[Table of Contents] [Previous] [Next] [HMK Home] THE ORIGINS OF THE RUMANIANS

H. The Balkan Linguistic Union


The populations of the Balkan peninsula have had intensive, mutual contacts with each other for many centuries. With the exception of the Croatians and the Turks, they have adhered to the same Church (after 1050 AD theGreek Orthodox) and have continued the traditions of Byzantium. They were exposed to Greek and Byzantine civilization, and absorbed a large amount of Greek material and spiritual culture. Some of these peoples were predominantly shepherds and their wanderings may have contributed to the spread of elements of civilization and popular culture. As a result, these populations have very many features in common in all fields of human activity: architecture, costumes, foods, popular art and literature, popular beliefs and, last but not least, language.

The most ancient populations of the Balkans are the Greeks and the Albanians. The ancestors of the Rumanians (of the Northern Rumanians, Istrorumanians, the Arumanians and the Meglenites) also belonged to the ancient populations of the Balkan peninsula. At present, however, the great majority of them are living north of the lower Danube and have no direct contacts with the Greeks and the Albanians. Slavs (ancestors of the Bulgarians, the Serbians, the Croatians, and the Slovenes) have been living in the Balkan peninsula since the 6th century AD. The Turks, coming from Asia Minor, dominated large parts of the peninsula from the 14th century on but occupy at present the southeastern corner only. The Balkan languages belong to different Indo-European groups: Greek, Romanized Illyrian, Thracian or other ancient Balkan populations, Slavic; as well as Turkish (Osmanli), the only non-Indo-European group.

The similiarities in phraseology and syntax are most numerous between ALBANIAN, RUMANIAN, AND BULGARIAN, these are by certain authors called Balkan languages OF THE FIRST GRADE, THEY ARE IN THE CORE AREA OF THE BALKAN LANGUAGES. (Serbo-Croatian belongs to those of the second grade, in the peripheral zone [Randzone]). AQuite often, only vocabulary and morphology change and the manner of expression remains essentially the same throughout all the territory occupied by these languages.@ Balkanisms appear equally in the speech of Northern Rumanians living in the Timok valley, south of the Danube, in Transylvania, Muntenia or Moldavia. Rosetti presents the correspondences between Rumanian and Albanian under the heading ABalkanisms@. He states that it is not always possible to know the origin of a certain feature: they may be the effect of the substratum, or of the prolonged and close symbiosis between the different populations, influencing each other, of which most influence emanated from Greek, which is explained by the superior Greek civilization.

Out of those nine Balkan features discussed by Rosetti, five were presented above, under the heading AThe relationship between Rumanian and Albanian,@ p. 60, because they are characteristic of these two languages and are most probably explained by the effect of the substratum of Rumanian, i.e., by Proto-Albanian. The definite article appeared in Latin in the 7th century AD; its postposition, also present in Albanian, is probably explained by Greek influence. The change in the use of the infinitive has the same explanation; these changes will be therefore presented under the influence of Greek, in the following section.

The first author who called attention to the peculiar relationships existing among the Balkan languages was Kopitar, in Wiener Jahrbücher der Litteratur, XLVI, 1829. Later, F. Miklosich, H. Schuchardt, G. Meyer, and G. Weigand have assembled much material in this field. A detailed, systematic presentation of the intimate relationships between Greek, Albanian, Rumanian, Bulgarian, Serbo-Croatian, and, to a much lesser extent, Turkish, was published in 1930 by K. Sandfeld (Linguistique Balkanique B Problèmes et résultats, Paris). A shorter survey was more recently written by Solta (Einführung in die Balkanlinguistik mit besonderer Berücksichtigung des Substrats und des Balkanlateinischen, 1980).

The idea of a ABalkan Linguistics@ has been criticized by A. Graur, who argued that this cannot exist in the same sense as, for example, AIndo-European linguistics@ or ARomance linguistics@:


Remplacer dans la linguistique la notion de parenté par celle d´ ´affinité´, comme on veut le faire maintenant, c´est accorder a la phonétique et même au vocabulaire et à la syntax le pas sur la morphologie; c´est, par conséquent, remplacer l´essentiel par le superficiel.


Graur considered that one only can talk about Arelationships of borrowings, of influences, but not about Balkan linguistics@.

However, in the last decades, scientific journals of Balkanology have been published and congresses are oganized (since the first Congress of Balkanology in Sofia, 1966), particularly in the Balkan countries. The investigation of the features shared by the Balkan languages seems quite justified. The results are valuable information about problems of interaction between languages, as well as language change, and may also contribute to the elucidation of historical problems. Rosetti presents these relationships in detail (Rosetti ILR 1986, pp. 225B60) under the heading AThe Balkan Linguistic Union@ (Uniunea lingvistic| balcanic|). His articles pertaining to this problem were published in one volume in 1985: La linguistique balkanique suivie par le nouveau en linguistique dans l´oevre de A. Rosetti, Bucharest.



I. The Greek influence upon Rumanian


Morphology and syntax

The verb: (a) The construction of the future tense

The future tense is in Greek, in the southern (Tosc) dialect of Albanian, in Bulgarian, in Serbo-Croatian, and in Rumanian constructed by the use of an auxiliary with the original sense ´will´. This is not unusual, being also found in English, in the Scandinavian languages, in French dialects, etc. The Balkan languages have, however, also many details in the construction of the future tense in common.

In Greek, Qelw + infinitive in the construction of the future tense is found since the first centuries AD; in Bulgarian, the oldest texts have hošta ´I want´ + infinitive, and Serbo-Croatian, ƒu dati or da-ƒu ´I want to give´. In Rumanian , voi cînta, in old texts often cînta-voiu ´I want to sing´ is usual.

Because of the decrease in the use of the infinitive, Qelw grajein became Qelw na grajw (not being used as a future, the modern sense of this is ´I want to write´.) The counterparts of this construction are found in Bulgarian and in Rumanian. In N. Rumanian, voiu s| scriu ´I shall write´ is in old texts used parallel with voiu + infinitive: vedea veÛi cum nu va s| poat|, and, on the same page, vedea veÛi cum nu va putea ´you will see that he will not be able´. In Serbo-Croatian, the construction of the type ´voi s| scriu´ means in general ´I want to write´, but in areas adjacent to Rumanian and Bulgarian, it has the sense of the future (´I shall write´).

In Middle Greek, the construction Qe na grajw appears, in which Qe is an abbreviated form of the third person of the verb Qelei. This has a perfect counterpart in Albanian: do të shkruaj ´I shall write´, where do is the third person singular of dua ´I will´ (dua të shkruaj means ´I want to write´). The construction is similar in Northern Rumanian: ´o s| scriu´, where o is an abbreviated form of va, the third person singular of voiu. Arumanian preserved this form: va si scriu. This verb is a synonym of vrea ´want´ but its origin is non-Latin: it derives from the noun voie ´will, volition´, a Slavic loanword.

