It shares many features with modern Romanian, having similar morphology and syntax, as well as a large common vocabulary inherited from Latin. The most important dissimilarity between Romanian and Aromanian is the adstratum vocabulary: While Romanian has been influenced to a greater extent by the neighbouring Hungarian and Slavic languages, Aromanian has borrowed much vocabulary from the Greek language with which it has been in close contact throughout its history.
The Aromanian language has a degree of official status in the Republic of Macedonia where Aromanian is taught as an optional subject in some primary schools (in Skopje, Kruševo and Bitola) and Aromanian speakers have the right to use the language in court proceedings. Since 2006 the Aromanian language became the second official language (after standard Macedonian) in the city of Kruševo (Crushuva).
The language is similar to Romanian and its greatest difference lies in the vocabulary. There are far fewer Slavic words in Aromanian than in Romanian, and many more Greek words, a reflection of the close contact of Aromanian with Greek through much of its history.
It is generally considered that sometime between 800 and 1,200 years ago, the Vulgar Latin spoken in the Balkan provinces of the Roman Empire split into four languages: Daco-Romanian (today's Romanian language), Aromanian, Megleno-Romanian and Istro-Romanian. One possibility for the origin of Aromanian is that in the same way standard Romanian is believed to be descended from the Latin spoken by the Dacians and Roman settlers in what is now Romania, Aromanian descended from the Vulgar Latin spoken by Macedonians who had adopted the Latin language. Some linguists consider the term Proto-Romanian not valid.
Greek influences are much stronger in Aromanian than in other East Romance languages, especially because Aromanian used Greek words to coin new words (neologisms), while Romanian based most of its neologisms on Italian and French.
An aromanian dictionary currently under development can be found here (it still needs lots of work before it becomes actually usable).
Aromania language has some exceptions from the Romance languages some of them are shared in Romanian: the definite article is a clitic particle appended at the end of the word, both the definite and indefinite articles can be inflected, and nouns are classified in three genders, with neuter in addition to masculine and feminine.
Aromanian verbs are classified in four conjugations. The table below gives some examples, indicating also the conjugation of the corresponding verbs in Romanian.
(ind. pres. 1st sg.)
(ind. pres. 1st sg.)
|I|| cãntu |
| cânt |
| a cânta I |
a da I
a lucra I
| sing |
|II|| ved |
| văd |
| a vedea II |
a şedea II
a rămâne III (or a rămânea II)
| see |
|III|| duc |
| duc |
| a duce III |
a cunoaşte III
a arde III
| carry, lead |
|IV|| mor |
| mor |
| a muri IV |
a fugi IV
a îndulci IV
| die |
The future tense is formed in the same way as in archaic Romanian, using an auxiliary invariable particle "va" (derived from the verb "to will") and the subjunctive mood.
|va s-cãntu||va să cânt||I will sing|
|va s-cãntsã||va să cânţi||you (sg.) will sing|
|va s-cãntã||va să cânte||he/she will sing|
|va s-cãntãm||va să cântăm||we will sing|
|va s-cãntats||va să cântaţi||you (pl.) will sing|
|va s-cãntã||va să cânte||they will sing|
Whereas in Romanian the pluperfect tense (past perfect) is formed synthetically (as for instance in Portuguese), Aromanian uses a periphrastic construction with the auxiliary verb am (have) as the imperfect tense (aveam) and the past participle, as in French, except that French replaces avoir (have) with être (be) for some verbs. Aromanian shares this feature with Megleno-Romanian as well as other languages in the Balkan linguistic union.
Only the auxiliary verb inflects according to number and person: aveam, aveai, avea, aveamu, aveatã, avea, whereas the past participle doesn't change.
|avea mãcatã||vea mancat||mâncase||(he/she) had eaten|
|avea durnjitã||vea durmit||dormise||(he/she) had slept|
Even before the incorporation of various Aromanian-speaking territories into the Greek state (1832, 1912), the language was subordinated to Greek, traditionally the Aromanians' language of education and religion. The historical studies cited below (mostly Capidan) show that especially after the fall of Moscopole (1788) the process of Hellenisation via education and religion gained a strong impetus mostly among people doing business in the cities.
The Romanian state began opening schools for the Romanian influenced Vlachs in the 1860s, but this initiative was regarded with suspicion by the Greeks , who thought Romania was trying to assimilate them. 19th century travellers in the Balkans such as W M Leake and Henry Fanshawe Tozer noted that Vlachs in the Pindus and Macedonia were bi-lingual, reserving the Latin dialect for inside the home. A notable and perhaps not so well known (outside Greece) fact regarding the Greek Aromanian speakers is the contributions made by the community to the evolution and institutions of the Greek state during the 19th and early 20th Centuries. Athens Polytechnic- known as "Metsovion" (of Metsovo) - the Greek Vlach village in the Pindus from where its two main benefactors originated (Nikolaos Stournaras and Michail Tositsas), The Zappeion megaron, and the foundation of the Bank of Greece to name but a few were realised by the donations of notable Greek-Vlach benefactors. The fact that this occurred at a time when the majority of Vlachs resided outside the then Kingdom of Greece served to seriously undermine any Romanian claims that they constituted a persecuted minority group. The balkans are a well known test bed for theories that assert language is a poor determinant of national consciousness. (see Bosnia, Albania etc.)
