Romblomanon Numerals facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsRomanian
|Native to||Romania, Moldova|
|Ethnicity||Romanians (incl. Moldovans)|
|Native speakers||24–26 million (2016)e19
Second language: 4 million
L1+L2 speakers: 28–30 million
|Writing system||Latin (Romanian alphabet)
Cyrillic (Transnistria only)
|Official language in|| Romania
|Recognised minority language in|| Hungary
Bosnia and Herzegovina
|Regulated by||Romanian Academy
Academy of Sciences of Moldova
|Linguasphere||51-AAD-c (varieties: 51-AAD-ca to -ck)|
Blue: region where Romanian is the dominant language. Green: areas with a notable minority of Romanian speakers.
Distribution of the Romanian language in Romania, Moldova and surroundings.
Romanian (dated spellings: Rumanian or Roumanian; autonym: limba română "the Romanian language", or românește, lit. "in Romanian") is a Balkan Romance language spoken by approximately 24–26 million people as a native language, primarily in Romania and Moldova, and by another 4 million people as a second language. According to another estimate, there are about 34 million people worldwide who can speak Romanian, of whom 30 million speak it as a native language. It is an official and national language of both Romania and Moldova and is one of the official languages of the European Union.
Romanian is a part of the Eastern Romance sub-branch of Romance languages, a linguistic group that evolved from several dialects of Vulgar Latin which separated from the Western Romance languages in the course of the period from the 5th to the 8th centuries. To distinguish it within the Eastern Romance languages, in comparative linguistics it is called Daco-Romanian as opposed to its closest relatives, Aromanian, Megleno-Romanian and Istro-Romanian. Romanian is also known as Moldovan in Moldova, although the Constitutional Court of Moldova ruled in 2013 that "the official language of the republic is Romanian".
Numerous immigrant Romanian speakers live scattered across many other regions and countries worldwide, with large populations in Italy, Spain, Germany, United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States of America.
- Geographic distribution
Romanian descended from the Vulgar Latin spoken in the Roman provinces of Southeastern Europe. Roman inscriptions show that Latin was primarily used to the north of the so-called Jireček Line (a hypothetical boundary between the predominantly Latin- and Greek-speaking territories of the Balkan Peninsula in the Roman Empire), but the exact territory where Proto-Romanian (or Common Romanian) developed cannot certainly be determined. Most regions where Romanian is now widely spoken—Bessarabia, Bukovina, Crișana, Maramureș, Moldova, and significant parts of Muntenia—were not incorporated in the Roman Empire. Other regions—Banat, western Muntenia, Oltenia and Transylvania—formed the Roman province of Dacia Traiana for about 170 years. According to the "continuity theory", the venue of the development of Proto-Romanian included the lands now forming Romania (to the north of the Danube), the opposite "immigrationist" theory says that Proto-Romanian was spoken in the lands to the south of the Danube and Romanian-speakers settled in most parts of modern Romania only centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire.
Most scholars agree that two major dialects developed from Common Romanian by the 10th century. Daco-Romanian (the official language of Romania and Moldova) and Istro-Romanian (a language spoken by no more than 2,000 people in Istria) descended from the northern dialect. Two other languages, Aromanian and Megleno-Romanian, developed from the southern version of Common Romanian. These two languages are now spoken in lands to the south of the Jireček Line.
The use of the denomination Romanian (română) for the language and use of the demonym Romanians (Români) for speakers of this language predates the foundation of the modern Romanian state. Romanians always used the general term "rumân/român" or regional terms like "ardeleni" (or "ungureni"), "moldoveni" or "munteni" to designate themselves. Both the name of "rumână" or "rumâniască" for the Romanian language and the self-designation "rumân/român" are attested as early as the 16th century, by various foreign travelers into the Carpathian Romance-speaking space, as well as in other historical documents written in Romanian at that time such as Cronicile Țării Moldovei (The Chronicles of the land of Moldova) by Grigore Ureche.
An attested reference to Romanian comes from a Latin title of an oath made in 1485 by the Moldavian Prince Stephen the Great to the Polish King Casimir, in which it is reported that "Haec Inscriptio ex Valachico in Latinam versa est sed Rex Ruthenica Lingua scriptam accepta"—This Inscription was translated from Valachian (Romanian) into Latin, but the King has received it written in the Ruthenian language (Slavic).
In 1534, Tranquillo Andronico notes: "Valachi nunc se Romanos vocant" (The Wallachians are now calling themselves Romans). Francesco della Valle writes in 1532 that Romanians are calling themselves Romans in their own language, and he subsequently quotes the expression: "Sti Rominest ?" for "Știi Românește?" (Do you know Romanian?).
