History of the Romanian language

History of the Romanian language

=Dacia and Romanization=

The Romanian territory was inhabited in ancient times by the Dacians, an Indo-European people. They were defeated by the Roman Empire in 106 and part of Dacia (Oltenia, Banat and Transylvania) became a Roman province. Because the province was rich in ores, and especially silver and gold , [] [] Whether the Romanians are the descendants of these people that abandoned the area and settled south of the Danube or of the people that remained in Dacia is a matter of debate. ("See also Origin of the Romanians.")


Due to its geographical isolation, Romanian was probably among the first of the Romance languages that split from Latin. It received little influence from other Romance languages until the modern period (until the middle of the 18th century), which can explain why it is one of the most uniform languages in Europe.Fact|date=September 2008 It is the most important of the remaining Eastern Romance languages and 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 as well. 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 when Romanian became influenced by the Slavic languages and to some degree 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.

Old records

The Polish chronicler Jan Długosz remarked in 1476 that Moldavians and Wallachians "share a language and customs". [The Annals of Jan Długosz" ISBN 1-901019-00-4, p. 593]

The oldest surviving writing in Romanian that can be reliably dated is a letter sent by Neacşu Lupu from Dlăgopole (Câmpulung), Wallachia, to Johannes Benkner of Braşov, Transylvania. From the events and people mentioned in the letter it can be inferred that it was written around the 29th or 30th of June, 1512. Other documents do exist from the same period, but could be dated accurately.

Grigore Ureche, in his "The Chronicles of the land of Moldavia" (1640s), talks about the language spoken by the Moldavians and considers it to be an amalgam of numerous languages (Latin, French, Greek, Polish, Turkish, Serbian, etc.) and is mixed with the neighbouring languages. [ Grigore Ureche, Ch. "For our Moldavian langauge", in "Chronicles of the land of Moldavia", available at [http://ro.wikisource.org/wiki/Letopise%C5%A3ul_%C5%A3%C4%83r%C3%A2i_Moldovei,_de_c%C3%A2nd_s-au_desc%C4%83lecat_%C5%A3ara#Pentru_limba_noastr.C4.83_moldoveneasc.C4.83 Wikisource] ] The author however assumes the preponderance of Latin influence, and claims that, at a closer look, all Latin words could be understood by Moldavians.

Miron Costin, in his "De neamul moldovenilor" (1687) wile noting that Moldavians, Wallachians, and the Romanians living in the Hungarian Country have the same origin, says that although people of Moldavia call themselves "Moldavians", they name their language "Romanian" ("româneşte") instead of Moldavian ("moldoveneşte")Constantiniu, Florin. "O istorie sinceră a poporului român" ("An honest history of the Romanian people"), Univers Enciclopedic, Bucureşti, 1997, ISBN 973-9243-07-X, p. 175] . Also, in his Polish language "Chronicle of Wallachia and Moldavia", Miron Costin assumes that both Wallachians and Moldavians once called themselves "Romans".

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, that there are some differences in accent and vocabulary. ["From ": "Valachiae et Transylvaniae incolis eadem est cum Moldavis lingua, pronunciatio tamen rudior, ut dziur, Vlachus proferet zur, jur, per z polonicum sive j gallicum; Dumnedzeu, Deus, val. Dumnezeu: akmu, nunc, val. akuma, aczela hic, val: ahela."] He says:

:"Wallachians and Transylvanians have the same speech as the Moldavians, but their pronunciation is slightly harsher, such as "giur", which a Wallachian will pronounce "jur", using a Polish "z" or a French "j". [...] They also have words that the Moldavians don't understand, but they don't use them in writing."

Cantemir's work is one of the earliest histories of the language, in which he notes, like Ureche before him, the evolution from Latin and notices the Greek, Turkish and Polish borrowings. Additionally, he introduces the idea that some words must have had Dacian roots. Cantemir also notes that while the idea ov a Latin origin of the language was prevalent in his time, other scholars considered it to have derived from Italian.


Extarnal links

* [http://linguistics.byu.edu/classes/ling450ch/reports/romanian.html The History of the Romanian Language]

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