Which Romance language sounds more Slavic?

JGreco   Tue Nov 03, 2009 10:51 pm GMT
I still think that European Portuguese (especially from the Algarve) is much more Slavic sounding than Romanian. The videos so far of Romanian proves that point. But as a product of a Brazilian-Portuguese mother with her roots in both the Azores and Algarve, she even admits that when she hears European Portuguese from that region, it sounds Slavic, Polish or, Russian to her. She does not deny that its Portuguese, she just complains it takes her a bit to adjust her ears to the accent and the grammar for her to have a conversation. I admit when visiting family in Portugal, me being a second generation speaker (my mother spoke to me in Brazilian-Portuguese, the accent she was raised with from Florianopolis) I find I have a problem understanding anything being said for the first couple of days there till my ears adjust. I still reiterate that Romanian rhythm and intonation sounds a lot like American Spanish accents. Many have actually immigrated to Latin American, have become famous, and can become indistinguishable when they speak Spanish. My mom speaks to my fathers mother (my fathers mother is Panamanian of Italian decent) in Spanish and her Portuguese accent still lingers. I have met a few Romanian speakers majoring in Latin American studies at my college who have learned Spanish so well that they sound like natives to my ears.
yushchenko   Tue Nov 03, 2009 11:59 pm GMT
Moldavian Romanian.
Al   Wed Nov 04, 2009 2:40 am GMT
@Dan: OK, though I thought that linguists estimate that roughly 20% of the Romanian vocabulary is of Slavic origin. On that note, the estimates I've come across range from 10% to some even claiming 50% (I personally think that half is far too high). In any event many of the personal names and toponyms appear to have a Slavic origin (think Vlad the Impaler). Of course I've also heard of Romanians bearing names like 'Traian' or 'Octavian,' highlighting the Roman ancestry.

I personally think that Romania represents a unique and interesting blend of East and West. They're the only Eastern Europeans who speak a Romance language, yet they adhere to Eastern Orthodox Christianity (the only Romance-speaking people who are not Roman Catholic) and used the Cyrillic alphabet until fairly recently when they switched to the Latin. Furthermore, the country's folk music seems to have a Latin touch akin to Italian or Spanish music, and then there's the food, which reflects primarily neighboring influences (Slavic, Turkish, and Hungarian). From what I've heard from people who have traveled there, Romanian people are more outgoing and gregarious than their neighbors, which is more consistent with peoples from Latin cultures.

I would therefore rather agree with the cliche that Romania represents somewhat of a "Latin island in a Slavic sea." I honestly think that if it weren't for the fact that Romanians primarily adhere to Eastern Orthodoxy, they would be more widely acknowledged as a Latin people. It's similar to the whole idea that if a person is Muslim by faith, he or she will not be seen as Caucasian no matter how fair-skinned (never mind the European Muslims in Bosnia or Albania).
JGreco   Wed Nov 04, 2009 3:44 am GMT
Al with 100% of what you just posted AL:)
Dan   Wed Nov 04, 2009 7:17 am GMT

I agree with what you are saying in the last post, however it sends the discussion on the wrong path. The question here is whether Romanian has a Slavic sound to it or not. We should completely forget the geography, ancestry, politics etc and solely focus on the sound of the language.

Here's another conversation in Romanian:

My guess is that if a foreigner would rely only on his Slavic laguages skills he/she will be completely lost while trying to understand Romanian. Words of Slavic origin in Romanian are too infrequent and so changed that knowledge of Slavic languages does not help at all.

Here's a song that mixes Romanian with Spanish:
It does not sound so out of place.

Al, please post some Slavic language samples that you think have similarities with Romanian, so that we contrast them. The reality is that most people have never been exposed to Romanian and are drawing conclusions about the Romanian language on facts that have little to do with language. We should move this discussion beyond stereotypes and focus on the sound of the language itself.
Dan   Wed Nov 04, 2009 8:18 pm GMT

"Moldavian Romanian."

I'm with you. And the reason for this is the fact that in Moldova about 40% of the citizens are native Russian/Ukrainian speakers that can talk in Moldovan as well. Not to mention that Romanian Moldovans are all bilingual, fluent in Romanian and Russian. This is why there are plenty of actual Russian words imported in Moldovan and the accent is dramatically different from standard Romanian.