Pierre Lescalopier writes in 1574 that those who live in Moldavia, Wallachia and the vast part of Transylvania, "consider themselves as true descendants of the Romans and call their language romanechte, which is Roman".
The Transylvanian Saxon Johann Lebel writes in 1542 that "Vlachi" call themselves "Romuini" and the Polish chronicler Stanislaw Orzechowski (Orichovius) notes in 1554 that In their language they call themselves Romini from the Romans, while we call them Wallachians from the Italians).
The Croatian prelate and diplomat Antun Vrančić recorded in 1570 that "Vlachs in Transylvania, Moldavia and Wallachia designate themselves as "Romans" and the Transylvanian Hungarian Martin Szentiványi in 1699 quotes the following: «Si noi sentem Rumeni» ("We too are Romanians") and «Noi sentem di sange Rumena» ("We are of Romanian blood"). Notably, Szentiványi used Italian-based spellings to try to write the Romanian words.
In Palia de la Orăștie (1582) stands written ".[...] că văzum cum toate limbile au și înfluresc întru cuvintele slăvite a lui Dumnezeu numai noi românii pre limbă nu avem. Pentru aceia cu mare muncă scoasem de limba jidovească si grecească si srâbească pre limba românească 5 cărți ale lui Moisi prorocul si patru cărți și le dăruim voo frați rumâni și le-au scris în cheltuială multă... și le-au dăruit voo fraților români,... și le-au scris voo fraților români" and in Letopisețul Țării Moldovei written by the Moldavian chronicler Grigore Ureche we can read: «În Țara Ardialului nu lăcuiesc numai unguri, ce și sași peste seamă de mulți și români peste tot locul...» ("In Transylvania there live not solely Hungarians or Saxons, but overwhelmingly many Romanians everywhere around.").
Nevertheless, the oldest extant document written in Romanian remains Neacșu's letter (1521) and was written using Cyrillic letters (which remained in use up until the late 19th century).
Miron Costin, in his De neamul moldovenilor (1687), while noting that Moldavians, Wallachians, and the Romanians living in the Kingdom of Hungary have the same origin, says that although people of Moldavia call themselves Moldavians, they name their language Romanian (românește) instead of Moldavian (moldovenește).
Dimitrie Cantemir, in his Descriptio Moldaviae (Berlin, 1714), points out that the inhabitants of Moldavia, Wallachia and Transylvania spoke the same language. He notes, however, some differences in accent and vocabulary. Cantemir's work provides one of the earliest histories of the language, in which he notes, like Ureche before him, the evolution from Latin and notices the Greek and Polish borrowings. Additionally, he introduces the idea that some words must have had Dacian roots. Cantemir also notes that while the idea of a Latin origin of the language was prevalent in his time, other scholars considered it to have derived from Italian.
The slow process of Romanian establishing itself as an official language, used in the public sphere, in literature and ecclesiastically, began in the late 15th century and ended in the early decades of the 18th century, by which time Romanian had begun to be regularly used by the Church. The oldest Romanian texts of a literary nature are religious manuscripts (Codicele Voroneţean, Psaltirea Scheiană), translations of essential Christian texts. These are considered either propagandistic results of confessional rivalries, for instance between Lutheranism and Calvinism, or as initiatives by Romanian monks stationed at Peri Monastery in Maramureş to distance themselves from the influence of the Mukacheve eparchy in Ukraine.
Modern history of Romanian in Bessarabia
The first Romanian grammar was published in Vienna in 1780. Following the annexation of Bessarabia by Russia (after 1812), Moldavian was established as an official language in the governmental institutions of Bessarabia, used along with Russian, The publishing works established by Archbishop Gavril Bănulescu-Bodoni were able to produce books and liturgical works in Moldavian between 1815–1820.
The linguistic situation in Bessarabia from 1812 to 1918 was the gradual development of bilingualism. Russian continued to develop as the official language of privilege, whereas Romanian remained the principal vernacular.
The period from 1905 to 1917 was one of increasing linguistic conflict, with the re-awakening of Romanian national consciousness. In 1905 and 1906, the Bessarabian zemstva asked for the re-introduction of Romanian in schools as a "compulsory language", and the "liberty to teach in the mother language (Romanian language)". At the same time, Romanian-language newspapers and journals began to appear, such as Basarabia (1906), Viața Basarabiei (1907), Moldovanul (1907), Luminătorul (1908), Cuvînt moldovenesc (1913), Glasul Basarabiei (1913). From 1913, the synod permitted that "the churches in Bessarabia use the Romanian language". Romanian finally became the official language with the Constitution of 1923.
