The Eastern Romance languages are a group of Romance languages that developed in Eastern Europe (specifically in the Balkans) from the local variant of Vulgar Latin. Today, the group consists of Romanian, Aromanian and two other related minor languages Megleno-Romanian and Istro-Romanian.
Being part of the same family, they share many features with each other. Similarities include morphology and syntax, as well as large commonalities in vocabulary. However, alongside their similarities, there are also considerable dissimilarities that make it difficult for their speakers to understand each other.
Some languages of Italo-Dalmatian are sometimes included in the Eastern Romance. In fact, when Italian is classified as Western Romance, Dalmatian generally remains in Eastern. However, this article is concerned only with Eastern Romance in the narrow sense, without Italian and Dalmatian.
The Eastern Romance languages are also known as Vlach languages and their speakers, in addition to their specific, national name, are also named collectively as Vlach people.
|Balkans and part of Eastern Europe|
Map of Eastern Europe with regions currently significantly inhabited by Romanians/Vlachs highlighted
According to the generally accepted theory regarding their origin, the Eastern Romance languages, are considered to be a evolution of the Vulgar-Latin, spoken in the Balkan area during the domination of the Roman Empire. The Vulgar-Latin, in its turn, is considered to be a mixture of the ancient, local languages: Illyrian, Thracian, Dacian, and the official Latin (the language of Rome). It formed for centuries a language continuum, spread across the Balkans. After the arrival of Slavic people in the region ( V-VII cent.), many of the indigenous people were assimilated while others were obliged to move and disperse, losing in that way the homogeneity and the previous contacts between them. As a result, the formation of the four languages, that nowadays constitute the Eastern branch of the Romance Languages family, took place.
This classification is contested by some Romanian scholars, who classify Istro-Romanian with Daco-Romanian, as a North-Danubian language, and estimate that Megleno-Romanian shows mixed features, being intermediate between the Daco-Romanian and Aromanian. Istro-Romanian displays many features putting it very close to (Daco-) Romanian in origin, with some scholars believing it to be the result of a medieval migration to Istria from Transylvania (contrasted to the native Romance languages such as Istriot and the now-extinct Dalmatian in nearby regions).
As another consequence of the foreign invasions, the Vulgar-Latin was influenced at various degrees by Slavic and other languages. The Slavic invasion was more massive in the central part of the domain, from where originated the actual speakers of Aromanian, Megleno-Romanian and Istro-Romanian. Here and there, and especially in this central part, the Vulgar-Latin became insular and eventually disappeared. Notable examples of populations that once spoke Eastern Romance languages, entirely slavized today, are:
This process of assimilation continues until today, the South-Danubian languages and some varieties of the Daco-Romanian spoken outside Romania being highly endangered.
They share a few sound changes with the western Romance languages: some with Italian, such as [kl] > [kj] (Lat. clarus > Rom. chiar, Ital. chiaro) and also a few with Dalmatian, such as [gn] > [mn] (Lat. cognatus > Rom. cumnat, Dalm. comnut). However, most of them are original, see: Latin to Romanian sound changes.
The languages that are part of this group have some features that differentiate them from the western Romance languages, notable being the grammatical features shared within the Balkan language area as well as some semantic peculiarities, such as lume ("world") being derived from Latin lumen ("light"), inimă ("heart") being derived from Latin anima ("soul"), etc.
The languages also share a similar Paleo-Balkanic substrate.
An asymmetrical merger of Latin vowels, with /i/ merging with /ē/ but /u/ merging with /ū/, sets off Eastern Romance from the symmetrical merger of /u/ with /ō/ and /o/ found in Western Romance. However, while this persists today in only a few isolated dialects in western Basilicata, such as Castelmezzano dialect, as well as Dalmatian and the Romanian languages, there is evidence that it once occurred throughout southern Italy.
