We have had a number of questions about sound changes, asking for the history of specific changes. See this one, for example: asking about the change from Latin benedictionem to French beneiçon. Often, as the original poster of that question observed, the process can be explained by a series of steps of just one sound correspondence. As far as I know, each sound change is only productive for a certain period of time in a language. Of course, different changes may be occurring simultaneously, so overlaps of these periods are expected.

I am looking for something more general: a diagram — probably a tree-shaped one — that shows the development from Latin into the Romance languages. The diagram must meet the following requirements:

  • Shows at least two of the major six Romance languages: Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Romanian and Catalan.
  • Each branch shows the history of the language from Vulgar Latin to the present day.
  • Each branch has the sound changes and their respective (approximate) periods annotated.
  • For each language, any variety can be chosen, as long as it remains the same throughout the diagram.

Is there some book, site, whatever, where one can find such a diagram?

  • I have never seen anything like that - such a diagram would be ginormous.
    – Alex B.
    Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 18:36
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    I saw a Pascal program once that simply went through the appropriate set of changes and produced Spanish words at one end when Latin words were entered at the other. It can't be that hard to consult a book. In fact, an exam something like this (though not with much phonology) is required for university entry in Mexico. I get a new textbook for that class every time I'm in Mexico; it's very useful. Editorial Esfinge, Mex DF, Compendio de Etymologías Grecolatinas del Español, by Agustín Mateos Muñoz.
    – jlawler
    Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 19:52
  • @AlexB. yes it would. But it doesn't need to be a single image, for example. A software application with the ability to collapse and expand nodes in graph would be ok. Something like mind maps. Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 22:24
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    Ever see this?? amazon.com/Peter-Boyd-Bowman/e/B001JWWQ2I/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1 Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 2:57
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    @hippietrail I think many of those you mentioned (and others), there is good standardization and publication. Galician and Asturian are standardized with a good amount of literary publication, and I'd imagine similar for Provençal and Sardinian, at least (though I don't have personal experience with them) Commented Nov 8, 2014 at 13:00

2 Answers 2


Otavio, I am afraid, you will not be spared the expense and the honour to come up with the full chart yourself. However, the following might be helpful:

Diachronic Studies in Romance Linguistics has a rudimentary outline for some changes.

From Latin to Modern French: on diachronic changes and synchronic Variations meets some of your other criteria.


I am unsure of a complete chart existing, but the book "From Latin to Romance in Sound Charts" by Peter Boyd-Bowman does contain many of the sound changes from Latin across the Romance languages. These changes could be unified into a large table or chart.

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