Author Topic: Is English Romance?  (Read 2291 times)

Offline Gordon410

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Is English Romance?
« on: August 05, 2016, 08:54:26 AM »
Linguistics is based on opinion. Linguists attempt to classify languages into one family each. Do the classifications tell us everything about ancestry? Absolutely not. They tend to shortcut history, misleading all who listen.

Is English a Romance Language? English has part Romance blood in it, but it is not classified as Romance. Thus, linguists have established that partiality is measured as invalidity. Since English is only partially Germanic, that should be partiality ignored too. It turns out, Germanic is the closest language family in which English fits. Dominant ancestry makes a language belong to a family.
What is a language family? “A language family is a group of languages related through descent from a common ancestor, called the proto-language of that family.” Thus, English seems like it should be Latin because of its Latin ancestry.
What is a Romance language? A Romance language is a language that is developed from Latin. In the 11th century, Latin partially developed the English language making English partially a Romance language. “The Romance languages are a language family in the Indo-European languages. They started from Vulgar Latin. The biggest Romance languages are Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Romanian, and Catalan. They are called "romance languages" because they originate from a language spoken by Romans.” If English is to be Romance, it must start from Vulgar Latin. English did not begin from Vulgar Latin. To be completely fair, Spanish did not directly begin from Vulgar Latin either. Spanish is a dialect of the Castilian languages, and it is a far descendant from Vulgar Latin. This goes for all of the Romance languages. Thus, right there, it appears that Wikipedia has contradicted itself. “Also, Romanic. Also called Romance languages. the group of Italic Indo-European languages descended since a.d. 800 from Latin, as French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Provençal, Catalan, Rhaeto-Romanic, Sardinian, and Ladino. Abbreviation: Rom.” Keyword here is descended. French is a descendant of Latin as are all the rest listed in this definition. So is much of English descendant from Latin.
“About 80 percent of the entries in any English dictionary are borrowed, mainly from Latin. Over 60 percent of all English words have Greek or Latin roots. In the vocabulary of the sciences and technology, the figure rises to over 90 percent. About 10 percent of the Latin vocabulary has found its way directly into English without an intermediary (usually French)” . Thus a good portion of English is a descendent of Latin. Thus, by this definition, it appears that English is partially Romance.
The classification of languages into language families is not perfect. Linguists strive to classify a language into only one language family. As I have demonstrated, English has its primary ancestry through Germanic, and much vocabulary ancestry through Latin. My conclusion that English is a Romance language, at least in part, is met with only opposition so far. The reason they give is that many languages contain mixtures of family languages as if this is a direct rebuttal of my conclusion which it is not.
Why is English Germanic? “…the Romance languages are not as closely related to English as the Germanic languages are” . Thus, the dominant trait is the deciding factor. Whichever family contributes more is the one that is the ancestor and language family – Germanic. Is this a fair way to classify a language? It sure is much less complicated and Black and White. But one cannot ignore the gray area. It just doesn’t go away.
“Wait a minute! There are plenty of English words that are almost exactly like their French or Italian equivalents…Rather than evolving solely from the Germanic root language, some words arrived through intermarriage.
“Linguists use many factors, such as grammar, phonology, and vocabulary, to determine the historical ancestry of modern languages. The overall composition of English reveals strong Germanic roots. It’s official: English is a proud member of the West Germanic language family!” .
English has strong Germanic roots. Hence, it is Germanic. “Linguists use many factors, such as grammar, phonology, and vocabulary, to determine the historical ancestry of modern languages.” English it is Latin because of its strong Latin roots. But linguists claim it is not Romance. Can you see the serious logic flaw here? It is a complete lack of Latin recognition, but a complete recognition of Germanic. To call English both Germanic and Latin is okay, one cannot deny the Latin roots. But to call English Germanic and Romance is a sin.
In summary, the lack of Romance recognition is unsatisfactory. Linguists recognize the dominant language. Perhaps it is subjective to say Germanic is more influential than Latin. I do not know because I am not a linguist. But to sit back and let the linguists do all the work in classification and not let the students know even why, is not satisfactory for those wanting to know why English is classified as it is.
Is English a creole? “The concept of "Proto-Human" presupposes monogenesis (evolution from a common ancestor) of all natural languages apart from pidgins, creoles, and sign languages” . English obviously has two ancestors. “The Middle English creole hypothesis is the concept that the English language is a creole, i.e. a language that developed from a pidgin. The vast differences between Old and Middle English have led some historical linguists to claim that the language underwent creolisation at around the time of the Norman Conquest. The theory was first proposed in 1977 by C. Bailey and K. Maroldt and has since found both supporters and detractors in the academic world.[1]” . Obviously, this hypothesis makes sense. Why do people say it is not? “However, many say that English is probably not a creole because it retains a high number (283) of irregular verbs.[3]” . It is the grammar that makes the difference. Thus, again, a language family is based on grammar and not vocabulary. English has more than one ancestor. A family does not include vocabulary.
“A language family is a grouping of linguistically linked languages, stemming from a common ancestral mother-language called Protolanguage” . “A language family is a set of languages deriving from a common ancestor or "parent"” . This does not include vocabulary. Mention that. You notice they don’t. A language family is categorized only by grammatical similarities. If two languages have similar vocabulary, they are not necessarily in the same family. This is not something linguists tell you. The rare times this is applicable and the only time I have found is when English is not a Romance language. Then linguists go into their whole, “grammar is the deciding factor thing.” But why vocabulary is discounted entirely is beyond me. Yes, I agree that grammar is more influential, but to ignore vocabulary, that is unfair. And the only response to this is, that’s that and there is no more discussion. A complete ignorance of the facts!
The conclusion: Linguistics is arbitrary. It is really based on opinion. This opinion is rather narrow, but they try to classify family languages in ways that will give the student an idea of how family languages are classified, spoon fed. Do the classifications tell us everything about ancestry? Absolutely not. I am therefore not altogether interested in the study of classification. It tends to shortcut and take a simplistic approach even misleading. Research is very important. Don’t just look at what other people say. Find out the facts for yourself.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_family
https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romance_languages
http://www.dictionary.com/browse/romance?s=t