Later, the conjunction na disappeared in Middle Greek: Qe na grajw became Qe grajw. The same development is seen in Albanian,where do shkruaj often appears parallel with do të shkruaj; as well as in the southern subdialect of Arumanian, where va scriu is found together with va si scriu. In Bulgarian, this is the most usual construction, especially in Macedonia (k´e, k´a, …e piša). In N. Rum., however, this development is not found.

The future tense may also be formed with the auxiliary of the counterparts of ´have´ (Latin habeo): Alb. (Tosc) kam me shkruem, N. Rum. am s| scriu, Bulg. imam da piša ´I shall write´. Also this is found in Byzantine Greek. In old N. Rum. texts, there is also am + a + infinitive: n´am a te l|sa ´I shall not let you´, which is the perfect counterpart of Alb. kam + me + infinitive. In Albanian, the admirative, constructed by the Gheg infinitive without me and with kam put after, was originally future tense and existed all over the territory of Albanian. The construction of the future by the auxiliary corresponding to ´have´+ infinitive is ancient in this language and the type ´will´ + infinitive is an innovation, probably coming from Greek.



(b) The tendency to replace the infinitive


In Greek, the infinitive is used only in the unusual construction of the future tense Qelw grajei and is otherwise not used as a verbal form, being preserved only as a substantive. This is present already in the translations of the Bible from the first centuries AD.

In the other Balkan languages, the situation of the infinitive is as follows: Albanian: In the Tosc (southern) dialect, the infinitive is only used in some isolated cases, as do me thënë ´that is to say´. In the Gheg dialect, on the other hand, the infinitive, preceded by me, is used as in other languages.

Rumanian: (a) Northern Rumanian has two forms of infinitive: the longer form has become a substantive (lucrare ´work´), while the shorter one, often preceded by a for example a lucra ´ to work´, may, in many instances, be used as the infinitive in the other Romance languages. It is, however, in the majority of cases replaced by a subordinated clause with the verb in the subjunctive, and introduced by the conjunction corresponding to English ´that´. APlus le style est aisé, populaire, moins on trouve d´infinitifs.@ Also Arumanian preserved the infinitive, as N. Rum., with the ending -re, as a verbal substantive and in a petrified state in va h´i ´may be´, lit. ´it will be´, but replaced it in all other cases by subordinated clauses. In Meglenitic, the constructions with subordinated clauses prevail, although the infinitive may be used in those cases it also is used in Bulgarian. In Istro-Rumanian, whose speakers are living in close contact with Croats and Italians, the infinitive is used as in other languages and the substitution by subordinated clauses is unusual.

In Bulgarian, the infinitive is used in isolated cases only.

In Serbo-Croatian, the use of the infinitive is the rule, although it may be substi- tuted by subordinated clauses.

This situation suggests that the tendency to evade the infinitive started in Greek and spread northward. What is of most significance is not the partial disappearanec of the infinitive but the fact that ALL BALKAN LANGUAGES REPLACE IT EXACTLY IN THE SAME WAY, i.e., THAT A HOMOGENOUS SYSTEM OF SUBORDINATED CLAUSES TO REPLACE IT DEVELOPED IN THESE LANGUAGES. AThe conjunctive is in these languages introduced by the conjunctions të, da, and s| (the use of s| [< si] with the conjunctive is also characteristic, instead of c| [< quod], which would be expected )...@

The word sequence in these clauses follows also the same system in the above mentioned languages: Ait is a rule without an exception that the verb follows immediately the conjunction and may only be separated from it by a negative, an adjunctive pronoun or a particle.@

In Greek, Albanian, and Rumanian, clauses with a final sense are constructed with the above mentioned conjunctions and the subjunctive. The Slavic languages have no subjunctive, but Bulgarian formed one by da + verb. For example: Greek doV mou na piw ´give me (something) to drink´, Alb. a-me të pi, N. Rum. d|-mi s| beau, Bulgarian daj mi da pija ´id.´.

Characteristic is the procedure of replacing the infinitive forms with those of the conjunctive and the fact that the phenomenon appears in a handful of languages which may be grouped in a Alinguistic union@. The concordance between the languages of the Alinguistic union@ must be explained by the influence of one language on the other, and not only by the fact that the phenomenon appears among languages spoken in the same region (Meillet, Revue internationale des études balkaniques, I, p. 29 ff.). The facts from southern Italy make it possible to prove this assertion. In the Italian dialects spoken today in the south of Calabria and in Terra d´Otranto, where Greeks have been living since the antique era, the infinitive, without having disappeared, is not popular; the tendency is to replace it with personal formations introduced by the conjunctions mu, mi, ma, and pemmu (<per modo = New Greek dia ina): vulia mu sácciu ´volevo sapere´@[...] etc.


The phenomenon does not appear in the other Italian dialects. Not even in the northern dialect of Albanian did this usage become as common as in the southern, Tosc dialect; and it does not exist in Serbo-Croatian. In Rumanian, it exists in practically its entire area, from the Arumanians in the south through the Timok valley and in entire Rumania; thus also in Transylvania and in Moldavia. (In small areas of MaramureÕ and CriÕana, the infinitive is preferred. This cannot, however, be explained by the distance of these areas from the Greek territory, but it may be conditioned by a Hungarian influence B the Istro-Rumanians, living together with Croatians and Italians, also use the infinitive.)  

In Greek, Albanian, Rumanian, and Bulgarian, na, të, s|, and da, respectively, + subjunctive are used to express a wish or an order: e.g., N. Rum.: nevasta s|-Õi cinsteasc| b|rbatul ´(that) the wife should respect her husband´.





Greek words were transferred to Balkan Latin at least beginning with the first century AD, and this continued through the Middle Ages. Especially many words were transferred to Rumanian during the Byzantine era. The rendition of the Greek sound u in Rumanian indicates the age of borrowing: in borrowings before the 10th century, it corresponds to u (Greek stuloV > Arumanian stur, Greek trujh > N. Rum. truf|, trufie); after that century, to yu or i: Greek mustrion > N.Rum. mistrie. For words not containing this sound, there are no certain chronologic criteria.

Old loanwords from Greek are, in Rumanian and Bulgarian (and those underlined also in Albanian): broatec, bunceag, ciul, cium|, ciutur|, busuioc, colib|, corabie, farmec, fric|, jur, martur, papur|, proasp|t, putin|, sterp, stup, stur, truf|. AThe similar treatment of some sounds in Greek words in southern Italy and of the corresponding sounds in words of Greek origin in Rumanian is explained by the contacts between the Greek language spoken in southern Italy and in the Danubian region.@

Some examples of Greek lexical elements in Rumanian will be mentioned here, out of those 18 given by Rosetti (ILR 1986 pp. 214B215). Most of these are also found in Albanian, many also in southern Italian dialects as well as in Bulgarian.