On the other hand, standard Romanian and EU Portuguese do not sound Slavic at all to my ear. I would challenge anyone to find similarities between Slavic languages and Romanian in the youtube clips I posted above.
mooi   Thu Nov 05, 2009 7:16 am GMT
Portuguese sounds Slavic, Continental like Russan, and Brazilian like Polish.
Cape Verdean sounds like a Romance language (Romanian).
Papiamento sounds like a mix of Spanish and Dutch.
ravinescu   Fri Nov 06, 2009 4:26 pm GMT
Quote from : Dan
This is pretty much standard Romanian accent in media:
pop song (man)
pop song (woman)
rap song

In the video clips above you can actually hear the accent used by educated people from Bucharest (southern Romania), not the accent used in other parts of the country, or by less educated people. It is like the language used in the american soap operas, a very "clean" language, not very similar to that used in the streets by common people. The language spoken in Bucharest (the capital of Romania) is considered "standard romanian", but obviously it differs (more or less) from the language spoken elsewhere in Romania. It is like the language spoken by educated people in New York would be considered "standard" in the USA. One characteristic of the language spoken in Bucharest is that it is almost devoid of any accent, and in being so it differs from the language spoken in other romanian cities (Iaşi, Cluj, Timişoara, etc.), where a "regional" accent is present.

Quote from : Dan
Here is another sample, an interview in colloquial Romanian:

The above video clip is much more close to the language spoken in the streets by common romanians. But again, this is the language spoken in Bucharest. The woman (a known TV host) provides a typical example of the language spoken by the inhabitants of Bucharest, because she was also born in Bucharest. The man (a relatively known singer) speaks also like in Bucharest, even if it was not born in Bucharest, but probably lived in the romanian capital in the last 10-15 years. It is worth mentioning that both use the romanian form "snt" (eu snt = I am), not the latin form "sunt", which was artificially introduced in romanian in the 19th century in order to trick the strangers in believing that romanian inherited "sunt" from latin. The form "snt" is also of latin origin (from the latin subjonctive "sint"), but because it has the sound (probably of slavic origin) it was expelled from the language, although practically all the romanians use it even today. This demonstrates the sheer stupidity of those authorities (the Romanian Academia) that think that they can expel a word used form the beggining of the romanian language and replace it with a foreign word, that is more difficult to pronounce. And it also demonstrates that the romanian form "snt", that stood the test of time, is the best choice for romanians, which prefer it over the non-romanian form "sunt". Many words of latin origin in romanian are not native to the language, tehy were introduced in the 19th and 20th centuries in order to greatly accentuate the romanic character of the language. It is a trick that did nothing in the end, because romanians are today one of the most anglophone people in Europe, even to the point of using english words instead of romanian ones or using software in english, not in romanian.

Quote from : Dan
To answer the initial question, Romanian is the obvious choice here. Look where Romania is. It's completely surrounded by Slavic nations (and Hungary). Isolated for centuries from the Romance languages of Western Europe and having close contacts with its neighboring languages, the Romanian language absorbed a great number of Slavic words. Romanian seriously sounds kind of like a southern Italian dialect with a strong Slavic touch in my personal opinion. A simple example would be "Da, buna seara," meaning "Yes, good evening" in Romanian.

Actually the romanian language "absorbed" the majority of its slavic words not from the surrounding languages, but from its very own population. Romanians as a people have a very strong genetical contribution from the slavs, much more than that from the romans (the "original" ones, from Italy). The slavs settled on all the territory of present-day Romania and Republic of Moldova, whereas the romans settled on only 1/3 of this territory (Oltenia + Banat + Ardeal). Also, the slavs stayed in Romania for 500-600 years before being assimilated, whereas the romans stayed for only 170 years.

Quote from : Al
From the genetic standpoint, Romanians are really quite similar to their Balkan and Eastern European neighbors as they descend primarily from a mixture of the original indigenous Dacians (a Thracian tribe conquered by Rome), Roman soldiers and colonists who settled the territory when it was under Roman rule, and invading migratory tribes (mostly Slavs but to a lesser extent Goths, Huns, Bulgars, Cumans, Tatars and others).

It seems that the mixture of romans and dacians never really happened, or happened on a small scale in the conquered Dacia. A great portion of the dacians were slaughtered by the invading romans, another part were made slaves and probably taken into Italy to be sold, and also many dacians just left the territory, going in the parts not conquered by the romans (present day Muntenia and Moldova). So that's why the romans needed to bring a lot of foreign colonists, mainly from the neigbouring populations (thracians, illyrians, pannonians, etc.) that were romanized (more or less) previously. As for the slavs, the interesting part is that there are no archeological signs of a migration, so that's why some contemporary historians (romanians among them) suggest that the slavs were a new population formed locally from some of the ancient populations (including dacians). This would explain why there are so many family names of slavic origin in Romania. The dacian language is considered related to the balto-slavic languages.

