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Is Spanish a Germanic Language? Romance vs Germanic Languages

Spanish and German have similar features because both languages belong to the Indo-European Language Family.

The Indo-European language family contains many languages that are distinctly different from each other, yet all languages in this family evolved from an ancient language called Proto-Indo-European.

Indo-European Languages are divided into 8 sub-branches. These are 

  •   Hellenic (Greek)
  •   Indo-Iranian (Indo-Aryan, Iranian, Nuristani)
  •   Italic (Romance)
  •   Celtic
  •   Germanic
  •   Armenian
  •   Balto-Slavic (Baltic and Slavic)
  •   Albanian

Armenian, Albanian, Celtic and Greek have their sub-branches, and others are grouped into 4 major sub-branches (Germanic, Italic, Balto Slavic, and Indo-Iranian).

Indo-European Languages and its 8 sub-branches.

Spanish is an Indo-European language but not a Germanic language. Spanish belongs to the Italic (Romance) language family.

The five most important and most widely spoken Romance languages are Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Romanian.

Italic languages have their origins in the Latin language, the official language of the Roman Empire. For this reason, they are also called Latin languages.

Spanish has some degree of mutual intelligibility with Italic Romance languages but not with German or Germanic languages. 

Germanic languages have some grammatical similarities with Spanish because they are also Indo-European languages. 

Additionally, German and Spanish have some common words due to cultural relations. Yet, Spanish and German are different languages.

Click to check my other articles on Germany. I also linked them all at the end of this article.

Romance  Languages vs. Germanic Languages

Romance Languages are a sub-branch of Indo-European Languages.

Romance languages are also known as Latin or Italic languages because Romance languages evolved from the Latin Language between the 3rd and 8th centuries.

Map of Romance (Italic) Languages in Europe. Photo Source

Germanic languages constitute another branch of Indo-European languages. 

All Germanic languages originated from Proto-Germanic.

Proto-Germanic was spoken in Iron Age Scandinavia around the first millennium BC.

Map of Germanic Languages in Europe. Photo Source

Romance Languages and Spanish

Spanish belongs to the Romance languages sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. 

Romance languages are also known as Latin or Italic languages because these languages evolved from Latin between the 3rd and 8th centuries.

The closest Romance language to the ancient Latin language is Italian. Then comes the Spanish language, followed by Romanian, and Portuguese. The most different Latin language is French. 

The Latin language was the language of the Roman Empire which ruled all Mediterranean coasts and the majority of Europe for centuries. 
Even after the Roman Empire was divided into East and West, Latin Language continued to be the language of the West Roman Empire.

Even though the West Roman Empire collapsed, its languages still live in Romance languages. You can notice the similarity between the West Roman Empire map with the Romance languages map.

The word “Romance” comes from the Latin adverb romanice meaning “in Roman” and refers to anything written in the “Roman vernacular”.

Romance languages can be subdivided into Western Romance, Italo Dalmatian, Eastern Romance, and Sardinian, whereas Pannonian, British, and African Romance have become extinct.

All of these Romance languages emerged out of a variety of Latin during historical times.

Now, Romance languages comprise a native-speaking population counting more than 900 million people worldwide, largely in Europe, Africa, and America.

What are Germanic languages?

Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family which is often subdivided into 3 classifications: 

  • the North-Germanic group featuring Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic, and Faroese; 
  • West-Germanic, including English, Dutch, and German; 
  • East-Germanic, which consisted of Gothic, the languages of the Burgundian and Vandalic along with other tribes,

The Germanic languages are primarily spoken in Europe, North America, Southern Africa, and Oceania.

Today, these Germanic languages comprise more than 515 million native speakers.

English is its most spoken Germanic language, with 2 billion speakers if you include non-native speakers.

Making Germanic Languages the most spoken languages in the world. Followed by Romance Languages because Spanish, French, and Portuguese have a vast number of native and secondary speakers. 

Suggested Reading: What do German people look like? (a German Explains)

What are the five most important Germanic languages?

English, German, Dutch, Swedish, and Afrikaans are the Germanic languages with the most native speakers.

Germanic LanguagesNumber of Native Speakers
English515 Million
German130 Million
Dutch23 Million
Swedish9 Million
Afrikaans7 Million
Most spoken Germanic Languages by the number of native speakers.

For a detailed list of Languages Similar to German read my guide “Languages similar to German: Explained By a Local

Are Spanish and Italian the same?

Spanish and Italian are very similar to each other and share a lexical similarity of 82%.

Both languages evolved from Latin, which is why they are mutually intelligible and share such significant similarities.

Some words may seem pretty much the same in pronunciation or spelling, but a minority of them still may have different meanings.

Like “embarazada” means “pregnant” in Spanish, whereas “imbarazzata” in Italian translates into “embarrassed”.

However, both Spanish and Italian speakers could carry out an almost problem-free conversation if they spoke clearly.