Northern Rumanian am|gi, Arumanian amayi|, amai| ´to deceive; to seduce´ < Ancient Greek mageuw ´to enchant, to charm´, found also in several Italian dialects, and in Sardinian.

N. Rum. cuteza, Arum. cutidzari ´to dare´ < Greek kottabizo ´jouer au cottabe´, Albanian kuxoj, guxoj.

N. Rum. mîngîia ´to caress, to console; séduire´, Albanian méngji ´medicine, Zauberei´, mëngjim ´healing´ < Greek magganeuw ´user de philtres´.

N. Rum. sterp, Arum. sterpu, Meglenitic sterp ´sterile´, Albanian shterpë ´sterile, which does not give birth this year´ < Greek sterijoV ´unfruchtbar´.

N. Rum. urm|, Arum. ulm|, urm|, Meglenitic urm|, ´trace´, Italian ormare nach- ´spüren´, orma ´trace´, Alb. gjurmë ´footprint´ < Greek ormoV ´Geruch´.

N. Rum. zeam|, Arum. dzam|, ´juice; sauce, sap´, Albanian dhjamë ´fat, grease; juice´ < Greek zema ´decoct, juice´.

A list of Greek lexical elements which exist in all Balkan languages is given by Sandfeld (LB 1930):
















argathV worker










farm hand, servant
















dháfen (dafíne)








laurel tree












way, road














kamatoV work, labor,


kamate gamate














kórab (Old B: korabli, korabi)












keramida, garamida
















crevat (Mold.)














cup, bowl




trëndafíl, trandafil














zográf ´painter of churches´






(house) painter


mwre, morh (mwroV simpleton)


(masc) moré (fem) mori, mojë


moré, mori, mari




m|re, m|ri, m|i, m|


hey you!


Also many verbs were borrowed, often derived from the aorist. The subjunctive of the aorist has an important role in Greek as present perfect and is

used also in cases in which other languages use the infinitive:















kubernw ekuber-nhsa to govern










manage, save, provide for


leipw, eleiya










to be missing


padeuw, epaideusa


pedheps(Calabria) to correct








to punish


swnw, eswsa


sos ´to be enough´


sósvam to be enough






to arrive

In Rumanian, these verbs have taken the accent of such verbs as vorbí; thus: pedepsí, sosí, etc. Albanian and Bulgarian preserved the accent on the syllable where it is in the subjunctive of the aorist in Greek: Alb.: qivërrís, Bulg.: pedéps-vam, corresponding to Greek na cubernhsw and na paideyw, respectively.

A large number of Greek verbs were borrowed by N. Rumanian in the 18th and early 19th century, when Úara Româneasc| and Moldavia were vassal states of Turkey and were governed by Greek lords originating from a district of Constantinople called Fanar (the Fanariot-period). With these, the total number of verbs of Greek origin in N. Rum. is about 100.


As shown by their sound pattern, many N. Rum. words of Greek origin were transferred to Rumanian via Bulgarian and in a smaller number also via Albanian and Turkish.

Thus, Greek kaliba > Bulgarian koliba > N. Rumanian colib|, (but Albanian kalive); and Greek karabi > Bulgarian korab > N. Rum. corabie (but Albanian karaf). If these words had been borrowed directly from Greek, the N. Rum. forms would be *c|liv| and *c|rave, respectively. Also c|lug|r ´monk´, hor| ´dance´, and ieftin ´cheap´, originally Greek words, were by Rumanian borrowed from Bulgarian.

An example of a Greek word transferred to N. Rum. via Albanian is m|tr|gun|: Greek mandragora Albanian matërgonë > N. Rum m|tr|gun| ´deadly nightshade (Atropa Belladonna)´.

In many cases, the same Greek word appears in the Balkan languages in different forms. This is explained by the fact that different variants of the corresponding Greek words were borrowed. Thus, Greek jarmacon gave N. Rum. fármec ´charm, spell; enchantment´ (with the accent on the first syllable), while Arumanian, Albanian, and Bulgarian borrowed the Greek form jarmaki, resulting in Arum. f|rmac, and Albanian farmák.


A suffix of Greek origin for forming of names is known in Rumanian: -ache, from Greek -achV: Michalache, Vasilache, etc.


Loan translations


Besides the borrowing of lexical elements, the Greek influence resulted also in a large number of loan translations (calques) in the Balkan languages:

Latin conventus ´district court, session, agreement´, Albanian kuvendój ´I discuss, I hold conversation´, N. Rum. cuvânt ´word´. Old Bulgarian suboru ´meeting´ developed in modern Bulgarian to sbor ´meeting; word, conversation´, with the verb sborúvam ´to talk´. Also Serbo-Croatian has zbor ´conversation´ and zboriri ´to talk´. In Greek, there are omilia and omilew modern milw and it is very probable that the change of sense: meeting > word originated from Greek.

N. Rum. a cununa, Albanian kunurzój or vë kunorë, Bulgarian vencavam, Serbo-Croatian vjencati ´to crown; to marry´ (N. Rum. cununie ´wedding, marriage, ceremony; bride´s or bridegroom´s wreath´). This expression originates from stejanonw, a Greek marriage ritual.

N. Rum. binecuvânta ´to bless, to cross; to praise´, Bulg. blagoslavjam, Serbo-Croatian blagoslaviti, Russian blagoslavljati were all constructed according to Greek eulogv blogw.

N. Rum. s|pt|mâna mare, Alb. java e madhe, Serbo-Croatian velika nedelja ´Passion week´, lit. ´great week´, reflect Greek h megalh ebdomas. This expression is also found in Hungarian: nagyhét (cf. also nagypéntek ´Good-Friday, lit. ´Great Friday´). Rumanian and Serbo-Croatian have, parallel with this expression, also ´Passion Week´: s|pt|mâna patimilor and strasna nedelja, respectively.

N. Rum s|pt|mâna brânzei, Bulgarian and Serbo-Croatian sirna nedelja, Russian syrnaja (nedelja) ´Shrovetide´, lit. ´the week of cheese´, on the pattern of Greek h turinh (ebdomaV) the week of cheese´.

N. Rum. buric ´navel, umbilical cord; the centre of something´, for example buricul p|mântului ´the centre of the world´, Arum. buriclu a p|duril´ei ´the interior of the forest´, Albanian kërthíjëza e Afrikëzë ´the interior of Africa´. Greek omjaloV has the sense of both ´navel, umbilical cord´ and ´centre´.

N. Rum. buz| ´lip; rim, edge, border; mouth, opening´- Arum. budza and Albanian buzë, as well as Greek ceiloV have since ancient times the sense of both ´lip´ and ´rim, edge´.

