A fourth vowel length system, still non-phonemic, has now arisen: All nasal vowels as well as the oral vowels /ɑ o ø/ (which mostly derive from former long vowels) are pronounced long in all stressed closed syllables , and all vowels are pronounced long in syllables closed by the voiced fricatives /v z ʒ ʁ vʁ/. This system in turn has been phonemicized in some non-standard dialects (e.g. Haitian Creole ), as a result of the loss of final /ʁ/.

Latin Diphthongs

The Latin diphthongs _ae_ and _oe_, pronounced /ai/ and /oi/ in earlier Latin, were early on monophthongized.

_ae_ became /ɛː/ by the 1st century a.d. at the latest. Although this sound was still distinct from all existing vowels, the neutralization of Latin vowel length eventually caused its merger with /ɛ/ < short _e_: e.g. _caelum_ "sky" > French _ciel_, Spanish/Italian _cielo_, Portuguese _céu_ /sɛw/, with the same vowel as in _mele_ "honey" > French/Spanish _miel_, Italian _miele_, Portuguese _mel_ /mɛl/. Some words show an early merger of _ae_ with /eː/, as in _praeda_ "booty" > *_prēda_ /preːda/ > French _proie_ (vs. expected **_priée_), Italian _preda_ (not **_prieda_) "prey"; or _faenum_ "hay" > *_fēnum_ > Spanish _heno_, French _foin_ (but Italian _fieno_ /fjɛno/).

_oe_ generally merged with /eː/: _poenam_ "punishment" > Romance */pena/ > Spanish/Italian _pena_, French _peine_; _foedus_ "ugly" > Romance */fedo/ > Spanish _feo_, Portuguese _feio_. There are relatively few such outcomes, since _oe_ was rare in Classical Latin (most original instances had become Classical _ū_, as in Old Latin _oinos_ "one" > Classical _ūnus_ ) and so _oe_ was mostly limited to Greek loanwords, which were typically learned (high-register) terms.

_au_ merged with _ō_ /oː/ in the popular speech of Rome already by the 1st century b.c. A number of authors remarked on this explicitly, e.g. Cicero 's taunt that the populist politician Publius Clodius Pulcher had changed his name from _Claudius_ to ingratiate himself with the masses. This change never penetrated far from Rome, however, and the pronunciation /au/ was maintained for centuries in the vast majority of Latin-speaking areas, although it eventually developed into some variety of _o_ in many languages. For example, Italian and French have /ɔ/ as the usual reflex, but this post-dates diphthongization of /ɔ/ and the French-specific palatalization /ka/ > /tʃa/ (hence _causa_ > French _chose_, Italian _cosa_ /kɔza/ not **_cuosa_). Spanish has /o/, but Portuguese spelling maintains ⟨ou⟩, which has developed to /o/ (and still remains as /ou/ in some dialects, and /oi/ in others). Occitan, Romanian, southern Italian languages, and many other minority Romance languages still have /au/. A few common words, however, show an early merger with _ō_ /oː/, evidently reflecting a generalization of the popular Roman pronunciation: e.g. French _queue_, Italian _coda_ /koda/, Occitan _co(d)a_, Romanian _coadă_ (all meaning "tail") must all derive from _cōda_ rather than Classical _cauda_ (but notice Portuguese _cauda_). Similarly, Portuguese _orelha_, French _oreille_, Romanian _ureche_, and Sardinian _olícra_, _orícla_ "ear" must derive from _ōric(u)la_ rather than Classical _auris_ ( Occitan _aurelha_ was probably influenced by the unrelated _ausir_ < _audīre_ "to hear"), and the form _oricla_ is in fact reflected in the Appendix Probi .

Further Developments


Main article: Metaphony (Romance languages)

An early process that operated in all Romance languages to varying degrees was metaphony (vowel mutation), conceptually similar to the umlaut process so characteristic of the Germanic languages . Depending on the language, certain stressed vowels were raised (or sometimes diphthongized) either by a final /i/ or /u/ or by a directly following /j/. Metaphony is most extensive in the Italo-Romance languages, and applies to nearly all languages in Italy; however, it is absent from Tuscan, and hence from standard Italian. In many languages affected by metaphony, a distinction exists between final /u/ (from most cases of Latin _-um_) and final /o/ (from Latin _-ō_, _-ud_ and some cases of _-um_, esp. masculine "mass" nouns), and only the former triggers metaphony.

Some examples:

* In Servigliano in the Marche of Italy, stressed /ɛ e ɔ o/ are raised to /e i o u/ before final /i/ or /u/: /ˈmetto/ "I put" vs. /ˈmitti/ "you put" (< *metti < *mettes < Latin _mittis_); /moˈdɛsta/ "modest (fem.)" vs. /moˈdestu/ "modest (masc.)"; /ˈkwesto/ "this (neut.)" (< Latin _eccum istud_) vs. /ˈkwistu/ "this (masc.)" (< Latin _eccum istum_). * Calvallo in Basilicata , southern Italy , is similar, but the low-mid vowels /ɛ ɔ/ are diphthongized to /je wo/ rather than raised: /ˈmette/ "he puts" vs. /ˈmitti/ "you put", but /ˈpɛnʒo/ "I think" vs. /ˈpjenʒi/ "you think". * Metaphony also occurs in most northern Italian dialects, but only by (usually lost) final *i; apparently, final *u was lowered to *o (usually lost) before metaphony could take effect. * Some of the Astur-Leonese languages in northern Spain have the same distinction between final /o/ and /u/ as in the Central-Southern Italian languages, with /u/ triggering metaphony. The plural of masculine nouns in these dialects ends in _-os_, which does not trigger metaphony, unlike in the singular (vs. Italian plural _-i_, which does trigger metaphony). * Sardinian has allophonic raising of mid vowels /ɛ ɔ/ to before final /i/ or /u/. This has been phonemicized in the Campidanese dialect as a result of the raising of final /e o/ to /i u/. * Raising of /ɔ/ to /o/ occurs sporadically in Portuguese in the masculine singular, e.g. _porco_ /ˈporku/ "pig" vs. _porcos_ /ˈpɔrkus/ "pig". It is thought that Galician-Portuguese at one point had singular /u/ vs. plural /os/, exactly as in modern Astur-Leonese. * In all of the Western Romance languages, final /i/ (primarily occurring in the first-person singular of the preterite ) raised mid-high /e o/ to /i u/, e.g. Portuguese _fiz_ "I did" (< *fidzi < *fedzi < Latin _fēcī_) vs. _fez_ "he did" (< *fedze < Latin _fēcit_). Old Spanish similarly had _fize_ "I did" vs. _fezo_ "he did" (_-o_ by analogy with _amó_ "he loved"), but subsequently generalized stressed /i/, producing modern _hice_ "I did" vs. _hizo_ "he did". The same thing happened prehistorically in Old French, yielding _fis_ "I did", _fist_ "he did" (< *feist < Latin _fēcit_).


A number of languages diphthongized some of the free vowels, especially the open-mid vowels /ɛ ɔ/:

* Spanish consistently diphthongized all open-mid vowels /ɛ ɔ/ > /je we/ except for before certain palatal consonants (which raised the vowels to close-mid before diphthongization took place). * Romanian similarly diphthongized /ɛ/ to /je/ (the corresponding vowel /ɔ/ did not develop from Proto-Romance). * Italian diphthongized /ɛ/ > /jɛ/ and /ɔ/ > /wɔ/ in open syllables (in the situations where vowels were lengthened in Proto-Romance), the most salient exception being /ˈbɛne/ _bene_ 'well', perhaps due to the high frequency of apocopated _ben_ (e.g. _ben difficile_ 'quite difficult', _ben fatto_ 'well made', _ben due_ 'a good two', etc.). * French similarly diphthongized /ɛ ɔ/ in open syllables (when lengthened), along with /a e o/: /aː ɛː eː ɔː oː/ > /aɛ iɛ ei uɔ ou/ > middle OF /e je ɔi we eu/ > modern /e je wa œ ~ ø œ ~ ø/. * French also diphthongized /ɛ ɔ/ before palatalized consonants, especially /j/. Further development was as follows: /ɛj/ > /iej/ > /i/; /ɔj/ > /uoj/ > early OF /uj/ > modern /ɥi/. * Catalan diphthongized /ɛ ɔ/ before /j/ from palatalized consonants, just like French, with similar results: /ɛj/ > /i/, /ɔj/ > /uj/.

