Iberian Romance languages
|Originally Iberia and southern France; now worldwide|
The Iberian Romance or Ibero-Romance languages are the Romance languages that developed on the Iberian Peninsula, an area consisting primarily of Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar and Andorra, and in southern France.
Originating in Iberia, the most widely spoken Iberian Romance languages are Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan and Galician. These languages also have their own regional and local dialects. Based on mutual intelligibility, Dalby counts seven languages: Portuguese, Spanish, Asturian-Leonese, Aragonese, Catalan, Provençal, and Gascon.
Origins and development
Like all Romance languages, the Iberian Romance languages descend from Vulgar Latin. Vulgar Latin was the nonstandard (in contrast to Classical Latin) form of the Latin language spoken by soldiers and merchants throughout the Roman Empire. With the expansion of the empire, Vulgar Latin came to be spoken by inhabitants of the various Roman-controlled territories. Latin and its descendants have been spoken in Iberia since the Punic Wars, when the Romans conquered the territory (see Roman conquest of Hispania).
The modern Iberian Romance languages were formed roughly through the following process:
- The Latinisation of the local Iberian population (Goths, Vandals, Gauls, Basques, Brythons, Suebi).
- The diversification of Latin spoken in Iberia, with slight differences depending on location.
- Development of Old Spanish, Galician-Portuguese, Astur-Leonese and Navarro-Aragonese (West Iberian) and early Catalan language from Latin between the eighth and tenth centuries. The genetic classification of early Catalan and Occitan is uncertain. Some scholars place it within Ibero-Romance (hence it would be East Iberian), others place it within Gallo-Romance.
- Further development into modern Castilian, Portuguese, Galician, Catalan, Asturian, Leonese, Mirandese, etc. (see Languages of Iberia: Languages of Spain, Languages of Portugal and Languages of Andorra) between the fifteenth and twentieth centuries.
Politically (not linguistic genetically), there are four major officially recognised Iberian Romance languages:
- Spanish, sometimes known as Castilian, (see names given to the Spanish language) is the national and official language of 21 countries, including Spain. Spanish is the second most widely spoken native language in the world, and the third most widely spoken. It has a number of dialects and varieties.
- Portuguese, official language in eight countries including Portugal. After Spanish, Portuguese is the second most widely spoken Romance language in the world with over 250 million speakers, currently ranked seventh by number of native speakers. Various Portuguese dialects exist outside of the native standard spoken in Portugal.
- Catalan, official language in Andorra and co-official in the Spanish autonomous communities of Catalonia, Balearic Islands and Valencian Community (where it is known as Valencian), and the Italian city of Alghero. It is also spoken in the French department of Pyrénées Orientales (Northern Catalonia) without official recognition. Catalan is closely related to Occitan, both languages have been treated as one in studies by Occitanist linguists (such as Pierre Bec, or more recently Domergue Sumien); thus Catalan is also widely classified with the Gallo-Romance languages. It has two main dialectal branches (Eastern and Western Catalan) and several subdialects, being spoken by about 12 million people (ranking the seventy-fifth most spoken language in the world), mostly in five variants: Central Catalan, Northern Catalan, North-Western Catalan, Valencian and Balearic.
- Galician, co-official in Galicia and also spoken in adjacent western parts of Asturias and Castile and León. Closely related to Portuguese, but also Spanish. It shares origins with Portuguese, from the medieval Galician-Portuguese language. Modern Galician is spoken by around 3.2 million people and is ranked 160th by number of speakers.
The Iberian Romance languages are conventional Romance languages, many authors use the term in a geographical sense, although they are not necessarily phylogenetic . Phylogenetically, there is a disagreement about whether what languages should be considered within the Iberian Romance group; for example, some authors consider that the East Iberian, also called Occitano-Romance, could be more closely related to languages of northern Italy. A common conventional geographical grouping is the following:
- East Iberian
- West Iberian
In what follows we will use the conventional sign † for extinct languages.
- Iberian Romance languages
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- See: Euromosaic report