AHe quarrels with his wife@ is expressed by saying Ahe eats himself with his wife@ in Greek: trwgeta me thn gunaika, in Albanian: hahetë me shoqenë, in N.Rumanian: se m|nânc| cu nevasta, and in Bulgarian: jade se sß ñenata.

Greek strwnw ´to lay out, to strech out´ is also used in the following senses: strwnw to trapezi ´to lay the table´ and strwnw to crebbati ´to make the bed´. N. Rum. a aÕterne patul, or only a aÕterne, Bulg. postilam postelja, Alb. shtrój ´to make the bed´; Rum. aÕternut, Bulg. postelja, postelka, Alb. shtrúarate and Rum. strat, Alb. shtrat (< Latin stratum) ´bed´. There are also N.Rum. a aÕterne masa, Bulg. postiljam masata, and Alb. shtroj ´to lay the table´. Rum. a aÕterne and Alb. shtroj ´to spread (out), to lay´ derive from Lat. sterno, -ere, stravi, stratum ´to lay out, to strech out; to level, to calm; to cover´, sternere lectum ´to lay pillows in a resting place´, sternere torum ´the make the bed´. Thus, Lat. sternere had at least one of the above mentioned senses (´to make the bed´). This sense is, however, not found in the other Romance languages, only in Rumanian. It seems obvious that the the situation in Rumanian, Albanian, and Bulgarian developed under the influence of Greek strwnw with its two senses.

Here are some other examples of calques from Greek to Rumanian, Albanian, and Bulgarian:










yhnw to bake yhmenoV ripe


coace bake; ripen copt baked; ripe


pjek to bake pjekur baked; ripe




olo klaiei he weeps all the time


totdeauna B always tot plânge B he weeps all the time


gjithënjë always

gjith qan B he weeps all the time


vse-edno B always; all the same

vse place B he weeps all the time


´Vpolla eth (na zhshV) to many years spollati thank you


la mulÛi ani to many years* mulÛumi to thank, to have enough


për shumë mot to many years*



za mnogo godini B

to many years*


* A toast: Ato live a long time!@



In Rumanian, astfel ´so, thus, in this way´ may be used instead of a demonstrative pronoun with the verb ´listen´. This usage is frequent in Greek: to basilopoulo akountaV etsi ´when the prince heard this´; in the New Testament, St. Mark, 2. 12: outwV oudepote eidamen ´we never saw it on this fashion´(in the Vulgate: nunquam sic vidimus ). The same is the case in Albanian and Rumanian: si pa djali ashtú ´when the boy has seen this´, and auzind astfel împeratul ´when the emperor heard this´.


The Greek influence exerted through translations of the Bible


In Rumanian, Albanian, and Bulgarian one says ´I ask a word of you´, I say a word to you´ with the sense of ´I ask something of you´ and ´I say something to you´, respectively: Alb.: do të të pjes dembëdhjetë llafë ´I will ask you twelve questions´, Rumanian am s|-Ûi spun o vorb| ´I have something to say to you´, te-aÕ întreba de o vorb| ´I would like to ask you a question´, lit. ´... to say a word, to ask you a word´, respectively.

It is very usual in all Rumanian dialects to add de zile ´of days´ to the words s|pt|mân|, lun|, and an (´week´, ´month´, and ´year´, respectively): un an de zile ´a whole year´, etc. This is the case also in Serbo-Croatian: mesac dana ´a month (of days)´, in the south-western dialects of Bulgarian: cela edna nedela dni ´a whole week´, and in the northern dialects of Albanian: një javë dit ´a week (of days)´. It is very probable that these usages (the addition of Aof days´@ to year etc., and Aa word@ instead of Asomething@) originate from Hebrew and were conveyd to the Balkan languages by the Greek translations of the Bible.

Rosetti (ILR 1986, pp. 256B258) mentions 26 such cases, including expressions such as Adon´t intermingle@, Aunsteady whether@, Ato have the right to something@, Ato frighten@ (´to put somebody into the earth´), Ato annoy somebody@, etc. These are only a very small part of the Greek influence on Rumanian and the other Balkan languages; Papahagi collected not less than 451 (fourhundred and fiftyone) such common features. Sandfeld stated (LB 1930, p. 205): Aone would not exaggerate saying that it is an exception when these languages differ completely as regards phraseology.@

Summary and concluding remarks


The age in which the Balkan languages borrowed this large amount of Greek elements and elements of speech from one another, cannot be determined in all cases. The ancestors of the Rumanians and the Albanians received the first Greek influence on their language during the age of Balkan Latin. These words are to be considered Latin, although of Greek origin: for example, angelus, baptizare, blasphemare, pascha, etc. Summarizing the results of a study by H. Mih|escu, Coteanu and D|n|il| conclude that Aalmost all words of Ancient Greek origin found in the Rumanian language were, in fact, borrowed by the Latin language and, with rare exceptions, their evolution in Rumanian was identical with that of the inherited Latin terms.@ After the age of Balkan Latin, the Byzantine period followed. Beginning with the 6thB7th centuries, a large number of Greek words were transferred to Rumanian, e.g., ieftin, folos, a lipsi, a mirosi, a p|r|si, proasp|t, prisos, etc. Words transferred latest in the 10th century are found in all Rumanian dialects. That this era, beginning with the 6th century, was significant and must have been of considerable duration is shown by the fact that the Bulgarian language contains most of the typical Balkan elements shared by Albanian and Rumanian. The speech of the Bulgarians cannot have significantly been influenced by Greek (or Albanian and Rumanian) before the 6th century, when the Slavs migrated in large groups to the Balkan peninsula. In the first South Slavic texts, written in the 10th and 11th centuries, a considerable number of Greek words appear, many of which belong to religious terminology.

It is obvious that the parallelisms between the Balkan languages can only be explained by the influence of one language on the other; it is not sufficient to state that several peoples were living in the same territory (e.g., in the ACarpatho-Danubian area@). A situation of virtually general bilingualism must be assumed; many people knew Greek and many of them also one or more other neighbouring languages. The local character of these parallelisms is indicated by the fact that for instance, Serbo-Croatian is a much less of a typical Balkan language than Albanian, the northern dialect of Albanian is less affected than the southern, and also Bulgarian shows some dialectal differences in this respect, Balkanisms being more numerous in Macedonia.

In the centuries in question, the ancestors of the Rumanians cannot have been living north of the Danube or even along both shores of it, not even in northern Serbia, where placenames and geographgical names of Rumanian origin still are extant. The fact that Rumanian belongs to the Balkan languages of the first grade can only been explained if one considers that they lived in (parts of) Macedonia and adjacent areas (cf. also below, pp. 257-258).