Are Spanish and Portuguese the same?

Spanish and Portuguese are not the same; they are different languages, with their roots coming from Latin. 

Portuguese and Spanish have high mutual intelligibility and share the same linguistic foundation, similar vocabulary, and grammar rules.

Even though these languages can be considered sister languages, each language has its variations and differences making it a different language.

Spanish is the only official language of blue-colored countries. Orange-colored countries have more than one official language and Spanish is one of them. Source

How widely is Spanish spoken in the world?

Today, there are 20 countries with Spanish as their official or co-official language counting

  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Chile
  • Costa Rica
  • Columbia
  • Cuba
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvadore
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Uruguay
  • Peru
  • Venezuela
  • Spain

With more than 550 million native speakers across the globe, Spanish results as the second most natively spoken language in the world, right after Mandarin (Chinese).

Even though it is not the official language, a significant number of Spanish speakers can also be found in the United States, Andorra, Belize, and Gibraltar.

It ranks fourth as the most-spoken language in the world, following English, Mandarin Chinese, and Hindi, and continues to ignite increasing interest in learning.

Click to read “Is Russian a Germanic Language? Unique Features of the Russian Language

Do Latin Americans understand Spain’s Spanish?

Although numerous differences in vocabulary, accents, and expressions give color to the speech, Latin Americans do perfectly understand Spain’s Spanish.

Is Spanish hard to learn?

Spanish is popular among many people due to its wide reach and practicality worldwide.

Since Spanish owns many words originating from Latin, just like English, it makes it easy for beginners, especially English speakers, to learn Spanish vocabulary.

For example, there are countless cognates like “correcto” for “correct”, “mysterioso” meaning “mysterious”, or “perfecto” for “perfect”.

Another benefit would be that it is a “phonetic language” where the majority of words are pronounced as they are spelled.

But on the contrary, Spanish learners do struggle with their grammar, including different verb tenses and grammar rules.

Beginners also find it exceptionally hard to keep up with speed and understand native speakers.

Which Spanish is easiest to learn?

Considering where you want to use Spanish, you should learn Spain’s Spanish for the European zone.

However, in Latin America, the best choice for Spanish learners would be Mexico alongside Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia, where people tend to speak more slowly, don’t cut words, and own the most neutral Spanish accent.

Latin American Spanish is explicitly easy for beginners to understand and progress in the language.

I learned Spanish from my Mexican friends, and I can attest that Mexican Spanish is a lot easier to pronounce.

Who speaks the clearest Spanish?

The clearest Spanish is the “Castillian accent“ which originates from two autonomous communities in Spain, Castilla-La Mancha, and Castilla Leon, and is spoken throughout Spain.

The Castillian accent is recognized as the “purest form“ of Spanish.

However, if you look at Latin America, Mexico is your go-to.

Mexican Spanish features all the grammar like Spanish but with a clearer pronunciation, making it the best place for newbies to learn the language.

What is the hardest Spanish to understand?

Chilean Spanish is considered to be the hardest Spanish dialect to understand.

It has its own variations in vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, and slang words that are significantly different from standard Spanish.

Chileans speak fast and tend to skip a couple of letters, making it sound even faster.

On top of that, they often “inhale” the “S“.

For example: “Es que los caminos están malos” which means “The thing is that the roads are in a bad state” in Spanish, but Chileans would say: “Eh que loh caminoh ehtán maloh”.

Furthermore, countless words end in –“ado” and “ada” in participle form that Chileans simply ignore and say instead of “Yo he volado” (“I have flown”), “Yo he vola’o”.

Just like English speakers turn “want to” into “wanna”, there are also some words that Chilean speakers don’t finish saying.

For example: “No estoy asustado para nada” which means “I’m not scared at all” but in Chilean Spanish, it becomes “No estoy asusta’o pa’ na’ ”.

Why is Spanish so hard?

Spanish is a language of great depth and richness due to its verbs. Spanish verbs have conjugations that are challenging to learn. In this regard, I believe English and German have more basic conjugation.

In my personal view, Spanish languages’ diverse verb conjugation is similar to Turkish, yet I have no historical data on why they are so similar.

At first instance, Spanish may seem to have many similar words to German and English, yet there are also many “false” cognates. 

False cognates are words that seem unmistakably similar but have totally different meanings.

Also, Spanish sometimes gets hard to learn because of its diverse technical reasons, including pronouns, the imperfect tense, gender of nouns, irregular verbs, colloquialism, different Spanish accents, fast speed, or simply because some people find it hard to roll the “r”.

Why do Spanish people speak with a “lisp”?

Ancient Spanish used to have four similar sounds that could be confusing.

Later on, these sounds were simplified to make the language easier and are now to what people refer to as “the Spanish lisp”.

This Spanish lisp differs by region, and in some regions, there are no lisps at all.