Romanian or Daco-Romanian (dated: Rumanian or Roumanian; self designation: limba română, ) is a Romance language spoken by around 24 to 28 million people, primarily in Romania and Moldova. It has official status in Romania, Moldova and the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina in Serbia. The official form of the Moldovan language in the Republic of Moldova is identical to that of Romanian; a minor difference in spelling was abolished in 2000. Romanian is also an official or administrative language in various communities and organisations (such as the Latin Union and the European Union).
The Dacians, an Indo-European people, were the ancient inhabitants of Romanian territory. They were defeated by the Romans in 106, and part of Dacia (Oltenia, Banat and Transylvania) became a Roman province. This province, which was rich in ores, especially silver and gold, was colonized by the Romans, who brought with them Vulgar Latin as the language of administration and commerce, and who started a period of intense romanization, which gave birth to proto-Romanian language. But in the 3rd century AD, under the pressure of Free Dacians and from invasions of migratory populations such as Goths, the Roman Empire was forced to withdraw from Dacia, in 271 AD, leaving it to the Goths. It is matter of debate whether modern-day Romanians are descendants of the people that abandoned the area and settled south of the Danube or of the people that remained in Dacia. (See also Origin of the Romanians.)
Owing to its people's geographical isolation, Romanian was probably among the first of the Romance languages to split from Latin. It received little influence from other Romance languages until the modern period (until the middle of the 18th century), and is therefore one of the most uniform languages in Europe. It is the most important of the remaining Eastern Romance languages and is more conservative than other Romance languages in nominal morphology. Romanian has preserved declension, but whereas Latin had seven cases, Romanian has five: the nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, and the vocative, and still holds the neuter gender. However, the verb morphology of Romanian has shown the same move towards a compound perfect and future tense as the other Romance languages.
All the dialects of Romanian are believed to have been unified in a Proto-Romanian language up to sometime between the 7th and 10th centuries, when the area came under the influence of the Byzantine Empire. It was then that Romanian became influenced by the Slavic languages and to some degree the Greek. For example, Aromanian, one of the closest relatives of Romanian, has very few Slavic words. Also, the variations in the Daco-Romanian dialect (spoken throughout Romania and Moldova) are very small. The use of this uniform Daco-Romanian dialect extends well beyond the borders of the Romanian state: a Romanian-speaker from Moldova speaks the same language as a Romanian-speaker from the Serbian Banat. Romanian was influenced by Slavic (due to migration/assimilation, and feudal/ecclesiastical relations), Greek (Byzantine, then Phanariote), Turkish, and Hungarian, while the other Romance languages adopted words and features of Germanic.
|Country||Speakers (%)||Speakers (native)||Population (2005)|
|Timočka Krajina (Serbia) 4||8.2%||58,221||712,050|
|United States 6||0.11%||340,000||281,421,906|
1 Many are Moldovans who were deported|
² Data only for the districts on the right bank of Dniester (without Transnistria and the city of Tighina)
In Moldova, it is called "Moldovan language"
³ In Transnistria, it is officially called "Moldovan language" and is written in Cyrillic alphabet
4 Officially divided into Vlachs and Romanians
5 Most in Northern Bukovina and Southern Bessarabia; according to a Moldova Noastră study (based on the latest Ukrainian census).
6 See Romanian-American
Romanian is spoken mostly in Southeastern Europe, although speakers of the language can be found all over the world, mostly due to emigration of Romanian nationals and the return of immigrants from Romania to their original countries. Romanian speakers account for 0,5% of the world's population, and 4% of the Romance-speaking population of the world.
Romanian is the single official and national language in Romania and Moldova, although it shares the official status at regional level with other languages in the Moldovan autonomies of Gagauzia and Transnistria. Romanian is also an official language of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina in Serbia along with five other languages. Romanian minorities are encountered in Serbia (Timok Valley), Ukraine (Chernivtsi and Odessa oblasts), Hungary (Gyula) and Bulgaria (Vidin). Large immigrant communities are found in Italy, Spain, France, and Portugal.
The largest Romanian-speaking community in Asia is found in Israel, where as of 1995 Romanian is spoken by 5% of the population. Romanian is also spoken as a second language by people from Arabic-speaking countries who have studied in Romania. It is estimated that almost half a million Middle Eastern Arabs studied in Romania during the 1980s. Small Romanian-speaking communities are to be found in Kazakhstan and Russia. Romanian is also spoken within communities of Romanian and Moldovan immigrants in the United States, Canada and Australia, although they don't make up a large homogeneous community state-wide.
The Romanian Language Institute (Institutul Limbii Române), established by the Ministry of Education of Romania, promotes Romanian and supports people willing to study the language, working together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Department for Romanians Abroad.
