Romance Did Not Begin in Rome
A critique of the Latin origin of Romance languages
Carme Jiménez Huertas
Foreword by Cristina Brescan
NUEVA EDICIÓN en INGLÉS del libro:
No venimos del latín. Segunda edición revisada y ampliada
For many years, we have been taught that Romance languages come from Latin. Historical grammar has described this process on the basis of a complicated theoretical framework of successive changes that caused a deep transformation of the parent tongue, which degenerated into the so-called Vulgar Latin.
However, as shown in recent research, on a morphosyntactic structure level, linguistic change is a very slow process. Some of the internal changes of a language do not occur over centuries but rather could be traced back over millenia. Why does historical grammar attribute to external influences the evolutionary process from Classical to Vulgar Latin and disregard the fact that it could be caused by the substrate language or languages? Some features of those languages would have survived the Romanization and point to an older common ancestor, an agglutinative and compositional language shared by the various Mediterranean peoples and from which the so-called Romance languages would stem.
This work presents some new research hypotheses, which show that Romance languages share a high percentage of phonetic, lexical, morphosyntactic and semantic characteristics, showing a close kinship to a linguistic typology that relates them to each other but distances them from Latin. It is focused on Spanish although some examples are included in different Romances, such as the Romanian language which retains some aspects that help us to get closer to this common parent tongue. How can it be that the Romanian language has survived isolated so many tough, non-Romance invasions? The structural, lexical, phonetic and conceptual similarities between Romanian and the rest of Western Romance languages –distant languages whose people have not been in direct contact for at least two thousand years– suggests an earlier common language which must be much older than Latin.
Therefore, the characteristics of the Romance languages might have evolved directly from this common, previous language, without having to justify this development through Latin. The relationship between Romance languages and Latin would then be of kinship and not filiation.
The evidence is increasingly conclusive: Romance languages do not originate in Latin.