These diphthongizations had the effect of reducing or eliminating the distinctions between open-mid and close-mid vowels in many languages. In Spanish and Romanian, all open-mid vowels were diphthongized, and the distinction disappeared entirely. Portuguese is the most conservative in this respect, keeping the seven-vowel system more or less unchanged (but with changes in particular circumstances, e.g. due to metaphony ). Other than before palatalized consonants, Catalan keeps /ɔ o/ intact, but /ɛ e/ split in a complex fashion into /ɛ e ə/ and then coalesced again in the standard dialect (Eastern Catalan ) in such a way that most original /ɛ e/ have reversed their quality to become /e ɛ/.

In French and Italian, the distinction between open-mid and close-mid vowels occurred only in closed syllables. Standard Italian more or less maintains this. In French, /e/ and /ɛ/ merged by the twelfth century or so, and the distinction between /ɔ/ and /o/ was eliminated without merging by the sound changes /u/ > /y/, /o/ > /u/. Generally this led to a situation where both and occur allophonically, with the close-mid vowels in open syllables and the open-mid vowels in closed syllables . This is still the situation in modern Spanish, for example. In French, however, both and were partly rephonemicized: Both /e/ and /ɛ/ occur in open syllables as a result of /aj/ > /ɛ/, and both /o/ and /ɔ/ occur in closed syllables as a result of /al/ > /au/ > /o/.

Old French also had numerous falling diphthongs resulting from diphthongization before palatal consonants or from a fronted /j/ originally following palatal consonants in Proto-Romance or later: e.g. _pācem_ /patsʲe/ "peace" > PWR */padzʲe/ (lenition) > OF _paiz_ /pajts/; *_punctum_ "point" > Gallo-Romance */ponʲto/ > */pojɲto/ (fronting) > OF _point_ /põjnt/. During the Old French period, preconsonantal /l/ vocalized to /w/, producing many new falling diphthongs: e.g. _dulcem_ "sweet" > PWR */doltsʲe/ > OF _dolz_ /duɫts/ > _douz_ /duts/; _fallet_ "fails, is deficient" > OF _falt_ > _faut_ "is needed"; _bellus_ "beautiful" > OF _bels_ > _beaus_ . By the end of the Middle French period, _all_ falling diphthongs either monophthongized or switched to rising diphthongs: proto-OF /aj ɛj jɛj ej jej wɔj oj uj al ɛl el il ɔl ol ul/ > early OF /aj ɛj i ej yj oj yj aw ɛaw ew i ɔw ow y/ > modern spelling ⟨ai ei i oi ui oi ui au eau eu i ou ou u⟩ > mod. French /ɛ ɛ i wa ɥi wa ɥi o o ø i u u y/.


In both French and Portuguese, nasal vowels eventually developed from sequences of a vowel followed by a nasal consonant (/m/ or /n/). Originally, all vowels in both languages were nasalized before any nasal consonants, and nasal consonants not immediately followed by a vowel were eventually dropped. In French, nasal vowels before remaining nasal consonants were subsequently denasalized, but not before causing the vowels to lower somewhat, e.g. _dōnat_ "he gives" > OF _dune_ /dunə/ > _donne_ /dɔn/, _fēminam_ > _femme_ /fam/. Other vowels remained diphthongized, and were dramatically lowered: _fīnem_ "end" > _fin_ /fɛ̃/ (often pronounced ); _linguam_ "tongue" > _langue_ /lɑ̃ɡ/; _ūnum_ "one" > _un_ /œ̃/, /ɛ̃/.

In Portuguese, /n/ between vowels was dropped, and the resulting hiatus eliminated through vowel contraction of various sorts, often producing diphthongs: _manum, *manōs_ > PWR *_manu, ˈmanos_ "hand(s)" > _mão, mãos_ /mɐ̃w̃, mɐ̃w̃s/; _canem, canēs_ "dog(s)" > PWR *_kane, ˈkanes_ > *_can, ˈcanes_ > _cão, cães_ /kɐ̃w̃, kɐ̃j̃s/; _ratiōnem, ratiōnēs_ "reason(s)" > PWR *_raˈdʲzʲone, raˈdʲzʲones_ > *_raˈdzon, raˈdzones_ > _razão, razões_ /χaˈzɐ̃w̃, χaˈzõj̃s/ (Brazil), /ʁaˈzɐ̃ũ, ʁɐˈzõj̃ʃ/ (Portugal). Sometimes the nasalization was eliminated: _lūna_ "moon" > Galician-Portuguese _lũa_ > _lua_; _vēna_ "vein" > Galician-Portuguese _vẽa_ > _veia_. Nasal vowels that remained actually tend to be raised (rather than lowered, as in French): _fīnem_ "end" > _fim_ /fĩ/; _centum_ "hundred" > PWR _tʲsʲɛnto_ > _cento_ /ˈsẽtu/; _pontem_ "bridge" > PWR _pɔnte_ > _ponte_ /ˈpõtʃi/ (Brazil), /ˈpõtɨ/ (Portugal). In Portugal, vowels before a nasal consonant have become denasalized, but in Brazil they remain heavily nasalized.

Front-rounded Vowels

Characteristic of the Gallo-Romance languages and Rhaeto-Romance languages are the front rounded vowels /y ø œ/. All of these languages show an unconditional change /u/ > /y/, e.g. _lūnam_ > French _lune_ /lyn/, Occitan /ˈlyno/. Many of the languages in Switzerland and Italy show the further change /y/ > /i/. Also very common is some variation of the French development /ɔː oː/ (lengthened in open syllables ) > /we ew/ > /œ œ/, with mid back vowels diphthongizing in some circumstances and then re-monophthongizing into mid-front rounded vowels. (French has both /ø/ and /œ/, with /ø/ developing from /œ/ in certain circumstances.)


Evolution of unstressed vowels in early Italo- Western Romance LATIN Proto- Romance STRESSED Non-final unstressed FINAL-UNSTRESSED

ORIGINAL Later Italo- Romance Later Western- Romance Gallo- Romance Primitive French


_A,ā_ /a/ A /a/ /a/ /ə/

_E,AE_ /ɛ/ ę /ɛ/ /e/ /e/ /e/ ∅; /e/ (prop) ∅; /ə/ (prop)

_ē,OE_ /e/ ẹ /e/

_I,Y_ /ɪ/

_ī,ȳ_ /i/ I /i/ /i/

_O_ /ɔ/ ǫ /ɔ/ /o/ /o/ /o/

_ō,(AU)_ /o/ ọ /o/

_U_ /ʊ/ /u/

_ū_ /u/ U /u/

_au_ _(most words)_ /aw/ AU /aw/ N/A

1 Traditional academic transcription in Romance studies.

There was more variability in the result of the unstressed vowels. Originally in Proto-Romance, the same nine vowels developed in unstressed as stressed syllables, and in Sardinian, they coalesced into the same five vowels in the same way.

In Italo-Western Romance, however, vowels in unstressed syllables were significantly different from stressed vowels, with yet a third outcome for final unstressed syllables. In non-final unstressed syllables, the seven-vowel system of stressed syllables developed, but then the low-mid vowels /ɛ ɔ/ merged into the high-mid vowels /e o/. This system is still preserved, largely or completely, in all of the conservative Romance languages (e.g. Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan).

In final unstressed syllables, results were somewhat complex. One of the more difficult issues is the development of final short _-u_, which appears to have been raised to /u/ rather than lowered to /o/, as happened in all other syllables. However, it is possible that in reality, final /u/ comes from _long_ *_-ū_ < _-um_, where original final _-m_ caused vowel lengthening as well as nasalization. Evidence of this comes from Rhaeto-Romance , in particular Sursilvan , which preserves reflexes of both final _-us_ and _-um_, and where the latter, but not the former, triggers metaphony . This suggests the development _-us_ > /ʊs/ > /os/, but _-um_ > /ũː/ > /u/.

