Origins of the Romanian language

In my opinion, Romance languages have a sort of musicality, while Germanic or Slavic languages seem quite harsh-sounding dialects. Therefore, I would love to have a magic wand to give me the ability to understand how Romanian language sounds for foreign travelers (if you want to hear me speaking in Romanian, you can watch the video on the link). However, I am 100% sure it is a confusing language, especially if one presumes it is similar to the languages spoken by our neighbouring countries. To be honest, even our linguists are not on the same page when it comes to its origins despite their common belief of being a Romance language.

Simply put, Romanian language was born from the mix of Vulgar Latin and Dacian words after the Roman legions conquered some parts of the old territory of Romania, inhabited at that time by the Dacian tribes. They were part of the larger family of Thracian tribes, and lived north from the Danube River in an area known as Dacia. 106 AD was the year when Dacia became a province of the Roman Empire, and the Roman legions were here until 274-275 AD.  It is believed that was the time when the two languages inextricably intertwined and a new tongue was born, Romanian.

Having this sorted out does not mean the origins of Romanian language were clarified for good. There are some letters and sounds that cannot be traced back to any of the two languages mentioned before. Also they do not have equivalents in Italian or Spanish, the Romance languages closest to our mother tongue. Then, where are these sounds coming from? This is a question linguists struggled to find an answer to, and there is not a general voice about it.

Romanian language was exposed to different degrees of influence from the neighbouring populations or even invaders with whom we came in contact. Old Slavic had the most important crosslinguistic influence during Middle Ages, when documents where written using the Cyrillic alphabet, but the words were Romanian. Those, let’s say awkward, sounds might be explained by this Old Slavic exposure as they’re not to be found in other Romance languages. However, linguists are not on the same page with this explanation so it might remain a mistery to be solved by the future generations.

A new linguistic influence took place during 1700s and 1800s when Romanian language was exposed to the Turkish and Greek languages spoken by the officials sent here by the Otoman Empire. A small body of our daily vocabulary can be traced back to that. Least, but not last, an important number of words were borrowed from French during mid-1900s making our vocabulary’s Latin heritage even more significant.

In conclusion, Romanian is part of Romance languages family but our curent vocabulary and grammar have been strongly influenced by all languages we cross path with during the centuries.

From Bucharest, with love!  

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: