The Italic languages – Introduction

Welcome back to the HLC!

It is certainly about time for a new blog post, don’t you think? Well, I do.

So, we’ve spent quite some time looking at English and other Germanic languages. I figured it was about time to do something different.

So, for a little while, we’re going to be looking at the Italic languages!

Let’s get started with what they actually are – and let’s not confuse them with the early Italian languages, shall we?

The Italic languages are a group of cognate languages spoken throughout the middle and southern parts of Italy before the predominance of Rome.

Most of you (dare I say all of you?) will probably recognise at least one of the Italic languages: Latin.

Latin, of course, has a somewhat privileged status among languages generally today (and previously in history as well). This is primarily because so many texts written in Latin survive – and, of course, that it had such an impact on many languages around it.

But Latin isn’t the only Italic language.

In fact, the language family is generally divided into two branches: one represented by Latin and the closely related (or potentially dialectal) Faliscan. The other is represented by a subgroup of languages usually referred to as the Sabellic or Sabellian languages.

So, although you might be inclined to think “Latin, Latin, Latin”, the tree actually looks more like this:

Modified from Ancient History Encyclopedia
A tad bit larger than you thought?

There are plenty of languages in the Italic language family. Perhaps those that spring to mind are Spanish, Italian and French. But, Britannica notes that the term Italic languages sometimes even excludes Latin. We’ll talk more about that next week.

As with the Germanic languages, the Italic languages are classified as Italic based on some shared features, such as phonological and/or grammatical changes.

During the following weeks, we’ll look a bit closer at these shared features and the daughter-languages of Proto-Italic.

But, for now, study my little guide-tree and read up on some Italic languages… and join me again in two weeks to learn some more about the Italic languages together!



Philip Baldi & Gabriel C.L.M. Bakkum. 2014. Italic languages. Oxford Bibliographies. DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780195389661-0045.

Italic languages

Italic languages

Indo-European language family tree

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