http://blog.dictionary.com/word-origins/

https://www.grammarly.com/blog/why-e...anic-language/

https://www.grammarly.com/blog/why-e...anic-language/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-Human_language
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle...ole_hypothesis
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle...ole_hypothesis
http://www.sorosoro.org/en/all-about...-of-languages/

http://grammar.about.com/od/il/g/languagefamilyterm.htm

Offline Daniel

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Re: Is English Romance?
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2016, 09:12:28 AM »
1. Linguistics is not just opinion. The problem is that the definitions of terms often shifts, making claims like "English is a Romance language" an opinion because of what you mean by words like "is" and "Romance language". If you can clearly define that, then it is not longer a matter of opinion.

2. Most people base trees and family membership based on the core history of a language, rather than borrowing and contact. There's no real case to be made that English is not Germanic, except to say that it has become more Romance-like than Germanic-like, but that's an issue of language change, not its history per se. So English "is a Germanic language" (in a historical sense) and English "is a Romance language" (based on borrowed vocabulary). As I said, it's an issue of imprecise terminology, not "opinion".

3. What is the point of any of this? Thinking of English as a Romance language will be of absolutely no value if you try to do reconstructions. It would at BEST be very confusing to try to figure out how Vulgar Latin was pronounced (e.g., Proto-Romance). On the other hand, it would be useful to think of it that way for second language learners-- it's pretty easy for English speakers to learn French or Spanish because we share so many words. In fact, it's probably easier than learning German today. But those are perspectives (hence leading to different classifications and "opinions").

4. The real "answer" is that we must consider both genetic origin (Germanic) and borrowing (Romance, among various other language groups, like North Germanic [Scandinavian], etc.) to explain why English is like it is today.

5. Although English represents a relatively rare scenario, there are other similar cases. One is Japanese which has borrowed many many words from Chinese over time. But we don't call Japanese a Sino-Tibetan language.