Romanian interference in the first half of the 20th century eventually led to antagonism between Aromanians with a Hellenic national consciousness (pejoratively known in Romania as grecomans) who rejected what they perceived as Romanian propaganda, and those who espoused a Latin identity as promoted in the Romanian schools. According to the Romanian nationalist point of view the "grecomans" and the Greek militia (known as "andarti") "terrorized" the Pindus region between 1903–1912 leading to a diplomatic crisis with Romania in 1911 (see Adina Berciu, Maria Petre: 2004). The Greek point of view maintains that the newly incorporated Romanian state was seeking to divert attention from more serious territorial disputes with Russia and Bulgaria by using Greek Vlachs as leverage. It is noteworthy that Romanian nationalists touring the Greek Vlach villages were invariably struck by the locals' lack of interest in the Romanian cause.
By 1948, the new Soviet-imposed communist regime of Romania had closed all Romanian-run schools outside Romania and since the closure, there has been no formal education in Aromanian and speakers have been encouraged to learn and use the Greek language. This has been a process encouraged by the community itself and is not an explicit State policy. The decline and isolation of the Romanian orientated groups was not helped by the fact that they openly collaborated with the Axis powers of Italy and Germany during the occupation of Greece in WWII. Notably the vast majority of Vlachs fought in the Greek resistance and a number of their villages were destroyed by the Germans.
The issue of Aromanian-language education is a sensitive one, partly because of the resurgence in Romanian interest on the subject. Romanian nationalism maintains that Greek propaganda is still very strong in the area, inferring that Greeks define Aromanians as a sort of "Latinized Greeks". The fact remains that it is the majority of Greek Vlachs themselves that oppose the Romanian propaganda (those that espouse it having emigrated in the early 20thC), as they have done for the past 200 years. The Greek Vlachs oppose the introduction of the language into the education system as EU and leading Greek political figures have suggested, viewing it as an artificial distinction between them and other Greeks. For example, the former education minister, George Papandreou, received a negative response from Aromanian mayors and associations to his proposal for a trial Aromanian language education programme. The Panhellenic Federation of Cultural Associations of Vlachs (Πανελλήνια Ομοσπονδία Πολιτιστικών Συλλόγων Βλάχων) expressed strong opposition to EU's recommendation in 1997 that the tuition of Aromanian be supported so as to avoid its extinction. On a visit to Metsovo, Epirus in 1998, Greek President Costis Stephanopoulos called on Vlachs to speak and teach their language, but its decline continues.
A recent example of the sensitivity of the issue was the 2001 conviction (later overturned in the Appeals Court) to 15 months in jail of Sotiris Bletsas , a Greek Aromanian who was found guilty of "dissemination of false information" after he distributed informative material on minority languages in Europe (which included information on minority languages of Greece), produced by the European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages and financed by the European Commission. His conviction met with broad condemnation in Greece and it emerged that his case was zealously pursued by Aromanian leaders who viewed themselves as patriotic Greeks and felt affronted by the suggestion that they belonged to a "minority". Bletsas was eventually acquitted
The following text is given for comparison in Aromanian and in Romanian, with an English translation. The spelling of Aromanian is that decided at the Bitola Symposium of August 1997. The word choice in the Romanian version was such that it matches the Aromanian text, although in modern Romanian other words might have been more appropriate. The English translation is only provided as a guide to the meaning, with an attempt to keep the word order as close to the original as possible.
|Vocala easti un son dit zburãrea-a omlui, faptu cu tritsearea sonorã, libirã sh-fãrã cheadicã, a vimtului prit canalu sonor (adrat di coardili vocali shi ntreaga gurã) icã un semnu grafic cari aspuni un ahtari son.||Vocala este un sunet din vorbirea omului, făcut cu trecerea sonoră, liberă şi fără piedică, a vîntului prin canalul sonor (compus din coardele vocale şi întreaga gură) sau un semn grafic care reprezintă un atare sunet.||The vowel is a sound in human speech, made by the sonorous, free and unhindered passing of the air through the sound channel (composed of the vocal cords and the whole mouth) or a graphic symbol corresponding to that sound.|
|Ashi bunãoarã, avem shasili vocali tsi s-fac cu vimtul tsi treatsi prit gurã, iu limba poati si s-aflã tu un loc icã altu shi budzãli pot si sta dishcljisi unã soe icã altã.||Aşa bunăoară, avem şase vocale ce se fac cu vîntul ce trece prin gură, unde limba poate să se afle într-un loc sau altul şi buzele pot să stea deschise un soi sau altul.||This way, we have six vowels that are produced by the air passing through the mouth, where the tongue can be in one place or another and the lips can be opened in one way or another.|
|Vocalili pot s-hibã pronuntsati singuri icã deadun cu semivocali i consoani.||Vocalele pot să fie pronunţate singure sau deodată cu semivocale sau consoane.||The vowels can be pronounced alone or together with semivowels or consonants.|
|Aromanian (person)||(m.) Armãn, (f.) Armãnã|
|Aromanian (language)||Limba armãneascã, Armãneashce|
|What's your name?||Cum ti chljamã?|
|How are you?||Cum hits? (formal) Cum eshci? (informal)|
|What are you doing?||Tsi fats? Tsi adari? (popular)|
|Goodbye!||S-nã videm cu ghine!|
|Please.||Vã-plãcãrsescu. (formal) Ti-plãcãrsescu (informal)|
|I don't understand.||Nu achicãsescu.|
|Where's the bathroom?||Iu easte toaletlu?|
|Do you speak English?||Zburats anglicheashce?|
|I am a student.||Mine escu studentu.|