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Article

Number Marking in Nouns and Adjectives in the Romance Languages  

Franck Floricic

Even though Romance languages are taken to be well-known because of their clearly identified ancestor, they continuously offer a source of patterns and phenomena that are far from being properly taken into account in typological surveys. Corbett rightly pointed out that the question of number has erroneously been held to be simple and straightforward. Needless to say, if many Romance varieties suffer from endangerment or from sociological marginalization, other varieties like French are in some sense trapped in the ice of their norm and such a situation may lead in some cases to questionable analyses. Any French speaker will hold that the feminine of adjectives such as natif [naˈtif] ‘native’ is formed by substituting [f] for [v] and adding final -e at the orthographic level, hence the feminine singular form native [naˈtiv], as in, say, vert-e ‘green’. It is clear, however, that the opposition between natif and native relies on voice-alternation of the adjective final consonant. Various examples of this kind can be adduced to show how phonetic processes contribute to morphological oppositions.

Article

Compounding: From Latin to Romance  

Franz Rainer

Compounding in the narrow sense of the term, that is, leaving aside so-called syntagmatic compounds like pomme de terre ‘potato’, is a process of word formation that creates new lexemes by combining more than one lexeme according to principles different from those of syntax. New lexemes created according to ordinary syntactic principles are by some called syntagmatic compounds, also juxtapositions in the Romance tradition since Darmesteter. In a diachronically oriented article such as this one, it is convenient to take into consideration both types of compounding, since most patterns of compounding in Romance have syntactic origins. This syntactic origin is responsible for the fact that the boundaries between compounding and syntax continue to be fuzzy in modern Romance varieties, the precise delimitation being very much theory-dependent (for a discussion based on Portuguese, cf. Rio-Torto & Ribeiro, 2009). Whether some Latin patterns of compounding might, after all, have come down to the Romance languages through the popular channel of transmission continues to be controversial. There can be no doubt, however, that most of them were doomed.

Article

Acquisition of Inflection in Romance Languages  

Christophe Parisse

Inflection is present in all Romance languages, even if at times it can be replaced by the use of clitic elements. It is therefore a crucial feature of the language for children to acquire. The acquisition of inflected forms was studied in the nominal, verbal, and adjectival systems because it is present from the very first forms produced by children. Data are presented from the literature for six languages: Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan, French, Italian, and Romanian. For all these languages, there exist open access corpus data available on the CHILDES website, which make it possible to have first-hand access to actual spoken data for these languages. Results show that children produce correct forms very early on for the most frequent grammatical elements (by age 2 for most children, but sometimes as early as age 18 months). This includes the use of nouns and determiners in both genders, and the use of verbs in the present, perfect, and imperative forms. Verbs are produced first in the third person, followed by the other persons. Nouns and verbs are used in the singular form before being used in the plural form. Other more complex grammatical forms, such as, for example, the imperfective past tense or the present conditional, emerge only later, and this is probably related to the semantics of the forms rather than their complexity. In most cases, there is correct agreement between noun and determiner, or verb and personal pronoun, or noun and verb. Errors are infrequent, and the nature of the errors can be used as means to study the mechanisms of language acquisition.

