Rome, roman, romance

All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?

It’s a very good question, but for now, let us look just at the word “Roman”.

In English, “roman” refers to a type “of a plain upright kind used in ordinary print” (OED). Rome may be in Italy but the antonym of this kind of “roman” is italic. The antonym of “roman” as in roman numerals is, of course, arabic. (I have no idea whether and how it is possible to combine these adjectives. Can one describe the upright arabic numerals as “roman arabic”?) In many European countries, Roman (or Роман) is a rather common given name.
The Latin word for “Roman” was Romanus. Its descendant, român, gave the name to Romanians and Romania. In many languages, the noun roman means “novel”. What is the Roman connection? It seems that modern roman got the name from Romance novel, the literary genre descended from medieval romance. According to Wiktionary, French roman is derived

From Old French romanz [“common language (as opposed to Latin)”], from Vulgar Latin romanice [“in the way of the Romans (as opposed to the Franks)”]. The meaning “common language” changed into “book in common language” and then into “adventure novel”.

Wikipedia adds:

In later romances, particularly those of French origin, there is a marked tendency to emphasize themes of courtly love, such as faithfulness in adversity.

In French, the adjective roman refers both to Romanesque style (art roman) and Romance, as in Romance languages (langues romanes), the language family that includes French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Romanian, as well as Romansh and Romagnol. (It has nothing to do with Romani language spoken by Roma.) The Russian word роман also stands for love affair, i.e. romance. In music, romance is a type of ballad originally sung in a Romance language. The Spanish phrase hablar en romance means “to speak clearly”, as opposed to hablar en griego, “to talk double Dutch” (literally, “to speak Greek”).

city citizen adjective art style language genre affair fiction
English Rome Roman Roman Romanesque Romance romance romance novel
French Rome Romain romain roman roman romance romance roman
German Rom Römer römische Romanik romanische Romanze Romanze Roman
Italian Roma Romano romano romanico romanzo romanza romanzo romanzo
Portuguese Roma romano romano românico românico romance romance romance
Russian Рим римлянин римский романский романский романс роман роман
Spanish Roma romano romano románico romance romanza romance novela

Wordle: Roman


terminology vs nomenclature

According to The Concise Oxford Dictionary,

nomenclature n. 1 a person’s or community’s system of names for things. 2 the terminology of a science etc. 3 systematic naming. 4 a catalogue or register.

terminology n. (pl. -ies) 1 the system of terms used in a particular subject. 2 the science of the proper use of terms.

I must say that these definitions do not add much clarity. Do you see any difference between “system of names for things” and “system of terms”? Moreover, the nomenclature (2) appears to be equated with the terminology. As for terminology (2), it is akin to terminology as defined by Wikipedia: “the study of terms and their use”, although I have my doubts whether there is such thing as “the science of the proper use of terms”. As was mentioned before, “logy” does not always mean “a subject of study or interest”. And what is “proper”?

On the other hand, Merriam-Webster defines terminology as

1 the technical or special terms used in a business, art, science, or special subject
2 nomenclature as a field of study

No, this does not help at all. Let us agree on the following: terminology is not nomenclature, and nomenclature is not terminology. I suggest these working definitions:

    terminology: a set of terms used in a particular field.
    nomenclature: a system of generating new terms for a particular field.

Completely different things. Terminology is a subset of vocabulary and, therefore, is part of the language. Nomenclature is a set of external rules. A good nomenclature system has few rules all of which should be understood and applied, preferably with reproducible results, by more than one person.

That is not to say that terminology does not depend on nomenclature or vice versa. Terms can be formed by systematic application of nomenclature rules — that’s what the nomenclature is devised for. But they also can arise by different mechanisms, just like any new words do. Often, terms are recruited from the existing lexicon and conferred new meanings. For instance, the word “residue” acquired specific meanings in fields of math, chemistry or law.

The Russian word for nomenclature, номенклатура, has an additional meaning: the bureaucratic class of Soviet Union and its descendants (as in “post-Soviet nomenklatura”).