Iberian Romance languages
|Originally Iberian Peninsula and southern France; now worldwide|
|Glottolog||sout3183 (Shifted Iberian)|
The Iberian Romance, Ibero-Romance or sometimes Iberian languages[note 1] are a group of Romance languages that developed on the Iberian Peninsula, an area consisting primarily of Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar and Andorra, and in southern France which are today more commonly separated into West Iberian and Occitano-Romance language groups.
Evolved from the Vulgar Latin of Iberia, the most widely spoken Iberian Romance languages are Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan-Valencian-Balear, and Galician. These languages also have their own regional and local varieties. Based on mutual intelligibility, Dalby counts seven "outer" languages, or language groups: Galician-Portuguese, Spanish, Astur-Leonese, "Wider"-Aragonese, "Wider"-Catalan, Provençal+Lengadocian, and "Wider"-Gascon.
Origins and development
Like all Romance languages, the Iberian Romance languages descend from Vulgar Latin, the nonstandard (in contrast to Classical Latin) form of the Latin language spoken by soldiers and merchants throughout the Roman Empire. With the expansion of the empire, Vulgar Latin came to be spoken by inhabitants of the various Roman-controlled territories. Latin and its descendants have been spoken in Iberia since the Punic Wars, when the Romans conquered the territory (see Roman conquest of Hispania).
The modern Iberian Romance languages were formed roughly through the following process:
- The Romanization of the local Iberian population.
- The diversification of Latin spoken in Iberia, with slight differences depending on location.
- Development of Old Spanish, Galician-Portuguese, Astur-Leonese and Navarro-Aragonese (the West Iberian languages) and early Catalan language from Latin between the eighth and tenth centuries. The genetic classification of early Catalan and Occitan is uncertain. Some scholars place it within Ibero-Romance (hence it would be East Iberian), others place it within Gallo-Romance.
- Further development into modern Spanish, Portuguese, Galician, Catalan, Asturian, Leonese, Mirandese, etc. (see languages of Iberia: languages of Spain, languages of Portugal and languages of Andorra) between the fifteenth and twentieth centuries.
Common traits between Portuguese, Spanish and Catalan
This list points to common traits of these Iberian subsets, especially when compared to the other Romance languages in general. Thus, changes such as Catalan vuit/huit and Portuguese oito vs. Spanish ocho are not shown here, as the change -it- > -ch- is exclusive to Spanish among the Iberian Romance languages.
Between Portuguese, Spanish and Catalan
- The length difference between r/rr is preserved through phonetic means, so that the second consonant in words such as caro and carro are not the same in any of the three.
- Latin U remains [u] and is not changed to [y].
Between Spanish and Catalan, but not Portuguese
- The length difference between n/nn is preserved through phonetic means, so that the last consonant in words such as año (Latin anno) and mano are not the same.
- The length difference between l/ll is preserved through phonetic means, so that the second consonant in words such as valle and vale are not the same. This also affects some initial L in Catalan.
Between Spanish and Portuguese, but not Catalan
- Initial Latin CL/FL/PL are palatalized further than in Italian, and become indistinguishable (to CH in Portuguese and LL in Spanish).
- Final e/o remains (although its pronunciation changed in Portuguese, and some dialects drop final E).
- The synthetic preterite, inherited from earlier stages of Latin, remains the main past tense.
Between Portuguese and Catalan, but not Spanish
- Velarized L [ɫ], which existed in Latin, is preserved at the end of syllables, and was later generalized to all positions in most dialects of both languages.
- Stressed Latin e/o, both open and closed, is preserved so and does not become a diphthong.
Politically (not linguistically), there are four major officially recognised Iberian Romance languages:
- Spanish (see names given to the Spanish language), is the national and official language of 21 countries, including Spain. Spanish is the fourth-most widely spoken language in the world, with over 570 total million speakers, and the second-most widely spoken native language. It has a number of dialects and varieties.
- Portuguese, official language in nine countries including Portugal and Brazil. After Spanish, Portuguese is the second most widely spoken Romance language in the world with over 250 million speakers, currently ranked seventh by number of native speakers. Various Portuguese dialects exist outside of the European standard spoken in Portugal.
- Catalan is the official language in Andorra and co-official in the Spanish autonomous communities of Catalonia, Balearic Islands and Valencian Community (where it is known as Valencian), and the Italian city of Alghero. It is also spoken in the French department of Pyrénées-Orientales (Northern Catalonia) without official recognition. Catalan is closely related to Occitan, with the two languages having been treated as one in studies by Occitanist linguists (such as Pierre Bec, or more recently Domergue Sumien). When not treated as one, the two languages are widely classified together as Occitano-Romance languages, a group which is itself sometimes grouped with the Gallo-Romance languages. Catalan has two main dialectal branches (Eastern and Western Catalan) and several subdialects, and is spoken by about 10 million people (ranking the seventy-fifth most spoken language in the world), mostly in five variants: Central Catalan, Northern Catalan, Northwestern Catalan, Valencian and Balearic.
- Galician, co-official in Galicia and also spoken in adjacent western parts of Asturias and Castile and León. Closely related to Portuguese, with Spanish influence. It shares the same origin as Portuguese, from the medieval Galician-Portuguese. Modern Galician is spoken by around 3.2 million people and is ranked 160th by number of speakers.
Additionally, the Asturian language, although not an official language, is recognised by the autonomous community of Asturias. It is one of the Astur-Leonese languages with Mirandese, which in Portugal has official status as minority language.
The Iberian Romance languages are a conventional group of Romance languages. Many authors use the term in a geographical sense although they are not necessarily a phylogenetic group (the languages grouped as Iberian Romance may not all directly descend from a common ancestor). Phylogenetically, there is disagreement about what languages should be considered within the Iberian Romance group; for example, some authors consider that East Iberian, also called Occitano-Romance, could be more closely related to languages of northern Italy (or also Franco-Provençal, the langues d'oïl and Rhaeto-Romance). A common conventional geographical grouping is the following:
- East Iberian
- West Iberian
Daggers (†) indicate extinct languages
- Iberian Romance languages
- East Iberian (alternatively classified as Gallo-Romance languages)
- West Iberian
- "Ibero-Romance". Retrieved 4 October 2017.
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- See: Euromosaic report