In the 2004 census, out of the 3,383,332 people living in Moldova, 16.5% (558,508) stated Romanian as their mother tongue, whereas 60% stated Moldovan. While 40% of all urban Romanian/Moldovan speakers chose Romanian as their mother tongue, in the countryside under 12% of Romanian/Moldovan speakers indicated Romanian as their mother tongue. However, the group of experts from the international census observation Mission to the Republic of Moldova concluded that the items in the questionnaire dealing with nationality and language proved to be the most sensitive ones, particularly with reference to the recording of responses to these questions as being "Moldovan" or "Romanian", and therefore it concluded that special care would need to be taken in using them.
The Constitution of the Republic of Serbia determines that in the regions of the Republic of Serbia inhabited by national minorities, their own languages and scripts shall be officially used as well, in the manner established by law.
The Statute of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina determines that, together with the Serbo-Croat language and the Cyrillic script, and the Latin script as stipulated by the law, the Hungarian, Slovak, Romanian and Rusyn languages and their scripts, as well as languages and scripts of other nationalities, shall simultaneously be officially used in the work of the bodies of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, in the manner established by the law. The bodies of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina are: the Assembly, the Executive Council and the Provincial administrative bodies.
The Romanian language and script are officially used in 8 municipalities: Alibunar, Biserica Albă, Zitişte, Zrenianin, Kovăciţa, Cuvin, Plandişte and Secanj. In the municipality of Vârşeţ, Romanian is official only in the villages of Voivodinţ, Marcovăţ, Straja, Jamu Mic, Srediştea Mică, Mesici, Jablanka, Sălciţa, Râtişor, Oreşaţ and Coştei.
In the 2002 Census, the last carried out in Serbia, 1,5% Vojvodinians chose Romanian as their mother tongue.
In parts of Ukraine where Romanians constitute a significant share of the local population (districts in Chernivtsi, Odessa and Zakarpattia oblasts) Romanian is being taught in schools as a primary language and there are newspapers, TV, and radio broadcasting in Romanian. The University of Chernivtsi trains teachers for Romanian schools in the fields of Romanian philology, mathematics and physics.
Romanian is an official or administrative language in various communities and organisations, such as the Latin Union and the European Union. Romanian is also one of the five languages in which religious services are performed in the autonomous monastic state of Mount Athos, spoken in the monk communities of Prodromos and Lacu.
Romanian is taught in some areas that have Romanian minority communities, such as Vojvodina in Serbia, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Hungary. The Romanian Cultural Institute (ICR) has since 1992 organised summer training courses in Romanian for language teachers in these countries. In some of the schools, there are non-Romanian nationals who study Romanian as a foreign language (for example the Nicolae Bălcescu High-school in Gyula, Hungary).
Romanian is taught as a foreign language in various tertiary institutions, mostly in neighboring European countries such as Germany, France and Italy, as well as the Netherlands, and elsewhere, like the USA. Overall, it is taught as a foreign language in 38 countries around the world.
On the other hand, some artists wrote songs dedicated to the Romanian language. The multi-platinum pop trio O-Zone (original from Moldova) released a song called "Nu mă las de limba noastră" (lit. 'I won't let go of our language'). The final verse of this song, Eu nu mă las de limba noastră, de limba noastră cea română is translated in English as I won't let go of our language, our Romanian language. Also, the Moldovan musicians Doina and Ion Aldea Teodorovici performed a song entitled "The Romanian language".
The term "Romanian" in a general sense envelops four hardly mutually intelligible speech varieties commonly regarded as independent languages. It is thought that the Romanian language appeared north and south of the Danube. All the four dialects are offsprings of the Romance language spoken both in the northern and southern Danube, before the settlement of the Slavonian tribes south of the river - Daco-Romanian in the North, and the other three dialects in the south.
However, this article deals primarily with Daco-Romanian, and thus the regional variations of that will be discussed here instead. The differences between these varieties are usually very small, usually consisting in a few dozen regional words and some phonetic changes.
Like all other languages, Romanian can be regarded as a dialect continuum. Romanian cannot be neatly divided into separate dialects and Romanians themselves speak of the differences as accents or "speeches" (in Romanian: "accent" or "grai"). This correctly conveys the linguistics notion of accent, as language variants that only feature slight pronunciation differences (Romanian accents are fully mutually intelligible). Several accents are usually distinguished:
is realised as /k/; written
Over the last century, however, regional accents have been weakened due to mass communications and greater mobility.
However, the languages closest to Romanian are the other Eastern Romance languages, spoken south of Danube: Aromanian/Macedo-Romanian, Megleno-Romanian and Istro-Romanian, which are sometimes classified as dialects of Romanian. An alternative name for Romanian used by linguists to disambiguate with the other Eastern Romance languages is "Daco-Romanian", referring to the area where it is spoken (which corresponds roughly to the onetime Roman province of Dacia).
