Iberian Romance languages
|Originally Iberian Peninsula and southern France; now worldwide|
|Glottolog||sout3183 (Shifted Iberian)
The Iberian Romance, Ibero-Romance or simply Iberian 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 Castilian (Spanish), Portuguese, Catalan and Galician. These languages also have their own regional and local dialects. Based on mutual intelligibility, Dalby counts seven "outer" languages, or language groups: Portuguese+Galician, Spanish, Asturian+Leonese, "Wider"-Aragonese, "Wider"-Catalan, Provençal+Lengadocian, and "Wider"-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 Romanization of the local Iberian population.
- The diversification of Latin spoken in Iberia, with slight differences depending on location.
- Development of Old Spanish, Galician-Portuguese, Astur-Leonese and Navarro-Aragonese (the West Iberian languages) 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 linguistically), there are four major officially recognised Iberian Romance languages:
- Castilian, better known overseas as Spanish (see names given to the Spanish language), is the national and official language of 21 countries, including Spain. Spanish is the fourth-most widely spoken language in the world, and the second-most widely spoken native language. 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 European standard spoken in Portugal.
- Catalan is the 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, with the two languages having been treated as one in studies by Occitanist linguists (such as Pierre Bec, or more recently Domergue Sumien). When not treated as one, the two languages are widely classified together as Occitano-Romance languages, a group which is itself sometimes grouped with the Gallo-Romance languages. Catalan has two main dialectal branches (Eastern and Western Catalan) and several subdialects, and is spoken by about 12 million people (ranking the seventy-fifth most spoken language in the world), mostly in five variants: Central Catalan, Northern Catalan, Northwestern 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, and to an extent Spanish. It shares origins with Portuguese, from the medieval Galician-Portuguese. Modern Galician is spoken by around 3.2 million people and is ranked 160th by number of speakers.
Additionally, the Asturian language, although not an official language, is recognised by the autonomous community of Asturias. In Portugal, Mirandese, which, like Asturian, is one of the Astur-Leonese languages, has official status in the northernmost part of the country.
The Iberian Romance languages are a conventional group of Romance languages. Many authors use the term in a geographical sense although they are not necessarily a phylogenetic group (the languages grouped as Iberian Romance may not all directly descend from a common ancestor). Phylogenetically, there is disagreement about what languages should be considered within the Iberian Romance group; for example, some authors consider that East Iberian, also called Occitano-Romance, could be more closely related to languages of northern Italy (or also Franco-Provençal, the langues d'oïl and Rhaeto-Romance). A common conventional geographical grouping is the following:
- East Iberian
- West Iberian
Daggers (†) indicate extinct languages
- Iberian Romance languages
- East Iberian (alternatively classified as Gallo-Romance languages)
- West Iberian
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- See Ethnologue
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- See: Euromosaic report