Article

Catalan  

Francisco Ordóñez

Catalan is a “medium-sized” Romance language spoken by over 10 million speakers, spread over four nation states: Northeastern Spain, Andorra, Southern France, and the city of L’Alguer (Alghero) in Sardinia, Italy. Catalan is divided into two primary dialectal divisions, each with further subvarieties: Western Catalan (Western Catalonia, Eastern Aragon, and Valencian Community) and Eastern Catalan (center and east of Catalonia, Balearic Islands, Rosselló, and l’Alguer). Catalan descends from Vulgar Latin. Catalan expanded during medieval times as one of the primary vernacular languages of the Kingdom of Aragon. It largely retained its role in government and society until the War of Spanish Succession in 1714, and since it has been minoritized. Catalan was finally standardized during the beginning of the 20th century, although later during the Franco dictatorship it was banned in public spaces. The situation changed with the new Spanish Constitution promulgated in 1978, when Catalan was declared co-official with Spanish in Catalonia, the Valencian Community, and the Balearic Islands. The Latin vowel system evolved in Catalan into a system of seven stressed vowels. As in most other Iberian Romance languages, there is a general process of spirantization or lenition of voiced stops. Catalan has a two-gender grammatical system and, as in other Western Romance languages, plurals end in -s; Catalan has a personal article and Balearic Catalan has a two-determiner system for common nouns. Finally, past perfective actions are indicated by a compound tense consisting of the auxiliary verb anar ‘to go’ in present tense plus the infinitive. Catalan is a minoritized language everywhere it is spoken, except in the microstate of Andorra, and it is endangered in France and l’Alguer. The revival of Catalan in the post-dictatorship era is connected with a movement called linguistic normalization. The idea of normalization refers to the aim to return Catalan to a “normal” use at an official level and everyday level as any official language.

Article

Romance in Contact With Semitic  

Daniele Baglioni

All through their history, Romance languages have been variously influenced by Arabic and Hebrew. The most relevant influence has been exerted by Arabic on Ibero-Romance and Sicilian in the Middle Ages, from, respectively, the Umayyad conquest of al-Andalus (711–716) and the Aghlabid attack on Sicily (827). Significant factors favoring Romance–Arabic contact have also been trade in the medieval Mediterranean (especially between Italy and the Crusader States), scientific translations from Arabic into Latin (notably those made in 13th-century Castilia), and medieval and early modern travelogues and pilgrimages, whereas of lesser importance are more recent lexical exchanges due to colonialism in North Africa and immigration, which have had a considerable impact on French. As for Hebrew, its influence has been quantitatively less relevant and mostly mediated through other languages (Greek and Latin, the Judeo-Romance languages, English). Still, it is of capital importance on a cultural level, at least as far as biblical loanwords shared by all Romance languages are concerned. Effects of Semitic influence on Romance are almost exclusively limited to lexical borrowing, in the form of both loanwords and loan translations, regarding several semantic fields, such as agriculture, architecture, clothing, medicine, natural sciences, and seafaring (Arabic); religion and liturgy (Hebrew); and anthroponomy (Hebrew and Arabic). Only in individual dialects does structural interference occur, as is the case with pantesco, the Sicilian variety of Pantelleria, which shows traces of both phonological and syntactic contact-induced changes. Finally, though not belonging to the Romance linguistic family, a very peculiar case is represented by Maltese, the Semitic language of Malta that, throughout its history, has been strongly influenced by Sicilian and—to a lesser extent—by Italian both in its lexicon and in its grammar.

Article

Sign Languages in the Romance-Speaking Countries  

Josep Quer

Sign languages in the Romance-speaking countries constitute a rather representative sample of the languages in the visual–gestural modality documented to date throughout the world in many respects. The types of historical and thus linguistic relations that exist among them have to do with the history of education for the deaf, colonization, and missionary work. Contact phenomena with spoken languages are attested in certain parts of the grammar and the lexicon, but they also arise among sign languages. The existing language types can be classified into urban versus rural sign languages, which determines certain aspects of the languages and their sociolinguistic setup. The transmission patterns rely on educational institutions and Deaf organizations because most deaf people are born into hearing and non-signing families. Despite non-negligible differences among regions in the world (e.g., between European and West African countries), the underlying sociolinguistic issues in Deaf communities are similar, and the cross-linguistic and typological variation and similarities observed among them are comparable to those found in other sets of sign languages but also reflect the range of variation found across spoken languages. The state of research, still incipient but steadily growing, also reflects the overall situation of the field more generally.