Quote from : Dan
The only Romanian word that ordinary people (that have no Slavic language skills) can recognize as slavic is 'Da'. I can bet most other words are dificult to recognize as Slavic. And the reason for that is that Slavic words are rarely used in conversational Romanian of today (about 5% of the words in normal conversation are of Slavic origin) and therefore hard to pick-up.

The above quote is present in the minds of many romanians, as a result of the official linguistic propaganda, but it is entirely false. It is used sometimes to trick strangers (non-romanians) in thinking that the romanian language is the closest to latin and other linguistic influences are minimal. The truth is that the romanian words of slavic origin are very much used in day to day conversations, because they are present in romanian since its formation, so they are truly romanian words, not some loanwords taken more or less recently from the surrounding slavic populations. The percentage of words of slavic origin used in "normal conversations" is probably in the range of 20-25%, maybe even more in rural areas, where the language is more pure (original), and was not influenced by the massive import of french and italian words in the 19 and 20 century (the words of french origin are close to 40% in today's romanian vocabulary).

Quote from : Dan
It is true that about 15-20% of the words in the Romanian vocabulary are of Slavic origin, but most of those are archaisms, that Romanians do not understand at all. In other words, with the exception of some positive meaning words (like da, iubire, drag, prietenie etc) adopted though liturgical use of Old Slavonic, few Slavic words are in use in present day Romanian. It is important to stress that Romanian borrowed little from the language of the Slavic neighbors (Bulgarian, Serbian, or Polish, Slovak in the past), but from Old Slavonic used by the Romanian Church for centuries.

The above quote regarding slavic words as being mostly archaisms is not true at all, although some romanians like to use it in order to minimize the influence of slavic on the romanian language. The majority of the romanian words of slavic origin are NOT archaisms, they are used all the time. There are literally hundreds of such words used by anyone, in any part of the country. And they were not introduced by the use of old church slavonic (official language in church and state until the 18th century), but by the slavs that participated in great numbers to the formation of the romanian people (again, one has only to look at the family names of romanians to see that). The slavonic language (a language created on the basis of old bulgarian to use in the christianization of slavs) had little influence on romanian, and the terms introduced by it were religious terms, not words used in everyday life. The words of slavic origin in romanian have not only a "positive" meaning, they actually have all sort of meanings, just like it is needed to describe what is happening in life.

Unfortunately, some romanians do not know the history of their country and language so they spread opinions that are completely untrue. Any romanian can buy a dictionary or look on the online dictionaries (for example http://dexonline.ro ) to find out the origin of romanian words, and any romanian can buy a history book to find out about the origin of romanians. Nobody can say that the words of slavic origin are archaisms or are not used, because by saying that it becomes clear that he never opened a romanian dictionary like the DEX (Dicţionarul Explicativ al Limbii Romne), written by linguists. The non-romanians that use those dictionaries to learn romanian have a more profound knowledge of the romanian etymology than some of the native romanians. Talk about the irony...

Quote from : Al
Of course I've also heard of Romanians bearing names like 'Traian' or 'Octavian,' highlighting the Roman ancestry.

No, the romanian first names like Traian, Octavian, Aurelian, Claudiu, Liviu, etc. do not highlight the roman ancestry at all. This is because they were never used by romanians before the 19th century. There are a lot of old documents (contracts, letters, etc.) and those roman names do not appear in them. The use of roman names began in Transylvania in the 19th century as a method to counter the magyarization (hungarization) of the romanians that lived there when the province of Transylvania was ruled by Hungary (until 1918). The hungarians (magyars) used latin as their church and state language until the 18 century and so had a profound respect for it. This is probably why they would not magyarize the roman names, so this was used by the romanians from Transylvania in order to not have their names magyarized (hungarized).

When referring to personal and geographic names, Magyarization stands for the replacement of an originally non-Hungarian name with a Hungarian one. For instance, the Romanian name "Ion Negru" would become "Jnos Fekete", or the Slavic name "Novo Selo" would become "jfalu".

So the roman names used today by romanians derive from a protest movement, they were not inherited from the romans. And when Transylvania was reunited with Romania in 1918 the use of roman names ( Traian, Octavian, Aurelian, etc. ) began also in the other parts of the country.

As an aside, the romanian first names are mainly of religious or slavic origin. The names of religious origin (Ion, Ştefan, Gheorghe, Nicolae, etc.) are derived from greek, actually from the names of the saints of the orthodox church. The names of slavic origin (Radu, Bogdan, Vlad, Răzvan, Dragoş, Mircea, etc.) in use today are also present in the old documents, which is a testimony of the contribution of slavs to the formation of the romanian people.

