Romance languages

Authored by: John N. Green

The World’s Major Languages

Print publication date:  November  2008
Online publication date:  January  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415353397
eBook ISBN: 9780203301524
Adobe ISBN: 9781134261567

10.4324/9780203301524.ch8

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Abstract

The Romance languages derive, via Latin, from the Italic branch of Indo-European. Their modern distribution is the product of two major phases of conquest and colonisation. The first, between c. 240 bc and c. ad 100 brought the whole Mediterranean basin under Roman control; the second, beginning in the sixteenth century, annexed the greater part of the Americas and sub-Saharan Africa to Romance-speaking European powers. Today, some 665 million people speak, as their first or only language, one that is genetically related to Latin. Although for historical and cultural reasons preeminence is usually accorded to European Romance, it must not be forgotten that European speakers are now outnumbered by non-Europeans by a factor of nearly three to one.

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