The Forgotten Romance Language
February 10, 2017
When we think of the Romance languages, Western Europe immediately comes to mind. However did you know that there are actually five (not four) Romance languages natively spoken today? We're speaking, of course, about Romanian.
The Romanian language is named as it is because it developed from the language of Rome, Latin. It is a member of the Romance language family, alongside four others stemming from Latin. While French, Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian are better known and more widely spoken, we'd be remiss not to discuss Romanian.
Part of the reason the Romanian language is often overlooked is because of its geographic isolation from the other countries, namely France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy. Though overlooked, it is spoken by over 24 million native speakers and about 4 million second language speakers. Romanian is the official language of both Romania and Moldova. When it comes to the history of the language it is difficult to determine exactly how Romanian developed as there are no existing Romanian texts from before the 16th century.
Romanian is unique among the Romance languages because it developed alongside Slavic languages, giving it a distinct sound all its own. Romania is in the northeastern part of the Balkans, surrounded countries speaking variations of several Slavic languages. Natural migration in and out of Romania led to a mixing of the languages over the centuries. Despite this influence, Romanian is not completely "foreign-sounding" to natives of Western Europe. If you're a speaker of Italian you'll probably notice similar words and grammar uses when hearing Romanian for the first time. It shares a 77% lexical similarity with Italian.
Romania itself has gone through several governmental changes over the centuries. Yet despite the current flag of the era and the rulers in charge, the people grew a sense of national pride as Romanians. In the 18th century an effort was made to formalize the language by writing official grammar books and work toward "re-Latinizing" Romanian. Many of the Slavic words were removed and replaced with words drawn from Latin, Italian, and French.
If you're a lover of languages and are looking for a fun one to learn, Romanian is definitely worth a look. As Romance language, you may just find yourself falling in love with Romanian.