Article

Raeto-Romance: Romansh, Ladin, Friulian  

Luca Melchior

Raeto-Romance languages are spoken in northeastern Italy and (south)eastern Switzerland. They are subdivided into three major groups: Romansh, with about 40,000 speakers in Switzerland; Dolomite Ladin, with about 30,000 speakers in the Italian South Tyrol, Trentino, and Veneto; and Friulian—whose speaker number is estimated between 420,000 and 600,000—in the Italian Friuli and in eastern Veneto. The (supposed) linguistic unity of these subgroups bases on phonological and morphological features like the retention of Lat. clusters C+l, sigmatic noun plural, sigmatic second-person singular ending, palatalization of Lat. c a , g a , and syncope of proparoxytones, which separate them from Italian dialects. Other features, such as verb–subject (clitic) inversion in interrogative sentences, are more or less spread, and others like periphrastic future or differential object marking are characteristic only for one or few subvarieties. The unity (and uniqueness) of the Raeto-Romance group is hardly debated. The three groups do not have a common history and do not correspond to a unique political entity. Therefore, they show different language contact phenomena, whereby Romansh and Dolomite Ladin are characterized by a strong influence from German, while Friulian has been historically influenced by Germanic and Slavic languages, but much more from Venetan and Italian. Standardization efforts do not have the same success in the three areas: rumantsch grischun and Standard Friulian dominate in the official written uses in Grisons and Friuli, whereas the use of ladin dolomitan is more marginal. Romansh and Dolomite Ladin are compulsory subjects in school education while Friulian is only an optional subject.

Article

Secondary Predication in the Romance Languages  

Steffen Heidinger

A secondary predicate is a nonverbal predicate which is typically optional and which shares its argument with the sentence’s main verb (e.g., cansada ‘tired’ in Portuguese Ela chega cansada ‘She arrives tired’). A basic distinction within the class of adjunct secondary predicates is that between depictives and resultatives. Depictives, such as cansada in the Portuguese example, describe the state of an argument during the event denoted by the verb. Typically, Romance depictives morphologically agree with their argument in gender and number (as in the case of cansada). Resultatives, such as flat in John hammered the metal flat, describe the state of an argument which results from the event denoted by the verb. Resultatives come in different types, and the strong resultatives, such as flat in the English example, are missing in Romance languages. Although strong resultatives are missing, Romance languages possess other constructions which express a sense of resultativity: spurious resultatives, where the verb and the resultative predicate are linked because the manner of carrying out the action denoted by the verb leads to a particular resultant state (e.g., Italian Mia figlia ha cucito la gonna troppo stretta ‘My daughter sewed the skirt too tight’), and to a much lesser extent weak resultatives, where the meaning of the verb and the meaning of the resultative predicate are related (the resultative predicate specifies a state that is already contained in the verb’s meaning, e.g., French Marie s’est teint les cheveux noirs ‘Marie dyed her hair black’). In Romance languages the distinction between participant-oriented secondary predicates and event-oriented adjectival adverbs is not always clear. On the formal side, the distinction is blurred when (a) adjectival adverbs exhibit morphological agreement (despite their event orientation) or (b) secondary predicates do not agree with the argument they predicate over. On the semantic side, one and the same string may be open to interpretation as a secondary predicate or as an adjectival adverb (e.g., Spanish Pedro gritó colérico ‘Pedro screamed furious/furiously’).

Article

Perfects in the Romance Languages  

Gerhard Schaden

This article is devoted to the description of perfect tenses in Romance. Perfects can be described as verbal forms which place events in the past with respect to some point of reference, and indicate that the event has some special relevance at the point of reference ; in that, they are opposed to past tenses, which localize an event in the past with respect to the moment of utterance. Romance is an interesting language family with respect to perfect tenses, because it features a set of closely related constructions, descending almost all from the same diachronic source yet differing in interesting ways among each other. Romance also provides us with a lesson in the difficulty of clearly pinning down and stating a single, obvious and generally agreed upon criterion of defining a perfect.

