Romanian Cultural Institute's Virgil Mihaiu: Latin roots preserved well in grammatical structure and active vocabulary of Romanian

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Romanian varieties (although apparently less varied than dialects in other languages; see below)

This article reminds me a bit of the discussions that often blow up on the Unilang forums and elsewhere over which Romance language is the closest to Latin and why, where you generally have the following:

-Someone believes Romanian is the closest because of its structure and three genders
-Another person says Italian because of vocabulary
-Another person says "hold on a second, don't forget Sardinian!"
-Another person says Spanish because of similarities in verb conjugation

and on and on for page after page until everybody is completely exhausted. It's tons of fun to watch.

Want to see some of them? Here's one, and here's another. Oh, here's another one. There seems to be a nearly unlimited supply of these discussions.

As for the main article, it says that:
'After totalitarianism, the fact that the Romanians belong to the Latin world was not mere pride (of the Romanians), but the ultimate argument used for their European integration'
The Romanians are the only neo-Latin people in Eastern Europe, the RCI director stressed, explaining that the grammatical structure of the Romanian language and more than 80 percent of its active vocabulary currently preserve the Latin roots. 'Unlike the other Latin-based languages, Romanian doesn't have dialects, but it is spoken by more than 22 million locals', Mihaiu said.
...really? Ah, perhaps this is true. Wikipedia has the following:
Romanian dialects/varieties are not as varied as in many other Romance languages. Romanians themselves refer to them as accents or graiuri (speeches/varieties) rather than dialects. The differences between the varieties of Daco-Romanian are small and mainly in vocabulary and in phonology, as the grammar is almost identical all over the area inhabited by Romanians. This makes the Romanian language mutually intelligible over the entire territory inhabited by Romanians, including Moldova.

On the main page for the language Wikipedia also has a nice example showing a single sentence translated into various Romance languages:

(Meaning: "she always closes the window before having dinner", with cognates in bold)

Ea semper fenestram claudit antequam cenet. (Latin)
Ea închide întotdeauna fereastra înainte de a cina. (Romanian)
Lei chiude sempre la finestra prima di cenare. (Italian)
Elle ferme toujours la fenêtre avant de dîner. (French)
Ella siempre cierra la ventana antes de cenar. (Spanish)
Ela fecha sempre a janela antes de jantar. (Portuguese)
Idda sempri chiudi la finestra àntica cina. (Sicilian)
Ella sempre tanca la finestra abans de sopar. (Catalan)
Ela pecha sempre a xanela denantes de cear. (Galician)

Along with the percentage in which Romance languages differ from Latin, and there Romanian is right in the middle:


Unknown said...

How are those percentages calculated?

I bet different methodologies would yield (possibly radically) different results.

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