Romanian 101

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The term "Romanian" in a general sense envelops four hardly mutually intelligible speech varieties commonly regarded as independent languages. For more on these, please see the article "Eastern Romance languages".

It is thought that the Romanian language appeared north and south of the Danube. All the four dialects are offsprings of the Romance language spoken both in the North and South Danube, before the settlement of the Slavonian tribes south of the river - Daco-Romanian in the North, and the other three dialects in the south.

However, this article deals primarily with Daco-Romanian, and thus the regional variations of that will be discussed here instead. The differences between these variaties are usually very small, usually consisting in a few dozen regional words and some phonetic changes.

Like all other languages, Romanian can be regarded as a dialect continuum. However, such a formulation tends to obscure the high homogeneity and uniformity of the language. The Romanian language cannot be neatly divided into separate dialects and Romanians themselves speak of the differences as accents or "speeches" (in Romanian: "accent" or "grai"). This correctly conveys the linguistics notion of accent, as language variants that only feature slight pronounciation differences (Romanian accents are fully mutually intelligible). Several accents are usually distinguished:

~ Muntenian accent (Graiul muntenesc), spoken mainly in Wallachia and southern parts of Dobruja.
~ Maramuresian accent (Graiul maramuresean), spoken mainly in Maramures.
~ Transylvanian accent (Graiul ardealean), spoken mainly in Ardeal.
~ Oltenian accent (Graiul oltenesc), spoken mainly in Oltenia and by the Romanian minority in Timok region of Serbia. Notable feature of this dialect is the usage of the Simple perfect tense rather than the Complex perfect which is used in other dialects.

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

Moldovan Language Overview

The Moldovan language is the official language of the Republic of Moldova, as defined by its constitution. However, as stated by Vasile Stati (a linguist and hard-line supporter of the Moldovan identity), the literary forms of Moldovan and Romanian are identical. The official form of the Moldovan is identical to Romanian, in its form from before the 1991 reform (minor changes in the form of one letter and in spelling). There is no documented linguistic division at the Prut River that divides the two countries.

More significant differences compared to Romania occur in the colloquial speech of highly-russified areas of the Republic of Moldova, such as Chisinau and Transnistria. The spoken language of these areas features Russian loanwords and expressions, not present in Romania-born speakers (who tend to use English and French loanwords). Speakers who use such loanwords are aware of doing so and can easily express themselves without using them.

Of all Moldovans claiming either "Romanian" or "Moldovan" as their mother tongue, 45.2% declared their native language to be "Moldovan", while 54.8% declared their native language to be "Romanian".

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