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What is a Romance language? How is one Romance language related to others? How did they all evolve? And what can they tell us about language in general? In this comprehensive survey Rebecca Posner, a distinguished Romance specialist, examines this group of languages from a wide variety of perspectives. Her analysis combines philological expertise with insights drawn from modern theoretical linguistics, both synchronic and diachronic. She relates linguistic features to historical and sociological factors, and teases out those elements which can be attributed to divergence from a common source and those which indicate convergence towards a common aim. Her discussion is extensively illustrated with new and original data, and an up-to-date and comprehensive bibliography is included. This volume will be an invaluable and authoritative guide for students and specialists alike.