Only Linguists Will Be Able to Score 31/35 on This Romance Language Test.

By: Zoe Samuel
Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

The Romance languages are the family that derive from Classical Latin. It's important to note that they are not called the Romance languages because they are romantic, though certainly some of them (Italian in particular) do lend themselves especially well to the arts of romance. They actually get their names from being derived from languages spoken by Romans. The word "romance" with a small "r" has the same origin, as it meant a verse written in the vernacular - that is, the Romance languages - as opposed to in Latin. The meaning only morphed later on to refer specifically to a certain sort of love or love story. So Romance came first, and romance later!

The Romance languages are found all over Europe, and due to later empires, now all over the world. The fullest extent of the Western Roman Empire left a legacy behind it that was carried by these civilizations to the corners of the globe. This means that the Romance languages are among the most-spoken on the planet. There are also Eastern Romance languages, though none of them originally extended outside Europe. The happy result of this is that if you learn a single one of them, picking up a second or third will get a lot easier - and if you know Latin, then arguably you already know a little piece of each! How well do you remember them?

Which Romance language is closest to Latin?

Romanian is the closest linguistically, though it is less similar to the other Romance languages than they are to each other.

How many people speak a Romance language as a first or second language?

A billion people speak a Romance language.

Is English a Romance language?

English is not a Romance language, though it borrows heavily from all of them.

Where would you find Iberian Romance languages?

The Iberian peninsula contains all these countries, as anyone who has flown Iberian Airlines probably knows.

Which is the most widely spoken Romance language?

Spanish is spoken by around 500 million people, or 47% of Romance speakers.

From how many Romance languages does English borrow words?

English gets words from all over the place. It doesn't discriminate!

Other than in Romania, in what country is Romanian the main spoken language?

Moldovan is also a Romance language, but Romanian is spoken there.

From which country do the "Gallo-Romance" languages come?

France was the Roman province of Gaul, hence French things are referred to as Gallic.

Which of these is NOT a Gallo-Romance language?

Surprisingly, Venetian is also a Gallic language, as well as Norman and French.

What letter is usually found at the end of pluralized words in Western Romance languages?

You say it when you use English, after all! Just add an S (usually) and you have yourself a plural.

What trait of most Romance languages differs from German when it comes to gendered words?

German has masculine, feminine and neuter. Romance languages have two genders: masculine and feminine.

Which of these describes typical word order in a Romance language?

Subject, verb, object is the common structure in Romance languages, as well as English. For example, "I wrote the note."

How do Romance languages feel about double negatives, ie. "I don't know nothing"?

There is some disagreement, but broadly the Romance languages do not count negatives and pair them up to cancel each other out the way English does.

Did the development of the formal second person "you" develop in Latin itself and get passed down, or did it come later?

Latin only had one "you," but a number of Romance languages have two. For example the French informal "tu" versus the formal "vous".

Which Romance language is predominantly spoken in Brazil?

Brazil has many languages but Portuguese is the biggest.

We've established Romance only has two genders and Latin has three. Into which gender did neuter words in Latin mostly get absorbed?

It's not a hard and fast rule, but most neuter Latin words ended up being masculine.

Which Romance language originated the furthest away from the others?

Most of the Romance languages are bunched up around the Mediterranean coast, but Romanian is off in Eastern Europe carrying the flag for the linguistic group!

An auxiliary verb is one that helps you create a tense eg "I go" becomes "I had gone" or "I am going". Which are the two main auxiliary verbs used in Romance languages?

Have and be are the two main helping verbs in the Romance languages. That means they help other verbs to create other tenses, eg "it was written" or "I am doing".

How many Romance languages have status as a national language?

French, Italian, Romanian, Portuguese and Spanish/Castilian are all Romance languages with national status.

Why are they called "Romance" languages anyway?

Romance languages come from the Romans!

By what other name is Vulgar Latin known?

Classical Latin is the written word. Vulgar or Popular Latin is how people actually spoke.

What is one theory for the fact that no Romance language developed in Britain?

Britannia was a Roman colony for a while, but Vulgar Latin never really made it over. It was considered a terrible assignment by the Romans that you only took if you couldn't get a better one in eg Gaul (France), which is probably why not too many Romans wanted to live there.

Which language does NOT enjoy the label "semi-Romance"?

German comes from a different linguistic family tree, but English, Maltese and Albanian are all considered semi-Romantic.

Some words are the same (or almost exactly the same) in Spanish, French, Portuguese and Italian! Which of these words is NOT the same in all four?

Art, legal, and war (guerre/guerra etc) are all basically the same in all four languages. January, however, sounds totally different in each.

Other than Latin, what language heavily influenced Spanish?

Spanish is heavily influenced by Latin, but also by Arabic due to the Moorish period when it was an Islamic country.

To which linguistic family do all the Romance families belong?

All Romance languages are Indo-European. There are up to 147 language groups in the world. Indo-European is one of the biggest.

What percentage of Romance language speakers speak Portuguese?

Portuguese is the second most widely-spoken Romance language, with 26% of speakers.

If you want to learn a Romance language, which language is it wise to start with?

There's no right answer here. You might choose to learn the one that comes easiest, which is usually the one most similar to your native tongue. Alternatively, you might learn the one that is most likely to be useful, the one that the highest number of your your friends speak, or the one that you like most.

How many languages belong to the Indo-European family?

The Romance languages only represent a small fraction of the total Indo-European family, but they are among the most widely-spoken.

Romance languages emerged after the fall of Rome - so when did these languages start appearing?

Romance languages began to appear after the Roman Empire fell around the year 400 AD.

Thanks to English loan words, three letters were added to the Portuguese language in 2009. Which of the below is NOT one of them?

K, W, and Y were not added to Portuguese until 2009. People had been using them before that, but they were not officially included.

Due to the Portuguese Empire, the Portuguese language made it to Africa and South America. Which of the following countries does NOT contain more than a million Portuguese speakers?

Portuguese is spoken in many countries including Angola and Mozambique in Africa.

What percentage of Romance language speakers speak Romanian?

Romanian is only spoken by a few million people, representing 4% of the total number of Romance speakers.

Where would you find an official Latin spelling book?

Since hardly anybody was literate, Latin didn't have spellings, just words that you could write down however you liked.

What Latin word is the root for the word "male"?

Male and female actually do not have the same etymological root. Masculus is the origin of "male," having made it through the Romance languages before hopping to English.

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