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Romanian National Language – Romanian Language History and Origins

Updated on September 7, 2014

Romanian Is a Latin Language

The national Romanian language is named Romanian, and is one of the five major Latin languages, along with Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Italian. The Romanian natives call their language română, and is the official language, spoken by 91% of the Romanians as their first language. Other languages are Hungarian, Roma, Ukrainian, and German. Romanian is often spelled Rumanian or Roumanian, although the correct modern spelling is the former.

Romanian in Europe

Map with the Romanian language distribution in Balkans
Map with the Romanian language distribution in Balkans | Source

History and Origins of Romanian Language

Is Romanian A Slavic or a Latin Language?

Romanian is a Latin language, or Romance, developed in the first millennia from Latin, the language spoken by Romans.

In 106 AD, when the Roman empire defeated the Dacians, the local inhabitants of the present Romania, they transformed Dacia into a Roman province. The Romans colonized this province heavily because of its natural resources, leading to an intense Romanization of the Dacian territory. There is very little evidence of what the ancient Dacian language sounded.
The language has further evolved, suffering transformation under other subsequent occupations. Some of the occupants' heritage include influences from Slavic languages, (Russian, Bulgarian, Polish), Greek, Hungarian and Turkish.

Contrary to a popular belief among Western World, Romanian is not a Slavic language. However, many times, for the Westerner listener, the sound of Romanian language is very similar to the Slavic languages. Romanian has been strongly influenced by the many Slavic nations which surrounds it, and given the history, and the location within a sea of Slavic people, is almost a miracle that Romanians haven't been assimilated, but rather they assimilated the numerous Slavic migratory people.

The Slavic influences, although not determinant, are important. For instance the word "yes" in Romanian is "da", a Slavic word, or the word "to love", in Romanian is "a iubi", which is also a Slavic word.

Pimsleur Romanian Level 1 CD: Learn to Speak and Understand Romanian with Pimsleur Language Programs (Comprehensive)
Pimsleur Romanian Level 1 CD: Learn to Speak and Understand Romanian with Pimsleur Language Programs (Comprehensive)

Pimsleur method is a great language learning method. Completely portable, as a CD or audiobook, includes 15 hours of Romanian language practice.

The course focuses on teaching you, you will find that repetition is used a lot as a training tool, but this is actually the best method for retention of the vocabulary.


Romanian Language Words

Usual Romanian Words

The colors
white=alb; black=negru; gray=gri; red=roşu; orange=portocaliu, oranj; green=verde; blue=albastru; brown=cafeniu, maro; yellow=galben; purple=violet

The numbers
one=unu; two=doi; three=trei; four=patru; five=cinci; six=şase; seven=şapte; eight=opt; nine=nouă; ten=zece.

Romanian Language Usual Words:
yes=da; no=nu
hello=bună; goodbye=la revedere;
good (m)=bun; bad (m)=rău;
hot=fierbinte; cold=rece; warm (m)=cald;
fast (m)=rapid; slow (m)=lent, încet;
clean (m)=curat; dirty (m)=murdar;
large=mare; small (m)=mic;
more=mai mult; less=mai puţin

Free Android App - Learn Romanian

Learn Romanian - Free WordPower
Learn Romanian - Free WordPower

Free Android App featuring:

Receive daily words from the most frequently used Romanian words and phrases

Listen proper pronunciation of the words from a native speaker

Record your pronunciations and play them back to compare and improve

Build your own dictionary of Romanian words to help you improve your Romanian language skills

Use flash cards test and improve your Romanian


Romanian Language Pronunciation Guide

One of the most difficult tasks for an English native is the pronunciation. Most of the sounds in Romanian are identical to the English ones, however there are sounds that don't have an equivalence, and the sounds sequence and combination will prove quite different.

The reading though should prove easier to learn than learning to read in English, since all the letters have only one way to be read and pronounced.

a - like 'a' in "father"
e - like 'a' in "bait,", or 'e' in "exit"
i - like the 'ee' in "beet
o - like 'o' in "chlorine"
u - like 'oo' in "broom"
ă - like 'a' in "about
â, î - no English equivalent, close to ă but with the mouth almost closed, and the tongue more retracted in the back. Or an ee as in sheep, but with the tongue retracted.

b - like b in bone
c - like k in kayak, or if it's followed by i, (ci), or e, (ce), is pronounced ch like cheese
d - kike d in door
f - like f in fan
g - like g in go
ge - if g it's followed by e or i is pronounced like the j in Jenifer
gh - g followed by h is closer to the g in good, but slightly different, no English equivalent exists
h - like h in home
j - like the s in measure or the j in the French bonjour
k - like the k in sky, it is not actually used in Romanian, but rather in imported words
l - like the l in long
m - like the m in mother
n - like the n in nanny
p - like the p in Spain
q - like k in sky, but is not actually a used letter in Romanian, but only in imported words
r - like the Spanish or Italian r, no English equivalent
s - like s in Spain
ş - like sh in show
t - like t in tone
ţ - like tz in blitz
v - like v in van
w - like v in van, but only used for loanwords from other languages
x - like x in box
y - like ee in sheet, but only used in loanwords
z - like z in zebra

Listen to Romanian words spoken by natives online: Forvo - Romanian Pronunciation guide

Take a look at the video below if you want to hear a native speaking Romanian.

Romanian Language on Youtube

Romanian Language Resources


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    • profile image

      Dorian 3 years ago from Ottawa Ontario

      Katharine, thanks for the comment. Romanian is my mother tongue, but English is almost my first language. I also speak fluently French, (with a Canadian accent), and I also speak a bit Russian. Languages are fascinating, I used to love to learn to speak new languages.

    • Sparrowlet profile image

      Katharine L Sparrow 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      I love languages, but have never tried learning Romanian. I think it sounds lovely! Thanks for the interesting background info and the little tutorial of pronunciation. Well done.