Saturday, October 8

Romanian-speaking world

Whenever we hear the word "Romanian", we think of a little country in Eastern Europe. If you've never delved into foreign languages or linguistics, that's probably all that comes into your mind.

If you do have a language or linguistics background, then you know that "Romanian" refers to a Romance language spoken in the Balkans — a Romance language with influences from Slavic — cue in the inhabitants of the nation Romania.

Unconsciously, everytime I refer to Romanian myself, a picture of Romania comes up in my mind. With the attention given recently to the Moldovan accent, I'm on a mission to change that.

Everytime I say "Romanian" now, I will imply the term "Romanian-speaking world", modeled after the colonial Romance languages spoken in many countries — Spanish-speaking world, synonymous with Latin America and Spain, also including the various nations with a significant number of Spanish speakers where Spanish is not an official language, though certainly an influential one.

What else could "Romanian" refer to, if not to the national language of Romania? Well, you see, there's an even smaller country right next to Romania which has Romanian as its official language as well — one tiny country that is rarely the subject of any conversation. A country tied to Romania itself historically and linguistically. A European state that shares its name with a region in Northern Romania: the Republic of Moldova. Romania at least has Transylvania for which people worldwide may know of Romania (even if they think it's near Rome); the Republic of Moldova has none of that (well, it had O-Zone a few years back, but even then, the band was said to be "Romanian" most of the time).

With this in mind, my resolution is to give Moldova its deserved place on the map. My proposition is that everytime we think of the Romanian language, we conjure up an image of both Romania and the Republic of Moldova as one unit — the two countries in which the language is official and is used everyday at a national level.

So that instead of just this:

We add this:

To come up with this, visually:
Romania + the Republic of Moldova as one entity
Map Source

The popular speech of the Republic of Moldova is very similar to what is heard in the Romanian region of Moldova. Among the most notable differences between the regional Moldovan accent and the Romanian standard are: unstressed, final e becoming i; ci is rendered as și; and the combination bi results in ghi, making a word like limbii sound like linghii, coincidently closer to its Latin root (LINGUAE with [ŋg], not with [mb] as in Standard Romanian). The formal accent, however, like the one used in television broadcasts, is almost identical to what is heard in a formal context in Romania. Generally speaking, all the di's (for de), șâ's (for și), and ghini's (for bine) are absent from formal speech from what I have been exposed to so far.

I ended my previous post saying that "becoming familiarized with the Moldovan accents is a step forward towards getting to know the speech of the Republic of Moldova." And it's true. As an example, I found the following text written in a Moldovan accent (from the Republic of Moldova) by a Moldovan living in Romania. With very few changes, I could swear this was spoken by a Moldovan on the Romanian side of the border:
Uăi moldoveni. Voi şi, nu ştiţi şi sărbătoari-i az? Az noi ni felişităm cu şeia şi nu avem, “cu limba, bre oamini buni”. Iaca, noi grăim ca şiubotili, ni-o zâs unu az. Da eu i-am râs în faţâ, uăi, îi zâc, şiubotili nu grăiesc, dacâ ar grăi, ar faşi-o mult mai ghini decât noi, moldovenii. Eu nu înţăleg, eu nu prişep, di şi avem noi zâua linghii. Uăi, eu aş vre sâ nu avem zâua linghii, dar sâ avem limbă. Dacâ vreţ, este ca şâ de zâua fumeii. Noi, moldovenii, respectăm fumeia numai de zâua ei, dar şâ atunşi pânâ când ni îmbatăm… 
And he says zâua (just like the Romanian Moldovans), one of my favourite pronunciation features about the Moldovan accent. Welcome, Moldova!


John Cowan said...

Let's also remember (in decreasing order of population) the Aromanians of Greece, Albania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Turkey, and Romania itself; the Megleno-Romanian speakers in Greece, the FYROM, Turkey and Romania; the Istro-Romanian speakers of Croatia; and the many speakers of (Daco-)Romanian and the other varieties in the Romanian diaspora. (There are probably more native speakers of Istro-Romanian here in New York City and the rest of the U.S. than in Istria.)