J. The contact of Rumanian with South Slavic


The Bulgars, a Turk people from the steppes north of the Black Sea, subjugated during the 7th century the Slavs living in the northeastern parts of the Balkan peninsula and founded, in 679, the Bulgarian Empire. During the 8th and 9th centuries, Bulgaria expanded in a western and southwestern direction, occupying Serdica (Sofia), part of the Timok valley and Macedonia. The Bulgarians were Christianized in 865 AD. (A short summary of the early history of Bulgaria was given above, pp. 21B26).

The Serbs occupied the region of the rivers Lim, Ibar, the Western Morava and the lake Scutari in the course of the 7th and 8th centuries. At the end of the 11th century, they expanded eastward and their new centre became Ras, in the region where Novipazar is today. There was the seat of the Nemanja-family whose documents, from the beginning of the 13th century, contain much information about the Vlachs living in their territory (cf. above, pp. 26B29). The Serbs also expanded in a southern direction and occupied the region of Peƒ, Prizren, Kosovopolje, and finally, in the middle of the 14th century, parts of Epirus and Thessaly.

Between the Bulgarians in the east and the Serbs in the west, in the centre of the Balkan peninsula, an intensively Romanized region was preserved for a long time after the migration of the Slavs to the Balkans. This circumstance is considered to have been of decisive importance, leading to the differentiation of the initially uniform South Slavic language.





The question of the oldest Slavic loanwords


East Latin borrowed the name of the Slavic tribe Slovene in the form Sclavus or Sclavinus; plur. Sclavi or Sclavini at the time of the first contacts with the Slavs. The word is attested to in Latin texts from the 6th century onwards. The Northern Rumanian form is Õchiau, plur. Õchei, Arumanian Õcl´eau. From East Latin, it was transferred to Albanian: shqa, plur. shqe (which in that language means ´Bulgarian´) and to Byzantine Greek: Sklaboi.

Five words are with considerable certainty accepted as being of Slavic origin and borrowed during the East Latin period:

altiÛ | ´string of ornaments on a peasant shirt; shirt´

dalt| ´chisel´ (shows Slavic consonant group without metathesis).

mocirl| ´marsh, morass´

scovard| ´pancake´

smântân| ´(sour) cream´ (shows the an > ân change).


There are a few words from this early period which may be of Slavic origin or transferred to Rumanian via Slavic. They also may have been borrowed simultaneously by South Slavic and Rumanian from a third language and four of them (balt|, gard, m|gur|, and m|tur|) may derive from the substratum:





marsh, moor, morass












master, sovereign




boyard, master, mister








hill, hillock





The oldest Slavic loanwords in Rumanian show the sound patterns of South Slavic before the end of the 8th century:

(1) Slavic *ã , *ß, correspond to Rum. u: Old Slavic *magula > Latin *magula, Rum. m|gur|; sßta (Old Slavic cXto > sßto) > Latin *suta > Rumanian sut|, *metßla > Latin *metula > Rumanian m|tur|.

(2) Slavic a (later changed to o ) corresponds to Rum. a : Old Slavic *slavne > Latin sclavus, Rum. Õchiau.

(3) The Slavic consonant groups talt, tart, are preserved: Rum. dalt|.

A number of early Slavic loanwords, existing in Common Rumanian, are listed by Matilda Caragiu-MarioÛeanu (p. 261):







N. Rumanian














niveástî (mveástî)




woman, wife,








idleness, laziness
























shovel; spade








hem; coat tail; foot (of a hill)









This oldest stratum of South Slavic loanwords, common to all Rumanian dialects, contains about 70 words. These existed in Common Rumanian, before the separation of the dialects around 1000 AD. Some of these words underwent formal or semantic changes during the process of borrowing. Common Rumanian constructed new words by adding Latin prefixes to Slavic lexical elements: South Slavic vrteti ´to turn, to twist, to wind etc.´ was borrowed and prefixed with Latin ´in´: N. Rum. învârtesc, Arum. anvîrtescu, Meglenitic anv|rtes, ´I whirl, spin: dance, etc. Slavic plesti ´to plait, to braid´, became by the same procedure N. Rum. împletesc, Arum. mpletescu, Meglenite amplites ´I knit, weave´. An example of a Slavic word borrowed by Rumanian with a changed sense is loviti ´to hunt; to seize´ > N. Rum. a lovi ´to strike, to hit, to attack´. Slavic koña ´skin´ > Common Rumanian *coj| (Arum.and N. Rum. coaj|) ´shell, crust, rind´.


The chronology of the Slavic loans in Rumanian


(1) Most Rumanian words of Slavic origin show metathesis of the groups talt, tart: N. Rum. brazd|, gr|din|, grajd, etc. This change occurred in Old Slavic in the 9th century.

(2) In most of these words which contain the wowel in question, Old Slavic a is rendered by o : clopot, coÕ, gol. This Slavic a changed to o, probably in the 8th - 9th centuries.

(3) The vocatives in -o appeared in Slavic in the 9th century, from which Rum. fato, Silvio, badeo.

(4) Slavic in corresponds to Rumanian „ into the 12th century.

(5) Slavic y corresponds to Rumanian i from the end of the 11th century.

(6) Bulgarian   (nasal o) corresponds, until the 11th century, to Rumanian un, um. In words borrowed from the 12th century on, the corresponding groups are în, îm. In all Rumanian dialects, there are words of Slavic origin containing un, um (scump, munc|, etc.) sa well as în, îm. However, in the placenames of South Slavic origin of Rumania, only în, îm are found: e.g., Dâmbova, from Old Slavic d bova ´with oaks´, Glâmbo(a)ca, from Old Slavic gl boka ´deep´. This shows that the Slavic placenames were transferred to N. Rum. earliest during the 12th century. (Placenames with un, um exist, of course, but these were given by a Rumanian population using a Rumanian word, e.g. Dumbrava. )

(7) The Slavic consonant groups tj, kt´, dj appear in Rumanian as št, ñd (written Õt, jd), a specific Bulgarian feature.

(8) Bulgarian  resulted in Rumanian ´a (ea).

(9) Slavic r, l > Rumanian îr, îl.


There are LATIN WORDS WHICH WERE TRANSFERRED TO RUMANIAN VIA SLAVIC: Latin matãrus > Bulg. mátor, Serbo-Croatian mátor (with the accent on the first syllable) > Rum. mátur ´adult; mature´ (in case of inheritance from Latin, it would be *matúr). Similarly, Latin secãrus was not inherited by Rumanian but borrowed via Serbo-Croatian: sígãran, as shown by the place of the accent in N. Rum. sígur. N. Rum. oÛet < Latin acetum ´vinegar´ contains a Slavic o instead of Latin a, and Û (ts) instead of c(e).


