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People state that Romanian is closest in some aspects (grammar mainly), and that to learn a romance language studying latin may give you a leg up (which in my opinion just study the language), but for what language would this be uniquely bad for? For example, for which language has either the furthest grammar, vocabulary/cognate set, or has such a different sound set from Latin.

French or Portuguese have nasal vowels for an easy example; or some other criteria.

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    Excellent question. Qua pronunciation, I think French and Portuguese are indeed good candidates. French also doesn't allow dropping subject pronouns, and its spelling is often unrecognisable, which I think applies less to Portuguese. – Cerberus Feb 5 at 15:07
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    It will surely be some language which is arguably not a Romance language, not even a full language, or intentionally modified like rhyming slang. Some French-based creole, Spanglish, Verlan, Lingua Franca, Caló or Barallete. Maybe you should define a constraint? – Adam Bittlingmayer Feb 6 at 17:37
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    Haitian Creole is French evolution carried through grammaticalization. But I think Rumanian is farther away; it's borrowed many Slavic words and even more Slavic phonology. Latin will get you a certain distance, but OCS will get you further. – jlawler Feb 6 at 20:15
  • @jlawler I suppose it depends on which aspects of a language are (for a given person) most difficult to learn. If Romanian has the most conservative grammar, but by far the most non-Romance borrowings, then people who find learning the words the hard part will find Romanian the hardest language, but people who have a hard time getting the knack of grammar might find it the easiest. – abarnert Feb 8 at 23:01
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French is a good candidate for the most evolved form of Latin. Very little has remained unchanged, and the situation would probably be worse if the French Académie had not relatinized French in the 17-18th centuries.

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  • @AdamBittlingmayer But are those Romance languages at all, or are they languages that effectively started their evolution over (usually from a defectively-grammatical pidgin) and just borrowed most of their vocabulary? (And the answer depends in part on which theory of creolization you find most compelling—the "koine genesis" theory would presumably lead you to say they're definitely Romance, while Bickerton's "universal bioprogram" definitely not, with the others all somewhere between.) – abarnert Feb 8 at 23:05
  • @abarnert Let's assume that among the world's language, all of the possibilities you mention exist. In any case, I think it's hard to argue a language is absolutely not a Romance language if it exists on some kind of continuum with a Romance language. – Adam Bittlingmayer Feb 9 at 0:36
  • In the case of France, which was in fact Conquered Gaul at that time, Romance is mostly a topdown process, with the upperclass sending their children to Rome to learn Latin and then the rest gradually turning to Latin. There's no Creole or whatever involved here. – Arnaud Fournet Feb 9 at 9:34
  • @AdamBittlingmayer Any classification into "families" is going to be somewhat arbitrary, but it's nowhere near completely arbitrary. It's clear that Italian is a Romance language, while German is not; it's clear that the lexifier of Haitian is French. If the koine theory is right, it's also clear that Haitian is a Romance language (as definite as anything gets in linguistics); if Bickerton is right, it's not a Romance language; if Bickerton is right, they're definitely not; if one of the more moderate theories is right, it may be too ambiguous to answer nonarbitrarily. – abarnert Feb 9 at 20:17

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