Examples of evolution of final unstressed vowels: From least- to most-changed languages ENGLISH LATIN PROTO-ITALO-WESTERN1 Conservative Central Italian1 ITALIAN SPANISH CATALAN OLD FRENCH

A, E, I, O, U A, E, I, O, U A, E, I, O A, E/-, O A, -/E E, -/E

one (fem.) _ūnam_ ˈuna una una una una une

door _portam_ ˈpɔrta pɔrta porta puerta porta porte

seven _septem_ ˈsɛtte sɛtte sette siete set set

sea _mare_ ˈmare mare mare mar mar mer

peace _pācem_ ˈpatʃe pace pace paz pau paiz

part _partem_ ˈparte parte parte parte part part

mother _mātrem_ ˈmatre matre madre madre mare meḍre

twenty _vīgintī_ veˈenti vinti venti veinte vint vint

four _quattuor_ ˈkwattro quattro quattro cuatro quatre quatre

eight _octō_ ˈɔkto ɔtto otto ocho vuit huit

when _quandō_ ˈkwando quando quando cuando quan quant

fourth _quartum_ ˈkwartu quartu quarto cuarto quart quart

one (masc.) _ūnum_ ˈunu unu uno uno un un

port _portum_ ˈpɔrtu portu porto puerto port port

1 These columns use IPA symbols /ɔ, ɛ/ to indicate open-mid vowels.

The original five-vowel system in final unstressed syllables was preserved as-is in some of the more conservative central Italian languages, but in most languages there was further coalescence:

* In Tuscan (including standard Italian), final /u/ merged into /o/. * In the Western Romance languages , final /i/ eventually merged into /e/ (although final /i/ triggered metaphony before that, e.g. Spanish _hice_, Portuguese _fiz_ "I did" < _*fize_ < Latin _fēcī_). Conservative languages like Spanish largely maintain that system, but drop final /e/ after certain single consonants, e.g. /r/, /l/, /n/, /d/, /z/ (< palatalized _c_). * In the Gallo-Romance languages (part of Western Romance), final /o/ and /e/ were dropped entirely unless that produced an impossible final cluster (e.g. /tr/), in which case a "prop vowel" /e/ was added. This left only two final vowels: /a/ and prop vowel /e/. Catalan preserves this system. * Loss of final stressless vowels in Venetian shows a pattern intermediate between Central Italian and the Gallo-Italic branch, and the environments for vowel deletion vary considerably depending on the dialect. In the table above, final /e/ is uniformly absent in _mar_, absent in some dialects in _part(e)_ /part(e)/ and _set(e)_ /sɛt(e)/, but retained in _mare_ (< Latin _mātrem_) as a relic of the earlier cluster *dr. * In primitive Old French (one of the Gallo-Romance languages ), these two remaining vowels merged into /ə/.

Various later changes happened in individual languages, e.g.:

* In French, most final consonants were dropped, and then final /ə/ was also dropped. The /ə/ is still preserved in spelling as a final silent _-e_, whose main purpose is to signal that the previous consonant is pronounced, e.g. _port_ "port" /pɔʁ/ vs. _porte_ "door" /pɔʁt/. These changes also eliminated the difference between singular and plural in most words: _ports_ "ports" (still /pɔʁ/), _portes_ "doors" (still /pɔʁt/). Final consonants reappear in liaison contexts (in close connection with a following vowel-initial word), e.g. _nous_ "we" vs. _nous avons_ "we have", _il fait_ "he does" vs. _fait-il ?_ "does he?". * In Portuguese, final unstressed /o/ and /u/ were apparently preserved intact for a while, since final unstressed /u/, but not /o/ or /os/, triggered metaphony (see above). Final-syllable unstressed /o/ was raised in preliterary times to /u/, but always still written ⟨o⟩. At some point (perhaps in late Galician-Portuguese), final-syllable unstressed /e/ was raised to /i/ (but still written ⟨e⟩); this remains in Brazilian Portuguese , but has developed to /ɨ/ in European Portuguese . * In Catalan, final unstressed /as/ > /es/. In many dialects, unstressed /o/ and /u/ merge into /u/ as in Portuguese, and unstressed /a/ and /e/ merge into /ə/. However, some dialects preserve the original five-vowel system, most notably standard Valencian .


The so-called _intertonic vowels_ are word-internal unstressed vowels, i.e. not in the initial, final, or _tonic_ (i.e. stressed) syllable, hence intertonic. Intertonic vowels were the most subject to loss or modification. Already in Vulgar Latin intertonic vowels between a single consonant and a following /r/ or /l/ tended to drop: _vétulum_ "old" > _veclum_ > Dalmatian _vieklo_, Sicilian _vecchiu_, Portuguese _velho_. But many languages ultimately dropped almost all intertonic vowels.

Generally, those languages south and east of the La Spezia–Rimini Line (Romanian and Central-Southern Italian) maintained intertonic vowels, while those to the north and west (Western Romance) dropped all except /a/. Standard Italian generally maintained intertonic vowels, but typically raised unstressed /e/ > /i/. Examples:

* _septimā́nam_ "week" > Italian _settimana_, Romanian _săptămână_ vs. Spanish/Portuguese _semana_, French _semaine_, Occitan/Catalan _setmana_, Piedmontese _sman-a_ * _quattuórdecim_ "fourteen" > Italian _quattordici_, Venetian _cuatòrdexe_, Lombard/ Piedmontese _quatòrdes_, vs. Spanish _catorce_, Portuguese/French _quatorze_ * _metipsissimus_ > _medipsimus_ /medíssimos/ ~ /medéssimos/ "self" > Italian _medésimo_ vs. Venetian _medemo_, Lombard _medemm_, Old Spanish _meísmo_, _meesmo_ (> modern _mismo_), Galician-Portuguese _meesmo_ (> modern _mesmo_), Old French _meḍisme_ (> later _meïsme_ > MF _mesme_ > modern _même_) * _bonitā́tem_ "goodness" > Italian _bonità_ ~ _bontà_, Romanian _bunătate_ but Spanish _bondad_, Portuguese _bondade_, French _bonté_ * _collocā́re_ "to position, arrange" > Italian _coricare_ vs. Spanish _colgar_ "to hang", Romanian _culca_ "to lie down", French _coucher_ "to lay sth on its side; put s.o. to bed" * _commūnicā́re_ "to take communion" > Romanian _cumineca_ vs. Portuguese _comungar_, Spanish _comulgar_, Old French _comungier_ * _carricā́re_ "to load (onto a wagon, cart)" > Portuguese/Catalan _carregar_ vs. Spanish/ Occitan _cargar_ "to load", French _charger_, Lombard _cargà/caregà_, Venetian _carigar/cargar(e)_ "to load" * _fábricam_ "forge" > /*fawrɡa/ > Spanish _fragua_, Portuguese _frágua_, Occitan/Catalan _farga_, French _forge_ * _disjējūnā́re_ "to break a fast" > *_disjūnā́re_ > Old French _disner_ "to have lunch" > French _dîner_ "to dine" (but *_disjū́nat_ > Old French _desjune_ "he has lunch" > French _(il) déjeune_ "he has lunch") * _adjūtā́re_ "to help" > Italian _aiutare_, Romanian _ajuta_ but French _aider_, Lombard _aidà/aiuttà_ (Spanish _ayudar_, Portuguese _ajudar_ based on stressed forms, e.g. _ayuda/ajuda_ "he helps"; cf. Old French _aidier_ "to help" vs. _aiue_ "he helps")

Portuguese is more conservative in maintaining some intertonic vowels other than /a/: e.g. *_offerḗscere_ "to offer" > Portuguese _oferecer_ vs. Spanish _ofrecer_, French _offrir_ (< *_offerīre_). French, on the other hand, drops even intertonic /a/ after the stress: _Stéphanum_ "Stephen" > Spanish _Esteban_ but Old French _Estievne_ > French _Étienne_. Many cases of /a/ before the stress also ultimately dropped in French: _sacraméntum_ "sacrament" > Old French _sairement_ > French _serment_ "oath".