Quote from : Al
Furthermore, the country's folk music seems to have a Latin touch akin to Italian or Spanish music,

This is completely not true. The romanian folk music ("muzică populară") is actually very similar to the music of the slavic neighbours. Anyone that listens to serbian folk music and romanian folk music will notice that instantly. It is a logical thing, becuase the roman cultural influence lasted only for 170 years (106-275), but the slavic influence continues from the year 500 (when is considered that the slavs arrived on the present-day romanian territory) to today, because the people from the rural areas were in constant interaction with their neighbours, whereas contact with the romanic peoples from the western Europe was nonexistent or sporadic until the 21th century.

Quote from : Al
I would therefore rather agree with the cliche that Romania represents somewhat of a "Latin island in a Slavic sea." I honestly think that if it weren't for the fact that Romanians primarily adhere to Eastern Orthodoxy, they would be more widely acknowledged as a Latin people.

Again, this is not true, although it is sometimes used by romanians to boost their perceived "latinity". You cannot say that Romania was at any moment of island of latinity in a slavic sea, because you will not find any sign of that latinity except in the language (and there it is also mixed with a slavic influence). Keep in mind that romans stayed in Dacia only 170 years, and the cultural influence did not last long after they departed, because the territory was swiftly occupied by germanic and sarmatian tribes, which pillaged and destroyed all the roman cities. The language spoken by the romanized population managed to persist after the romans left, but it is the only latin characteristic that did so, not even the latin alphabet managed to survive those times.

Quote from : Dan
I agree with what you are saying in the last post, however it sends the discussion on the wrong path. The question here is whether Romanian has a Slavic sound to it or not. We should completely forget the geography, ancestry, politics etc and solely focus on the sound of the language.

Of course the present discussion should be about phonetics and the same, but this cannot be possible if someone just spreads things that are not true about the romanian language. I repeat, the time has come for romanians to learn the true history of their people and language, and it is not very hard to do so, the only thing that should be done is to read specialized books on history and linguistics that are available in the romanian bookstores or can be bought online. And only after reading these books should someone come on a forum like this and offer opinions about the language.
Dan   Fri Nov 06, 2009 5:38 pm GMT

ravinescu_quote: "In the video clips above you can actually hear the accent used by educated people from Bucharest (southern Romania), not the accent used in other parts of the country, or by less educated people. "

I disagree. The interviews show the typical southern Romanian urban accent, which is indeed the standard Romanian of today. It is false to say that only people in Bucharest use it. I was raised in Tulcea, then I moved to Constanta where I lived for 10 years. All this time this is the only accent I heard (with the exception of the accent of Romanian Lipovans, a small community in S. Romania) and this is my accent as well.

ravinescu_quote: "It is like the language spoken by educated people in New York would be considered "standard" in the USA. One characteristic of the language spoken in Bucharest is that it is almost devoid of any accent, and in being so it differs from the language spoken in other romanian cities (Iaşi, Cluj, Timişoara, etc.), where a "regional" accent is present. "

First, the accent in New York and/or DC is hardly standard in US and rather unpleasant for the common American. Second, the claim that "Southern Romanian accent" is used only in Bucharest, and is not to be found in the other traditional Romanian regions like Transilvania or Moldova, is completely false. With the exception of the regions close to the Northern and Western borders of Romania (be it in Transilvania or Moldova), the standard Romanian is used by the urban population. The accents survive mostly in the rural areas, but they are vanishing from there as well. It is fair to say that at least 50% of the population uses the standard Romanian.
Dan   Fri Nov 06, 2009 11:40 pm GMT

I was going to try to discuss some of your theories regarding the slavic influence in Romanian, but then I found this reply you gave earlier in this thread:

"When it comes to the language, the slavic contribution is also obvious. In the 19th century almost half of the romanian words had a slavic origin. "

Such a nonsense triggers all the red flags that a rational discussion with you will never take place. Just as a mention to the other people reading this thread - it is unlikely that spoken Romanian ever had a higher percentage of Slavic words than it has now. Written Romanian used in administration in the Middle Age had many direct loans from Old Slavonic, but they were not understood by the majority of the population, which was illiterate. Almost all those Slavic word loans were simply dropped when Romanian started to be used in administration in late 18th century.

First known document written in Romanian starts like this:
"Mudromu I plemenitomu, I cistitomu I bogom darovanomu jupan Hanăş Bengner ot Braşov mnogo zdravie ot Ncşu ot Dlăgopole". No Romanian today would understand this phrase, nor any of the words above were part of the Romanian lexis at any point in time. They were only loan Slavic words used in correspondence by the administration of the Middle Age Romanian states.