6. A number of linguists have taken this extreme case of mixing to suggest that English is some kind of creole. Most linguists would agree that it isn't quite that extreme (because most creoles are more extreme), but again this is just a matter of definitions (so "opinion" enters into it). But that's as far as really makes sense: to claim that English is strictly speaking a "Romance language" as opposed to being a "Germanic language" is a problematic interpretation. Discussing the question is relevant, but concluding that it's Romance? Not justified without a lot of qualification and re-defining.
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Offline Gordon410

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Re: Is English Romance?
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2016, 03:23:05 PM »
Discussing the question is relevant, but concluding that it's Romance? Not justified without a lot of qualification and re-defining.

Who is "concluding that it's Romance"?

Offline Daniel

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Re: Is English Romance?
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2016, 04:39:15 PM »
Quote
The conclusion: Linguistics is arbitrary. It is really based on opinion. ...
There are two possibilities:
1. You're saying English is Germanic. This isn't a new conclusion or contributing anything, and it's certainly not supporting the idea that "Linguistics is arbitrary."
2. You're saying (or suggesting) English is Romance. That would be indicating that "Linguistics is arbitrary". But for the reasons I pointed out above, this conclusion is not reasonable (it's not better than calling it Germanic) and therefore the conclusion that "Linguistics is arbitrary" is false.

This is an interesting discussion topic, but it isn't an argument that can show either English being Romance or Linguistics being arbitrary.

(Mostly it shows that definitions of terms are in flux, so in some sense the terms may be arbitrary, but not that just because you can define "family" or whatever differently you can also make conclusions that counter other conclusions made when the terms are defined differently. If I called nouns verbs and verbs nouns, and this is basically what a lot of terminological inconsistency in research is doing in effect [but on a smaller scale], of course the conclusions would vary too.)
« Last Edit: August 09, 2016, 04:41:09 PM by djr33 »
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Offline Gordon410

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Re: Is English Romance?
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2016, 06:27:45 PM »
Quote
The conclusion: Linguistics is arbitrary. It is really based on opinion. ...
There are two possibilities:
1. You're saying English is Germanic. This isn't a new conclusion or contributing anything, and it's certainly not supporting the idea that "Linguistics is arbitrary."
2. You're saying (or suggesting) English is Romance. That would be indicating that "Linguistics is arbitrary". But for the reasons I pointed out above, this conclusion is not reasonable (it's not better than calling it Germanic) and therefore the conclusion that "Linguistics is arbitrary" is false.

Can there be three possibilities?

1.You're saying English is Germanic.
2.You're saying (or suggesting) English is Romance.
3. All of the above.

Offline Daniel

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Re: Is English Romance?
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2016, 07:11:16 PM »
Everyone agrees that English is in some sense a combination of Germanic with influence of Romance.
Regardless, none of this leads to the conclusion that linguistics is arbitrary. A clearly phrased question (e.g., falsifiable, with terms unambiguously defined) will have one answer.
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Offline Gordon410

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Re: Is English Romance?
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2016, 07:32:51 PM »
Everyone agrees that English is in some sense a combination of Germanic with influence of Romance.
Regardless, none of this leads to the conclusion that linguistics is arbitrary. A clearly phrased question (e.g., falsifiable, with terms unambiguously defined) will have one answer.

First, I must ask, is English both Romance and Germanic?

Offline Daniel

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Re: Is English Romance?
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2016, 08:37:39 PM »
It depends on what you mean by that. Historically English derives from western Germanic dialects. And then it was influenced by many languages including especially French but also Norse, Latin and other languages. Studying the details of this is interesting-- it's complicated-- but it's not arbitrary.
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Offline Gordon410

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Re: Is English Romance?
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2016, 05:07:16 AM »
It depends on what you mean by that. Historically English derives from western Germanic dialects. And then it was influenced by many languages including especially French but also Norse, Latin and other languages. Studying the details of this is interesting-- it's complicated-- but it's not arbitrary.

Using words borrowed from another language does not make English suddenly a member of the language group which spawned that word.

Why not?

