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Iberian Romance languages

From Academic Kids

The formation of Iberian Romance languages followed more or less this process:

  • A common Latin/Romance language with dialectal differences was spoken throughout the ancient Roman Empire. During this stage, we can speak of the Romance language, although, probably, it was quite different from one region to another. It can still be called Popular or Vulgar Latin.

From this point on, the Romance languages on the Iberian Peninsula followed a distinct path:

  1. Separation into Catalan on one side of the peninsula and Iberian Romance on the other. During this stage a set of romance dialects was spoken in Muslim areas of Iberia called Mozarabic. Catalan is regarded as a transition language between Iberian Romance and Gallo-Romance languages.
  2. Iberian Romance divided into Castilian and Galician-Portuguese (among other dialects/languages).
  3. Galician-Portuguese divided into two languages: Galician and Portuguese (although some linguists still consider them dialects of the same language). Portuguese split from Galician when the Portuguese population contacted with speakers of Mozarabic - this explains why Portuguese has so many words of Arab origin (borrowed from Mozarabic).

It is important to note that power structures enormously influenced the formation of the Iberian languages. If kingdoms and states had formed in a different fashion, there could now be a single Galician-Portuguese language, or a multiplicity of languages. This political aspect was important in the development of every language.

  • Portuguese and Galician: The fact that a Portuguese kingdom was formed allowed the formation of a distinct Portuguese language, based on the ancient Galician-Portuguese romance. Early Portuguese can be seen as codified Galician-Portuguese. Separation and eventual codification of Galician led to these two varieties being considered different languages today.
  • Spanish: The Castilian Crown pushed for Castilian to be considered the Spanish language, which it is today. However, it didn't abolish other Spanish languages.
  • Catalan: The strong Catalan-Aragonese State made Catalan a language of culture, science, literature, etc. Its importance diminished for some centuries, but the desire for more autonomy for Catalonia gave it renewed importance (it never ceased to be the language of a majority of the Catalan population up to 20th century), being an official language of many regions and even one country (Andorra).
  • The fact that Galicia and Catalonia are in Spain makes their languages prone to Castilian influences.
  • Minor languages, like Astur-Leonese, Aragonese, etc., became regarded as mere dialects by most people, but those are Romance variants with enough distict features to rank them as separate languages.

Thus, there are four major Romance languages in Iberia today (apart from three minor ones, like Astur-Leonese, also known as Bable (in Asturia), or Mirandese (in Portugal), Aragonese, Occitan, etc.):

  • Portuguese: this originated from a common Galician-Portuguese language, which itself originated from a common Ibero-Romance shared with Castilian (but not with Catalan), with influences from Mozarabic. It is currently the sixth most widely spoken language in the world, with more than two hundred million speakers.
  • Galician: this originated from a common Galician-Portuguese language, which itself originated from a common Ibero-Romance shared with Castilian (but not with Catalan), with strong influence of Castilian.
  • Castilian (also called Spanish): this originated from a common Ibero-Romance shared with Galician-Portuguese, with some influence from Mozarabic and Basque. It is now spoken by an estimated 392 million people throughout the world, making it second only to English as an important international language.
  • Catalan: this originated from a common Romance language, which separated at an early stage in the development of the Iberian Romance languages. Nowadays, it undergoes influence from Castilian. Very similar to Occitan, it has many dialects and is spoken by about 7 million people.

Portuguese, Spanish and Catalan have the status of international languages, being officially spoken in more than one state:

  • Catalan: Andorra and Spain (it is also spoken by 3,00 people in France and members of the older generations of one town in Sardinia, Alghero);
  • Portuguese: many countries throughout the world;
  • Spanish: many countries throughout the world.

Occitan is also an international language, as it is official in small regions of Spain and Italy.

Astur-Leonese is also an international language, but not officially so, since it is official only in a small region of just one state (Portugal).de:Iberoromanische Sprachen es:Grupo Ibero-Romance sv:Ibero-romanska språk

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