The only significant amount of Slavic words from today's Romanian comes from the Old Church Slavonic. These imports took place after Romanian was formed, because Old Slavonic was introduced in Romania after year 1000. Nevertheless, these imports were resilient in the Romanian language because they were understood by the common man. While illiterate, Middle Age man was faithful and had a decent understanding of the liturgy held in OCS. The words related to religious life aspects (love, mariage etc) are from Slavonic, solely because of their use in church. The same goes for the Slavic names - first they were used by monks which were baptized with Slavic names, then gradually these names were adopted by the population.

The theory that Slavic words were introduced in Romanian through the relation with the surrounding Slavic populations is a complete fabrication. Such contacts were too unfrequent for the Romanian peasant, the only speaker of Romanian at that time, to have any significant influence on the language (this is because Romanian regions had difficult-to-cross natural borders with the Slavic populations). If I'll have the time I will expand this explanation.
Al   Sun Nov 08, 2009 2:14 am GMT

I still believe that Romanians are descended, in large part, from Roman colonists who settled the province of Dacia. Yes the Slavic contributions to the language, culture, and gene pool are very notable, but nevertheless Romance speech prevailed. This could not have been achieved had a sizable Romance-speaking population not already inhabited the Carpathian basin. BTW, I never claimed that the Roman colonists were from Rome or Italy, but they were Roman in the sense that they were culturally Romanized, Latin-speaking, and citizens of the Roman Empire. "Roman" had by this time largely lost its original ethnic meaning by which Roman had to equal Italian. In fact, even Italy itself was ethnically/linguistically diverse prior to the entire peninsula's conquest by the Romans.

In any event, the colonists of Roman Dacia were primarily Romanized people from neighboring provinces in the Balkans, Asia Minor, and central Europe. Even if Rome only conquered 1/3 or so of the area that became modern-day Romania, what would that necessarily have to do with the ethnogenesis of the people? Some of the Dacians who fled likely were assimilated into other groups whereas those who remained in Dacia presumably became the partial ancestors of the Romanians (along with the Roman colonists). 175 or so years of occupation is relatively brief, but one must also understand the powerful influence of Roman civilization in those days.

Dacia was incorporated into the empire at the apex of Roman power, and also after a very blood, costly war that killed off a sizable portion of the Dacian population. By importing settlers from the Roman world to replace this population, one can easily see how in the span of only a few generations, Latin culture could take root there. As an example of fast cultural transfusion, look at America. From the founding of Jamestown in 1607 to American independence approximately 175 years later, the English language and culture came to characterize an entirely new country. So why couldn't the same phenomenon have occurred anywhere else in history?

I posted a video discussing the Latin origins of Romanians. I understand that the government has aggressively pushed the idea of a "pure" Daco-Roman ancestry for Romanians in the past, and that there have been attempts to remove Slavic words from the language and replace them with Latin words and such, but I don't think it's a stretch at all to claim that Romanians still partially descend from the Daco-Roman population that has since intermarried with Goths, Huns, Slavs, and other migratory groups.

Lastly, I wouldn't try to push the argument that Romanians are as Latin as Italians, Spaniards, or Frenchmen, but the Latin imprint on their language and identity cannot be ignored, and it does differentiate them from their Slavic and Hungarian ancestors. In addition to their language, Christianity was widely introduced by contacts with the Roman Empire south of the Danube, even after Rome left. Such contacts helped to spread the religion throughout the former Dacia, even if the brand of Christianity that the Romanians would adopt would be the Eastern Orthodox brand.

BTW I'm not Romanian at all ethnically, so please don't think that I'm trying to push any type of political agenda or anything, I just have an interest in its culture and history. Anywhere here is the video.

Al   Sun Nov 08, 2009 10:16 pm GMT
Here is a link on the history of the Romanian language. It describes the predominant Latin influence, thus making it a Romance language, but also delves into the indigenous Dacian and Slavic influences.

hm, interesting - read th   Mon Nov 09, 2009 8:22 pm GMT
conclusion   Mon Nov 09, 2009 8:51 pm GMT
<<Portuguese sounds Slavic, Continental like Russan, and Brazilian like Polish.>>
Portuguese r sounds like rhhh (like in French),Polish r sounds like Irish Gaelic r.Portuguese hasn't sound tch,Polish has (cz),Polish hasn't sound dj ,Brazilian has (d in dia).
Portuguese has nothing common with Polish or other Slavic languages.
matko   Mon Nov 09, 2009 8:56 pm GMT
Polish has three similar sounds, and not only one like in Brazilian Portuguese.
dz, dź, dż