The Romance languages – Two groups, two theories

As you remember we stopped in Rome and in this blog entry we stay there and take a closer look at the division of the Romance languages. There are two theories I am going to introduce you today. Of course there are some more ancient kinds of division introduced by Dante and other linguists but today I’m going to concentrate on the two recent theories introduce by Friedrich Diez and Walther von Wartburg. The German linguist Friedrich Diez claimed that there are Eastern and Western Romanic languages while the border between both groups divides the territory of Italy drawing the line from La Spezia to Rimini. The criterium is the presence or absence of the s in the plural. Diez introduced it on the example of the two nouns wolf and goat. French and all Ibero-Romanic languages use the s in the plural why Italian and Romanian do not:

French:            les loups – les chèvres            Italian:             i lupi – le capre

Spanish:          los lobos – las cabras              Romanian:     lupi(i) – capre(le)

Portuguese:    os lobos – as cabras

The Swiss linguist Walther von Wartburg introduced the theory of Edge and Middle Romanian countries I already mentioned in my last article which is based on the archaic Latin vocabulary used in Romanian and the Ibero-Romanic languages which geographically both are spoken on the edge of Europe while the vocabulary in Middle Romanic languages changed and differes more from Latin. Another example is the adjective beautiful in the Edge Romance languages. The Spanish form hermoso is related to the Romanian form frumos. The base for both forms is the Latin adjective formoso which in French and Italian either doesn’t exist anymore or often has a different meaning. Diez and von Wartburg show us another example that Latin is still alive.


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