Compared with the major Romance languages, Romanian is closest to Italian, and the two show limited degree of asymmetrical mutual intelligibility, especially in their cultivated forms: speakers of Romanian seem to understand Italian more easily than the other way around. Even though Romanian has obvious grammatical and lexical similarities with French, Catalan, Spanish or Portuguese, it is not mutually intelligible with them to a practical extent; Romanian speakers will usually need some formal study of basic grammar and vocabulary before being able to understand even the simplest sentences in those languages (and vice-versa).
In the following sample sentence (meaning "She always closes the window before having dinner.") cognates are written in bold:
A study done by Italian-American linguist Mario Pei in 1949, which analyzed the evolutionary degree of languages in comparison to their inheritance language (in the case of Romance languages to Latin comparing phonology, inflection, discourse, syntax, vocabulary, and intonation) revealed the following percentages:
In the modern times Romanian vocabulary has been strongly influenced by French and Italian, (see French, Italian and other international words). At present, the lexical similarity with Italian is estimated at 77%, followed by French at 75%, Sardinian 74%, Catalan 73%, Spanish 71%, Portuguese, and Rhaeto-Romance at 72%.
A different view is that these non-Latin words (many with Albanian cognates) are not necessarily Dacian, but rather were brought into the territory that is modern Romania by Romance-speaking shepherds migrating north from Albania, Serbia, and northern Greece who became the Romanian people. However, the Eastern Romance substratum appears to have been a satem language, while the Paleo-Balkan languages spoken in northern Greece (Ancient Macedonian) and Albania (Illyrian) were most likely centum languages. The general opinion is that Dacian was a satem language, as was Thracian.
Of great importance was the influence of Old Church Slavonic, as it was the liturgical language of the Romanian Orthodox Church (compared to western and central European countries which used Latin) from the Middle Ages, until the 18th century. However, Latin held an important position in Transylvania during the Middle Ages, a part of the western-styled feudal Kingdom of Hungary at that moment. Liturgical Romanian was first officially used there after the union of the Romanian Orthodox Church in Transylvania with Rome, giving birth to the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church in 1698 (the most numerous church in Transylvania until the World War II ). This caused Romanian to lose many of its borrowings form Slavonic as the first standardisation of it (among others the switch to the Latin alphabet) was done by Şcoala Ardeleană, founded in Transylvania.
Borrowings from Old Church Slavonic include: a izbăvi < izbaviti "to deliver", veşnicie < vĕčinŭ "forever, perpetual, undying", sfânt < svĕntŭ "holy, saint", a sluji < služiti "to serve", amvon < amŭvonŭ "pulpit", rai < raj "paradise", iad < jadŭ "hell", proroc < prorokŭ "prophet".
Most of these words have traditional or neological Latin-based synonyms that are usually preferred in the use of the modern language.
As was characteristic of the Middle Ages, the Church had a great influence on people's lives. Thus even basic words such as a iubi "to love", glas "voice", nevoie "need", and prieten "friend" are of Church Slavonic origin. Names were also influenced by the use of Slavonic in Church and in administration. However, many Slavic words are archaisms, and it is estimated that in modern Romanian 90% of the vocabulary is of Latin origin, the remainder representing Slavic, Greek, Hungarian, and Turkic borrowings as well as the Dacian substratum. Slavonic influences are also encountered in some phonetic particularities as well as in many suffixes .
In the process of lexical modernization, many of the words already existing as Latin direct heritage, as a part of its core or popular vocabulary, have been doubled by words borrowed from other Romance languages, thus forming a further and more modern and literary lexical layer. Typically, the popular word is a noun and the borrowed word an adjective. Some examples:
direct Latin heritage
|agilis (quick)||ager (astute)||agil (it.<agile, fr.<agile)|
|aqua (water)||apă (water)||acvatic (it. <acquatico, fr.<aquatique) |
|dens, dentem (tooth)||dinte (tooth)||dentist (it.<dentista, fr.<dentiste)|
|directus (straight)||drept (straight, right)||direct (it.<diretto, fr.<direct)|
|frigus (cold)||frig (cold - noun)||frigid (it.<frigido, fr.<frigide) |
In the 20th century, an increasing number of English words have been borrowed (such as: gem < jam; interviu < interview; meci < match; manager < manager; fotbal < football; sandviş < sandwich; bişniţă < business; ciungă < chewing gum). These words are assigned grammatical gender in Romanian and handled according to Romanian rules; thus "the manager" is managerul. Some of these English words are in turn Latin lexical constructions - calqued, borrowed or constructed from Latin or other Romance languages, like "management" and "interview" (from the French "entrevue").
Romanian nouns are inflected by gender (feminine, masculine and neuter), number (singular and plural) and case (nominative/accusative, dative/genitive and vocative). The articles, as well as most adjectives and pronouns, agree in gender with the noun they reference.