The age of the most intense Slavic influence on Northern Rumanian


After the separation of the Common Rumanian population into a northern and a southern group around the year 1000, the northern group was exposed to a powerful South Slavic (predominantly Bulgarian) influence. To those 70 lexical elements borrowed during the Common Rumanian period, were, in the following centuries, added thousands of Slavic words. These show the sound pattern of Middle Bulgarian (12th century B early 13th century). They are found all over the territory where Northern Rumanian is spoken.


The Slavic influence after the 13th century


The more recent Slavic elements of Northern Rumanian are characterized by features of the respective Slavic language and by the fact that most of them only exist in certain areas, namely in the vicinity of the Slavic language in question. The Serbo-Croatian influence is found in the region adjacent to the territory of the Serbs, mostly in the Banat. Most of them are dated to the 15th century or later periods. (Ancient Serbian elements in Rumanian are few.) Ukrainian elements appear in the northeastern parts of the Northern Rumanian territory. They date earliest from the 12thB14th centuries, as indicated by the fact that they show the h > g change which took place in Ukrainian in that period.










The palatalization of the labials in spoken Rumanian, as well as the palatalization of the dental occlusives (d, t, n) in certain N. Rum. dialects were, indirectly, caused by Slavic influence.

The e > ie change at the begining of a syllable: el ´he´, pronounced iel, is explained by the fact that in Slavic, the palatal vowels (, e, /, i ) are iodized.

The surd laryngeal spirant h disappeared early in Vulgar Latin; it probably never existed in East Latin. In contrast, it is found in all Rumanian dialects. It may originate (a) from the substratum and/or (b) from the large Slavic word stock borrowed by Rumanian containing h (e.g., Old Slavic xari > Rum. har).

The change of Latin sce, sci into rum. Õte, Õti (Latin piscem > Rum. peÕte, Lat. scio > Rum. Õtiu, etc.) may be caused by Slavic influence.

Rosetti explains the iodization of e , the appearance of h , as well as the loan translations (see below) by Rumanization of a large number of Slavs who, learning Rumanian, preserved certain traits of their original language.





The feminine form of the vocative: soro, Anico, reproduces the vocative of the Slavic feminine nouns ending in -a : nominative, glava, vocative, glavo. In Slavic, the masculine nouns ending in o have, in the vocative, -e. The Rumanian vocative in e probably comes from Latin (lupe, in Vulgar Latin: Alexandre) but its use was reinforced by the Slavic vocative.


The numerals

The formation of the cardinal numbers from 11 to 19 is similar in the Slavic languages, Albanian, and Rumanian: Old Slavic jedinu na desete, Alb. njëm-bëdhjetë, Rum. unsprezece ´eleven´; lit. ´one over ten´ or ´one on ten´. Slavic na corresponds to Rum. spre. The numbers 20, 30, 40 etc. are also formed similarly in these languages: Old Slavic duva deseti, Alb. njëzet ´twenty, a score´, but tridhjetë ´thirty´, N. Rum. dou|zeci ´twenty´, treizeci ´thirty´, etc. For the numerals in between (21 to 29, 31 to 39, etc.), Arumanian preserved the Latin system: triginta quinque: Arum. treidiÛinÛi ´thirty five´, while Northern Rumanian borrowed the Slavic system with ´and´ (Slavic i, N. Rum. Õi): treizeci Õi cinci ´thirtyfive´. Common Rumanian had most probably the system corresponding to that of Arumanian. Arumanian preserved also Latin viginti ´twenty´, and it is assumed that Common Rumanian formed the numerals between 21 and 29 according to the Latin system: *vigenÛiunu, *vigenÛidoi, etc.

The word for ´hundred´ was transferred to Rumanian from Old Slavic: sßto > N. Rum, and Arum. sut|, after the 9th century. The Rumanian system is, in its details, closer to Slavic than to Albanian and it is generally considered that it is a loan translation from Slavic.


The verb

The shortening of the infinitive (cântare > cânta) occurred most probably under the influence of the short forms of the Slavic infinitive (without -ti).

The reflexive, a simple future, and the tense of a reported utterance

Although the reflexive form was used in Vulgar Latin, the Rumanian system of reflexives cannot be explained from Latin. It must have reached its high development through Slavic influence. In Rumanian, the passive is often replaced by a reflexive construction: cerul este acoperit de nori ´the sky is covered by clouds´, but also cerul se acopere de nori ´the sky covers itself by clouds´. The reflexive is also used in expressions as ´they say´, ´one never knows´. In many cases, Rumanian developed reflexive constructions where the other Romance languages use non-reflexive: m-am n|scut ´I was born´, lit. ´I bore myself´, according to Bulgarian rodil s|m se (in contrast to Italian sono nato, French je suis né); Rum. a se ruga ´to pray´, after Slavic moliti se (in contrast to Latin rogare); Rum. a se jura ´to swear´, after Slavic kleti se ´to swear´ (but Latin jurare, French jurer, Ital. giurare); Rum. a se teme ´to be afraid´, after Slavic bojati se ´to be afraid´, (but Latin timere), etc.The classification of the reflexive in the Slavic languages can also be used in Rumanian.

Through Slavic influence, A SIMPLE FUTURE of the verb developed dialectally in Rumanian: viu la tine mâine ´I shall come to you tomorrow´, lit. ´I come to you tomorrow´.

In the western Romance languages, the verb of the subordinated clause must be put in the same tense as the verb of the principal phrase which reproduces the saying of the other person, e.g., il m´a dit qu´il était malade´ he told me that he was sick´. Rumanian has a different rule, borrowed from Slavic: the tense of an utterance is generally retained when the utterance is reported: mi-a spus c| e bolnav ´he told me that he was sick´, lit. ´he told me that he is sick´.


The aspect of the verb


In Slavic, the aspect of the verb is of great significance. It is expressed by particles in front of the verb. The imperfective aspect expresses action not completed (either continuous, or repeated) while the perfective aspect expresses completion of action. In Rumanian, as in the other Romance languages, the verb expresses time, without indicating the duration of the action. The imperfective or perfective character of an action is expressed in different ways, of which one (expression by prefixes) developed under the influence of Slavic: pre-, in preface, prelucra ´to remake, to change, to process´, r|s-, in r|scump|ra ´to redeem, to expiate; to buy back´.


