The Romanian language belongs to the Eastern Romance dialects. The latter is from the Romance branch of the Indo Group. Nearly 30 million people speak it, of which 24 million native speakers. This, mainly in Romania and Moldova where it is the official language.

Strong Latin roots

Not only does Romanian come from Latin, but it is its most faithful heir. This is so true that its name comes from "Roman", barely transformed. We then have to travel in time to reach its origin. Indeed, it dates back to the conquest of Dacia by Emperor Trajan in early 2nd century. Locals then gave up their language in favour of Latin which spread.


In fact, there are regional variants in the country. But they differ a bit from each other. This is why Romanian is a very unified language compared to German or Italian. And this, while there was no state unity at that time.

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From the 3rd century onwards, new invaders came, forcing locals to flee. However, Latin resisted. But a bit more than a century after the conquest of Dacia, the Romans gave up due to Germanic invasions. Just after that, the Huns, and then the Slavs, erased the last Roman traces. But not Latin, which maintained despite them even if influenced from them. This is so true with Slavic, which has led the Latin spoken in Dacia to evolve.

So, the country has preserved a Latin that has slowly evolved with the add of various aspects. While keeping most of its original rules, waves of invasions (Goth, Hun, Avars, Slavs, Mongols, etc.) influenced Latin.

Then, in the 11th century, the Bulgarian influence introduced the Orthodox Christian Church. As a result, Slavonic became the language of the elites. However, people continued to speak a Neolatin language that would become Romanian. Also, Transylvania became Hungarian for almost a thousand years. The rest of the Romanian countries then came under the control of the Ottomans and a Greek speaking elite. Due to that, Slavonic lost its rank in favour of a Romanian language written in Cyrillic, and Greek for the elites.


Although Romanian is a very old language, it has long remained oral. As proof, the first written document dates from the middle of the 16th century only. In the 18th century, they began to write in a language they now called Romanian, and no longer called Vlach. But until the 19th century, depending on the region, the elites still spoke and wrote in Hungarian, German or Greek. It was only afterwards, boosted by the nationalist movement and the affirmation of the Romanian character of Moldovo Valachia, that modern Romanian literature was truly born.

We do not know whether the Latin script came before or after the Greek Cyrillic's one. In any case, the Romanian Cyrillic script, used until the 19th century, consists of 44 characters. But some groups of Romanian scholars claimed the return of the Latin script. There occured a short transition period during which the two scripts existed at the same time. Finally, the Latin alphabet took over in 1860. This, thanks to the Romanian Academy. After allowing this, the latter built an official spelling of Romanian words. The very first reform came into force in 1881. There, were two options: an original spelling and a spelling based on the phonetics. Finally, they choose the latter option after different spelling reforms to simplify it. By the way, the last one occured in 1993 only. Also, thanks to media, Romanian spread during the 20th century.

Elite Translation Article Learn about the Romanian language Map of old regions Romanian alphabet and roots