Stateless Latin Speakers of the Italic Roman Empire Post-Dissolution

In previous posts, the proto-germanic word "walhaz" has been touched on to varying degrees, that marker of "strangers, foreigners" that came to note Latin speakers. Again, chiefly the Welsh, Walloons, Welsch, Wallachs/Vlachs, found in Britain, the Netherlands/Belgium, Switzerland/Austria, and Romania and Greece/Macedonia/Albania. At one point, the language all these groups were speaking was the same, merely spoken Latin, also known as Common Latin, or Vulgar Latin, as opposed to Written Latin, or Classical Latin. The lingua franca of the Empire.

After the administration of the Roman Empire from the Italian Peninsula dissolved, many of these groups absorbed the neighboring native populations to varying degrees, the locals adopting the language as well and in some cases, vice versa. This is the case with the Welsh and Romanians, and the reason 60% of the Albanian language is based in Latin.

Stateless Latin-speaking communities left in the wake of the dissolution of the Italic Roman Empire 

It's been over 1500 years since 476 CE, the year accepted by most historians to be the end of the original Roman Empire. The "Byzantine/Eastern" Hellenic Roman Empire left most of this territory alone, and the inhabitants to fend for themselves. Greek was also favored in the continuation of the Roman Empire from Greece, as opposed to Latin. In that span of time, a lot has changed. Many of these groups, no matter what they called themselves at one point, are now known by the Germanic linguistic identifier given to them by the locals. They mark the boundary of the original Roman Empire, and share their own distinct identity and history with and in contrast to their neighboring populations. 

The Vlachs and Wallachs came to be dismissed as simple shepherds in the nationalist propaganda of many of the countries they existed in or were surrounded by. The verb "Welch" in the English language now means "to refuse or avoid payment of money laid as a bet, to go back on your word" from a disparaging meaning of the word Welsh, for the constituents of Wales. While William Wallace of Scottish fame has shadowy familial origins, his surname comes from the word in use at the time for "Welsh". Interestingly, not so long ago, at least in the British Isles, a word derived from this same word for Welsh, meant "slave". This is not so different from the meaning of the word "schiavo" in Italian, for a Slavic speaker, from Latin "Sclavus". In turn, the Polish word for an Italian to this day is "Wloch". Interestingly, the proto-germanic word "Walaz" meaning "dead, corpse" is seemingly etymologically related to the aforementioned proto-germanic "Walhaz", "stranger, foreigner, Latin speaker".  

All these minority groups have faced tremendous hardship, and remain stateless with the exception of the Welsh and the Wallachians, both of whom have done an awful lot of intermixing linguistically and genetically with their neighboring populations. It is likely the rest will disappear as the languages lose speakers over the next few hundred years. Which is why it's worth remembering that genetics are not linguistics, and whatever the case, all these groups have a lot more in common with each other, and with their neighbors, than not.

Published 7/28/23