Romance can refer to an enchanting quality that makes a heart beat faster, but in linguistics Romance languages are the Indo-European languages descending from Latin, the best-known being French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. Why is one word used for both?
Actually, the link arises from a type of story. Romanz is the Old French term for “verse narrative.” In the 14th Century, a romanz was a story told in vernacular (as opposed to Latin) about a chivalric hero’s adventures and quests. Fair ladies, who the hero often saved from some sordid fate, played consistent roles in the stories. The best-known romance of this time is probably Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory, the story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The key to the romanz was that it was written in the language people spoke, the vernacular, or Romantic languages, and the name stuck as the fictional form grew in popularity across Europe.
One of the foundational characters of the romance is Sir Lancelot, who embodies the ideals of courtly love, which is roughly “a highly stylized code of behavior popular chiefly from the 12th to the 14th century that prescribed the rules of conduct between lovers, advocating idealized but illicit love.” This appears to be the link between romantic stories and the idea of romantic love. In short, it’s the first “love story.”
Romance stories had huge popularity through the end of the 17th century, after which they were dismissed as too over the top. Romances were ridiculed in satire such as Cervantes’ Don Quixote. By this time, romance as an idea connoted virtue, noble intentions, and the conquering of good over evil. As a fictional form it dealt exclusively in ideals.
The idea of courtly love, the kind that makes one swoon from emotion, was attached to the word romance only in the early 20th century. Romance is still held high as an ideal, but it would serve those who love to remember that Lancelot’s story is a classic example of adultery. (Speaking of which, learn the real link between the words “adult” and “adultery,” here. You may be surprised.)
” King Arthur and the Nights of the Round Table”
Also, what is the difference between “romanic” and “romantic” (etymologically etc)?
Why not take it all the way back? Old French Romanz itself came from the Latin Romanicus “Roman” (i.e. Latin). The link between “romance” And “Romance Languages” is “languages descended from Latin (Roman)” and has nothing to do with those languages being romantic or used for love stories.
This just shows how it is a fallacy to derive definitions or insights on definitions, upon etymology. Word meaning is found in how the word is used at a point in time. Not necessarily having anything to do with the meaning of that word’s “forebears.”
No, wait… maybe since “forbear” is an alternate spelling of “forebear” we gain an insight into the meaning of ancestral forebears, because they really had to put up with a lot of bad behavior (forebear) from our ancestors when they were teenagers!
Were those lovers in the medieval romance novels communicating by telepathy? –We want something untouchable–When we cannot, then take solace to eating.
Interesting, but shouldn’t it be “Knights” instead of “Nights” in paragraph 2?
Weren’t they the Knights of the Round Table?
“Nights” of the Round Table? You mean “Knights,” don’t you?
Yes, but you don’t say why they’re called “Romance Languages.” I always assumed it was because they sprang from the language of the Roman empire. And you don’t include “Romansch” – the fourth national language of Switzerland, similarly derived. Also FYI the country “Romania” was an important possession of the Roman empire because of the silver mines (they called it Dacia). Those Romans are still messing with our heads millennia later!
The creators of this article are fricking idiots, why? Because Romania is also a prominent Romance language, in fact it’s one of out the 5! ROMANIA, Spain, Italy, France and Portugal. Shame on you idiots, get your facts straight and stop creating spurious articles.
All the modern form of Latin derive from the language of Rome. Ergo, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Catalan, Provencal, etc., are Romance (that is, Roman) languages.
Who wrote this article? It seems that the author has a big lack of knowledge about the real roman / latin languages. Romanian language, spoken in Romania, is a more roman / latin language then any other latin languages, except of course italian. French has a much lower influence of the latin language.
“Fair ladies, who the hero often saved… ”
Whatever happened to ‘whom’?
Spanish is my mother tongue. I didn’t know the word “romance” was relatively recently connected to the feeling. Nice article.
This is peculiar. I had always though that they were called Romance languages because they had Latin (or Roman) roots.
Wherefore art thou Romeo?
Hey, leave my mother’s tongue out of this. I can assure you, there’s nothing romantic about it.
As an avowed MAN, I am happy to to see that the lovey-dovey meening of the word “romance” is at least 2 or 3 semantic leaps away from what it actually means, (or meant). All the ladies out there expect us to figure out what this means (to women in general, and to them individually), when in fact there is no real tie between what is called “romance” and the word “romance” – Sheesh! No wonder we can’t get it right! Ladies, when talking to a man about digging, call a space a spade.
I think you’d want to take out this article as it contains several errors (research, terminology and spelling).
As a Romanian speaker, I am offended by this “…the best-known being French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.” The best known? There’s only one left.
I am sorry, but it is discriminatory.
I didn’t see it, but from what i hear it used to be nights and not knights…thats ashame dictionary…..
I don’t give a damn what anybody says. Any other language besides English is super-smexy.
Maybe they should have quit the Spanish topics while they were ahead….
for me vernacular language is the way how we call our leveone nomatter how we say it is always sweet to the ear. thanks
Hmm… I got to agree about the comments on this article. Romanian should’ve been in the languages and it’s Romance/Romanic because it came from the ancient Rome.
I agree with Acasandru about Romanian, as it is more Latin than all of the other Romance languages indeed, except Italian. The only problem with Romanian being recognized as a Latin language is that it’s isolated in the East of Europe, where most of its neighbors speak Slavic languages (Ukrainian, Serbian, Bulgarian), but Romanian is a direct descendant of the Latin spoken by the Roman invaders more than 2,000 years ago, who stayed and married into the local population. People just don’t know this out of ignorance…
Indeed the origin of the term “Romance” is related to “Roman” vs “Latin” the last being the official language during the Middle Ages, the previous being the popular (“vernacular”) In Spanish there was an idiom where you could order sbdy “speak Romance!” (of course we pronounce the last “e”) meaning “speak plainly” – as opposed to speaking with learned language – ergo, the distinction “Latin” (learned) vs. Romance (vernacular) Why “Romance”? Well it was a conscious effort to name two languages sprung from Italy – Latin was already taken, so they went for “Romance”, stg like “Roman-ish” in the original sense of the word. True, unlearned troubadours sang their popular love stories in the vernacular (not in Latin) and therefore helped to connect “Romance” with its present day meaning…