Article

Indefinite Articles in the Romance Languages  

Julia Pozas Loyo

A common feature of Romance languages is the existence of indefinite articles. Prototypically, indefinite articles serve to introduce new referents into discourse, which can later be taken up by means of a definite. In Romance languages, the diachronic source of indefinite articles is the unitary cardinal ‘one’ and in most cases the singular indefinite article is formally identical to the numeral: Ast., Sp., Cat., Occ., It., Srd. un/una; Pt. um/uma; Glc. un/unha; Fr. un/une; RaeR. en/ena; Ro. un/o. Despite their formal identity to the unitary cardinal, these forms are considered indefinite articles since they can be used in generic and predicative nominals, the two contexts that characterize the last stages of the grammaticalization of indefinite articles. As for plurals, there are two possible diachronic sources. On one hand, Gallo-Romance languages and some varieties of Italo-Romance (i.e., Tuscan and northern Italian dialects) have grammaticalized a plural marker of indefiniteness on the basis of the preposition de, di (< lat. de) plus the definite article (e.g., Fr. des; It. dei/delle/degli). On the other hand, Ibero-Romance and neighboring languages derive their simple indefinite plural marker from the plural forms of the Latin cardinal (i.e., acc.pl. unos, unas): Pt. uns/umas; Glc. uns/unhas; Ast. unos/unes; Sp. unos/unas; and Cat. uns/unes. Romanian also preserves a plural form derived from Lat. unos, unas: for the nom.acc unii/unele, and gen.dat. unor. More commonly, however, plural indefinites are left bare or are preceded by nişte ‘some’ or câţiva ‘several.’ The use of the plural indefinite article in Romance is less extended than that of its singular counterpart. In fact, except for French where the obligatoriness of the determiner has been linked to the severe loss of morphological number, plural indefinite count nouns can, under certain circumstances, remain bare. Finally, in diachrony, the grammaticalization of plural indefinite articles is behind that of the singular. Synchronically, this is reflected in at least two facts: first, the frequency of use and the degree of obligatoriness of the plural indefinite articles are significantly lower than that of the singular indefinite article; second, plural indefinite articles are normally not accepted in generics.

Article

Personal Nouns (Agent Nouns) in the Romance Languages  

Riccardo Regis

An agent noun is a derived noun whose general meaning is ‘person who does . . .’. It is thus characterized by the feature [+ Human], regardless of whether the person involved actually performs an action (e.g., French nageur ‘swimmer’, i.e., ‘a person who swims’), carries out a profession (e.g., Spanish cabrero ‘goatherd’, i.e., ‘a person who looks after goats’), adheres to a certain ideology or group (e.g., Italian femminista ‘feminist’, i.e., ‘a person who supports or follows the feminist movement’), and so on. Agent nouns are for the most part denominal (as with cabrero and femminista above) and deverbal (as with nageur above). Latin denominal agent nouns were mainly formed with -arius, though the Latin agentive suffix par excellence was -tor, which derived nouns from verbs. Latin denominal agents were also formed with -ista, a borrowing from Greek -ιστήϛ. The reflexes of all three suffixes are widespread and highly productive in the Romance languages, as in the case of Portuguese/Spanish/Catalan/Occitan pescador ‘fisherman’ (-dor < -torem), French boucher ‘butcher’ (-er < -arium), and Romanian flautist (-ist < -ista). At any rate, the distinction between denominal and deverbal agent nouns is not always straightforward, as demonstrated by the Romance forms connected with the Latin present particle -nte, for whereas the majority display a verbal base (e.g., Italian cantante ‘singer’ ← cantare ‘to sing’), there are some which do not (e.g., Italian bracciante ‘hired hand’ ← braccio ‘arm’), thus allowing them to be regarded as denominal derivations. A minor group of agent nouns is made up of deadjectival derivations, often conveying a pejorative meaning; such is the case with Italian elegantone ‘person of overblown elegance’ (← elegante ‘elegant’) and French richard ‘very rich person’ (← riche ‘rich’).

