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Romanian

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Romanian Language


The Romanian language has a unique history as an Eastern Romance language. Its geographical isolation from areas where other Romance languages developed, along with its contact with Slavic languages, led to the development of distinct characteristics that make the modern-day Romanian language of especial interest to linguists and historians alike.

In more recent history, the Romanian language also has been a source of conflict and debate in the present-day Republic of Moldova. Despite the fact that most linguists agree that the Romanian and Moldovan languages are essentially the same, the Moldovan people continue to assert a unique Moldovan linguistic identity, claiming their language to be distinct from Romanian.

Early History and Classification of the Romanian Language

The Romanian language is classified as a Romance language and is derived primarily from Latin, specifically from the Latin language once spoken in Dacia, a province of ancient Rome. The ancient Dacians spoke the Indo-European language of Dacian, about which little is known. Romanian proper, also known as Daco-Romanian, derives its name from this history.

The Dacians were conquered by the Romans around 106 AD and the Romans subsequently colonized the area, bringing with them the Vulgar Latin language. Thanks to an intense agenda of Romanization, Latin soon became the primary language of business and government administration throughout the Dacian province.

It is believed that the ancient Dacian largely influenced the Latin language instituted by the Romans, resulting in the unique Dacian dialect that would develop into the Daco-Romanian language.

From Proto-Romanian to Diverse Dialects

Map of Romania

Although the Roman Empire was forced to withdraw from Dacia in the 3rd century, a Latin language influence prevailed throughout Dacia. It is believed that Romanian was unified as a single Proto-Romanian language until the 7th to 10th centuries, at which time the area of Dacia came under Byzantine influence.

Dacian contact with the Byzantine Empire led to an increased diversity in the language, and various dialects developed. Influences from other languages, including Greek, Hungarian, and Slavic tongues, became more common.

Early Written Romanian Language

The earliest known sample of text in Daco-Romanian, the standard dialect of the Romanian language, dates from 1521. The earliest examples of written Aromanian, an alternate dialect, date to 1731. Literary Romanian was based on the Daco-Romanian dialect spoken in southern Romania.

Romanian: A Unique Romance Language

Although it is classified as a romance language, Romanian has developed a very distinct phonology and grammar system different from other Romance languages. Historians believe that this is due to Romania’s relative isolation from areas where the other Romance languages developed, and because of Romanian contact with Slavic-speaking peoples.

For example, while most Romance languages have lost the Latin language differentiation between a long “o” and short “u”, fusing the two together, Romanian has retained this distinction. Another distinct feature Romanian has as a Romance language is the fact that it tends to replace consonants such as “k” and “g” with the labial consonants “b,” “m” or “p.”

Slavic Influences on the Romanian Language

The unique Slavic language influence noticeable in the Romanian language is believed to stem from the migration of Slavic tribes into the former area of Dacia, which was comprised of present-day Romania and Moldova.

The introduction of Slavic languages into Dacia is still apparent in contemporary Romanian vocabulary. While most of the Romanian language’s vocabulary is based on Latin, as is the case with other Romance languages, it has acquired a significant number of loanwords from Slavic languages. Turkish, Hungarian, and Albanian loanwords are also common.

Contemporary Romanian Language and Dialects

Flag of Romania

Today the Romanian language is spoken primarily in the eastern European countries of Romania and Moldova, where it holds official language status. An estimated 22 million people in Romania claim Daco-Romanian as their native language. There are an estimated 24 to 28 million Romanian speakers throughout the world, when including all four dialects of the Romanian language.

There are four primary dialects in the Romanian language: Daco-Romanian, Aromanian, Megleno-Romanian, and Istro-Romanian. Aromanian, also known as Macedo-Romanian, is spoken in communities throughout Bulgaria, Kosovo, Serbia, Albania, and Greece. Both nearly extinct dialects, Megleno-Romanian is spoken in areas of northern Greece, while Istro-Romanian is spoken exclusively on Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula.

Spoken throughout Romania and Moldova, Daco-Romanian, also known as Romanian proper, is the primary dialect that serves as the basis for the standard Romanian language.

These four primary dialects are not easily mutually intelligible; an Aromanian speaker would have difficulty understanding an Istro-Romanian speaker, for example. The dialects are so different, in fact, that some linguists classify Megleno-Romanian, Istro-Romanian, and Aromanian as distinct languages totally separate from the standard Daco-Romanian.

