Germanic influence on the Romance languages

LAA   Fri Jul 21, 2006 2:05 am GMT
What was the extent of Germanic influence on the Romance tounges of Frankish Gaul, Ostrogothic/Lombardian Italy, and Visigothic Spain? How much of modern neo-latin languages' vocabulary is the result of Germanic contributions?

They had to leave some lasting imprint on the language, being that these Germanic peoples composed the elite ruling class. They were the warrior aristocracy, the origin of European knighthood and knightly class.

Some sources say that as much as 15% of modern French vocabulary descends from Germanic contributions. This seems a little high, but 5-10% sounds more reasonable.

I know there was significant Arabic influence on Spanish, contributing as a much as 5% of modern Spanish vocabulary. To me, out of all the major Romance languages, Italian sounds the most unadaulterated.
Guest   Fri Jul 21, 2006 2:36 am GMT
I would really love to know the ratio of Germans to the native Roman populations. In other words, what was the ratio of Franks to Gallo-Romans, and Goths to Hispano-Romans? This could have some bearing as to the extent of their influence on development of the local Romance language. Northern French dialects' greater deviance from Latin is often attributed to greater Germanic influence, because Northern Gaul is where most of the Franks settled.

I have exhausted all possible options in researching the matter, so perhaps some of you can find a source for me, which answers that question.
greg   Fri Jul 21, 2006 5:56 am GMT
L'espace gaulois romanisé n'a pas été envahi par les Francs (saliens et rhénans) uniquement, mais aussi par les Wisigoths, les Burgondes et les Huns.
fab   Fri Jul 21, 2006 6:41 am GMT
en ce qui concerne les Huns (qui étaient, en tout cas plus ou moins, de type mongoloide) j'ai entendu dire qu'il existait de e,ndroits en France (certains villages de Borgogne, ou la population Française locale présenteun certain nombre de caractères génétiques normalement absents dans les populations Européennes, mais souvent présents chez les peuples asiatiques. Il est sans doute envisageable que les huns, à l'image des autres envahissaurs, aient laisssé leur empreinte génétique dans la population. En ce qui concerne leur impact culturel, je ne sais pas s'il existe des mots d'origine Hun(ne ?).en Français. peut-être ?
Nun Es   Fri Jul 21, 2006 8:32 am GMT
French has less than 13% (4200 words) of foreign words according to Henriette Walter, Gérard Walter.

On estime à moins de 13% (soit 4 200 mots) les parts des mots d'origine étrangère dans la langue française courante soit environ les 35 000 mots d'un dictionnaire d'usage.

1 054 de ces mots sont d'origine anglaise,
707 italiens,
550 de l'ancien allemand,
481 des anciennes langues gallo-romanes,
215 arabes,
164 de l'allemand,
160 du celtique ancien,
159 espagnols, 153 hollandais,
112 perses et sanskrits,
101 des langues des Indiens d'Amériques,
89 de diverses langues asiatiques,
56 de diverses langues afro-asiatiques,
55 de langues slaves et de la Baltique,
144 d'autres langues diverses.

* Source : Henriette Walter, Gérard Walter, Dictionnaire des mots d'origine étrangère, 1998.
Gringo   Fri Jul 21, 2006 11:19 am GMT
««The Gothic influence on the Spanish language is relatively small. It seems that what the Goths left behind in Spain were mostly names like Alvaro, Alvarez, Claudomiro, Fernando, Gonzalo, Jimanez, Rodrigo, Rodriguez etc. »»

The ending "es" in Portuguese and "ez" in Spanish are from Gothic and means "son of ": Rodrigues (Portuguese), Rodriguez (Spanish) meant son of Roderick.

The Germanic influence was small compared to others but there are more Germanic words than Germanic names so it is not mostly names.

