This is a page about a meaning of Romance as it is used in the study of languages. For other meanings, see Romance (disambiguation).
Romance is the name of a language family spoken mostly in the countries to the north of the Mediterranean Sea. The Romance languages are those that developed from Latin. the language spoken by the ancient Romans. They are essentially the dialects that arose within the different parts of the central Roman Empire, being a mixture of colloquial Latin, soldiers' slang, the local languages, and the sound systems of those languages. As the Empire lost power, it broke into small enclaves, each of which grew into a separate country with its own language. (Both the political ands the linguistic changes took many hundreds of years: Italy, for example, was not a united country again till 1870 CE, and the dialects of the different areas are only dying out now as the usual daily medium of conversation.) The Romance languages are a sub-family of the Italic family to which Latin belongs. No other direct descendant of that group has any real influence on English.
The most widely spoken members of the Romance family are these, which are all the official languages of their countries:
Less widely spoken members (those are not the majority language in their country) include, as well as a large number of recognised dialects, particularly in Italy. Some of the others include:
- Catalan - although it is not the official language of Spain, Catalan is an officially recognized language, along with Spanish and Aranese, in the province of Catalonia.
- Occitan, or Provencal (spoken in the south of France and neighbouring areas. Its earlier version was Langue d'oc.
- There was also a language on the east coast of the Adriatic Sea called Dalmatian, whose last recorded speaker died in 1898, and of course other varieties now extinct.