Main article: Latin script

The Romance languages for the most part have kept the writing system of Latin, adapting it to their evolution. One exception was Romanian before the nineteenth century, where, after the Roman retreat, literacy was reintroduced through the Romanian Cyrillic alphabet , a Slavic influence. A Cyrillic alphabet was also used for Romanian (Moldovan) in the USSR . The non-Christian populations of Spain also used the scripts of their religions (Arabic and Hebrew ) to write Romance languages such as Ladino and Mozarabic in _aljamiado _.


Spelling of results of palatalization and related sounds SOUND SPANISH PORTUGUESE FRENCH ITALIAN ROMANIAN

/k/, not + ⟨e, i, y⟩ ⟨c⟩

palatalized /k/ (/tʃ/~/s/~/θ/), + ⟨e, i, y⟩ ⟨c⟩

palatalized /k/ (/tʃ/~/s/~/θ/), not + ⟨e, i, y⟩ ⟨z⟩ ⟨ç⟩ ⟨ci⟩

/kw/, not + ⟨e, i, y⟩ ⟨cu⟩ ⟨qu⟩ —

/k/ + ⟨e, i⟩ (inherited) ⟨qu⟩ ⟨ch⟩

/kw/ + ⟨e, i⟩ (learned) ⟨cu⟩ ⟨qu⟩ —

/g/, not + ⟨e, i, y⟩ ⟨g⟩

palatalized /k, g/ (/dʒ/~/ʒ/~/x/), + ⟨e, i, y⟩ ⟨g⟩

palatalized /k, g/ (/dʒ/~/ʒ/~/x/), not + ⟨e, i, y⟩ ⟨j⟩ ⟨g(e)⟩ ⟨gi⟩

/gw/, not + ⟨e ,i⟩ ⟨gu⟩

/g/ + ⟨e, i⟩ (inherited) ⟨gu⟩ ⟨gh⟩

/gw/ + ⟨e, i⟩ (learned) ⟨gü⟩ ⟨gu⟩

(former) /ʎ/ ⟨ll⟩ ⟨lh⟩ ⟨il(l)⟩ ⟨gli⟩ —

/ɲ/ ⟨ñ⟩ ⟨nh⟩ ⟨gn⟩ —

The Romance languages are written with the classical Latin alphabet of 23 letters – _A_, _B_, _C_, _D_, _E_, _F_, _G_, _H_, _I_, _K_, _L_, _M_, _N_, _O_, _P_, _Q_, _R_, _S_, _T_, _V_, _X_, _Y_, _Z_ – subsequently modified and augmented in various ways. In particular, the single Latin letter _V_ split into _V_ (consonant) and _U_ (vowel), and the letter _I_ split into _I_ and _J_. The Latin letter _K_ and the new letter _W_, which came to be widely used in Germanic languages, are seldom used in most Romance languages – mostly for unassimilated foreign names and words. Indeed, in Italian prose _kilometro_ is properly _chilometro_. Catalan eschews importation of "foreign" letters more than most languages. Thus Wikipedia becomes _Viquipèdia_ in Catalan but remains _Wikipedia_ in Spanish.

While most of the 23 basic Latin letters have maintained their phonetic value, for some of them it has diverged considerably; and the new letters added since the Middle Ages have been put to different uses in different scripts. Some letters, notably _H_ and _Q_, have been variously combined in digraphs or trigraphs (see below) to represent phonetic phenomena that could not be recorded with the basic Latin alphabet, or to get around previously established spelling conventions. Most languages added auxiliary marks (diacritics ) to some letters, for these and other purposes.

The spelling rules of most Romance languages are fairly simple, but subject to considerable regional variation. The letters with most conspicuous phonetic variations, between Romance languages or with respect to Latin, are: B, V: Merged in Spanish and most dialects of Catalan, where both letters are pronounced as either or (similar to _v_) depending on position, with no relationship between sound and spelling. C: Generally a "hard" , but "soft" (fricative or affricate ) before _e_, _i_, or _y_. G: Generally a "hard" , but "soft" (fricative or affricate) before _e_, _i_, or _y_. In some languages, like Spanish, the hard _g_ is pronounced as a fricative after vowels. In Romansch, the soft _g_ is a voiced palatal plosive or a voiced alveolo-palatal affricate . H: Silent in most languages; used to form various digraphs . But represents in Romanian, Walloon and Gascon Occitan. J: Represents a fricative in most languages, or the palatal approximant in Romansh and in several of the languages of Italy. Italian does not use this letter in native words. Usually pronounced like the soft _g_ (except in Romansch and the languages of Italy). Q: As in Latin, its phonetic value is that of a hard _c_, and in native words it is always followed by a (sometimes silent) _u_. Romanian does not use this letter in native words. S: Generally voiceless , but voiced between vowels in most languages. In Spanish, Romanian, Galician and several varieties of Italian, however, it is always pronounced voiceless. At the end of syllables, it may represent special allophonic pronunciations. In Romansh, it also stands for a voiceless or voiced fricative, or , before certain consonants. W: No Romance language uses this letter in native words, with the exception of Walloon . X: Its pronunciation is rather variable, both between and within languages. In the Middle Ages, the languages of Iberia used this letter to denote the voiceless postalveolar fricative , which is still the case in Modern Catalan and Portuguese . With the Renaissance the classical pronunciation – or similar consonant clusters , such as , , or – were frequently reintroduced in latinisms and hellenisms. In Venetian it represents , and in Ligurian the voiced postalveolar fricative . Italian does not use this letter in native words. Y: This letter is not used in most languages, with the prominent exceptions of French and Spanish, where it represents before vowels (or various similar fricatives such as the palatal fricative , in Spanish), and the vowel or semivowel elsewhere. Z: In most languages it represents the sound . However, in Italian it denotes the affricates and (which are two separate phonemes, but rarely contrast; among the few examples of minimal pairs are _razza_ "ray" with , _razza_ "race" with ); in Romansh the voiceless affricate ; and in Galician and Spanish it denotes either the voiceless dental fricative or .

Otherwise, letters that are not combined as digraphs generally have the same sounds as in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), whose design was, in fact, greatly influenced by the Romance spelling systems.


