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The Romance languages nowadays rarely Latin languages , or Neo-Latin languages are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin between the third and eighth centuries. Of those, Italian is the closest to Latin. The more than million native speakers of Romance languages are found worldwide, mainly in the Americas , Europe , and parts of Africa , as well as elsewhere. The major Romance languages also have many non-native speakers, and are in widespread use as lingua francas. Because it is difficult to assign rigid categories to phenomena such as languages which exist on a continuum, estimates of the number of modern Romance languages vary. For example, Dalby lists 23, based on the criterion of mutual intelligibility. The term Romance comes from the Vulgar Latin adverb romanice , "in Roman", derived from Romanicus : for instance, in the expression romanice loqui , "to speak in Roman" that is, the Latin vernacular , contrasted with latine loqui , "to speak in Latin" Medieval Latin , the conservative version of the language used in writing and formal contexts or as a lingua franca , and with barbarice loqui , "to speak in Barbarian " the non-Latin languages of the peoples living outside the Roman Empire. Lexical and grammatical similarities among the Romance languages, and between Latin and each of them, are apparent from the following examples having the same meaning in various Romance lects :. Centro Cadore: La sera sempre la fenestra gnante de disna. Some of the divergence comes from semantic change : where the same root words have developed different meanings.