I will try to see it your way. It is not arbitrary. Modern English derived from Romance. So, what is the reason it is not classified as Romance?
« Last Edit: August 11, 2016, 05:16:53 AM by Gordon410 »

Offline Daniel

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Re: Is English Romance?
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2016, 08:21:35 AM »
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Modern English derived from Romance.
No, that's not what I'm saying at all. Modern English does have a lot of borrowed vocabulary from Romance, though.
Quote
So, what is the reason it is not classified as Romance?
Because historically the core of the language comes from Germanic. Even if the language changes entirely, that is gradual and due to documented contact effects, not due to the origin of the language. It has always been Germanic and still is Germanic. But it needs a complicated footnote to go along with that if you want to explain the full story. But for all practical purposes it's a Germanic language, plus an unusual amount of borrowed vocabulary.

Quote
Using words borrowed from another language does not make English suddenly a member of the language group which spawned that word.

Why not?
Because that's not what historical grouping means. We could change the meaning of all these classifications and say that Japanese is a Chinese dialect because of the borrowed words and writing system, we could say that English is a north American indigenous language because more people speak it there than anywhere else now (not England, anyway), and the same for Portuguese, and we could also say that Yiddish is an American language because of how many people speak it in New York. And I've seen people talk about English as a "Celtic language" because it is spoken in the British isles and has been influenced by Celtic. But there's no benefit to saying those things, EXCEPT to emphasize the details of their histories. There is no changing the fact that at their core, though, they still come from their respective ancestors, and that's that.

In short, in terms of genetic classification of languages, all that matters is the actual ancestors, and that's not a matter of opinion. In some cases (e.g., famous ones like Basque) we might not know the right answer, or we might get it wrong, but that just means we're wrong or are lacking data. It is never arbitrary.


Think of this like people. If your parents are devoutly religious (Christians, Muslims, whatever you like) and you are not, or if your parents dress conservatively or cook traditional food, and then you are influenced by some other culture and become very different from them-- you are no longer religious, or you convert to a different religion, and you dress differently, and you eat different foods, they're still your biological parents. It doesn't matter what you identify with or how you behave. That's still your ancestry. Maybe the most applicable metaphor is with words and language: if you SPEAK differently from your parents, if you were adopted and grew up somewhere else, or if they moved when you were a child and you speak like people where you live now and they still have a 'foreign accent', then you are still their child, biologically.

So if you are asking: "Is English a Germanic or Romance language?", then, genetically (i.e., "biologically") the answer is certainly Germanic. But there are other ways to ask that question, such as by percentage of vocabulary, and those might give you a different answer. But therefore it all depends on what question you're asking. By asking a vague question without specifying (e.g., whether you're talking about genetic relationship), then you're leaving the question up for interpretation and asking for arbitrary answers.


--

As I've said, this is a relevant question for learning and discussion. It's one I've had my students in historical linguistics classes discuss, because it requires that they understand the histories and that they can come up with arguments for and against the different positions. And the answer is arbitrary to the degree that we define things differently in the question-- whether we're concerned with vocabulary, or genetic history, or what. But it's not arbitrary once we define the question clearly.

Otherwise, without defining the question clearly, I can simply say "English is a Slavic language"-- and you can't prove that wrong (without refining the question)...
« Last Edit: August 11, 2016, 08:34:13 AM by djr33 »
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Offline Gordon410

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Re: Is English Romance?
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2016, 04:23:28 AM »
Modern English does have a lot of borrowed vocabulary from Romance, though.

When is Modern English giving the vocabulary back?

Offline Gordon410

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Re: Is English Romance?
« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2016, 06:26:01 PM »
Modern English does have a lot of borrowed vocabulary from Romance, though.

When is Modern English giving the vocabulary back?

?

Offline Daniel

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Re: Is English Romance?
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2016, 07:37:53 AM »
That's not what "borrow" means for vocabulary...
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Offline Gordon410

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Re: Is English Romance?
« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2016, 02:44:21 PM »
That's not what "borrow" means for vocabulary...

I see. Borrow really means to adopt. It still doesn't change my stance. Doesn't adopt mean to become part of a family? Thus, English adopted Romance words in 1066 and has become a Romance language. Makes sense?

Offline Daniel

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Re: Is English Romance?
« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2016, 03:53:08 PM »
No. It does not mean adopt like adopting a child. It simply means use.
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