Romanian Language in Moldova

The question of whether “Moldovan” is a distinct language from Romanian has long been a contentious and politically-charged issue in Moldova. Because of this, both the names “Moldovan” and “Romanian” are used to refer to the language in Moldova.

The Law on State Language, enacted in 1989 when Moldova was still the Moldavian Socialist Soviet Republic, refers to a distinct “Moldo-Romanian” linguistic identity. The state language of Moldova is officially termed “Moldovan” by the country’s constitution, while it is referred to as “Romanian” in Moldova’s 1991 declaration of independence from the USSR.

The vast majority of linguists are in agreement that Moldovan is technically a form of Daco-Romanian, as the two languages are essentially identical. Many leading figures within Moldova, including former Minister of Justice Ion Morei and President Vladimir Voronin, have also acknowledged the Romanian and Moldovan languages to be identical. Moldovan people as a whole, however, continue to assert their right to a distinct Moldovan identity, shying away from being classified as Romanian language speakers.

Romanian Translation and Interpreting

ALS provides services in Romanian translation and interpretation in all media. To obtain a free quote for an upcoming Romanian project, please click here.

A

Afar

Afrikaans

Akan

Albanian

Amharic

Arabic

Aramaic

Armenian

Ashanti

Aymará

Azerbaijani

B

Bafut

Bahasa

Bambara

Basque

Bassa

Belarussian

Bemba

Bengali

Bislama

Blackfoot

Bosnian

Breton

Bulgarian

Burmese

C

Cajun

Cambodian

Cantonese

Catalan

Cebuano

Chamoro

Chichewa

Chinese

Chinook

Creole

Croatian

Crow

Czech

D

Danish

Dari

Dhivehi

Dutch

Dzongkha

E

Edo

English

English (American)

English (Australian)

English (British)

Estonian

Ewe

F

Faroese

Farsi

Fijian

Fijian Hindi

Filipino

Finnish

Flemish

French

French (Canada)

French (France)

Frisian

Fulani

Fuuta Jalon

G

Ga

Gaelic

Galician

Georgian

German

Gikuyu

Greek

Greenlandic

Guaraní

Gujarati

H

Hausa

Hawaiian

Hebrew

Hindi

Hmong

Hungarian

I

Ibo

Icelandic

Ilocano

Ilonggo

Indonesian

Italian

J

Japanese

Jola

K

Kannada

Karen

Kazakh

Khalkha Mongol

Khmer

Kinyarwanda

Kirghiz

Kirundi

Kissi

Kiswahili

Koniagui

Kono

Korean

Kurdish

Kwanyama

Kyrgyz

L

Laotian

Latin

Latvian

Liberian

Lingala

Lithuanian

Luxemburgian

M

Macedonian

Malagasy

Malay

Malayalam

Malinke

Maltese

Mandarin

Mandingo

Mandinka

Maori

Marathi

Marshallese

Mirandese

Moldovan

Mongolian

N

Nauruan

Navajo

Ndebele

Nepali

Niuean

Norwegian

Nzema

O

Oriya

Oromo

Ossetian

Otetela

P

Palauan

Papiamento

Pashtu

Polish

Polynesian

Portuguese

Provencal

Punjabi

Pushtu

Q

Quechua

R

Romanian

Russian

S

Samoan

Sanskrit

Scots

Serbian

Sesotho

Sign Language

Sign Language - American

Sindhi

Sinhala

Sinhalese

Sioux

Slovak

Slovenian

Somali

Soninke

Spanish

Spanish (Latin America)

Spanish (Spain)

Sranan

Swahili

Swati

Swedish

T

Tagalog

Taiwanese

Tajik

Tamil

Telugu

Tetum

Thai

Tibetan

Tigrigna

Tokelauan

Tongan

Turkish

Turkman

Tuvaluan

Twi

Tzotzil

U

Ukrainian

Urdu

Uzbek

V

Valencian

Vietnamese

Vlaams

W

Wallisian

Welsh

Wolof

X

Xhosa

Y

Yanomami

Yiddish

Yoruba

Z

Zarma

Zulu


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Romanian Quick Facts

Alternate Names & Spellings: Rumanian, Moldavian, Daco-Rumanian

Language Family: Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Eastern

Official Language of: Moldova, Romania

Spoken by Approximately 23,498,000 people

Also Spoken In: United States

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