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The Cambridge History of the Romance Languages
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Book description

What is the origin of the Romance languages and how did they evolve? When and how did they become different from Latin, and from each other? Volume 2 of The Cambridge History of the Romance Languages offers fresh and original reflections on the principal questions and issues in the comparative external histories of the Romance languages. It is organised around the two key themes of influences and institutions, exploring the fundamental influence, of contact with and borrowing from, other languages (including Latin), and the cultural and institutional forces at work in the establishment of standard languages and norms of correctness. A perfect complement to the first volume, it offers an external history of the Romance languages combining data and theory to produce new and revealing perspectives on the shaping of the Romance languages.

Reviews

‘A brilliant account of the social and historical context of the Romance languages from the earliest stages of Latin through to modern creoles … an indispensable point of reference for both the specialist and those new to the field of Romance linguistics.’

Nigel Vincent - Professor Emeritus of General and Romance Linguistics, University of Manchester

‘This second volume of the Cambridge History perfectly complements the first, providing the historical and geographical context within which the structures of the Romance languages emerged and developed. Together they provide an invaluable resource, summarizing the results of centuries of scholarship on the family for the specialist and making it accessible to a wide audience of general linguists as well.’

Stephen R. Anderson - Yale University

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Contents

  • 9 - The sociology of the Romance languages
    pp 335-360
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    Summary

    Today the Romance languages are spoken over much of Europe, central and southern Latin America and Quebec, as well as in the former French, Portuguese and Spanish colonies of many parts of Africa and, Asia. Latin found itself alongside numerous languages of many diverse linguistic affiliations, necessarily giving rise to extensive bilingualism. Yet Hugo Schuchardt's insightful study, while perfectly illustrating the early variation present within the language, had the undesirable consequence of popularizing, probably well beyond the author's own original intentions, the concept of Vulgar Latin. The author shows what traces there are in Latin for lenition, a phonetic development which proves extremely important not only because it distinguishes the Romance languages from the parent language, but also because it differentiates between two large Romance areas. The logographic hypothesis forces us, especially as regards morphology, to assume that many of the Romance innovations happened after the adoption of non-logographic spelling.
  • 10 - Romance outside the Romània
    pp 361-399
  • View abstract

    Summary

    This chapter explores how to establish a chronology of the development of Latin into the Romance languages using the methodology of historical sociolinguistics, whilst at the same time attempting to model this change in a historically informed way. Certain features of synchronic sociolinguistics can be identified which have a direct bearing on diachronic studies. Indeed, at the beginning of the fifth century, Latin presents a communicative continuum which is not very different from what one would find in other sociolinguistic contexts, ancient and modern. St. Augustine was a Roman from Africa who displayed great learning and prodigious linguistic gifts, but he was unafraid to exploit language, including clashes of register and asperities of style. The chapter also discusses the development of the relationship between writing and speech from late spoken Latin to proto-French, linking the various stages to the stages proposed for the development of speech and communication.
  • 11 - Creoles
    pp 400-444
  • View abstract

    Summary

    This chapter investigates why Latin had its name changed to Romance, and why Romance then came to be thought of as being several separate languages with different names. Linguists identify linguistic turning-points, such as what Herman calls the End of the History of Latin, or the start and end of Middle French, etc., on the basis of reconstructable internal chronologies of changes in phonetics, morphology and syntax. Histories of the French language locate the first written texts in French to the ninth century, rather than to any earlier time, on orthographical criteria, even though there is no obvious internal linguistic development exactly coterminous with that periodization. Even though most of the tenth-century evidence from Italy seems to come from the south, both the distinction between Latin and Romance and that between Gallo-Romance and Italo-Romance were made in the second half of the tenth century in northern Italy.

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