Vocabulary: Qualitative aspects


The lexical elements of Slavic origin in Rumanian concern all fields of human activity and material culture, including also abstract notions. Particularly significant are the semantic groups of words which denote things of basic importance for all human beings: gât ´neck; throat´, obraz ´face, cheek´, stomac ´stomach´ and family relations: maic| ´moder; nun´, maÕter| ´stepmother´, nevast| ´wife, young woman´, rud| ´relative´. Even baÕtin| ´motherland, native land; origin, descent´ is of Slavic origin, as well as such an important part of speech as the affirmative da ´yes´. Historically important semantic groups are the religious terminology of Slavic origin (presented below, pp. 113B114) and that of words pertaining to social life and state organization. Of the last mentioned category, the following may be mentioned as examples:









revolt, rebellion












compulsion, force, violence












to rush (at), to attack, to invade




piece of advice; council








community, people; council, assembly








fine (sum of money fixed as penalty for offence)




sentry, guard

Bourciez described the intimate relationships between Slavs and Rumanians as reflected by the Slavic loanwords:

[many important words pertaining to material civilization, such as zid ´wall, barrier´, sticl| ´glass, bottle´, coas| ´scythe´ etc. were borrowed from Slavic] D´autre part, l´adoption des termes slaves relatifs à la vie intellectuelle et morale montre combien intime a été le mélange des populations. A coté du lat. tempus (roum. timp), on s´est servi de préférence de l´a. sla. vrem„ (roum. vreme), et voici quelques autres emprunts: roum. slov| ´a.sl. slovo ´écriture´, r|zboiu = razboj ´guerre´, ran| = rana ´blessure´, ciud| = …udo ´miracle´, groaz| = groza ´épouvante´, n|dejde = nadeñda ´espoir´, noroc = naroku ´bonheur´, etc. Il en été de même pour les termes se rapportant aux cadres de la vie sociale (roum. jupîn = a.sl. ñupanß ´maitre´, slug| = sluga ´serviteur), et pour un grand nombre d´adjectifs usuels: roum. drag = a. sl. dragß = ´chéri´, bogat = bogatß ´riche´, mîndru = madrß ´orgueilleux´, gol = golß ´nu´. Enfin beaucoup de verbes furent empruntés, comme a.sl. saditi ´planter, izbaviti ´sauver´, (roum. s|di, izb|vi), darovati (roum. d|rui) à coté du lat. dare, et il est caractéristique de voir un terme tel que amare disparaitre devant a.sl. ljubiti (roum. iubi). L´impersonnel qui marque la nécessité, roum. trebuie ´il faut´, vient aussi de la a.sl. trbovati.


Quantitative aspects


Before discussing the magnitude of the South Slavic impact upon Northern Rumanian vocabulary up to the 13th centrury, it should be pointed out that a considerable part of the words of Slavic origin was replaced during the last two centuries by other, predominantly Romance words. This was the result of a conscious attempt to Are-Romanize@ the language. U. Weinreich, who does not believe that purism and standardizing tendencies are a major factor in the history of languages, cites Rumanian as one example (the other being Czech) where such tendencies Adid attain signal successes@. Nevertheless, in spite of the elimination of a large number of Slavic words in modern times, statistics made from different viewpoints show the tremendous impact of South Slavic on the vocabulary of Northern Rumanian.

(1) Macrea studied the vocabulary of Eminescu. Out of 3607 different words used by the great poet (1850B1889), he found that 48.68% of the words were of Latin origin and 16.81% were from Slavic. Regarding frequency, out of a total of 33.846 words, 83% were of Latin and only 6.93% of Slavic origin.Of course, as Mih|il| remarks, this method disregards the practical importance of the words. Thus, Eminescu used the international word of Latin origin amor very frequently, while plug ´plough´, used daily by millions of peasants, occurs in his poems only twice.

(2) Popoviƒ quotes PuÕcariu: A... in einem Verzeichnis von 5765Wörtern, auf nur 1165 lateinischen Ursprungs die imposante Anzahl von 2361 slavischen Wörtern kommt (die übrigen sind türk., ngr., magy. und thrak. Herkunft), also 2/5 des Wortschatzes slavisch sind...@ (Popoviƒ goes as far as to affirm: AIn bezug auf den Wortschatz ist das Rumänische keine romanische, sondern eine slavische Sprache...@)

(3) A large sample of lexical elements (a total of 24.311, excluding derivations) were studied, on the basis of the dictionary of Candrea, by Macrea. Out of these, 20.68% were found to be of Latin and 16.45% of Slavic origin, a ratio of approximately 10 Latin to 8 Slavic.

(4) The main word stock (Afondul lexical principal@) of N. Rumanian was studied by Graur. Out of 1419 words considered to belong to this group, 58.21% were of Latin and 21.49% of Slavic origin.

(5) I.I. Russu gives the following figures about the basic elements (AGrundelemente@, Awenn man nur die Grundwörter zählt, aus denen die Familien der Ableitungen gebildet werden@) of the Rumanian word stock: 160 (170) Aautochthonous@, 1550 Latin, Amore than 2000 Slavic.@ According to this, about 42% of the basic lexical elements of Northern Rumanian are of Latin origin and at least 54%, more than half, derive from Slavic.



The semantic influence of South Slavic

There are cases in which the meaning of a Slavic word was borrowed by Rumanian: Rum. lume ´light; world´, from Latin lumen ´light´. The second sense developed in Rumanian on the analogy of Old Slavic svtß ´light; world, universe´. The existence of this sense in all Rumanian dialects indicates its presence in Common Rumanian. The origin of the double sense of this word is Oriental; Russian svt still preserves both senses, as well as Hungarian világ, while in modern Bulgarian, the sense ´world´ is found only.

There are also many loan translations (calques), i.e., Rumanian adopted South Slavic expressions in more or less literally translated forms:

N Rum. untdelemn ´oil, olive oil´, lit. ´wood butter´, cf. Old Slavic drvno maslo ´vegetable oil´, lit. wood butter´.

N. Rum. destul ´sufficient, enough´, < de s|tul; cf. Bulgarian dosta ´sufficient, enough´, < do + sit (Old Slavic sytß).

N. Rum. fruntaÕ ´chief´ < frunte ´forehead´; cf. Bulg. clnik ´leader´ < celo ´forehead´.

N. Rum. a înlemni ´to be dumbfounded´, lit. ´to become of wood´ (lemn `wood´); cf. Bulg. sd|rvjavam se ´to become numb, as of wood´ (d|rvo ´wood´).

Among loan translations, there are also some verbs:

N. Rum. binevesti was formed according to Slavic blagovestiti, N. Rum. preacurvi corresponds to Slavic preljubodeiti, N. Rum. încurÛi to Slavic vodvoriti (se).


South Slavic prefixes and suffixes


There are very many prefixes and suffixes of South Slavic origin in Rumanian, and they are often very productive. They are found in all dialects, which indicates their presence in Common Rumanian. Rosetti enumerates six prefixes:

(1) ne- (from South Slavic ne-) has the function of Latin in-, which was replaced in Rumanian by this Slavic prefix: nemulÛumit ´not content, unsatisfied´.

(2) po- (from South Slavic po-) has the function of increasing an action or a trait, in verbs borrowed from Slavic; together with adjectives, po- appears in old texts as well as in popular speech today: poneagr| ´even more black´.

