African Romance

African Romance

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African Romance

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African Romance or African Latin is an extinct Romance language that was once spoken in the Africa Province during the Roman Empire. Little is known about this language that may have been spoken until the 17th century, possibly due to the weak presence of Latin in the region. It is believed that African Romance evolved from Latin as it was spoken in North Africa and it was subsequently supplanted by Arabic after the Muslim conquest.


After the Vandal conquest of the Roman Africa province, African Romance started a process of slow disappearance that was to last until the Spanish initiative to reconquer and convert to Christianity the populace of the coast of what is now Algeria and Tunisia. The most important testimony of the existence of the African Romance comes from the 12th century Arab geographer Muhammad al-Idrisi, who wrote that the people of Gafsa (in south Tunisia) used a language that he called al-latini al-afriqi ("the Latin of Africa"). The Normans when conquering their Tunisian kingdom in the 13th century received help from the remaining Christian populations of Tunisia, and some historians like Vermondo Brugnatelli argue that those Christians still spoke African Romance.

Related languages

Other Romance languages spoken in North Africa before the European colonization were the Mediterranean Lingua Franca, a pidgin with Arabic and Romance influences, and Ladino, a dialect of Spanish brought by Sephardic Jews.

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