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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Marika here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Italian questions.
The question for this lesson is: What does it mean when people say that Italian is a "Romance" language?
Well, in this case, “Romance” probably isn't the kind of romance that you’re thinking of, with hearts, roses, and people falling in love…. “Romance” actually refers to a family of languages.
The Romance family is originally from western and southern Europe.
For example, you might have noticed that Spanish and French are very similar to Italian, especially when compared to other languages.
You’re seeing the family resemblance - they’re all Romance languages. And their common ancestor is Latin.
Latin is an ancient language, and it's no longer widely used as part of public life.
Latin emerged on the Italian peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. After the collapse of the Roman Empire some 12 centuries later, vernacular forms of the language were given new space to develop. During the early modern period, emerging nation states standardized these forms and made them into the Romance languages we know today.
These Romance languages later spread from Europe to Africa, the Americas, and even as far as Southeast Asia and Oceania.
Italian has actually stayed the closest to its Latin roots, especially in terms of vocabulary. Romance languages farther away from Italy aren’t quite as close to Latin as Italian, but they share the same roots.
That’s why “Romance languages” are sometimes also called “Neo-Latin languages.”
Pretty cool, right?
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below, and I’ll try to answer them!
A presto! “See you soon!”