Loanwords and Substrate in Romance Languages

Dan Ungureanu


The article tries to substantiate, with a parallel between French and Romanian, that some meanings are clustered around the substrate, and some meanings are easily borrowed and will be, as a rule, loanwords. It can be shown that, across many languages, some meanings will be typical for the substrate. Other meanings are unstable, and will be replaced by loanwords or synonyms in a predictable way.
We show that Romanian and French keep the same words from their respective substrata, (Dacian, Gaulish) and borrow the same words from their neighboring languages (Slavic and Frankish). The important convergence (close to one third of each vocabulary) suggests strongly that languages have a built-in polarity – some words are not replaced, even in the case of language change; some words are easily borrowed – and are regularly, predictably replaced.


Historical Linguistics; substrate; loanwords; Celtic; Gaulish; Germanic; Frankish; Slavic loanwords; French; Romanian; Romance languages


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