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The Romanian Language

The Romanian language, “limba Romana, “is a language spoken nowadays by around 28 million people in Romania and Moldova but also all over the world due to the emigration of Romanian nationals. Research shows that Romanian speakers account for around 0.5% of the world’s population.

The history of the Romanian language goes back more than 2,000 years when the language spoken by those who lived the territory of Dacia was the “Dacian language”, believed to be a Thracian tongue.

Since 106, when Dacia was colonised by the Romans, the Latin language was introduced for administration and commerce. Another way through which Latin was spread throughout this area was through missionaries who brought with them the Christian religion and the whole Latin liturgy. All the Church services at that time were conducted in Latin. Nowadays most of the Romanian notions connected with the Christian faith are still of Latin origin.

This prevalence of the Latin over the Romanian territory persisted until the third century when the Roman Empire was forced to withdraw from Dacia.

Another influence of the Romanian language was that of Slavic during the 7th, 8th and 9th century. A prominent way in which the Slavs influenced the language of the Dacians of that time was pronunciation. An example of such a Slav word which persists nowadays in the Romanian language is the word “trup” which means body.

During the same period the language spoken in the territory was the “Proto-Romanian” language, what is called “Romana comuna”. All the dialects of Romanian of that time are believed to have been unified in the Proto-Romanian language. Later on this “limba comuna” was divided into the Romanian language (Daco-Romana), the Armanian language, the Meglo-Romana and the Islo-Romana.

Despite all the changes it was subjected to during its history, the Romanian language remains a conservative language in a certain way, first of all in the nominal morphology. Romanian has also preserved 5 of the 7 declensions from the Latin language: accusative, genitive, nominative, dative and vocative. There are a few Romanian words (around 160) which have been preserved from the Dacian language. Examples: “copil” which means child, “prunc”- baby, “copac”-tree.

On the other hand the Romanian language is in interaction with other languages and continues to change. It borrows many words from other languages, especially French. It is influenced a lot by American-English. It also has a lot in common with languages like Italian, Portuguese or Spanish.

The modern Romanian language is a complex affair. It has 6 main dialects: Oltenesc, Muntenesc, Banatean, Moldovenesc, Maramuresean and Ardelenesc. Use of Romanian as a second language is recorded among many of the minorities in countries like Bulgaria, Hungary and the Ukraine. Romanian is also tought as a foreign language in countries like Germany, France, Italy, USA, Netherlands - an overall of 28 countries around the world.

Concerning the legal status of the Romanian language, according to the Constitution of Romania of 1991 (revised in 2003) Romanian is the official language of the Republic. According to the Constitution of Moldova, Romanian is the single official language of Moldova. In the Constitution, the language is called Moldovan, although it is quite identical to Romanian.

From the core of Dacian words to the Latinisation and the Slavic influence, the Romanian language reflects the story of a nation of survivors; Romanian people who managed to carry on their existence as a "Popor roman" until today, despite the conquests by strong civilisations like the Romans and later on the Ottoman Empire to which they were subjected.

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