I know English was heavily influenced by French. But were there any other instances during which a Germanic language obtained Romance qualities or a Romance language with Germanic qualities?

  • Certainly. French has some old vocabulary from Germanic languages, and German has a fair number of words taken from French. Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 12:58
  • For example, the word "champion" has a complicated etymology.
    – Kenny Lau
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 13:05
  • 6
    What is a Germanic or Romance "quality"??
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 14:48

3 Answers 3


Mutual influence between Germanic and Romance languages was huge. Some words crossed the language boundaries several times, e.g. the English word guard was originally Germanic (*ward), but English borrowed it from French.

There was also mutual grammatical influence; the passé composé of French and its Italian counterpart were modelled after the periphrastic perfect tense in German. On the other hand, Germanic languages completed their tense system after the Romance (Latin) model.

  • Actually, my research suggests it's not clear what the ultimate origin of the "have" perfect is. It may well be a loan into Germanic from Romance rather than the reverse: forum.wordreference.com/threads/… If you have a source that gives a definitive answer I'd appreciate hearing what it says. Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 14:20
  • @sumelic: Southern German had a reason to introduce the "have" perfect: In the third person singular, the distinction between present and past was neutralised for the weak verbs. The Germanic-Romance similarities goes so far, that "be"-perfect and "have"-perfect share almost the same distribution for German and Italian. Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 14:24

Last year I watched on TV here (England) a Flemish drama series sub-titled in English - I was amazed how many French words were used in conversational Flemish - the characters even said 'oui' for 'yes'.


Bavarian is a Germanic language, but it was heavily influenced by Romance languages. It's population started out as a mix of Romanized Celts, Germanics and partially Romans. This makes it unclear to which extend this early form of Bavarian was Germanic, but I think it's likely that it had many Latin words. Later on it was influenced especially by French (notably in the Napoleon era).

We have many words like "semme" (from Latin, originally meaning "wheat flour", now meaning "bun"), "servus" (from Latin for "slave" or perhaps short for something like "at your service"), "parasol" (from French, meaning, well, "parasol"), "laggl" (insult, coming from the French general "Ezéchiel de Mélac") or "maroni" (from Italian, describing edible chestnut). We also have some words like "mare" (compare to Italian "mare", German "meer" for "sea"), which I'm unsure about if they come from Romance languages or were simply a re-evolution of that word.

Though, sadly, today most of these words get replaced by German words.

  • 2
    Would whoever down-voted care to explain why my answer was bad so I can improve this and future answers? Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 14:13

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