Romanian is the only Romance language where definite articles are enclitic: that is, attached to the end of the noun (as in North Germanic languages), instead of in front (proclitic). They were formed, as in other Romance languages, from the Latin demonstrative pronouns.
As in all Romance languages, Romanian verbs are highly inflected for person, number, tense, mood, voice. The usual word order in sentences is SVO (Subject - Verb - Object). Romanian has four verbal conjugations which further split into ten conjugation patterns. Verbs can be put in five moods that are inflected for the person (indicative, conditional/optative, imperative, subjunctive, and presumptive) and four impersonal moods (infinitive, gerund, supine, and participle).
Romanian has seven vowels: /a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, /u/, /ə/, and /ɨ/. Additionally, /ø/ and /y/ may appear in some words.
In final positions after consonants (rarely within words) a short non-syllabic /i/ can occur, which is ʲ and is produced as a palatalization of the preceding consonant. A similar sound, the voiceless ending u, existed in old Romanian but has disappeared from the standard language.
There are also four semivowels and twenty consonants.
Ascending diphthongs: ea, eo, ia, ie, io, iu, oa, ua, uă.
Pattern S-S-V (two-semivowel glide before the main vowel): eoa, ioa.
Due to its isolation from the other Romance languages, the phonetic evolution of Romanian was quite different, but does share a few changes with Italian, such as [kl] > [kj] (Lat. clarus > Rom. chiar, Ital. chiaro) and also a few with Dalmatian, such as /gn/ (probably phonetically [ŋn]) > [mn] (Lat. cognatus > Rom. cumnat, Dalm. comnut).
Among the notable phonetic changes are:
On the other hand, it (along with French) has lost the /kw/ (qu) sound from original Latin, turning it either into p (patru, "four"; cf. It. quattro) or a hard or soft c (când, "when"; calitate, "quality").
The first written record of a Romanic language spoken in the Middle Ages in the Balkans was written by the Byzantine chronicler Theophanes Confessor in the 6th century about a military expedition against the Avars from 587, when a Vlach muleteer accompanying the Byzantine army noticed that the load was falling from one of the animals and shouted to a companion Torna, torna fratre (meaning "Return, return brother!").
The oldest written text in Romanian is a letter from late June 1521, in which Neacşu of Câmpulung wrote to the mayor of Braşov about an imminent attack of the Turks. It was written using the Cyrillic alphabet, like most early Romanian writings. The earliest writing in Latin script was a late 16th century Transylvanian text which was written with the Hungarian alphabet conventions.
In the late 1700s, Transylvanian scholars noted the Latin origin of Romanian and adapted the Latin alphabet to the Romanian language, using some rules from Italian, recognized as Romanian's closest relative. The Cyrillic alphabet remained in (gradually decreasing) use until 1860, when Romanian writing was first officially regulated.
In the Soviet Republic of Moldova, a special version of the Cyrillic alphabet derived from the Russian version was used, until 1989, when it returned to the Romanian Latin alphabet.
The Romanian alphabet is as follows:
K, Q, W and Y are not part of the native alphabet, were officially introduced in the Romanian alphabet in 1982 and are mostly used to write loanwoards like kilogram, quasar, watt, and yoga.
The Romanian alphabet is based on the Latin alphabet, and has five additional letters (these are not diacriticals, but letters in their own right). Initially, there were as many as 12 additional letters, but some of them disappeared in subsequent reforms. Also, until the early 20th century, a short vowel marker was used.
Today, the Romanian alphabet is largely phonemic. However, the letters "â" (used inside the words) and "î" (used at the beginning or the end; it can also be used in the middle of a composite word) both represent the same close central unrounded vowel /ɨ/.
Another exception from a completely phonetic writing system is the fact that vowels and their respective semivowels are not distinguished in writing. In dictionaries the distinction is marked by separating the entry word into syllables for the words containing a hiatus that might be mispronounced as a diphthong or a triphthong.
Stressed vowels also are not marked in writing, except very rarely in cases where by misplacing the stress a word might change its meaning and if the meaning is not obvious from the context. For example trei copíi means "three children" while trei cópii means "three copies".
|ce, ci||/tʃ/||ch in chest, cheek||cerc (circle), cine (who)|
|che, chi||/k/||k in kettle, kiss||chem (I call), chimie (chemistry)|
|ge, gi||/dʒ/||j in jelly, jigsaw||ger (frost), gimnast (gymnast)|
|ghe, ghi||/g/||g in get, give||gheţar (glacier), ghid (guide)|
Contemporary Romanian - highlighted words are French or Italian loanwords:
Romanian, excluding French and Italian loanwords - highlighted words are Slavic loanwords:
Romanian, excluding loanwords: