Most people I've know so far in the USA are always saying that learning Latin would be really easy because, since English comes from Latin, it cannot be a hard thing to do, and they really get shocked when I reply that English is not a Romance language.

Why are so many native speakers of English convinced that English language is a Romance language?


1 Answer 1


That depends on how you define a Romance language.

Linguists consider what first makes a language is its grammar, its basic structure and rules. Under that point of view, English is definitely a Germanic language.

On the other hand, the average Joe, whatever its mother tongue, tend to consider the vocabulary to be the most important parameter to consider when defining a language. Using that metric, it is clear English is closer to French/Latin than say German, Dutch or Norwegian.

See https://medium.com/@andreas_simons/the-english-language-is-a-lot-more-french-than-we-thought-heres-why-4db2db3542b3

enter image description here

  • -1 because I don't like the source, making bold but unsubstantiated claims in an overconfident language. Dec 26, 2020 at 13:15
  • 4
    @jk-ReinstateMonica Merry Christmas too :-)
    – jlliagre
    Dec 26, 2020 at 13:20
  • 3
    @ReinstateMonica can you offer specific criticisms of the medium article? The author is not a linguist and he offers some non-mainstream views but his data seems valid (though his interpretation may not be).
    – Aqualone
    Dec 26, 2020 at 16:25
  • One obvious criticism is that the percentage of core vocabulary is a far more important indicator than the percentage of vocabulary, and even the graph in this answer shows the first to be strongly dominated by Germanic words. But I'm not a linguist either, so take this with a grain of salt. Dec 26, 2020 at 16:41
  • 1
    @DenisNardin The author of the source states that "core vocabulary" isn't strictly defined but the consensus is between 3k to 5k most common words used. This chart then accurately shows that core English, doesn't it?
    – jlliagre
    Dec 27, 2020 at 0:20

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.