Eastern Romance languages:
(note: the lexicon used below is not universally recognized):
|vipt||yiptu||vipt||cibo (vitto)||food, grain|
Aromanian (rrãmãneshti, armãneashti, armãneshce, "Aromanian", or
armãneshce, "Aromanian language"), also known as Macedo-Romanian or Vlach, is an Eastern Romance language, similar to Meglenoromanian, or a dialect of the Romanian language spoken in Southeastern Europe. Its speakers are called Aromanians or Vlachs (a broader term and an exonym in widespread use to define Romance communities in the Balkans).
Aromanian shares many features with modern Romanian, including similar morphology and syntax, as well as a large common vocabulary inherited from Latin. An important source of dissimilarity between Romanian and Aromanian is the adstratum languages (external influences); whereas Romanian has been influenced to a greater extent by the Slavic languages, Aromanian has been more influenced by Greek, with which it has been in close contact throughout its history.Balkan sprachbund
The Balkan Sprachbund or Balkan language area is the ensemble of areal features—similarities in grammar, syntax, vocabulary and phonology—among the languages of the Balkans. Several features are found across these languages though not all apply to every single language. The languages in question may belong to various separate branches of Indo-European (such as Slavic, Greek, Romance, Albanian and Indo-Aryan) or even outside of Indo-European (such as Turkish). Some of the languages use these features for their standard language (i.e. those whose homeland lies almost entirely within the region) whilst other populations to whom the land is not a cultural pivot (as they have wider communities outside of it) may still adopt the features for their local register.
While some of these languages may share little vocabulary, their grammars have very extensive similarities; for example they have similar case systems, in those that have preserved grammatical case and verb conjugation systems and have all become more analytic, although to differing degrees.Castelmezzano dialect
The dialect of Castelmezzano is a Romance variety spoken in Castelmezzano in the Province of Potenza in Italy. It differs from surrounding Neapolitan language and Gallo-Italic languages as it has an Eastern Romance vocalism (the same merger of Latin vowels that the Dalmatian and Romanian languages do). It is therefore sometimes classified as Eastern Romance.
Castelmezzano is but the kernel of an entire area, known as Vorposten (German for "outpost"), sharing the same vocalic system. This area also includes Castronuovo di Sant'Andrea, Sant'Arcangelo, Roccanova, San Martino d'Agri, Aliano (and Alianello), Gallicchio, Missanello, Armento, Pietrapertosa, Anzi, Campomaggiore, Albano di Lucania, Trivigno, Brindisi di Montagna, Corleto Perticara and Guardia Perticara.
There is evidence that this type of vocalism was once characteristic of most of southern Italy. This vocalic system can be viewed as a compromise between the Sardinian system of the Lausberg area, in the southern Basilicata, and the Western Romance vocalic system of the neighboring Neapolitan language and other Southern Italian languages.
More specifically, in this vocalic system, Latin short ĭ and long ī have different outcomes (pépë, Latin pĭper; filë, Latin fīlat), but not short ŏ and long ō, which merge (córë, Latin cŏr; sólë, Latin sōl), while Latin u, either long or short, has the single outcome /u/ (fùrchë, Latin fŭrca; lùnë, Latin lūna).Dacian
Dacian, Geto-Dacian, Daco-Getic or Daco-Getian (Romanian: dacic, geto-dacic) often refers to something of or relating to:
Dacian languageDacian may also refer to:
Dacia in art
Dacian bracelets, bracelets associated with the ancient peoples known as the Dacians, a particularly individualized branch of the Thracians
Dacian towns, settlements and fortified towns
Dacian warfare, spans from c. 10th century BC up to the 2nd century AD in the region defined by Ancient Greek and Latin historians as Dacia
Domitian's Dacian War, a conflict between the Roman Empire and the Dacian Kingdom
Trajan's Dacian Wars, two military campaigns fought between the Roman Empire and Dacia during Roman Emperor Trajan's ruleIt may also refer to:
Daco-Roman, the Romanized culture of Dacia under the rule of the Roman Empire
Daco-Romanian, the term used to identify the Romanian language in contexts where distinction needs to be made between the various Eastern Romance languages (Daco-Romanian, Aromanian, Istro-Romanian, and Megleno-Romanian)
Roman Dacia, a province of the Roman Empire (106-271/275 AD)
(obsolete), A Dane, Denmark having been known as Dacia in Medieval LatinDaco-Roman
The term Daco-Roman describes the Romanized culture of Dacia under the rule of the Roman Empire.Eastern Romance substratum
According to the official theory regarding the origin of the Eastern Romance languages, they developed from the local Vulgar Latin spoken in the region of the Balkans.
