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About Romanian Language

Romanian (obsolete spellings Rumanian, Roumanian; self-designation: limba română [ˈlimba roˈmɨnə] ( listen)) or Daco-Romanian is a Romance language spoken by around 24 to 28 million people, primarily in Romania and Moldova. It has official status in Romania, Republic of Moldova, and the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina in Serbia. In the Republic of Moldova, the language is officially called limba moldovenească ("Moldovan") for political reasons.

Romanian speakers are scattered across many other countries, notably Italy, Spain, Russia, Ukraine, Israel, Portugal, United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, France, and Germany.

History

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 the 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 a 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 romanized people that remained in Dacia.

Owing to its people's geographical isolation, Romanian was probably among the first of the Romance languages to split from Latin.[citation needed] It received little influence from other Romance languages until the modern period (the middle of the 19th 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 a part of the Latin declension, but whereas Latin had six cases, Romanian has three: the nominative-accusative, the genitive-dative, and marginally the vocative. Romanian nouns also preserve 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. Compared to the other Romance languages, during its evolution, Romanian simplified the original Latin tense system in extreme ways, in particular the original Latin absence of sequence of tenses.

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.[citation needed] 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, Greek (Byzantine, then Phanariote), Turkish, and Hungarian, while the other Romance languages were influenced by Germanic, Celtic and Arabic.

Geographic distribution

Romanian is spoken mostly in Southeastern, Central and Eastern 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), Hungary (Gyula) and Bulgaria (Vidin). Large immigrant communities are found in Italy, Spain, France, and Portugal.

As of 1995, the largest Romanian-speaking community in Asia is found in Israel, where 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.

Legal status in Romania

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 must bear a translation of foreign words.

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.

Romanian 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 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 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.

Popular culture

Romanian has become popular in other countries through movies and songs performed in the Romanian language. Examples of recent Romanian acts that had a great success in non-Romanophone countries are the bands O-Zone (which had great success with their #1 single Dragostea din tei/Numa Numa across the world), Akcent (popular in the Netherlands, Poland and other European countries), Activ (successful in some Eastern European countries) 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 prestigious Cannes Film Festival).

On the other hand, some artists wrote songs dedicated to the Romanian language. The multiplatinum 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 entitled "The Romanian language".

Dialects

The term "Romanian" is sometimes (although not often) used also in a more general sense, which envelops four hardly mutually intelligible languages: Romanian, Istro-Romanian, Aromanian, and Megleno-Romanian. The four languages are the offspring of the Romance varieties spoken both to the north and to south of Danube, before the settlement of the Slavonian tribes south of the river - Romanian in the North, the latter two in the south, while Istro-Romanian is believed to be the offspring of a 11th century migration from Romania. These four are also known as the Eastern Romance languages. When the term "Romanian" is used in this larger sense, the term "Daco-Romanian" is used for Romanian itself. The origin of the term "Daco-Romanian" can be traced back to the first printed book of Romanian grammar in 1780, by Samuil Micu and Gheorghe Şincai. There, the Romanian dialect spoken north of the Danube is called lingua Daco-Romana to emphasize its origin and its area of use, which includes the former Roman province of Dacia (though it is spoken also south of the Danube, in Dobrudja, Central Serbia and northern Bulgaria).

This article deals with Romanian language, and thus only its regional variations are discussed here. The differences between these varieties are usually very small, usually consisting in a few dozen regional words and some phonetic changes. Standard literary Romanian language is identical when it comes to writing, regardless of the region or country.

Like most natural languages, Romanian can be regarded as a dialect continuum. The dialects of Romanian are distinguished by minor differences in pronunciation. Romanians themselves speak of the differences as accents or "speeches" (in Romanian: accent or grai). Several regional accents are usually distinguished:

  • Muntenian accent (Graiul muntenesc), spoken mainly in Wallachia and southern parts of Dobruja.
  • Oltenian accent (Graiul oltenesc), spoken mainly in Oltenia and by the Romanian minority in Timok region of Serbia. In Oltenia a notable dialectal feature is the preferred usage of the simple perfect tense rather than the compound perfect which is preferred elsewhere.
  • Moldavian accent (Graiul moldovenesc), spoken mainly in Moldavia, northern parts of Dobruja and Moldova. Written (p) is at times realised as /k/, written before front vowels is sometimes realised as /ʃ/, written <ă>, in final position, is sometimes palatalized, written is rarely also pronounced /i/.
  • Maramureşian accent (Graiul maramureşean), spoken mainly in Maramureş.
  • Transylvanian accent (Graiul ardelenesc), spoken mainly in Transylvania.
  • Banatian accent (Graiul bănăţean), spoken mainly in Banat. Written before front vowels is sometimes realised as /t͡ʃ/ and as /d͡ʒ/.

Over the last century, however, regional accents have been weakened due to mass communication and greater mobility.

Classification

Romanian is a Romance language, belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European language family, having much in common with languages such as French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.

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 other Romance languages, the closest relative of Romanian is Italian; the two languages show a 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.[citation needed] 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).

 

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