Article

Language Contact and the Lexicon of Romance Languages  

André Thibault and Nicholas LoVecchio

The Romance languages have been involved in many situations of language contact. While language contact is evident at all levels, the most visible effects on the system of the recipient language concern the lexicon. The relationship between language contact and the lexicon raises some theoretical issues that are not always adequately addressed, including in etymological lexicography. First is the very notion of what constitutes “language contact.” Contrary to a somewhat dated view, language contact does not necessarily imply physical presence, contemporaneity, and orality: as far as the lexicon is concerned, contact can happen over time and space, particularly through written media. Depending on the kind of extralinguistic circumstances at stake, language contact can be induced by diverse factors, leading to different forms of borrowing. The misleading terms borrowings or loans mask the reality that these are actually adapted imitations—whether formal, semantic, or both—of a foreign model. Likewise, the common Latin or Greek origins of a huge proportion of the Romance lexicon often obscure the real history of words. As these classical languages have contributed numerous technical and scientific terms, as well as a series of “roots,” words coined in one Romance language can easily be reproduced in any other. However, simply reducing a word’s etymology to the origin of its components (classic or otherwise), ignoring intermediate stages and possibly intermediating languages in the borrowing process, is a distortion of word history. To the extent that it is useful to refer to “internationalisms,” related words in different Romance languages merit careful, often arduous research in the process of identifying the actual origin of a given coining. From a methodological point of view, it is crucial to distinguish between the immediate lending language and the oldest stage that can be identified, with the former being more relevant in a rigorous approach to comparative historical lexicology. Concrete examples from Ibero-Romania, Gallo-Romania, Italo-Romania, and Balkan-Romania highlight the variety of different Romance loans and reflect the diverse historical factors particular to each linguistic community in which borrowing occurred.

Article

History of the Portuguese Lexicon  

Bernhard Pöll

The basic vocabulary of Portuguese—the second largest Romance language in terms of speakers (about 210 million as of 2017)—comes from (vulgar) Latin, which itself incorporated a certain amount of so-called substratum and superstratum words. Whereas the former were adopted in a situation of language contact between Latin and the languages of the conquered peoples inhabiting the Iberian Peninsula, the latter are Germanic loans brought mainly by the Visigoths. From 711 onward, until the end of the Middle Ages, Arabic played a major role in the Peninsula, contributing about 1,000 words that are common in Modern Portuguese. (Classical) Latin and Greek were other sources for lexical enrichment especially in the 15th and 16th centuries as well as in the 18th and 19th centuries. Contact with other European languages—Romance and Germanic (especially English, and to a lower extent German)—led to borrowings in several thematic fields reflecting the economic, cultural, and scientific radiance that emanated from the respective language communities. In the course of colonial expansion, Portuguese came into contact with several African, Asian, and Amerindian languages from which it borrowed words for concepts and realia unknown to the Western world.