A small example of Portuguese words from Gothic and Suevi:


agasalho ( Gasalja)
albergue (*haribergo)
aleive ( lavjan)
aringa ( hrings)
banco ( Banka)
elmo ( Hilms)
escanção ( Skankja)
esquila ( Skilla)
estaca ( Stakka)
fona ( fon)
fornir ( Frumjan)
guerra ( *wirro)
guia ( *wida)
lasca ( Laska)
averca ( *laiwerko)
luva ( *glova)
marta ( Marthus)
roca ( Ruka)
roqueiro ( Rukka)
tampa ( Tappa)
tascar ( Taskon)
tiufado ( Taihunda)

Other Germanic derived words:

acha (Hapja)
anca (Hanka)
aspa ( Haspa)
ataviar ( Tavian)
barão (Baro)
bastir ( Bastjan)
borda ( Bord)
braco ( Brakko)
brandir ( brand)
brasa (Brasa)
burgo ( Burgu)
cãibra( krampi)
caneca ( Can)
croça ( Krukkja)
dala ( Dal)
escarnir ( Skirnjan)
escarpa ( skarpo)
escuma ( skuma)
LAA   Fri Jul 21, 2006 5:32 pm GMT
Well, I know in French for instance, only 200 words remain of Gallic origin. I don't know how many words the Germanic peoples contributed, but the only Germans who had a real lasting affect on France were the Franks. They had to have contributed some vocabulary to modern French. Or, perhaps, their main contribution was in French's unique phonology.

I think the Gothic influence on Spanish and Portuguese is even less than that of the Frankish influence on French, as the Visigoths were the most Romanized of all the Germanic conquerors. In addition, they only ruled Spain for about three centuries, until most of southern Spain was ceded to the Arab rulers for several centuries. You can definitely see a lot of Arab influence on Spanish.

To me, Italian is very "pure" in its relation to Latin. In some cases, it has actually deviated even more from Latin, like for example, how Italian drops the 'es' at the begining of many words, and instead uses the "s".

I haven't reached a definite conclusion on the matter, but I think Portuguese and French's nasalization is the result of Celtic influence on pronounciation.

But I would still like to know more about the exent of Germanic influence on Romance languages.
Gringo   Fri Jul 21, 2006 6:03 pm GMT
««Careful... not that it's a big deal but I think you could find more Spanish names of Visigothic origin in the phone book of any major U.S. city than the the number of words you listed.»»

Of course there are, even in Portugal´s phone book. I did not list all the words, I listed SOME examples in Portuguese not in Spanish. You also did not list all the names did you?

And there can not be more Spanish names of Visigothic origin in the USA than in Spain. Did anyone ever counted them to know how many there are?

Rodrigo, Rodriguez ( both are the same name: Roderick and son of Roderick); Alvaro, Alvarez both are the same name too.
fab   Fri Jul 21, 2006 9:47 pm GMT
On wikipedia I found the previous numbers about the estimation population of wisigotic population in iberian peninsula in the 6th century :
200 000 wisigoths+other germanic peoples.
total population of iberia : 3/4 000 000
that is to say about 5-8% of the whole population

Most of the estimation said that Gaul was populated by 8 to 10 million people when the roman empire falled, the franks where estimated to about a maximum of 100 000 people. If we count the wisigotic peoples who settled in southern france + burgond people, we can hardly imagine they could be more much more than 300 000 - that is to say about 3%, maybe less.

So, what was the real influence of these very-minoritary germanic ruling classes upon the former citizens of the Roman empire ?
In my opinion the most important influence was a political one, and the foundation of the old Frankish and wisigothic kingdoms who will became later the nations of Spain and France. In France the french revolution will give a final end to the political system heritated form the Franks and returned to a "res-publica" land.

On the linguistic point it is hard to say; most numbers we can found claim that in French about
500 words of germanic origins are present in current, to wich we could include the modern imports of english origins such as "parking", "weekend", etc.
It is often said that Spanish as about 500 words of Arabs origin, it is hard to find the numbers of words of germanic origins. does anyone knows that ?
Guest   Fri Jul 21, 2006 10:20 pm GMT

It is often said that Spanish as about 5000 words of Arabs origin
fab   Sat Jul 22, 2006 3:17 am GMT
it seems that, if we follow the works of Henriete Walter, that around 6% of french vocabulary is made of germanic origin :

Half of it is consituted by modern imports from english :
such as "cool, speeder, weekend, living, square," etc.

the word of germanic origins present in french vocabulary since a long time is around 3%, half of it from frankish, the rest from wisigoth or burgodian.
greg   Sat Jul 22, 2006 6:32 am GMT
L'orolatin tardif (OLT) de Gaule (et peut-être d'aileurs ?) a emprunté des verbes à l'ancien bas-francique (ABF) que l'on retrouve en ancien français (AF) et en français moderne (Fr).