Since most Romance languages have more sounds than can be accommodated in the Roman Latin alphabet they all resort to the use of digraphs and trigraphs – combinations of two or three letters with a single sound value. The concept (but not the actual combinations) is derived from Classical Latin, which used, for example, _TH_, _PH_, and _CH_ when transliterating the Greek letters "θ", "ϕ" (later "φ"), and "χ". These were once aspirated sounds in Greek before changing to corresponding fricatives, and the _H_ represented what sounded to the Romans like an /ʰ/ following /t/, /p/, and /k/ respectively. Some of the digraphs used in modern scripts are: CI: used in Italian, Romance languages in Italy and Romanian to represent /tʃ/ before _A_, _O_, or _U_. CH: used in Italian, Romance languages in Italy, Romanian, Romansh and Sardinian to represent /k/ before _E_ or _I_; /tʃ/ in Occitan , Spanish, Astur-leonese and Galician; or in Romansh before _A_, _O_ or _U_; and /ʃ/ in most other languages. In Catalan it is used in some old spelling conventions for /k/. DD: used in Sicilian and Sardinian to represent the voiced retroflex plosive /ɖ/. In recent history more accurately transcribed as _DDH_. DJ: used in Walloon and Catalan for /dʒ/. GI: used in Italian, Romance languages in Italy and Romanian to represent /dʒ/ before _A_, _O_, or _U_, and in Romansh to represent or /dʑi/ or (before _A_, _E_, _O_, and _U_) or /dʑ/ GH: used in Italian, Romance languages in Italy, Romanian, Romansh and Sardinian to represent /ɡ/ before _E_ or _I_, and in Galician for the voiceless pharyngeal fricative /ħ/ (not standard sound). GL: used in Romansh before consonants and _I_ and at the end of words for /ʎ/. GLI: used in Italian and Romansh for /ʎ/. GN: used in French, Italian, Romance languages in Italy and Romansh for /ɲ/, as in _champignon_ or _gnocchi_. GU: used before _E_ or _I_ to represent /ɡ/ or /ɣ/ in all Romance languages except Italian, Romance languages in Italy, Romansh, and Romanian (which use GH instead). IG: used at the end of word in Catalan for /tʃ/, as in _maig_, _safareig_ or _enmig_. IX: used between vowels or at the end of word in Catalan for /ʃ/, as in _caixa_ or _calaix_. LH: used in Portuguese and Occitan /ʎ/. LL: used in Spanish, Catalan, Galician, Astur-leonese, Norman and Dgèrnésiais, originally for /ʎ/ which has merged in some cases with /j/. Represents /l/ in French unless it follows _I_ (_i_) when it represents /j/ (or /ʎ/ in some dialects). It is used in Occitan for a long /ll/ L·L: used in Catalan for a geminate consonant . NH: used in Portuguese and Occitan for /ɲ/, used in official Galician for /ŋ/ . N-: used in Piedmontese and Ligurian for /ŋ/ between two vowels. NN: used in Leonese for /ɲ/, NY: used in Catalan for /ɲ/. QU: represents in Italian, Romance languages in Italy, and Romansh; in French, Astur-leonese (normally before _e_ or _i_); (before _e_ or _i_) or (normally before _a_ or _o_) in Occitan, Catalan and Portuguese; in Spanish (always before _e_ or _i_). RR: used between vowels in several languages (Occitan, Catalan, Spanish...) to denote a trilled /r/ or a guttural R , instead of the flap /ɾ/. SC: used before _E_ or _I_ in Italian, Romance languages in Italy, and European Portuguese for /ʃ/, and in French, Brazilian Portuguese, Catalan and Latin American Spanish as /s/ in words of certain etymology (notice this would be /θ/ in standard peninsular Spanish) SCH: used in Romansh for or . SCI: used in Italian and Romance languages in Italy to represent /ʃ/ before _A_, _O_, or _U_. SH: used in Aranese Occitan for /ʃ/. SS: used in French, Portuguese, Piedmontese, Romansh, Occitan, and Catalan for /s/ between vowels. TS: used in Catalan for /ts/. TG: used in Romansh for or . In Catalan is used for /dʒ/ before _E_ and _I_, as in _metge_ or _fetge_. TH: used in Jèrriais for /θ/; used in Aranese for either /t/ or /tʃ/. TJ: used between vowels and before _A_, _O_ or _U_, in Catalan for /dʒ/, as in _sotjar_ or _mitjó_. TSCH: used in Romansh for . TX: used at the beginning or at the end of word or between vowels in Catalan for /tʃ/, as in _txec_, _esquitx_ or _atxa_. TZ: used in Catalan for /dz/.

While the digraphs _CH_, _PH_, _RH_ and _TH_ were at one time used in many words of Greek origin, most languages have now replaced them with _C/QU_, _F_, _R_ and _T_. Only French has kept these etymological spellings, which now represent /k/ or /ʃ/, /f/, /ʀ/ and /t/, respectively.

Double Consonants

Gemination , in the languages where it occurs, is usually indicated by doubling the consonant, except when it does not contrast phonemically with the corresponding short consonant, in which case gemination is not indicated. In Jèrriais , long consonants are marked with an apostrophe: _S'S_ is a long /zz/, _SS'S_ is a long /ss/, and _T'T_ is a long /tt/. Phonemic contrast of geminates vs. single consonants is widespread in Italian , and normally indicated in the traditional orthography: _fatto_ /fatto/ 'done' vs. _fato_ /fato/ 'fate, destiny'; _cadde_ /kadde/ 's/he, it fell' vs. _cade_ /kade/ 's/he, it falls'. The double consonants in French orthography, however, are merely etymological. In Catalan, the gemination of the _l_ is marked by a _punt volat_ = _flying point_ – _l·l_.


Romance languages also introduced various marks (diacritics ) that may be attached to some letters, for various purposes. In some cases, diacritics are used as an alternative to digraphs and trigraphs; namely to represent a larger number of sounds than would be possible with the basic alphabet, or to distinguish between sounds that were previously written the same. Diacritics are also used to mark word stress, to indicate exceptional pronunciation of letters in certain words, and to distinguish words with same pronunciation (homophones ).

Depending on the language, some letter-diacritic combinations may be considered distinct letters, e.g. for the purposes of lexical sorting . This is the case, for example, of Romanian _ș_ () and Spanish _ñ_ ().

The following are the most common use of diacritics in Romance languages.

* VOWEL QUALITY: the system of marking close-mid vowels with an acute accent , _é_, and open-mid vowels with a grave accent , _è_, is widely used (e.g. Catalan, French, Italian). Portuguese, however, uses the circumflex (_ê_) for the former, and the acute (_é_), for the latter. Some minority Romance languages use an umlaut (diaeresis mark) in the case of _ä, ö, ü_ to indicate fronted vowel variants, as in German . Centralized vowels (/ɐ/, /ǝ/) are indicated variously (_â_ in Portuguese, _ă/î_ in Romanian, _ë_ in Piedmontese , etc.). In French, Occitan and Romanian, these accents are used whenever necessary to distinguish the appropriate vowel quality, but in the other languages, they are used only when it is necessary to mark unpredictable stress, or in some cases to distinguish homophones. * VOWEL LENGTH: French uses a circumflex to indicate what had been a long vowel (although nowadays this rather indicates a difference in vowel quality, if it has any effect at all on pronunciation). This same usage is found in some minority languages. * NASALITY: Portuguese marks nasal vowels with a tilde (_ã_) when they occur before other written vowels and in some other instances. * PALATALIZATION: some historical palatalizations are indicated with the cedilla (_ç_) in French, Catalan, Occitan and Portuguese. In Spanish and several other world languages influenced by it, the grapheme _ñ _ represents a palatal nasal consonant. * SEPARATE PRONUNCIATION: when a vowel and another letter that would normally be combined into a digraph with a single sound are exceptionally pronounced apart, this is often indicated with a diaeresis mark on the vowel. This is particularly common in the case of _gü_ /gw/ before _e_ or _i_, because plain _gu_ in this case would be pronounced /g/. This usage occurs in Spanish, French, Catalan and Occitan, and occurred before the 2009 spelling reform in Brazilian Portuguese. French also uses the diaeresis on the second of two adjacent vowels to indicate that both are pronounced separately, as in _Noël_ "Christmas" and _haïr_ "to hate". * STRESS: the stressed vowel in a polysyllabic word may be indicated with an accent, when it cannot be predicted by rule. In Italian, Portuguese and Catalan, the choice of accent (acute, grave or circumflex) may depend on vowel quality. When no quality needs to be indicated, an acute accent is normally used (_ú_), but Italian and Romansh use a grave accent (_ù_). Portuguese puts a diacritic on all stressed monosyllables that end in _a e o as es os_, to distinguish them from unstressed function words: _chá_ "tea", _más_ "bad (fem. pl.)", _sé_ "seat (of government)", _dê_ "give! (imperative)", _mês_ "month", _só_ "only", _nós_ "we" (cf. _mas_ "but", _se_ "if/oneself", _de_ "of", _nos_ "us"). * HOMOPHONES: words (especially monosyllables) that are pronounced exactly or nearly the same way and are spelled identically, but have different meanings, can be differentiated by a diacritic. Typically, if one of the pair is stressed and the other isn't, the stressed word gets the diacritic, using the appropriate diacritic for notating stressed syllables (see above). Portuguese does this consistently as part of notating stress in certain monosyllables, whether or not there is an unstressed homophone (see examples above). Spanish also has many pairs of identically pronounced words distinguished by an acute accent on the stressed word: _si_ "if" vs. _sí_ "yes", _mas_ "but" vs. _más_ "more", _mi_ "my" vs. _mí_ "me", _se_ "oneself" vs. _sé_ "I know", _te_ "you (object)" vs. _té_ "tea", _que/quien/cuando/como_ "that/who/when/how" vs. _qué/quién/cuándo/cómo_ "what?/who?/when?/how?", etc. Catalan has some pairs where both words are stressed, and one is distinguished by a vowel-quality diacritic, e.g. _os_ "bone" vs. _ós_ "bear". When no vowel-quality needs distinguishing, French and Catalan use a grave accent : French _ou_ "or" vs. _où_ "where", French _la_ "the" vs. "là _"there", Catalan_ ma _"my" vs._ mà _"hand"._


Most languages are written with a mixture of two distinct but phonetically identical variants or "cases " of the alphabet: majuscule ("uppercase" or "capital letters"), derived from Roman stone-carved letter shapes, and minuscule ("lowercase"), derived from Carolingian writing and Medieval quill pen handwriting which were later adapted by printers in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

In particular, all Romance languages capitalize (use uppercase for the first letter of) the following words: the first word of each complete sentence , most words in names of people, places, and organizations, and most words in titles of books. The Romance languages do not follow the German practice of capitalizing all nouns including common ones. Unlike English, the names of months, days of the weeks, and derivatives of proper nouns are usually not capitalized: thus, in Italian one capitalizes _Francia_ ("France") and _Francesco_ ("Francis"), but not _francese_ ("French") or _francescano_ ("Franciscan"). However, each language has some exceptions to this general rule.


