45 votes
Accepted

Why is the word "war" in Romance languages predominantly of Germanic origin instead of Latin?

A why-question is almost unanswerable, the answer is "because it happened so". But there was a strong trigger for the replacement of bellum, namely the homophony with the word for "...
44 votes
Accepted

Why does English not have a cognate of words like heter, in Swedish, or llama, in Spanish, etc?

English does have that verb which is etymologically related to the Swedish heter, Icelandic heiti, German heißen, etc. In English it is to hight, only it is archaic, still sometimes it is used ...
  • 16.7k
34 votes
Accepted

Why do the Romance languages use definite articles, when Latin doesn't?

Languages evolve in many ways! Proto-Indo-European had no articles at all, but they evolved independently in several different branches: you can still see the similarity between English "the" and "...
  • 57.5k
29 votes

Why are French, Italian, Spanish etc. listed as SVO languages?

French, Spanish and Italian use SVO in clauses with non-pronominal arguments. Many languages make use of more than one kind of word order; the "canonical" order used in simplistic categorizations of ...
  • 17.1k
25 votes
Accepted

In romance languages, are there examples of male names that derive from female names?

The first thing I thought of was names derived in antiquity from the names of ancient Greek goddesses. For example, the French male name Hercule is ultimately from the name of the Greek goddess Hera (...
  • 17.1k
23 votes

Why do the Romance languages use definite articles, when Latin doesn't?

such a drastic structural change The change is not drastic at all! It is a simple case of semantic bleaching (this is where the meaning of a word gets weaker. So you can kind of see how the is a "...
18 votes
Accepted

Do the words "angst" and "anxiety" share a common root?

Yes, Germanic angst and Latin anxiety are are derived from the same Proto-Indo-European root, which was something like *h₂enǵʰ- "constrict, narrow". Philippa (2003-2009) confirm that they ...
  • 7,926
18 votes

Why is the word "war" in Romance languages predominantly of Germanic origin instead of Latin?

The basic meaning of the Germanic *wirr is “disorder, chaos” etc. The shift in meaning to “warfare” originated in Frankish and is attested since the 9th century in High German, English, but not ...
  • 23.1k
17 votes
Accepted

Is there a form descending from Latin genitive plural somewhere in modern Romance languages?

If you want inflectional forms, you'd have to look at the major Romance language which still inflects nouns, Romanian. Even there, you will only find a reflex of -orum in the articles as far as I'm ...
  • 1,802
16 votes
Accepted

What linguistic impact, if any, has the the Roman three name naming system left on modern Romance and European languages?

None, really. TL;DR: the tria nomina were dead before the empire was, so pre-Romance times. Long version: The tria nomina system is the most famous used in ancient Rome, but it wasn't by any means ...
  • 57.5k
16 votes

How did Latin "aqua" became Sardinian "abba" and Romanian "apă"?

Labiovelars like /kʷ/ (that is, the Latin qu- sound) and /ɡʷ/ have turned into labial stops in at least some environments in a few different languages (almost exclusively in European Indo-European ...
  • 1,878
15 votes
Accepted

Derivatives of Latin *mulier* in French

The Trésor de la langue française has most the answer to your question in the etymology section for femme: From Classical Latin femina “female”, then “woman, wife” which competed against the Latin ...
14 votes
Accepted

r in Romance names of London

Besides the fact that Londres and so on originate from Latin Londinium, I unfortunately have not been able to find any dictionary entry that explains the etymology of this word and the sound changes ...
  • 17.1k
14 votes

Earliest recognition that Germanic and Romance languages are related

The question should probably be restated as something like "When did people begin to believe that Romance and Germanic languages were related with some scholarly basis for that belief?" The ...
  • 10.6k
14 votes

Did Romance languages evolve in North Africa?

Did Romance languages evolve in North Africa? Yes. What languages were spoken in North Africa between Vulgar Latin and the arrival of Arabic? Both Romance and Arabic failed to totally supplant ...
14 votes

How did Latin "aqua" became Sardinian "abba" and Romanian "apă"?