Here's a map of the speakers of Romanian languages.

diacritica said...

Nu mai ştiu dacă am scris pe aici sau doar am avut de gând să. Accentul din Republica Moldova (Moldova de peste Prut / Basarabia) e sensibil diferit de accentul din Moldova astălaltă. Influenţa rusească se simte în pronunţie (l e pronunţat ruseşte). (Colega mea Elena, basarabeancă, pronunţă un fel de "cib" pentru TIB - Târgul Internaţional Bucureşti. Mă rog, un fel de t moale.) Apoi, din cauză că timp de 50 de ani nu a existat nici un contact între România şi Republica Moldova, lexicul a evoluat un pic diferit. De fapt, cel din Rep. Moldova a rămas cam ca acum 50 de ani, plus neologisme venite pe calea rusei. Am povestit aici câte ceva: .
Accentul basarabean e puţin probabil să-l auzi/simţi la TV (pentru un român e mai evident), pentru că adesea oamenii de televiziune (mai ales dacă lucrează la posturi private, filiale ale posturilor româneşti) au fost şcoliţi în Ro - inclusiv cursuri de dicţie "românească".

Filius Lunae said...

[Îți voi răspunde în engleză, Dia]

Very interesting and funny post you linked to. You could pretty much replace Romania and Moldova with any two countries where the same language is spoken. It happens often with the US and the UK, elevator vs lift; apartment vs flat, etc.

And indeed, it's evident the Moldovan broadcasters are influenced by the Romanian standard. Like you say, many of them do their studies in Romania. I suspected that, and you confirmed it.

The biggest proof of all is that I've been following some shows on Moldovan TV and I don't have a single difficulty understanding what they're saying. Now, when they interview people from the different Moldovan județe, then difficulty may arise, but not with the presenters and reporters themselves.

Martin said...

The same accent which Diacritica is signaling can be found in the Banat region, also with slavic influences (from Serbian). They say "şcii" instead of "ştii", for example, or "miere" instead of "mere". And a funny one: they -- those from Moldavia -- say exactly "watch TV" ("privim televizorul"), not "looking at TV" as Romanian speakers say.

Filius Lunae said...

Very interesting, Martin! Thank you for that.

Considering ştire (and derivatives) comes from the Latin SCIRE, şcii may be a remnant pronunciation of an earlier ştii which still exists today in some regions.

Ştiu comes directly from SCIO in Latin.

As for "privim televizorul", a similar phenomeon exists in Spanish. For the most part, the difference between the verbs "to watch" and "to see" are pretty much blurred in the modern language, so much that you hear both "to watch the TV" and "to see the TV"—mirar la televisión vs. ver la televisión—and neither sounds ungrammatical.

metafrast said...

As a native speaker of Romanian with a very good command of Russian (I'm not a Moldovan, I'm a Romanian expat living in Ukraine), I must point to the fact that the way Moldovans speak is very deeply influenced by Russian, and I mean, first of all, the calques, of which there are lots and lots: "lucrează" instead of "merge", "după graniţă" instead of "peste hotare" etc. And, of course, there are lots of phonetically adapted Russian loanwords: "a se pricoli", "a zăibi", "zăc" and may others, which are incomprehensible to a Romanian speaker who doesn't know Russian. By the way,
in "Az noi ni felişităm cu şeia şi nu avem - cu limba" we have another example of calque: "a felicita cu..." is a Russian construction (поздравлять с...), not used at all in proper Romanian (where, if one wants to specify the reason for congratulating, says "pentru" or "cu prilejul", never "cu").
Noi, moldovenii, respectăm fumeia numai de zâua ei, dar şâ atunşi pânâ când ni îmbatăm… - alas, this is too true, to my knowledge........


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