The tables below provide a vocabulary comparison that illustrates a number of examples of sound shifts that have occurred between Latin and Romance languages, along with a selection of minority languages. Words are given in their conventional spellings. In addition, for French the actual pronunciation is given, due to the dramatic differences between spelling and pronunciation. (French spelling approximately reflects the pronunciation of Old French , c. 1200 AD.)



man _homō, hominem_ ómine om omu uomo om(en)o òm(en) om(en) òm om um homme /ɔm/ òme home om(br)e hombre home homem

woman, wife _mulier, mulierem_ muzère muiere mugghieri moglie mojer mujér miee/fomna fomna muîr muglier OF moillier OOc mólher (nom. ) / molhér (obj. ) muller muller mujer muyer mulher

son _fīlium_ fìzu fiu figghiu figlio fiol fiōl fiö/bagaj fieul fi figl, fegl fils /fis/ filh fill fillo hijo fíu filho

water _aquam_ àbba apă acqua acqua acua aqua acqua/agua/ova/eiva eva aghe aua eau /o/ aiga aigua aigua, augua agua agua água

fire _focum_ fócu foc focu fuoco fogo foeugh fögh feu fûc fieu feu /fø/ fuòc foc fuego fuego fueu fogo

rain _pluviam_ próida ploaie chiuvuta pioggia pióva pioeuva piöa pieuva ploe plievgia pluie /plɥi/ pluèja pluja plebia lluvia lluvia chuva

land _terram_ tèrra ţară terra terra tera tera tera tèra tiere terra/tiara terre /tɛʁ/ tèrra terra tierra tierra tierra terra

sky _caelum_ chélu cer celu cielo çiél cēl cel/sel cel cîl tschiel ciel /sjɛl/ cèl cel zielo cielo cielu céu

high _altum_ àrtu înalt autu alto alto élt volt/ot àut alt aut haut /o/ n-aut alt alto alto altu alto

new _novum_ nóbu nou novu nuovo nóvo noeuv nöf/noeuv neuv gnove nov neuf /nœf/ nòu nou nuebo nuevo nuevu novo

horse _caballum_ càdhu cal cavaddu cavallo cavało cavàl cavâl/caàl caval ĉhaval chaval cheval /ʃ(ǝ)val/ caval cavall caballo caballo caballu cavalo

dog _canem_ cane câine cani cane can can ca(n) can cjan chaun chien /ʃjɛ̃/ can ca can can can cão

do _facere_ fàchere face(re) fari fare far far fà fé fâ far faire /fɛʁ/ far/fàser fer fer hacer facer fazer

milk _lactem_ làte lapte latti latte late latt lacc/lat làit lat latg lait /lɛ/ lach llet leit leche lleche leite

eye _oculum_ > *oclum ócru ochi occhiu occhio ocio òć ögg/oeucc euj (Western Piedmontese), eugg (Eastern Piedmontese) voli egl œil /œj/ uèlh ull güello ojo güeyu olho

ear _auriculam_ > *oriclam orícra ureche ricchi orecchio orécia uréć orèggia/ureja orija orele ureglia oreille /ɔʁɛj/ aurelha orella orella oreja oreya orelha

tongue/ language _linguam_ límba limbǎ lingua lingua léngua léngua lengua lenga lenghe lingua langue /lɑ̃ɡ/ lenga llengua luenga lengua llingua língua

hand _manum_ manu mână manu mano man man man man man maun main /mɛ̃/ man mà man mano mano mão

skin _pellem_ pèdhe piele peddi pelle pełe pèl pel pel piel pel peau /po/ pèl pell piel piel piel pele

I _ego_ (d)ègo eu ju/jè io (mi) (mì/mè) (mi/mé) i(/mi) jo jau je /ʒǝ/ ieu/jo jo yo yo yo eu

our _nostrum_ nóstru nostru nostru nostro nostro noster nòst nòst nestri noss notre /nɔtʁ/ nòstre nostre nuestro nuestro nuesu, nuestru nosso

three _trēs_ tres trei tri tre tre trii trii (m )/ tre (f ) trè tre trais trois /tʁwa/ tres tres tres tres trés três

four _quattuor_ > *quattro bàttor patru quattru quattro cuatro quàtar quater quatr cuatri quat(t)er quatre /katʁ/ quatre quatre cuatre, cuatro cuatro cuatro quatro

five _quīnque_ > *cīnque chímbe cinci cincu cinque çincue sinc cinch/si(n)ch sinch cinc tschintg cinq /sɛ̃k/ cinc cinc zinco, zingo cinco cinco, cincu cinco

six _sex_ ses şase sie sei sìe siē ses ses sîs sis six /sis/ sièis sis seis/sais seis seis seis

seven _septem_ sète şapte setti sette sete sèt set set siet se(a)t, siat sept /sɛt/ sèt set siet(e) siete siete sete

eight _octō_ òto opt ottu otto oto òt vot eut vot ot(g), och huit /ɥit/ uèch vuit güeito, ueito ocho ocho oito

nine _novem_ nòbe nouă novi nove nove nóv nöf neuv nûv no(u)v neuf /nœf/ nòu nou nueu nueve nueve nove

ten _decem_ dèche zece deci dieci diéxe déś des/dis des dîs diesch dix /dis/ dètz deu diez diez diez dez



* Italo-Celtic * Latins * Legacy of the Roman Empire * Southern Romance * African Romance * British Latin * Moselle Romance * Pannonian Romance * Romance-speaking Africa * Romance-speaking Asia * Romance-speaking Europe * Romance-speaking world


* ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Romance". _ Glottolog 2.7 _. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. * ^ * ^ Nationalencyklopedin "Världens 100 största språk 2007" The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007/2010 * ^ David Dalby, 1999/2000, _The Linguasphere register of the world’s languages and speech communities._ Observatoire Linguistique, Linguasphere Press. Volume 2, p. 390-410 (zone 51). Oxford. * ^ Ilari, Rodolfo (2002). _Lingüística Românica_. Ática. p. 50. ISBN 85-08-04250-7 . * ^ From the French substantive _clos_ 'closed', itself from Latin _clausus_ in T. F. Hoad, _The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English language _, 1993, ISBN 0-19-283098-8 , p. 80b. * ^ From French verb _diner_, itself from Late Latin _disjūnāre_ 'break one 's fast' in HOAD, p. 125b. * ^ Rochette , p. 550 * ^ Stefan Zimmer, "Indo-European," in _Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia_ (ABC-Clio, 2006), p. 961 * ^ Curchin, Leonard A. (1995). "Literacy in the Roman Provinces: Qualitative and Quantitative Data from Central Spain". _The American Journal of Philology_. 116 (3): 461–476 (464). JSTOR 295333 . doi :10.2307/295333 . * ^ Herman, Jozsef (1 November 2010). _Vulgar Latin_. Penn State Press. ISBN 0-271-04177-3 . , pp. 108–115 * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ Price, Glanville (1984). _The French language: past and present_. London: Grant and Cutler Ltd. * ^ "Na" is a contraction of "em" (in) + "a" (the), the form "em a" is never used, it is always replaced by "na". The same happens with other prepositions: "de" (of) + o/a/os/as (singular and plural forms for "the" in masculine and feminine) = do, da, dos, das; etc. * ^ Verb; literally means "to put in mouth" * ^ See Portuguese in Africa . * ^ See Portuguese in Asia and Oceania . * ^ See List of countries where Portuguese is an official language . * ^ 1993 Statistical Abstract of Israel reports 250,000 speakers of Romanian in Israel, while the 1995 census puts the total figure of the Israeli population at 5,548,523 * ^ "Reports of about 300,000 Jews who left the country after WW2". Eurojewcong.org. Retrieved 2010-11-06. * ^ "Encarta Dictionary". Microsoft Encarta 2006. Retrieved 2009-11-16. * ^ "Ethnologue". SIL Haley. * ^ "Romance languages". _Encyclopædia Britannica_. Retrieved 2 December 2014. * ^ "Sardos etiam, qui non Latii sunt sed Latiis associandi videntur, eiciamus, quoniam soli sine proprio vulgari esse videntur, gramaticam tanquam simie homines imitantes: nam domus nova et dominus meus locuntur." ("Let us ignore the Sardinians, then, who are not Latins but appear to be associated with them, because they alone seem to lack their own common tongue, rather imitating (Latin) grammar as monkeys do men: For they say 'domus nova' and 'dominus meus'.") It is unclear whether this indic.tes that Sardinian still had a two-case system at the time; modern Sardinian lacks grammatical case. * ^ "NEO-ROMANTICISM IN LANGUAGE PLANNING (Edo BERNASCONI)". * ^ "NEO-ROMANTICISM IN LANGUAGE PLANNING (Edo BERNASCONI)". * ^ Peano, Giuseppe (1903). _De Latino Sine Flexione. Lingua Auxiliare Internationale_ , _Revista de Mathematica_ (_Revue de Mathématiques_), Tomo VIII, pp. 74–83. Fratres Bocca Editores: Torino. * ^ "Eall fhoil de Bhreathanach". Archived from the original on June 10, 2008. * ^ Henrik Theiling (2007-10-28). "Þrjótrunn: A North Romance Language: History". Kunstsprachen.de. Retrieved 2010-11-06. * ^ "Relay 10/R – Jelbazech". Steen.free.fr. 2004-08-28. Retrieved 2010-11-06. * ^ /ə/ can occur only in unstressed syllables, and it tends to be rounded ; it is replaced by when stressed. * ^ /ɐ/ developed as the allophone of /a/ before nasals and under low stress, and the two are still nearly in complementary distribution. A few minimal pairs like _falamos_ /fɐˈlɐmuʃ/ "we speak" vs. _falámos_ /fɐˈlamuʃ/ "we spoke" seem to clearly indicate that /ɐ/ must be a phoneme, but other analyses are possible. /ɨ/, which developed from earlier /e/ in unstressed syllables, is even more doubtful. * ^ Haase, Martin. 2000. Reorganization of a gender system: The Central Italian neuters. in _Gender in Grammar and Cognition_, ed. by Barbara Unterbeck et al., pp. 221-236. Berlin: Mouton De Gruyter * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ Harris, Martin; Vincent, Nigel (1988). _The Romance Languages_. London: Routledge. * ^ Kibler, William W. (1984). _An introduction to Old French_. New York: Modern Language Association of America. * ^ Henri Wittmann . ""Le français de Paris dans le français des Amériques."" (PDF). (52.1 KB), _Proceedings of the International Congress of Linguists_ 16.0416 (Paris, 20–25 juillet 1997). Oxford: Pergamon (CD edition). * ^ _ipse_ originally meant "self", as in _ego_ _ipse_ or _egomet_ _ipse_ "I myself". _ipse_ later shifted to mean "the" (still reflected in Sardinian and in the Catalan spoken in the Balearic Islands ), and still later came to be a demonstrative pronoun. From _-met_ _ipse_ the emphatic (superlative ) form _metipsimum_ was created, later evolving into _medisimum_ and eventually Spanish _mismo_, French _même_, Italian _medesimo_, which replaced both Latin _ipse_ "self" and _idem_ "same". The alternative form _metipse_ eventually produced Catalan _mateix_, Galician-Portuguese _medês_. The more frequent Italian equivalent, however, is _stesso_, derived from the combination _istum_-_ipsum_. * ^ _A_ _B_ Accademia della Crusca _On the use of the passato remoto_ (in Italian) Archived June 7, 2006, at the Wayback Machine . * ^ Cf. _auret_ "she had" < Latin _habuerat_, _voldrent_ "they wanted" < Latin _voluerant_. Not clearly distinct in meaning from the first (normal) preterite, cf. the parallel lines _por o fut presentede_ "for this reason she was presented" (_fut_ = first preterite, from Latin _fuit_) vs. _por o's furet morte_ "for these reasons she was killed" (_furet_ = second preterite, from Latin _fuerat_) in the same poem. * ^ Paden, William D. 1998. _An Introduction to Old Occitan_. Modern Language Association of America. ISBN 0-87352-293-1 . (NEED PAGE NUMBER) * ^ σπάθη. Liddell, Henry George ; Scott, Robert ; _A Greek–English Lexicon _ at the Perseus Project . * ^ Harper, Douglas. "spatha". Online Etymology Dictionary. * ^ κάρα in Liddell and Scott . * ^ κόλαφος in Liddell and Scott . * ^ Harper, Douglas. "coup". _Online Etymology Dictionary _. * ^ κατά in Liddell and Scott . * ^ Harper, Douglas. "-ize". _Online Etymology Dictionary _. . * ^ Harper, Douglas. "-ist". _Online Etymology Dictionary _. * ^ Wolf Dietrich, “Griechisch und Romanisch”, _Lexikon der romanistischen Linguistik_, vol 7: _Kontakt, Migration und Kunstsprachen: Kontrastivität, Klassifikation und Typologie_, eds. Günter Holtus, Michael Metzeltin & Christian Schmitt (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 1998), 121-34:123-4. * ^ Originally formal, now equalizing or informal. * ^ Likewise Spanish _usted_ < _vuestra merced_, Catalan _vostè_ < _vostra mercè_. * ^ Note that the current Portuguese spelling (Portuguese Language Orthographic Agreement of 1990 ) abolished the use of the diaeresis for this purpose. * ^ Pope (1934). * ^ Allen (2003) states: "There appears to have been no great difference in quality between long and short _a_, but in the case of the close and mid vowels (_i_ and _u_, _e_ and _o_) the long appear to have been appreciably closer than the short." He then goes on to the historical development, quotations from various authors (from around the second century AD), as well as evidence from older inscriptions where "e" stands for normally short _i_, and "i" for long _e_, etc. * ^ Technically, Sardinian is one of the Southern Romance languages . The same vowel outcome occurred in a small strip running across southern Italy (the _Lausberg Zone_), and is thought to have occurred in the Romance languages of northern Africa. * ^ Palmer (1954). * ^ _cauda_ would produce French **_choue_, Italian */kɔda/, Occitan **_cauda_, Romanian **_caudă_. * ^ Kaze, Jeffery W. (1991). " Metaphony and Two Models for the Description of Vowel Systems". _Phonology_. 8 (1): 163–170. JSTOR 4420029 . doi :10.1017/s0952675700001329 . * ^ Calabrese, Andrea. "Metaphony" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-05-15. * ^ Álvaro Arias. _El morfema de ‘neutro de materia’ en asturiano._ Santiago de Compostela, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, 1999, I Premio «Dámaso Alonso» de Investigación Filológica. * ^ _A_ _B_ Penny, Ralph (1994). "Continuity and Innovation in Romance: Metaphony and Mass-Noun Reference in Spain and Italy". _The Modern Language Review_. 89 (2): 273–281. JSTOR 3735232 . * ^ Álvaro Arias. «La armonización vocálica en fonología funcional (de lo sintagmático en fonología a propósito de dos casos de metafonía hispánica)», _Moenia_ 11 (2006): 111–139. * ^ Note that the outcome of _-am -em -om_ would be the same regardless of whether lengthening occurred, and that _-im_ was already rare in Classical Latin, and appears to have barely survived in Proto-Romance. The only likely survival is in "-teen" numerals such as _trēdecim_ "thirteen" > Italian _tredici_. This favors the vowel-lengthening hypothesis _-im_ > /ĩː/ > /i/; but notice unexpected _decem_ > Italian _dieci_ (rather than expected _*diece_). It is possible that _dieci_ comes from *_decim_, which analogically replaced _decem_ based on the _-decim_ ending; but it is also possible that the final /i/ in _dieci_ represents an irregular development of some other sort and that the process of analogy worked in the other direction. * ^ The Latin forms are attested; _metipsissimus_ is the superlative of the formative -_metipse_, found for example in _egometipse_ "myself in person" * ^ Ralph Penny, _A History of the Spanish Language_, 2nd edn. (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2002), 144. * ^ Aurelio M. Espinosa, "Metipsimus in Spanish and French", _PMLA _, vol. 26, no. 2 (1911): 356–378. * ^ Formerly ⟨qü⟩ in Brazilian Portuguese * ^ Formerly ⟨gü⟩ in Brazilian Portuguese * ^ "Ditzionàriu Online". Retrieved 2013-09-14. * ^ "Sicilian–English Dictionary". Italian.about.com. 2010-06-15. Retrieved 2010-11-06. * ^ "Dictionary Sicilian – Italian". Utenti.lycos.it. Retrieved 2010-11-06. * ^ "Indo-European Languages". Retrieved 2013-09-18. * ^ "Grand Dissionari Piemontèis / Grande Dizionario Piemontese". Retrieved 2013-09-17. * ^ "Dictionary English–Friulian Friulian–English". Sangiorgioinsieme.it. Retrieved 2011-07-31. * ^ Beaumont (2008-12-16). "Occitan–English Dictionary". Freelang.net. Retrieved 2010-11-06. * ^ "English Aragonese Dictionary Online". Glosbe. Retrieved 2013-09-18. * ^ "English Asturian Dictionary Online". Glosbe. Retrieved 2013-09-18. * ^ Developed from *_pluviūtam_. * ^ Initial _h-_ due to contamination of Germanic _*hauh_ "high". Although no longer pronounced, it reveals its former presence by inhibiting elision of a preceding schwa , e.g. _le haut_ "the high" vs. _l'eau_ "the water". * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ Cognate with Latin _mē_, not _ego_. Note that this parallels the state of affairs in Celtic, where the cognate of _ego_ is not attested anywhere, and the use of the accusative form cognate to _mē_ has been extended to cover the nominative, as well. * ^ _A_ _B_ Developed from an assimilated form *_nossum_ rather than from _nostrum_.



