When you think of romance, your mind might go to a candlelight dinner, a bottle of Champagne, roses, or strawberries dipped in chocolate. The last thing, if it ever came to mind, would be Italian, Spanish, or Portuguese.

What are Romance languages? When discussing language, Romance languages are the descendants of the spoken form of Latin, which is also known as Vulgar Latin. The word vulgar in this instance does not mean coarse or off-color. It means common or the usual, typically, everyday speech of regular people.

The languages considered to be Romance languages are modern French, Italian, Spanish, Romanian, Catalan, the Romansch group of dialects used in Switzerland, and Sardinian. Also included are the languages Occitan and Provencal from France, Andalusian from Spain, Friulian from northeast Italy, Ladin from northern Italy, and Sicilian from southern Italy.

Many of the Romance languages are regional dialects rather than the national language of the country where they are spoken. They have been classified together because they have a shared section of vocabulary, which originated in the influence of the language of the Roman conquerors. Today there are nearly 625 million people who speak Romance languages.

Italian like the other Romance languages is the direct offspring of the Latin spoken by the Roman conquerors, which was forced on them by these Romans. Of all the major Romance languages, Italian kept the closest to the original Latin.