Romanian has preserved a part of the Latin declension, but whereas Latin had six cases, from a morphological viewpoint, Romanian has only five: the nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, and marginally the vocative. Romanian nouns also preserve the neuter gender, although instead of functioning as a separate gender with its own forms in adjectives, the Romanian neuter became a mixture of masculine and feminine. The verb morphology of Romanian has shown the same move towards a compound perfect and future tense as the other Romance languages. Compared with the other Romance languages, during its evolution, Romanian simplified the original Latin tense system in extreme ways, in particular the absence of sequence of tenses.
|Countries where Romanian is an official language|
|Transnistria (Eastern Moldova) 3||33.0%||156,600||475,665|
|minority regional co-official language:|
|Other neighboring European states (except for CIS where Romanian is not official)|
|Other countries in Europe (except for CIS)|
|Rest of Europe||0.07%||75,000||114,050,000|
1 Many are Moldavian who were deported
Romanian is spoken mostly in Central and the Balkan region of Southern 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 to Romania back 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), and Hungary (Gyula). Large immigrant communities are found in Italy, Spain, France, and Portugal.
In 1995, the largest Romanian-speaking community in the Middle East was found in Israel, where Romanian was 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 do not make up a large homogeneous community statewide.
According to the Constitution of Romania of 1991, as revised in 2003, Romanian is the official language of the Republic.
Romania mandates the use of Romanian in official government publications, public education and legal contracts. Advertisements as well as other public messages must bear a translation of foreign words, while trade signs and logos shall be written predominantly in Romanian.
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.
Since 2013, the Romanian Language Day is celebrated on every 31 August.
Romanian is the official language of the Republic of Moldova. The 1991 Declaration of Independence names the official language Romanian. The Constitution of Moldova names the state language of the country Moldovan. In December 2013, a decision of the Constitutional Court of Moldova ruled that the Declaration of Independence takes precedence over the Constitution and the state language should be called Romanian.
Scholars agree that Moldovan and Romanian are the same language, with the glottonym "Moldovan" used in certain political contexts. It has been the sole official language since the adoption of the Law on State Language of the Moldavian SSR in 1989. This law mandates the use of Moldovan in all the political, economical, cultural and social spheres, as well as asserting the existence of a "linguistic Moldo-Romanian identity". It is also used in schools, mass media, education and in the colloquial speech and writing. Outside the political arena the language is most often called "Romanian". In the breakaway territory of Transnistria, it is co-official with Ukrainian and Russian.
In the 2014 census, out of the 2,804,801 people living in Moldova, 24% (652,394) stated Romanian as their most common language, whereas 56% stated Moldovan. While in the urban centers speakers are split evenly between the two names (with the capital Chișinău showing a strong preference for the name "Romanian", i.e. 3:2), in the countryside hardly a quarter of Romanian/Moldovan speakers indicated Romanian as their native language. Unofficial results of this census first showed a stronger preference for the name Romanian, however the initial reports were later dismissed by the Institute for Statistics, which led to speculations in the media regarding the forgery of the census results.
In Vojvodina, Serbia
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 Serbian language and the Cyrillic script, and the Latin script as stipulated by the law, the Croat, 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 eight municipalities: Alibunar, Bela Crkva (Romanian: Biserica Albă), Žitište (Zitiște), Zrenjanin (Zrenianin), Kovačica (Kovăcița), Kovin (Cuvin), Plandište (Plandiște) and Sečanj. In the municipality of Vršac (Vârșeț), Romanian is official only in the villages of Vojvodinci (Voivodinț), Markovac (Marcovăț), Straža (Straja), Mali Žam (Jamu Mic), Malo Središte (Srediștea Mică), Mesić (Mesici), Jablanka, Sočica (Sălcița), Ritiševo (Râtișor), Orešac (Oreșaț) and Kuštilj (Coștei).
In the 2002 Census, the last carried out in Serbia, 1.5% of Vojvodinians stated Romanian as their native language.
Regional language status in Ukraine
In parts of Ukraine where Romanians constitute a significant share of the local population (districts in Chernivtsi, Odessa and Zakarpattia oblasts) Romanian is taught in schools as a primary language and there are Romanian-language newspapers, TV, and radio broadcasting. The University of Chernivtsi in western Ukraine trains teachers for Romanian schools in the fields of Romanian philology, mathematics and physics.