ABF <warjan> = OLT <warire> = AF <guarir> <garir> = Fr <guérir>
(voir Oc <guarir> <garir>)

OLT — AF — Fr
warisco — g(u)aris — je guéris
wariscis — g(u)aris — tu guéris
wariscit — g(u)arit — il-elle-on guérit
wariscismus— g(u)arissons — nous guérissons
wariscistis— g(u)arissez — vous guérissez
wariscunt — g(u)arissent — ils-elles guérissent

Autres exemples :

ABF <waidanjan> — OLT <waidaniare> — AF <gaaignier> — Fr <gagner>
Gothique <kausjan> — OLT <causire> — AF <coisir> <choisir> — Fr <choisir>
Ali   Sat Jul 22, 2006 3:10 pm GMT
215 arabes,

Seulement 215 mots C'EST BIEN PEU !

"Dictionnaire des arabismes", ou dictionnaire des mots français en provenance de l'arabe.

Il présente - sous forme de dictionnaire de langue - plus de 500 mots que la langue française a emprunté à la langue arabe, et ce depuis plus de 9 siècles !! Ces mots couvrent toute la palette des domaines : de la littérature au droit, des sciences exactes aux sciences religieuses, du politique au culinaire, etc. La moitié de ces mots est d'usage courant (tasse, café, sucre, arsenal, truchement, magasin, etc.) et l'autre moitié est d'usage moindre (muezzin, kibla, medersa, etc.).
LAA   Sat Jul 22, 2006 11:16 pm GMT
"200 000 wisigoths+other germanic peoples.
total population of iberia : 3/4 000 000
that is to say about 5-8% of the whole population"

Fab, I think your esitmates are entirely inaccurate.

"Most of the estimation said that Gaul was populated by 8 to 10 million people when the roman empire falled, the franks where estimated to about a maximum of 100 000 people. If we count the wisigotic peoples who settled in southern france + burgond people, we can hardly imagine they could be more much more than 300 000 - that is to say about 3%, maybe less."

I would love for you to post a link. Everything I have ever read does not suggest such a low figure. The Visigoths were a smaller tribe than the mighty Franks, but they were certainly large enough to conquer the Iberian peninsula, and southern Gaul, which would require a large army of warriors, capable of conquering, and occupying large stretches of teritorry.

You must keep in mind that these were whole nations of people that we're talking about. It wasn't just the men who migrated into Roman lands, but their women and children, and elderly dependants as well. Everything I have read lists the Frankish population at closer to 250,000 people, and that does not include the other Germanic tribes which settled in Gaul. I think that figure is closer to 500,000, out of a native population of around 8 million (the population declined during the latter days of the empire because of rampant plague, poverty, and low agricultural production). This is more consistent with the societal changes of the time.

In Spain, besides the Visigoths, we must add the Vandals, and Suevi, along with other minor tribes. There were probably about 200,000 Germans in Iberia, amongst a population of 5 million or less. This is a significant minority, and consistent with other facts of the era.

When the Visigoths sacked Adrianople in the 300s, they were able to field an army of 50,000 able bodied men, which devestated several Roman legions. As you well know, there are many more women, children, and elderly ones, then there are those men who are of an age capable of fighting in a war. So, if they were able to field 50,000 men of fighting age, their total population figure must have been much higher than 100,000. And this was only in the 300s A.D. Their population, after being introduced to more advanced agricultrual techniques once they dwelled in the empire for over a century, must have grown over the course of one hundred years or more.

I think the Germanic settlement of Gaul and Spain was much larger than you suppose.
LAA   Sat Jul 22, 2006 11:46 pm GMT
According to my sources, the Visigoths numbered around 300,000 when they settled Hispania, and founded their Spanish kingdom. The native population at this time numbered 4 million.

In addition to the 300,000 Visigoths, you must add the Suevi, and Vandals, and other minor tribes who settled the region as well. This takes the number up to around 500,000, amongst a population of 4 million. That is roughly 12% of the Hispanic population. This is a significantly large minority. The Germans usually settled primarily in areas which were usually less densely populated, which were almost always in the north, both in Gaul and in Hispania. This means, that the new population of the northern regions were almost entirely Germanic. This explains why there are so many common Spanish and French names of Germanic origin. In addition, the majority of people from the northern regions have a less "mediterranean" phenotype. The Spaniards of antiquity were short, light skinned, and dark haired. The fact that many Spaniards today are on average, only slightly shorter than their northern European counterparts, and who commonly have light features, shows the Germanic impact on the ethnic composition of the region.

Please keep doing some research on it Fab. I would like to read your sources, or whatever you could find.