* Frederick Browning Agard. _A Course in Romance Linguistics_. Vol. 1: _A Synchronic View_, Vol. 2: _A Diachronic View_. Georgetown University Press, 1984. * Harris, Martin; Vincent, Nigel (1988). _The Romance Languages_. London: Routledge. . Reprint 2003. * Posner, Rebecca (1996). _The Romance Languages_. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. * Gerhard Ernst et al., eds. _Romanische Sprachgeschichte: Ein internationales Handbuch zur Geschichte der romanischen Sprachen_. 3 vols. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2003 (vol. 1), 2006 (vol. 2). * Alkire, Ti; Rosen, Carol (2010). _Romance Languages: A Historical Introduction_. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. * Marten Maiden, John Charles Smith & Adam Ledgeway, eds., _History of the Romance Languages_. Vol. 1: _Structures_, Vol. 2: _Contexts_. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2011 (vol. 1) & 2013 (vol. 2).


* Boyd-Bowman, Peter (1980). _From Latin to Romance in Sound Charts_. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press. * Cravens, Thomas D. _Comparative Historical Dialectology: Italo-Romance Clues to Ibero-Romance Sound Chang_e. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2002. * Sónia Frota & Pilar Prieto, eds. _Intonation in Romance_. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2015. * Christoph Gabriel Metzeltin, Michael; Schmitt, Christian (1988). _Lexikon der Romanistischen Linguistik. (LRL, 12 volumes)_. Tübingen: Niemeyer.


* Price, Glanville (1971). _The French language: present and past_. Edward Arnold. * Kibler, William W. (1984). _An introduction to Old French_. New York: Modern Language Association of America. * Lodge, R. Anthony (1993). _French: From Dialect to Standard_. London: Routledge.


* Williams, Edwin B. (1968). _From Latin to Portuguese, Historical Phonology and Morphology of the Portuguese Language_ (2nd ed.). University of Pennsylvania. * Wetzels, W. Leo; Menuzzi, Sergio; Costa, João (2016). _The Handbook of Portuguese Linguistics_. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.


* Penny, Ralph (2002). _A History of the Spanish Language_ (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. * Lapesa, Rafael (1981). _Historia de la Lengua Española_. Madrid: Editorial Gredos. * Pharies, David (2007). _A Brief History History of the Spanish Language_. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. * Zamora Vicente, Alonso (1967). _Dialectología Española_ (2nd ed.). Madrid: Editorial Gredos.


* Devoto, Giacomo; Giacomelli, Gabriella (2002). _I Dialetti delle Regioni d'Italia_ (3rd ed.). Milano: RCS Libri (Tascabili Bompiani). * Devoto, Giacomo (1999). _Il Linguaggio d'Italia_. Milano: RCS Libri (Biblioteca Universale Rizzoli). * Maiden, Maiden (1995). _A Linguistic History of Italian_. London: Longman.


* John Haiman ;background:none transparent;border:none;-moz-box-shadow:none;-webkit-box-shadow:none;box-shadow:none;">v

* t * e

Romance languages (Classification )





* dialects * EUROPEAN * BRAZILIAN * Uruguayan * AFRICAN * Asian * Creoles

* Galician

* Eonavian/ Galician-Asturian * Fala

* _ Judaeo-Portuguese _ * Caló


* Asturian * Cantabrian * Extremaduran * Leonese * Mirandese



* dialects * LATIN AMERICAN * Philippine * Equatoguinean * EUROPEAN * Creoles

* _ Old Spanish _ * Judaeo-Spanish * Caló


* _ Navarro-Aragonese _

* Aragonese * _ Judaeo-Aragonese _

* _Mozarabic _

Occitano- Romance



* dialects * EASTERN CATALAN * Alguerese * Balearic * CENTRAL * Northern * Western Catalan * North-Western * Valencian

* _ Judaeo-Catalan _ * Caló


* Auvergnat

* Gascon

* Aranese

* Languedocien * Limousin

* Provençal

* Niçard * Mentonasc

* Vivaro-Alpine * _ Old Provençal _ * _Judaeo-Provençal _ * Caló



* Burgundian * Champenois * Franc-Comtois


* dialects * STANDARD * AFRICAN * Aostan * Belgian * Cambodian * CANADIAN * Indian * Laotian * Swiss * Vietnamese * _ Old French _ * _ Middle French _ * _Judaeo-French _ * Creoles

* Gallo * Lorrain

* Norman

* _Anglo-Norman _

* Picard * Poitevin * Saintongeais * Walloon * _ Moselle Romance _ * _British Latin _


* Arpitan/ Franco-Provençal

* Valdôtain * Savoyard



* Ligurian

* Brigasc * Genoese * Intemelio * Monégasque

* Lombard

* Western * Eastern

* Emilian-Romagnol

* Emilian

* Bolognese * Parmigiano

* Romagnol

* Piedmontese

* _Judaeo- Piedmontese _

* Gallo-Italic of Sicily * Gallo-Italic of Basilicata


* Venetian

* Fiuman * Talian * Triestine



* Friulian * Ladin * Romansh





* dialects

* CENTRAL * Tuscan

* Corsican

* Gallurese

* Sassarese * Judaeo-Italian


* Neapolitan

* Northern Calabrese

* Sicilian

* Southern Calabrese


* _Dalmatian _ * Istriot




* Campidanese * Logudorese




* Moldovan * Vlach


* Aromanian * Istro-Romanian * Megleno-Romanian



* _ African Romance _

* _Italics_ indicate extinct languages * BOLD indicates languages with more than 5 million speakers * Languages between parentheses are varieties of the language on their left.


* GND : 4115788-6 * SUDOC : 027471187 * NDL : 00569674

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