Question Cabin Wednesdays: What are the Different Families of Languages?

We recently asked our Rosetta Stone Facebook Community the following question: What is one thing about languages that you have always wanted to know? Our Page was flooded with such an array of thoughtful and interesting responses that we decided to provide answers to some of these questions, in video format, from our top secret Log Cabin location near our Content Development Center. Enjoy our response to one question below from linguist Benjamin Keller, an Editor in Content Development at Rosetta Stone, and stay tuned for the rest in our Question Cabin Wednesdays series. Feel free to let us know if you have any burning language questions to keep the language fire kindled!

Transcript below:

“Q: What special names does any language possess, for example, Italian and French are the Romance Language…What about the others?

A: The term Romance languages refers to a family of languages that were originally spoken in what is now Western Europe and Romania. The best-known of these languages are (from west to east) Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian, and Romanian, but there are many others. These languages all evolved from Latin, the language spoken by the ancient Romans—so “romance” here has to do more with Julius Caesar than it does with Valentine’s Day.

Other language families include the Germanic languages, of which English, German, and the Scandinavian languages are members; the Bantu languages of Africa, of which Swahili and Zulu are perhaps the best known; and the Semitic languages of the Middle East, which include both Hebrew and Arabic. Some language families belong themselves to larger families: both Germanic and Romance languages belong to a very large family called Indo-European, which includes most of the languages of Europe as well as several from central and south Asia.

If you’re interested in learning more, I would recommend starting with an Internet search for “language families.” There’s quite a few of them, probably a few too many for me to list here. Thanks!”

Allison Harper

Allison is the manager of social media marketing at Rosetta Stone. She holds a B.A. from Harvard University. She lives in D.C. She retains her Texas "y'all."
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