Romance Languages … more than you think

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It can certainly be argued that the well-known world languages of Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian do not exist.  This is not as ludicrous a statement as one might think when you consider all of the aforementioned languages as various dialects of their mother tongue; namely, Latin.  If you think about it, our current “Romance Languages” (i.e., Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian), are historical flukes.  Over the past 2,000 years, there have literally been dozens of “romance languages”; some still spoken today and some which have since become extinct.  Then, why when we think of Romance Languages, most consider only the previously mentioned five languages?  There are three reasons: 1) politics; 2) conquest; and 3) chance.  Even Latin, the language from which all romance languages, past and present, are derived from would never have come into such prominence without all three of the above-mentioned reasons.

Wikipedia lists 37 actively spoken romance languages and frankly, I consider that number a bit low. For example, some of the lesser known languages descended from Latin include:

  • Aragonese
  • Bolognese
  • Leonese
  • Neapolitan
  • Norman
  • Walloon
  • Mozarabic
  • Sicilian
  • Picard

I find it interesting to note that if the ruling power in Spain in the 15th century was from Galicia, rather than from Castile, the modern “Spanish” spoken by more than 407 million people worldwide, would be closer akin to modern Portuguese.