During the Empire's decline, and after its fragmentation and collapse in the fifth century, varieties of Latin began to diverge within each local area at an accelerated rate and eventually evolved into a continuum of recognizably different typologies, the colonial empires established by Portugal, Spain, and France from the fifteenth century onward spread their languages to the other continents to such an extent that about two-thirds of all Romance language speakers today live outside Europe. substratum from pre-Roman languages, especially Continental Celtic languages; and superstratum from later Germanic or Slavic invasions), the phonology, morphology, and lexicon of all Romance languages consist mainly of evolved forms of Vulgar Latin.However, some notable differences occur between today's Romance languages and their Roman ancestor, with only one or two exceptions, Romance languages have lost the declension system of Latin and, as a result, have SVO sentence structure and make extensive use of prepositions.
Between 350 BC and 150 AD, the expansion of the Empire, together with its administrative and educational policies, made Latin the dominant native language in continental Western Europe.
Latin also exerted a strong influence in southeastern Britain, the Roman province of Africa, western Germany, Pannonia and the Balkans north of the Jireček Line.
Today, around 800 million people are native speakers worldwide, mainly in Europe, Africa and the Americas, but also elsewhere.
Additionally, the major Romance languages have many non-native speakers and are in widespread use as lingua francas, this is especially the case for French, which is in widespread use throughout Central and West Africa, Madagascar, Mauritius and the Maghreb.
The five most widely spoken Romance languages by number of native speakers are Spanish (470 million), Portuguese (250 million), French (150 million), Italian (60 million), and Romanian (25 million).
Romance languages are the continuation of Vulgar Latin, the popular and colloquial sociolect of Latin spoken by soldiers, settlers, and merchants of the Roman Empire, as distinguished from the classical form of the language spoken by the Roman upper classes, the form in which the language was generally written.
Likewise, Portuguese also has the word cear, a cognate of Italian cenare and Spanish cenar, but uses it in the sense of "to have a late supper" in most varieties, while the preferred word for "to dine" is jantar (related to archaic Spanish yantar "to eat") because of semantic changes in the 19th century.
Galician has both fiestra (from medieval fẽestra, the ancestor of standard Portuguese fresta) and the less frequently used ventá and xanela.
the synthetic future gave way to an originally analytic strategy now typically formed by infinitive evolved present indicative forms of 'have'); the use of articles; and the initial stages of the palatalization of the plosives /k/, /g/, and /t/.
To some scholars, this suggests the form of Vulgar Latin that evolved into the Romance languages was around during the time of the Roman Empire (from the end of the first century BC), and was spoken alongside the written Classical Latin which was reserved for official and formal occasions.
For example, the Portuguese word fresta is descended from Latin fenestra "window" (and is thus cognate to French fenêtre, Italian finestra, Romanian fereastră and so on), but now means "skylight" and "slit".