Article

Neurolinguistic Research on the Romance Languages  

Valentina Bambini and Paolo Canal

Neurolinguistics is devoted to the study of the language-brain relationship, using the methodologies of neuropsychology and cognitive neuroscience to investigate how linguistic categories are grounded in the brain. Although the brain infrastructure for language is invariable across cultures, neural networks might operate differently depending on language-specific features. In this respect, neurolinguistic research on the Romance languages, mostly French, Italian, and Spanish, proved key to progress the field, especially with specific reference to how the neural infrastructure for language works in the case of more richly inflected systems than English. Among the most popular domains of investigation are agreement patterns, where studies on Spanish and Italian showed that agreement across features and domains (e.g., number or gender agreement) engages partially different neural substrates. Also, studies measuring the electrophysiological response suggested that agreement processing is a composite mechanism involving different temporal steps. Another domain is the noun-verb distinction, where studies on the Romance languages indicated that the brain is more sensitive to the greater morphosyntactic engagement of verbs compared with nouns rather than to the grammatical class distinction per se. Concerning language disorders, the Romance languages shed new light on inflectional errors in aphasic speakers and contributed to revise the notion of agrammatism, which is not simply omission of morphemes but might involve incorrect substitution from the inflectional paradigm. Also, research in the Romance domain showed variation in degree and pattern of reading impairments due to language-specific segmental and suprasegmental features. Despite these important contributions, the Romance family, with its multitude of languages and dialects and a richly documented diachronic evolution, is a still underutilized ‘treasure house’ for neurolinguistic research, with significant room for investigations exploring the brain signatures of language variation in time and space and refining the linking between linguistic categories and neurobiological primitives.

Article

Phonological Variation and Change in European French  

Nigel Armstrong

We discuss here the considerable amount of phonological variation and change in European French in the varieties spoken in France, Belgium, and Switzerland, the major francophone countries of Europe. The data discussed here derive from the perceptual and especially behavioral studies that have sought to extend the Labovian paradigm beyond Anglo-American variable linguistic phenomena to bear upon Romance. Regarding France, what emerges is a surprisingly high degree of uniformity in pronunciation, at least over the non-southern part of the country, and most Southern French varieties are also showing convergence to the Parisian norm. Pockets of resistance to this tendency are nevertheless observable. The Belgian and Swiss situations have in common the looming presence of a supralocal and indeed supranational norm playing a role often attested in other discussions of standard or legitimized languages, that of the variety representing what commonly corresponds to the nonlocal. Indeed, it may be that Belgium and Switzerland typify the local–standard relation most often reported, while the French situation, because of its relatively leveled character, is less easily described as one of standardization.

Article

Adjectival Suffixes: From Latin to Romance  

Franz Rainer

All languages seem to have nouns and verbs, while the dimension of the class of adjectives varies considerably cross-linguistically. In some languages, verbs or, to a lesser extent, nouns take over the functions that adjectives fulfill in Indo-European languages. Like other such languages, Latin and the Romance languages have a rich category of adjectives, with a well-developed inventory of patterns of word formation that can be used to enrich it. There are about 100 patterns in Romance standard languages. The semantic categories expressed by adjectival derivation in Latin have remained remarkably stable in Romance, despite important changes at the level of single patterns. To some extent, this stability is certainly due to the profound process of relatinization that especially the Romance standard languages have undergone over the last 1,000 years; however, we may assume that it also reflects the cognitive importance of the semantic categories involved. Losses were mainly due to phonological attrition (Latin unstressed suffixes were generally doomed) and to the fact that many derived adjectives became nouns via ellipsis, thereby often reducing the stock of adjectives. At the same time, new adjectival patterns arose as a consequence of language contact and through semantic change, processes of noun–adjective conversion, and the transformation of evaluative suffixes into ethnic suffixes. Overall, the inventory of adjectival patterns of word formation is richer in present-day Romance languages than it was in Latin.

