Jacob asked in Society & CultureLanguages · 1 month ago

Why is the English language considered a Germanic language and not a Romance language if english is similar to most romance languages?

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  • Pontus
    Lv 7
    1 month ago
    Favorite Answer

    The only major similarity English has to the Romance languages is higher level English vocabulary.  

    The two largest sources of  English vocabulary are Germanic (mostly Anglo-Saxon, aka Old English, & Old Norse) and Old French (which of course comes from Latin). Those sources provide about the same amount of vocabulary.   The next largest source is from Latin itself.

    That results in most English words of five letters or more tracing themselves ultimately to Latin.

    Most basic English words, though, are Germanic.

    Note that Germanic doesn't mean "from German".  German is also Germanic.  It means that German & English have a closer common ancestor than they do with Latin.  German & English are like first cousins.  Latin and its daughter languages would be distant counsins to German & English. 

    The English verb system is distinctly Germanic.  Very different from that of the Romance languages. 

    Adjectives almost always come before English nouns, just like they do in other Germanic languages.  In Romance languages, adjectives come before & after nouns, with after being the most common place. 

    Here are some examples:

    My house is brown.

    German: Mein Haus ist braun.  (pronounced as: mine house ist brown). - Unusually close to English in this case.

    French:  Ma maison est marron.  

    Italian: La mia casa è marrone.

    Compare these first few lines of the Lord's prayer:

    German:  Vater unser, im Himmel.  Geheiligt werde dein Name. Dein Reich komme.  Dein Wille geschehe, wie im Himmel, so auf Erden.

    French:  Notre père, qui es aux cieux.  Que ton nom soit sanctifié.  Que ton règne vienne.  Que ta volonté soit fait, sur la terre, comme au ciel.

    Italian:  Padre nostro, che sei nei cieli.  Sia santificato il tuo nome. Venga il tuo regno. Sia fatta la tua volontà, come in cielo, così in terra. 

    English: Our father, who art in Heaven.  Hallowed be thy name.  They kingdom come.  Thy will be done, on Earth, as it is in Heaven. 

    English is not very close to the Romance versions, for the most part. 

    English is closer to the German version than you might realize.  Vater = father, is pronounced as Vahter (but the R is not pronounced as an R, but as an unaccented vowel). unser = our, and comes from uns = us (which are related to each other). 

    dein = thy (and dein is related to the English thine). Name is spelled the same in the two (but not pronounced the same). nom & nome, in the other two languages, is also related to name, but  not obviously not as closely). 

    komme = come (almost pronounced the same)

    Wille = will. 

    im = is a contraction of "in dem" (in the).  in - is the same in both languages. 

    so = also.  

    Erden = Earth, and is related.  Easier to see when you realize that =en is a suffix, leaving Erd.  The TH sounds don't exist in German, and at least in modern English the EA of earth is pronounced as one vowel. 

    In other words, your assertion that English is closer to Romance languages is false. 

    Yes, a lot of words are similar, due to direct borrowing, not from having evolved from a recent ancestor.   But basic words are clearly Germanic and many grammatical features and word order is distinctly Germanic (particularly in Old English).  

    Modern English has changed more than most other Germanic languages, so some Germanic features have been lost or nearly lost in Modern English, but Old English had them. 

    All the Germanic languages and Romance languages, though, are Indo-European (sharing a common ancestor, a very long time ago). 

    Source(s): studied linguistics and the history of languages; taught French; intermediate Italian & German (& Japanese); native English speaker.
    • Jacob1 month agoReport

      Thank you. That answer is very helpful and informative. It makes much more sense now.

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  • Anonymous
    4 weeks ago

    There's a reason that the Dutch, Flemish, Scandinavians, Germans, etc speak better English than the French, Spaniards, Italians, etc. Because at its core English is mostly still a Germanic language, and the Latin/French words that you use are often also used in other Germanic languages.

    Look at this example:

    in Dutch/Flemish: mijn haar was in de war

    in English: my hair was in the war

    Extremely similar, no? Now try making a similar sentence in French that is as similar to English.

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  • Anonymous
    1 month ago

    English does not derive from Latin, the mother of the Romance languages.  Vulgar Latin produced the Romance languages.

    English comes from Anglo-Saxon (often referred to as Old English), which was spoken by Angeln and Sachsen people who cane from the area of Scandinavia, long ago, and settled in the area of Great Britain.

    English is Angelisch (hard "g" sound, not modern "j" sound).

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  • Anonymous
    1 month ago

    Both language groups have Indo-European origins. There is a "family relationship."

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  • 1 month ago

    The everyday vocabulary of English consists mostly of Germanic words, and the structure of English sentences is Germanic, even when you stick words borrowed from Romance languages into them. There is, BTW, a movement to cleanse the English language of its non-Germanic vocabulary. I doubt if it will make much progress but, who knows? It really is rather strange that in creating words English-speaking people found it desirable to use Greek or Latin words to form the names of things like "television" or "telephone" when they could have done what the Germans did, in which case TV would "farseer" and telephone would be "farspeaker", which is exactly what "television" and "telephone" mean. 

    • Tina
      Lv 7
      1 month agoReport

      Even stranger is the suggestion that the bus (originally 'omnibus') should have been called 'folkwain' - which suggests something with solid wheels drawn by an ox...

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  • 1 month ago

    The history reveals that English derives from the Germanic tribes of the Angles and Saxons. Any similarity to Romance languages comes from the fact that Norman French was the language of the aristocracy for hundreds of years.

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  • 1 month ago

    You don't actually speak any Romance languages, do you.

    • Jacob1 month agoReport

      Im learning Spanish. 

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