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What are Latin languages?

Latin languages, also called Romance languages, are a family of languages whose common origin is Latin. The family of Latin languages includes about 15 languages that developed after the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century B.C. The languages have similarities in terms of grammar and vocabulary. 

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Origin of the Latin languages

Around 2,500 years ago, the Latin language was only spoken by the inhabitants of Lazio in west-central Italy. Over time, however, Latin spread throughout Europe and eventually became the official language of the Roman Empire. When the empire broke up, various new languages developed from the everyday Latin language, the so-called Vulgar Latin: the Romance language family.

The Romance language family

On four continents, around 700 million native speakers speak one of 15 Romance languages. The most widely spoken languages are Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and Romanian. See our list of Romance languages for more languages that have Vulgar Latin as their origin. 

These Latin languages exist

The standard Romance languages include: Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Romanian, Catalan, Venetian, Galician, Occitan, Sardinian, Asturian, Furlanian, Graubünden Romansh, Ladin and Aragonese.

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FAQ: More questions about Latin languages

Where does the Latin language come from?

Initially, Latin was a dialect spoken in the region of Latium and central Italy. With the growing influence of the Roman Empire, the language eventually spread throughout the territories administered by the Romans. This spread reached its peak around 200 A.D.

What are the Latin languages?

The most widely spoken Latin languages include Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and Romanian.

Which languages are derived from Latin?

The so-called Romance languages originate from Latin, or rather from so-called Vulgar Latin. The family of Latin languages includes Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and Romanian.

Which language is most similar to Latin?

Sardinian, a dialect from Sardinia, is the most similar to Latin according to linguists. The French language, on the other hand, has the greatest differences from Latin.

Is German a Latin language?

No, German belongs to the West Germanic languages. But Latin is also present in non-Romance languages such as German or English, especially in the field of science.

Do I have to know Latin to learn a Romance language?

No, you can of course learn any language independently of other languages. However, those who master Latin, the mother of the Romance languages, certainly benefit from its vocabulary.

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