Article

Abstract Nouns in the Romance Languages  

Philipp Burdy

Abstract words such as Fr. livraison ‘delivery’, It. fedeltà ‘faithfulness’, Sp. semejanza ‘resemblance’, belong to the word class of nouns. They do not possess materiality and therefore lack sensory perceivability. Within the spectrum of nouns, abstract nouns are located on the opposite side of proper names; between them, there are common nouns, collective nouns, and mass nouns. Abstract nouns are in part non-count and not able to be pluralized. In terms of meaning, there is typically a threefold division in groups: (a) Action/result nouns (e.g., Fr. lavage ‘washing’, It. giuramento ‘oath’, Sp. mordedura ‘bite’); (b) Quality nouns (e.g., Fr. dignité ‘dignity’, It. biancore ‘whiteness’, Sp. modestia ‘modesty’); and (c) Status nouns (e.g., Fr. episcopat ‘episcopate’, It. cuginanza ‘cousinhood’, Sp. almirantazgo ‘admiralship’). From a purely morphological standpoint, a classification of abstract nouns according to derivation basis appears suitable: (a) (primary) denominal abstract nouns (e.g., Fr. duché ‘dukedom’, It. linguaggio ‘language’, Sp. añada ‘vintage’); (b) (primary) deadjectival abstract nouns (e.g., Fr. folie ‘madness’, It. bellezza ‘beauty’, Sp. cortesía ‘courtesy’); and (c) (primary) deverbal abstract nouns (e.g., Fr. mouvement ‘movement’, It. scrittura ‘writing’, Sp. venganza ‘revenge’). Other abstract nouns arise from conversion, for example, Fr. le devoir ‘duty’, It. il freddo ‘coldness’, Sp. el cambio ‘change’. In light of this, the question of how far the formation of abstract nouns in Romance languages follows Latin patterns (derivation with suffixes) or whether new processes emerge is of particular interest. In addition, the individual Romance languages display different preferences in choosing abstract-forming morphological processes. On the one hand, there is a large number of Latin abstract-forming suffixes whose outcomes preserve the same function in the Romance languages, such as -ía (astrología ‘astrology’), -ura (scriptura ‘writing’), -ĭtia (pigrĭtia ‘sloth’), -io (oratio ‘speaking’). Furthermore, there is a group of Latin suffixes that gave rise to suffixes deriving abstract nouns only in Romance. Among these are, for example, -aticu (Fr. péage ‘road toll’, Sp. hallazgo ‘discovery’), -aceu (Sp. cuchillazo ‘knife thrust’), -aria (Sp. borrachera ‘drunkenness’, It. vecchiaia ‘old age’). On the other hand, suffixless processes of abstract noun formation are coming to full fruition only in Romance: The conversion of past participles (e.g., Fr. vue ‘sight’, It. dormita ‘sleep’, Sp. llegada ‘arrival’) is of special importance. The conversion of infinitives to nouns with abstract meaning is least common in Modern French (e.g., penser ‘thought’) and most common in Romanian (iertare ‘pardon’, durere ‘pain’, etc.). Deverbal noun formation without suffixes (Fr. amende ‘fine’, It. carica ‘charge’, Sp. socorro ‘help’, etc.), in contrast, is known to have developed a broad pan-Romance geographic spread.

Article

Judeo-Romance in Italy and France (Judeo-Italian, Judeo-French, Judeo-Occitan)  

Laura Minervini

The linguistic history of the Italian, French, and Occitan Jewish communities may be reconstructed thanks to the survival of both written records and modern dialects. The situation of the three groups, however, sharply diverges in terms of quality and quantity of the available sources and retention of their linguistic identity after the medieval period. For the Jewish communities of the Italo-Romance area, there is a corpus of medieval and modern texts, mostly in Hebrew script, and with several dialectological inquiries for modern and contemporary dialects. As for the Jewish communities of Northern France, only a limited corpus of medieval written sources exists, because the French-speaking Jews were linguistically assimilated to their respective environments after the 1394 expulsion from the kingdom of France. On the other hand, the records of the Occitan-speaking Jews are scanty for both the medieval and the modern periods, when they apparently maintained a certain amount of linguistic distinctiveness.

