Romance Languages, also called Romanic languages, tongues developed from Latin through admixture of Germanic, Celtic, and other idioms. They are Provençal, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Wallachian or Rouman, and perhaps also Romansh. These languages are not direct descendants of the classic Latin, for when the Germanic races settled in the Romance countries Latin was spoken only by the clergy, and in the 6th century Boëthius and Cassiodorus were the only lay writers who still made use of it. Though Latin proper ceased to be a living tongue about the beginning of the 6th century, the lingua rustica, or vulgar Latin, the speech of the populace of the Italian peninsula, continued to be spoken both at home and in the Latinized countries, and came to be designated as the lingua Romana or Roman language. (See Italic Races and Languages, and Latin Language and Literature.) Raynouard has attempted to show that this lingua Romana was the same as the Provençal of southern France, and that French, Italian, and the other Romance languages were its daughters, and not its sisters.

This theory was at once assailed and has since been refuted, with different lines of research and argument, by French as well as English and German scholars. - See Sir G. Cornewall Lewis's "Essay on the Origin and Formation of the Romance Languages" (2d ed., London, 1862); Max Müller's "Lectures on the Science of Language" (1st series, London, 1861); and the separate articles on the languages in this Cyclopaedia.