French is a Romance language, but what does that mean?

Romance languages are based on Latin, which was the language of the Roman Empire. Romance languages share a good proportion of basic vocabulary and have some similar grammatical forms. The name Romance suggests the ultimate connection of these languages with Rome: the English word is derived from an Old French form of Latin Romanicus, used in the Middle Ages to designate a vernacular type of Latin speech (as distinct from the more learned form used by clerics) as well as literature written in the vernacular. The major languages of the Romance language family are French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian.

 

(Sources: www.britannica.com, www.ancienthistory.about.com)

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