Article

Prefixation (Nouns and Adjectives) in Romance Languages  

Claudio Iacobini

Romance nominal and adjectival prefixes are derivational affixes that are added before lexemes without determining a change in the part of speech of the lexeme with which they combine. The combination between prefixes and lexemes is mostly based on a semantic principle. Prefixes express functional-relational meanings, acting as modifiers of the base lexeme. The most important semantic categories expressed through nominal and adjectival prefixation are localization (within which we include spatial and temporal meanings, as well as hierarchy), negation, evaluation (i.e., augmentation and diminution in quantity and/or quality), multiplicity, union, reciprocity, and reflexivity. The prefixed lexeme is generally a hyponym of the base lexeme; when a prefixed lexeme is a noun, it inherits its gender from the noun base. Romance prefixes do not play any role in inflection. Nominal and adjectival prefixes do not differ much both from the formal and the semantic point of view in the early 21st-century standard Romance languages (i.e., those that have become the national official languages and developed a high degree of Ausbau). Such homogeneity is only marginally due to the conservation of features stemming from the legacy of a common Latin origin. It is mainly attributable to a re-Latinization of Romance languages through the scholarly transmission of words belonging to the domains of learned academic vocabulary coming from ancient Greek, as well as Classical, Humanistic, and Neo-Latin. The importance and the far-reaching consequences of this homogenizing re-Latinization are shown, on one hand, by the fact that Romance nominal and adjectival prefixation in standard Romance languages is, in the 21st century, more consistent and developed than it was at previous stages and, on the other hand, by the significant differences existing between standard and nonstandard Romance varieties. Standard Romance languages of the early 21st century are characterized by a quite rich inventory of Romance nominal and adjectival prefixes, whereas in nonstandard varieties native nominal and adjectival prefixes are not numerous and almost unproductive, a situation that roughly corresponds to that of the initial phase of Romance languages as a whole. Nominal and adjectival prefixation is a productive process in standard Romance languages; in the last centuries, both the number of elements and the semantic domains have increased, after a significant decrease undergone in the passage from Latin to Romance languages. Prefixed nouns and adjectives are numerous and frequently used both in current common vocabulary and, even more, in specialized terminologies. The spread of neoclassical compounding in common vocabulary (especially from the second half of the 20th century) has increased the number of right-headed words whose first element has a modifier function. Such a semantic relationship between the constituents of complex words shared by prefixation and some neoclassical compounds has both favored the diffusion of nominal and adjectival prefixation and determined a fuzzy zone between traditional prefixation and the new complex formations coming from technical and scientific terminology. Another blurred area between compounding and prefixation is due to the uncertain boundaries between nominal compounds with prepositions and nominal prefixation.

Article

Judeo-Spanish (Judezmo, Ladino)  

David M. Bunis

The Ibero-Romance-speaking Jews of medieval Christian Iberia were linguistically distinct from their non-Jewish neighbors primarily as a result of their language’s unique Hebrew-Aramaic component; preservations from older Jewish Greek, Latin, and Arabic; a tradition of translating sacred Hebrew and Aramaic texts into their language using archaisms and Hebrew-Aramaic rather than Hispanic syntax; and their Hebrew-letter writing system. With the expulsions from Iberia in the late 15th century, most of the Sephardim who continued to maintain their Iberian-origin language resettled in the Ottoman Empire, with smaller numbers in North Africa and Italy. Their forced migration, and perhaps a conscious choice, essentially disconnected the Sephardim from the Spanish language as it developed in Iberia and Latin America, causing their language—which they came to call laðino ‘Romance’, ʤuðezmo or ʤuðjó ‘Jewish, Judezmo’, and more recently (ʤudeo)espaɲol ‘Judeo-Spanish’—to appear archaic when compared with modern Spanish. In their new locales the Sephardim developed the Hispanic component of their language along independent lines, resulting in further differentiation from Spanish. Divergence was intensified through borrowing from contact languages of the Ottoman Empire such as Turkish, Greek, and South Slavic. Especially from the late 18th century, factors such as the colonializing interests of France, Italy, and Austro-Hungary in the region led to considerable influence of their languages on Judezmo. In the 19th century, the dismemberment of the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires and their replacement by highly nationalistic states resulted in a massive language shift to the local languages; that factor, followed by large speech-population losses during World War II and immigration to countries stressing linguistic homogeneity, have in recent years made Judezmo an endangered language.