Romance languages, Fall of the Western Roman Empire

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Summary

The Romance languages—occasionally called the Latin languages or, less often, the Romanic or Neo-Latin languages—are a group of languages descended from Vulgar Latin. They form a branch of the Italic languages within the Indo-European language family.

Details

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 Latin Europe.

British Romance 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). But the Germanic tribes that had penetrated Italy, Gaul, and Hispania eventually adopted Latin/Romance and the remnants of Roman culture alongside existing inhabitants of those regions, and so Latin remained the dominant language there.

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External Links

  • WikipediaMichael de Vaan, Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the other Italic Languages, Brill, 2008, 826pp. (part available freely online)Lexikon der Romanistischen Linguistik (LRL), edd. Holtus / Metzeltin / Schmitt

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