That there is a connection between the Vulgar Latin and the Paleo-Balkan languages spoken in the area is a certainty. Taking into consideration the geographical area where this languages are spoken and the fact that there is not much information about the Paleo-Balkan languages, it is considered that the substratal of the Eastern Romance languages should be the ancient Thracian and Dacian.
The substratal elements in the languages are mostly lexical items. Around 300 words are considered by many linguists to be of substratum origin. Including place-names and river-names, and most of the forms labelled as being of unknown etymology, the number of the substratum elements in Eastern Romance may surpass 500 basic roots. Linguistic research in recent years has increased the body of Eastern Romance words that may be considered indigenous.
In addition to vocabulary items, some other features of Eastern Romance, such as phonological features and elements of grammar (see Balkan sprachbund) may also be from Paleo-Balkan languages.History of Latin
Latin is a member of the broad family of Italic languages. Its alphabet, the Latin alphabet, emerged from the Old Italic alphabets, which in turn were derived from the Greek and Phoenician scripts. Historical Latin came from the prehistoric language of the Latium region, specifically around the River Tiber, where Roman civilization first developed. How and when Latin came to be spoken by the Romans are questions that have long been debated. Various influences on Latin of Celtic dialects in northern Italy, the non-Indo-European Etruscan language in Central Italy, and the Greek of southern Italy have been detected, but when these influences entered the native Latin is not known for certain.
Surviving Latin literature consists almost entirely of Classical Latin in its broadest definition. It includes a polished and sometimes highly stylized literary language sometimes termed Golden Latin, which spans the 1st century BC and the early years of the 1st century AD. However, throughout the history of ancient Rome the spoken language differed in both grammar and vocabulary from that of literature, and is referred to as Vulgar Latin. In addition to Latin, the Greek language was often spoken by the well-educated elite, who studied it in school and acquired Greek tutors from among the influx of enslaved educated Greek prisoners of war, captured during the Roman conquest of Greece. In the eastern half of the Roman Empire, which became the Byzantine Empire, the Greek Koine of Hellenism remained current and was never replaced by Latin. It continued to influence the Vulgar Latin that evolved into the Eastern Romance languages.Inner Carniolan dialect
The Inner Carniolan dialect (notranjsko narečje, notranjščina) is a Slovene dialect in the Littoral dialect group. It is spoken in a relatively large area, extending from western Inner Carniola up to Trieste in Italy, also covering the upper Vipava Valley and the southern part of the Karst Plateau.Istro-Romanian grammar
The grammar of the Istro-Romanian language is similar to those of other Eastern Romance languages.Istro-Romanian language
The Istro-Romanian language (Istro-Romanian: Rumârește) is an Eastern Romance language, spoken in a few villages and hamlets in the peninsula of Istria in Croatia, as well as in diaspora, most notably in Italy, Sweden, Germany, Northern and Southern America, and Australia.
While its speakers call themselves Rumeri, Rumeni, they are also known as Vlachs, Rumunski, Ćići and Ćiribiri. The last two, used by ethnic Croats, originated as a disparaging nickname for the language, rather than its speakers.
