64 votes

Why is English classified as a Germanic rather than Romance language?

Classification of languages is a historical thing, rather than a synchronic one. Just like genetic classification of humans—someone who marries into a new family and goes and lives with them is ...
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44 votes
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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 ...
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42 votes
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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 "...
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33 votes
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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 "...
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  • 52k
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 ...
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25 votes
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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 (...
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  • 16.6k
22 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 "...
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  • 4,348
18 votes
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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 ...
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  • 7,838
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 ...
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  • 22.6k
16 votes
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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 ...
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  • 52k
16 votes
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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 ...
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  • 1,726
15 votes
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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 ...
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14 votes
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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 ...
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  • 16.6k
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 ...
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  • 10.5k
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 ...
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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 ...
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  • 291
13 votes

Why is English classified as a Germanic rather than Romance language?

If you don't want to get into details of linguistics (which I take it you don't) the best way to see the family resemblance is to take a comparative look at English's closest linguistic relative found ...
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  • 303
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 ...
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  • 2,964
12 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 ...
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  • 1,961
11 votes
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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 "...
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  • 16.6k
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 ...
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10 votes
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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 ...
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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.
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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, ...
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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" ...
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  • 22.6k
9 votes
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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/ ...
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  • 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 ...
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8 votes
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Why are the plural and singular first person forms of the verb "go" so different in the Romance languages?

According to Wiktionary (a source I should perhaps have checked before asking), the all- forms ultimately derive from Vulgar Latin alare (attested in the 7th century Reichenau Glosses). This has ...
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  • 335
8 votes

Why are Latin descendants SVO?

The premise holds for most Romance languages but it is difficult to categorize Spanish (the largest latin language by number of speakers) as an SVO language. The earliest texts in medieval Spanish ...
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