The change of /kʷ/ > /p/ is moderately common, cross-linguistically. It also happened in Osco-Umbrian aka "P-Italic" (Oscan pis ~ Latin quis "who"), the "P-Celtic" ...
  • 57.5k
13 votes

Why does English not have a cognate of words like heter, in Swedish, or llama, in Spanish, etc?

From my understanding of the other answers, I think English does have this idiom. Only, instead of a "word", in English "nothing at all" is used (or if you're a programmer, the empty string). The ...
  • 291
13 votes

Is there a form descending from Latin genitive plural somewhere in modern Romance languages?

(Latin to French) inflectional forms: chandeleur < festa candelarum leur < illorum toponyms like Villefavreux (< villa Villa Fabrorum) or Villepreux (< villa Piorum) fossilized ...
  • 1,979
12 votes

In romance languages, are there examples of male names that derive from female names?

In Italian there are a number of historically female names which are occasionally used as male names, e.g. Celeste, Amabile, Fiore, Diamante In many Romance languages the female name Maria (or some ...
  • 3,074
11 votes
Accepted

Why has the neuter gender disappeared from almost all the modern Romance languages?

I've read that even in Latin, we see some variability in the declension of words as neuter or masculine. Sometimes the use of the masculine where neuter would be expected is attributed to "...
  • 17.1k
10 votes

From Italian to Spanish, consonant + "i" goes to consonant + "l"?

Spanish and Italian are both languages descended from Latin. As such, many of their words are cognate sharing a common Latin ancestor, but the sounds in these words evolved over time and evolved ...
  • 3,074
10 votes
Accepted

Why is the Romanian syntax for "Good night!" opposite to all the other Romance languages?

The greeting/parting distinction In many languages there is a distinction between the greeting upon meeting eg Good day! and the farewell upon parting Have a good day! The comparison table in the ...
9 votes

Why does English not have a cognate of words like heter, in Swedish, or llama, in Spanish, etc?

English does have a word for it, it's called. e.g. Swedish: Jag heter Danny English: I'm called Danny Although I'm Danny, or My name's Danny sounds less 'weird' to me.
9 votes

Latin, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and French number words from eleven to nineteen - history of a bizarre, inconsistent construction

There are forces driving language evolution, and we see two of them at work here. The first driving force is Regularisation. The irregular pattern of latin (indicated by duodeviginti and undeviginti, ...
9 votes

Why were words for the four cardinal directions in Romance languages borrowed from Old English?

The French words for the cardinal points (nord, sud, est, ouest) are definitely borrowed from some Germanic language, presumably in connection with seafaring in the North Sea. (This answers the "why" ...
  • 23.1k
9 votes
Accepted

Why does French "cheveu(x)" have "eu" and not "eau"?

L /kasˈtɛl.lʊm/ > VL /kasˈtɛl.lũ/ > OF /t͡ʃahˈtɛl/ > MF /ʃaˈtɛau/> F /ʃaˈto/ L /ˈwɛ.tʊ.lʊm/ > VL /ˈβɛ.lũ/ > /ˈvjɛ.lu/ > OF /vjɛl/ > MF /vjɛu/ > F /vjø/ L /kaˈpɪl.lʊm/ ...
  • 661
9 votes

When and where did the guttural 'r' originate?

Sort of. The short answer is that the uvular R of, say, German and Dutch is probably in origin an independent development from the French uvular (as it is in Northumbrian English.) It is true that ...
9 votes

Which Romance Language retains the most words from Celtic?

When a modern Romance language shows some influence of a Celtic language it replaced it is a consequence of language contact and not of common inheritance. It is generally hold that the Rhaeto-Romance ...
8 votes
Accepted

Where do the spelling rules for French imperatives come from?

This is known as an ephelcystic s and is analogous to the ephelcystic t in "Parle-t-il français?". It's euphonic rather than etymological, used to avoid a hiatus between the imperative and the y/en. I ...
  • 1,152

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