Due to the fact that its speakers are estimated to be less than 500 (the "smallest ethnic group in Europe"), it is listed among languages that are "seriously endangered" in the UNESCO Red Book of Endangered Languages.It is also considered by some Romanian scholars as an idiosyncratic offshoot dialect of Romanian.La Spezia–Rimini Line
The La Spezia–Rimini Line (also known as the Massa–Senigallia Line), in the linguistics of the Romance languages, is a line that demarcates a number of important isoglosses that distinguish Romance languages south and east of the line from Romance languages north and west of it. The line runs through northern Italy, very roughly from the cities of La Spezia to Rimini. Romance languages on the eastern half of it include Italian and the Eastern Romance languages (Romanian, Aromanian, Megleno-Romanian, Istro-Romanian), whereas Spanish, French, Catalan, Portuguese as well as Gallo‒Italic languages are representatives of the Western group. (Sardinian does not fit into either Western or Eastern Romance.)It has been suggested that the origin of these developments is to be found in the last decades of the Western Roman Empire and the Ostrogothic Kingdom (c. 395–535 AD). During this period, the area of Italy north of the line was dominated by an increasingly Germanic Roman army of (Northern) Italy, followed by the Ostrogoths; whereas the Roman Senate and Papacy became the dominant social elements south of the line. As for the provinces outside Italy, the social influences in Gaul and Iberia were broadly similar to those in Northern Italy, whereas the Balkans were dominated by the Byzantine Empire at this time (and later, by Slavic peoples).Some linguists, however, say that the line actually runs through Massa and Senigallia about 40 kilometres further to the south and would more accurately be called the Massa–Senigallia Line.
Generally speaking, the western Romance languages show common innovations that the eastern Romance languages tend to lack. The two isoglosses considered traditionally are:
formation of the plural form of nouns
the voicing or not of some consonantsTo these should be added a third criterion, generally more decisive than the phenomenon of voicing:
preservation (below the line) or simplification (above the line) of Latin geminate consonantsMegleno-Romanian language
Megleno-Romanian (known as Vlăhește by its speakers, and Megleno-Romanian or Meglenitic and sometimes Moglenitic or Meglinitic by linguists) is an Eastern Romance language, similar to Aromanian or a dialect of the Romanian language. It is spoken by the Megleno-Romanians in a few villages in the Moglena region that spans the border between the Greek region of Macedonia and North Macedonia. It is also spoken by emigrants from these villages and their descendants in Romania and by a small Muslim group in Turkey. It is considered an endangered language.Moldovan language
Moldovan (also Moldavian; limba moldovenească, or лимба молдовеняскэ in Moldovan Cyrillic) is one of the two names of the Romanian language in the Republic of Moldova, prescribed by Article 13 of the current constitution; the other name, recognized by the Declaration of Independence of Moldova and the Constitutional Court, is "Romanian".
At the official level, the Constitutional Court interpreted in 2013 that Article 13 of the current constitution is superseded by the Declaration of Independence, thus giving official status to the language name 'Romanian.'The language of the Moldovans has been historically identified by both terms. However, during the years of domination by the Soviet Union, Moldovan, or as it was called at the time, "Moldavian," was the only term officially recognized when Moldova was known as the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic and the Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic. Soviet policy emphasized distinctions between "Moldavians" and Romanians due to their different histories. Its resolution declared Moldavian a distinct Romance language independent of Romanian. Since the reintroduction of the Latin script in 1989, the 1991 Declaration of Independence of Moldova identified the official language as "Romanian", while the 1994 Constitution used the term "Moldovan".
The status of the official language was further legislated in the early 2000s. The Parliament of the Republic of Moldova adopted a law defining "Moldovan" and "Romanian" as designations for the same language (glottonyms). In 2013, the Constitutional Court of Moldova ruled that the name "Romanian", as used in the Declaration of Independence to identify the official language, prevails over the name "Moldovan", given in Article 13 of the Constitution.The breakaway region of Transnistria continues to recognize "Moldovan" as one of its official languages, along with Russian and Ukrainian.In the general population, while a majority of the inhabitants in the capital city of Chișinău and, according to surveys, people with higher education call their language "Romanian", most rural residents indicated "Moldovan" as their native language in the last census.The variety of Romanian spoken in Moldova is the Moldavian subdialect, which is also spoken in northeastern Romania. The two countries share the same literary standard.The word "Moldavian" is also used to refer collectively to the north-eastern varieties of spoken Romanian, spread approximately within the territory of the former Principality of Moldavia (now split between Moldova, Romania and Ukraine). The Moldavian variety is considered one of the five major spoken varieties of Romanian. All five are written identically. There is no particular linguistic break at the Prut River, the border between Romania and Moldova.