In Hertsa Raion of Ukraine as well as in other villages of Chernivtsi Oblast and Zakarpattia Oblast, Romanian has been declared a "regional language" alongside Ukrainian as per the 2012 legislation on languages in Ukraine.
In other countries and organizations
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 Lakkoskiti. In the unrecognised state of Transnistria, Moldovan is one of the official languages. However, unlike all other dialects of Romanian, this variety of Moldovan is written in Cyrillic Script.
As a second and foreign language
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 courses in Romanian for language teachers. There are also non-Romanians 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 tertiary institutions, mostly in European countries such as Germany, France and Italy, and the Netherlands, as well as in the United States. Overall, it is taught as a foreign language in 43 countries around the world.
Romanian has become popular in other countries through movies and songs performed in the Romanian language. Examples of Romanian acts that had a great success in non-Romanophone countries are the bands O-Zone (with their No. 1 single Dragostea Din Tei/Numa Numa across the world in 2003–2004), Akcent (popular in the Netherlands, Poland and other European countries), Activ (successful in some Eastern European countries), DJ Project (popular as clubbing music) SunStroke Project (known by viral video "Epic sax guy") and Alexandra Stan (worldwide no.1 hit with "Mr. Saxobeat)" and Inna as well as high-rated movies like 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, 12:08 East of Bucharest or California Dreamin' (all of them with awards at the Cannes Film Festival).
Also some artists wrote songs dedicated to the Romanian language. The multi-platinum pop trio O-Zone (originally from Moldova) released a song called "Nu mă las de limba noastră" ("I won't forsake 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 forsake our language, our Romanian language". Also, the Moldovan musicians Doina and Ion Aldea Teodorovici performed a song called "The Romanian language".
However, the languages closest to Romanian are the other Balkan Romance languages, spoken south of the Danube: Aromanian, Megleno-Romanian and Istro-Romanian. An alternative name for Romanian used by linguists to disambiguate with the other Balkan 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 other Romance languages, the closest relative of Romanian is Italian. Romanian has had a greater share of foreign influence than some other Romance languages such as Italian in terms of vocabulary and other aspects. A study conducted by Mario Pei in 1949 which analyzed the degree of differentiation of languages from their parental language (in the case of Romance languages to Latin comparing phonology, inflection, discourse, syntax, vocabulary, and intonation) produced the following percentages (the higher the percentage, the greater the distance from Latin):
The lexical similarity of Romanian with Italian has been estimated at 77%, followed by French at 75%, Sardinian 74%, Catalan 73%, Portuguese and Rhaeto-Romance 72%, Spanish 71%.
The Romanian vocabulary became predominantly influenced by French and, to a lesser extent, Italian in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Balkan language area
The Dacian language was an Indo-European language spoken by the ancient Dacians, mostly north of the Danube river but also in Moesia and other regions south of the Danube. It may have been the first language to influence the Latin spoken in Dacia, but little is known about it. Dacian is usually considered to have been a northern branch of the Thracian language, and, like Thracian, Dacian was a satem language.
About 300 words found only in Romanian or with a cognate in the Albanian language may be inherited from Dacian (for example: barză "stork", balaur "dragon", mal "shore", brânză "cheese"). Some of these possibly Dacian words are related to pastoral life (for example, brânză "cheese"). Some linguists and historians have asserted that Albanians are Dacians who were not Romanized and migrated southward.
A different view is that these non-Latin words with Albanian cognates are not necessarily Dacian, but rather were brought into the territory that is modern Romania by Romance-speaking Aromanian shepherds migrating north from Albania, Serbia, and northern Greece who became the Romanian people.
While most of Romanian grammar and morphology are based on Latin, there are some features that are shared only with other languages of the Balkans and not found in other Romance languages. The shared features of Romanian and the other languages of the Balkan language area (Bulgarian, Macedonian, Albanian, Greek, and Serbo-Croatian) include a suffixed definite article, the syncretism of genitive and dative case and the formation of the future and the alternation of infinitive with subjunctive constructions. According to a well-established scholarly theory, most Balkanisms could be traced back to the development of the Balkan Romance languages; these features were adopted by other languages due to language shift.