In schools in Moldova, the term "Romanian language" has been used since independence. In 2007, Moldovan president Vladimir Voronin asked for the term to be changed to "Moldovan language", but due to public pressure against that choice, the term was not changed.The standard alphabet is equivalent to the Romanian alphabet (based on the Latin alphabet). Until 1918, varieties of the Romanian Cyrillic alphabet were used. The Moldovan Cyrillic alphabet (derived from the Russian alphabet and standardised in the Soviet Union) was used in 1924–1932 and 1938–89, and remains in use in Transnistria.Proto-Romanian language
Proto-Romanian (also known as "Common Romanian", româna comună or "Ancient Romanian", străromâna, Balkan Latin) is a hypothetical and unattested Romance language evolved from Vulgar Latin and considered to have been spoken by the ancestors of today's Romanians and related Balkan Latin peoples (Vlachs) before c. 900 (7th–11th century AD).
In the 9th century Proto-Romanian already had a structure very distinct from the other Romance languages, with major differences in grammar, morphology and phonology and already was a member of the Balkan language area. Most of its features can be found in the modern Eastern Romance languages. It already contained around a hundred loans from Slavic languages, including words such as trup (body, flesh), as well as some Greek language loans via Vulgar Latin, but no Hungarian and Turkish words as these nations had yet to arrive in the region.
According to the Romanian theory, it evolved into the following modern languages and their dialects:
Romanian language (sometimes called Daco-Romanian to distinguish it from the rest of the Eastern Romance languages)
Aromanian (sometimes called Macedo-Romanian)
Istro-RomanianThe first language that broke the unity was Aromanian, in the 9th century, followed shortly after by Megleno-Romanian. Istro-Romanian was the last to break the link with Daco-Romanian in the 11th century.The place where Proto-Romanian formed is still under debate; most historians put it just to the north of the Jireček Line. See: Origin of Romanians.
The Roman occupation led to a Roman-Thracian syncretism, and similar to the case of other conquered civilisation (see Gallo-Roman culture developed in Roman Gaul), had as final result the Latinization of many Thracian tribes which were on the edge of the sphere of Latin influence, eventually resulting in the possible extinction of the Daco-Thracian language (unless, of course, Albanian is its descendant), but traces of it are still preserved in the Eastern Romance substratum. From the 2nd century AD, the Latin spoken in the Danubian provinces starts to display its own distinctive features, separate from the rest of the Romance languages, including those of western Balkans (Dalmatian). The Thraco-Roman period of the Romanian language is usually delimited between the 2nd century (or earlier via cultural influence and economic ties) and the 6th or the 7th century. It is divided, in turn, into two periods, with the division falling roughly in the 3rd to 4th century. The Romanian Academy considers the 5th century as the latest time that the differences between Balkan Latin and western Latin could have appeared, and that between the 5th and 8th centuries, the new language, Romanian, switched from Latin speech, to a vernacular Romance idiom, called Română comună.Romance languages
The Romance languages (nowadays rarely Romanic languages or Neo-Latin languages) are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin between the third and eighth centuries and that form a subgroup of the Italic languages within the Indo-European language family.
Today, around 800 million people are native speakers worldwide, mainly in Europe, Africa, and the Americas, but also elsewhere. Additionally, the major Romance languages have many non-native speakers and are in widespread use as lingua francas. This is especially the case for French, which is in widespread use throughout Central and West Africa, Madagascar, Mauritius, and the Maghreb.
The five most widely spoken Romance languages by number of native speakers are Spanish (470 million), Portuguese (250 million), French (150 million), Italian (90 million), and Romanian (25 million).Because of the difficulty of imposing boundaries on a continuum, various counts of the modern Romance languages are given; for example, Dalby lists 23 based on mutual intelligibility. The following, more extensive list, includes 35 current, living languages, and one recently extinct language, Dalmatian:
Ibero-Romance: Portuguese, Galician, Mirandese, Asturian, Leonese, Spanish (Castilian), Aragonese, Ladino (Judaeo-Spanish);
Occitano-Romance: Catalan/Valencian, Occitan (langue d'oc), Gascon;
Gallo-Romance: French/Oïl languages, Franco-Provençal (Arpitan);
Rhaeto-Romance: Romansh, Ladin, Friulian;
Gallo-Italic: Piedmontese, Ligurian, Lombard, Emilian-Romagnol;
Italo-Dalmatian: Italian, Tuscan and Corsican, Sassarese, Sicilian, Neapolitan, Dalmatian (extinct in 1898), Venetian, Istriot;
Eastern Romance: Daco-Romanian, Istro-Romanian, Aromanian, Megleno-Romanian.Romanian language
Romanian (archaically Rumanian or Roumanian; autonym: limba română [ˈlimba roˈmɨnə] (listen), "the Romanian language", or românește, lit. "in Romanian") is an Eastern 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. It is an official and national language of Romania and Moldova. In addition, it is also one of the official languages of the European Union.
Romanian is a part of the Balkan-Romance group that evolved from several dialects of Vulgar Latin, which separated from the Western Romance during the 5th–8th centuries. To distinguish it within that group 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".Furthermore, numerous immigrant Romanian speakers are also scattered across many other regions and countries worldwide, most notably Italy, the Iberian peninsula (both in Spain and Portugal), the German-speaking countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland), the British Isles (both in the United Kingdom as well as in Ireland), Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, and Sweden), North America (most notably in the United States but also in Canada), Oceania (mainly Australia and New Zealand) and South America (mainly Brazil and Argentina).Thraco-Roman
The term Thraco-Roman describes the Romanized culture of Thracians under the rule of the Roman Empire.
The Odrysian kingdom of Thrace became a Roman client kingdom ca. 20 BC, while the Greek city-states on the Black Sea coast came under Roman control, first as civitates foederatae ("allied" cities with internal autonomy). After the death of the Thracian king Rhoemetalces III in 46 AD and an unsuccessful anti-Roman revolt, the kingdom was annexed as the Roman province of Thracia.Vlach language in Serbia
The Vlach language (Serbian: Влашки језик / Vlaški jezik), known by the endonym limba română or ľimba rumâńască (literally "Romanian language"), is used to designate the Daco-Romanian varieties spoken by the Vlach community of eastern Serbia.Vlachs
Vlachs (English: or , or rarely ), also Wallachians (and many other variants), is a historical term from the Middle Ages that designates an exonym—a name that foreigners use—mostly for the Romanians who lived north and south of the Danube.As a contemporary term, in the English language, the Vlachs are the Eastern Romance-speaking peoples who live south of the Danube in what are now eastern Serbia, southern Albania, northern Greece, the Republic of North Macedonia, and southwestern Bulgaria, as indigenous ethnic groups, such as the Aromanians, Megleno-Romanians (Macedoromanians), and Macedo-Vlachs. In Polish and Hungarian, derivations of the term were also applied to Italians. The term also became a synonym in the Balkans for the social category of shepherds, and was also used for non-Romance-speaking peoples, in recent times in the western Balkans derogatively. There is also a Vlach diaspora in other European countries, especially Romania, as well as in North America and Australia."Vlachs" were initially identified and described during the 11th century by George Kedrenos. According to one origin theory, modern Romanians, Moldovans and Aromanians originated from Dacians. According to some linguists and scholars, the Eastern Romance languages prove the survival of the Thraco-Romans in the lower Danube basin during the Migration Period and western Balkan populations known as "Vlachs" also have had Romanized Illyrian origins.Nowadays, Eastern Romance-speaking communities are estimated at 26–30 million people worldwide (including the Romanian diaspora and Moldovan diaspora). All Balkan countries have indigenous Romance-speaking minorities.