Slavic influence on Romanian is especially noticeable in its vocabulary, with words of Slavic origin constituting about 10–15% of modern Romanian lexicon, and with further influences in its phonetics, morphology and syntax. The greater part of its Slavic vocabulary comes from Old Church Slavonic, which was the official written language of Wallachia and Moldavia from the 14th to the 18th century (although not understood by most people), as well as the liturgical language of the Romanian Orthodox Church. As a result, much Romanian vocabulary dealing with religion, ritual, and hierarchy is Slavic. The number of high-frequency Slavic-derived words is also believed to indicate contact or cohabitation with South Slavic tribes from around the 6th century, though it is disputed where this took place (see Origin of the Romanians). Words borrowed in this way tend to be more vernacular (compare sfârși, "to end", with săvârși, "to commit"). The extent of this borrowing is such that some scholars once mistakenly viewed Romanian as a Slavic language. It has also been argued that Slavic borrowing was a key factor in the development of (î and â) as a separate phoneme.
Even before the 19th century, Romanian came in contact with several other languages. Some notable examples include:
- German: cartof < Kartoffel "potato", bere < Bier "beer", șurub < Schraube "screw", turn < Turm "tower", ramă < Rahmen "frame", muștiuc < Mundstück "mouth piece", bormașină < Bohrmaschine "drilling machine", cremșnit < Kremschnitte "cream slice", șvaițer < Schweizer "Swiss cheese", șlep < Schleppkahn "barge", șpriț < Spritzer "wine with soda water", abțibild < Abziehbild "decal picture", șnițel < (Wiener) Schnitzel "a battered cutlet", șmecher < Schmecker "taster (not interested in buying)",șuncă < dialectal Schunke (Schinken) "ham", punct < Punkt "point", maistru < Meister "master", rundă < Runde "round".
Furthermore, during the Habsburg and, later on, Austrian rule of Banat, Transylvania, and Bukovina, a large number of words were borrowed from Austrian High German, in particular in fields such as the military, administration, social welfare, economy, etc. Subsequently, German terms have been taken out of science and technics, like: șină < Schiene "rail", știft < Stift "peg", liță < Litze "braid", șindrilă < Schindel "shingle", ștanță < Stanze "punch", șaibă < Scheibe "washer", ștangă < Stange "crossbar", țiglă < Ziegel "tile", șmirghel < Schmirgelpapier "emery paper";
- Greek: folos < ófelos "use", buzunar < buzunára "pocket", proaspăt < prósfatos "fresh", cutie < cution "box", portocale < portokalia "oranges". While Latin borrowed words of Greek origin, Romanian obtained Greek loanwords on its own. Greek entered Romanian through the apoikiai (colonies) and emporia (trade stations) founded in and around Dobruja, through the presence of Byzantine Empire in north of the Danube, through Bulgarian during Bulgarian Empires that converted Romanians to Orthodox Christianity, and after the Greek Civil War, when thousands of Greeks fled Greece.
- Hungarian: a cheltui < költeni "to spend", a făgădui < fogadni "to promise", a mântui < menteni "to save", oraș < város "city";
- Turkish: papuc < pabuç "slipper", ciorbă < çorba "wholemeal soup, sour soup", bacșiș < bahşiş "tip" (ultimately from Persian baksheesh);
- Additionally, the Romani language has provided a series of slang words to Romanian such as: mișto "good, beautiful, cool" < mišto, gagică "girlie, girlfriend" < gadji, a hali "to devour" < halo, mandea "yours truly" < mande, a mangli "to pilfer" < manglo.
French, Italian, and English loanwords
Since the 19th century, many literary or learned words were borrowed from the other Romance languages, especially from French and Italian (for example: birou "desk, office", avion "airplane", exploata "exploit"). It was estimated that about 38% of words in Romanian are of French and/or Italian origin (in many cases both languages); and adding this to Romanian's native stock, about 75%–85% of Romanian words can be traced to Latin. The use of these Romanianized French and Italian learned loans has tended to increase at the expense of Slavic loanwords, many of which have become rare or fallen out of use. As second or third languages, French and Italian themselves are better known in Romania than in Romania's neighbors. Along with the switch to the Latin alphabet in Moldova, the re-latinization of the vocabulary has tended to reinforce the Latin character of the language.
In the process of lexical modernization, much of the native Latin stock have acquired doublets from other Romance languages, thus forming a further and more modern and literary lexical layer. Typically, the native word is a noun and the learned loan is an adjective.
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; sandviș < sandwich; bișniță < business; chec < cake; veceu < WC; tramvai < tramway). These words are assigned grammatical gender in Romanian and handled according to Romanian rules; thus "the manager" is managerul. Some borrowings, for example in the computer field, appear to have awkward (perhaps contrived and ludicrous) 'Romanisation,' such as cookie-uri which is the plural of the Internet term cookie.
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