(3) pre- (from South Slavic pre-) has the function of changing position or to repeat, change or strengthen an action. With adjectives, it forms superlatives; from this comes the adverb prea ´too´, e.g., prea mult ´too much´.

(4) pro- indicates an anticipation of the action expressed by the verb. This prefix is productive in Meglenitic, but much less so in N. Rum.

(5) r|s- (from South Slavic raz-) has the function of Latin re- (indicating repetition ) and Latin dis- (indicating detachment, taking apart); it is also used to indicate an action of great intensity.

(6) z|- (from South Slavic za-) shows that the action has been finished.

Some examples out of 28 suffixes mentioned by Rosetti are:

-alnic (< South Slavic an/nikß ) forms adjectives: str|dalnic, from N.Rum. str|dui ´to strive´.

-an (< South Slavic -anu) forms mostly nouns denoting a quality: codan| ´flapper, bobby-soxer´.

-ar (< South Slavic -ar/) forms names of agent: fugar ´refugee´.

-ean (< South Slavic -jan-ino, n-ino), a very productive suffix, forms ethnic adjectives and nouns: s|tean ´villager´, apusean ´westerner´, as well as family names: Bolintineanu, Sadoveanu, etc.

-enie (< South Slavic -ene) is also a very important suffix in Rumanian; it forms nouns denoting an action: afuresenie ´ban; curse of the Church; excommunication; curse´, or a state (of mind): Õiretenie ´slyness; cunning; craftiness´.

-ic, -ice, -ici, -uÕ (< South Slavic -iko, i…e, and -uše, respectively) form diminutives.

-nic (South Slavic -nikß //nß + -iko-/) forms adjectives: trainic ´durable´.

AThe fact that a very large number of words are formed by Slavic pre- fixes or suffixes shows how intense the Slavo-Rumanian symbiosis has been.@





Changes in usage may be caused by structural, as well as by socio-cultural factors. It is difficult to determine with certainty how many of those constructions which show similarities between Bulgarian and Rumanian were actually transferred from Rumanian. This occurred, without doubt, in many cases; in other intances, the Rumanian influence may only have contributed to the change.

Capidan considered that Rumanian was the most important single factor in the development of those peculiarities in Bulgarian which are not found in the other Slavic languages. He assumed the following Rumanian influence on the phonetics of eastern Bulgarian:

(1) The change of a to unstressed |.

(2) The change of unstressed e to i.

(3) Stressed e is in eastern Bulgaria pronounced ea when followed by a, o, or u; followed by e or i, it is pronounced e. Cf. N. Rum. sear| ´night´, and seri ´nights´.


Morphology and syntax


A characteristic feature of Bulgarian is the loss of a number of cases in the declension: while the Slavic languages preserved six or seven cases, Bulgarian has only a few (one, two, or three, depending on the gender of the noun). It is probable that this occurred through the influence of Rumanian.

The construction of the dative in Bulgarian: na + accusative (š…e go koña na sini ´you will tell my son´) is also, most probably, the result of Rumanian influence:

Since Bulgarian deviates structurally from all other Slavic languages in using the preposition na to express the genitiveBdative, while Rumanian, especially Arumanian, reflects the situation in Latin and is very similar to the other Romance languages, the only conclusion which may be drawn is that Bulgarian borrowed the Proto-Rumanian system of genitiveBdative.


The Rumanian vocative with the definite article, -le, was transferred to Bulgarian and Macedonian: boñ ele ´God!´, sestrole ´syster!´.

The postposition of the definite article in the Balkan languages was discussed above (pp. 64B66). In Bulgarian, it developed quite late: it is not yet found in the texts from the 11th century, and became general in the texts written in the 17th century. Most probably, it is the result of Rumanian influence. This is, among other circumstances, shown by the fact that Bulgarian borrowed Rumanian forms with the article: drakulu > drakula, etc.

Also the general use of subordinated clauses instead of the infinitive (cf. above, pp. 89B91) is considered to have developed in Bulgarian under the influence of Rumanian.




The oldest Rumanian loanwords in Bulgarian belong to Ancient Bulgarian. The second influx of lexical elements occurred in the 12thB13th centuries, the era also of the most intense Bulgarian influence on Northern Rumanian. More recent loanwords were borrowed from the sub-dialect of Muntenia, from the 18th century on.

The total number of words of Rumanian origin in Bulgarian is almost 200. The largest semantic group is that of the shepherd terminology; there are also groups of names of animals, plants, objects of everyday use, parts of the human body, food, abstract words, etc. The placenames of N. Rum. origin in Bulgaria are discussed above, p. 31; cf. also map No. 3.

There are also similar expressions and calques from Rumanian: Agreat thing@ (Rum. mare lucru) may be added to strengthen the sense of a noun im Macedonian; Bulg. mec ´uvula´ is the diminutive of m ´man´, as is Rum. omuÕor ´uvula´ the diminutive of om ´man´ (cf. above, p. 69). Bulg. po…inal ´deceased´, from po…ivam, may be a loan translation of N. Rum. r|posat ´dead, deceased´, from ´to rest, to repose, to pass away´.


The significance of the South Slavic influence


H.Schuchardt wrote in a letter in 1893: Ader Beweis, dass das Rumänische eine romanische Sprache ist, ist noch nicht erbracht@. At present, after the Adiligent work of two generations of scholars@ (Rosetti ILR 1968, p. 281, omitted in the 1986 edition), Rumanian is generally considered a Romance language, although one with exceptionally large amounts of non-Roman, in the first place, South Slavic, elements. It contains thousands of South Slavic loanwords, many of which are of primary importance; calques, prefixes and suffixes, Slavic features are found in phonetics, syntax; and even in morphology.

It is evident that Rumanian could not have been affected to such a high degree by Slavic but in close and durable symbiosis with Slavs. It does not seem too venturesome to assume that if this had continued some B not very long B period of time, the Rumanian language would have disappeared in South Slavic.

The large number of words pertaining to social and church organization among the Bulgarian loanwords indicates that it was not only a question of two ethnic groups living in close contact (similar to the Vlacho-Albanian symbiosis), but LIVING IN A WELL-ORGANIZED STATE. This state cannot have been other than Bulgaria, founded in 679 AD, Christianized in 865 AD (cf. above, p. 21). This influence began therefore earliest in the 8th century (words pertaining to state organization) and towards the end of the 9th (pertaining to church organization). It is of course impossible to delineate a period of time which is sufficient for the development of the South Slavic impact on Rumanian (and especially Northern Rumanian). It was exerted already during the Common Rumanian period, which ended around 1000 AD. It not only continued, but was intensified after the separation of Arumanian from Northern Rumanian: the strongest Bulgarian influence on the northern dialect was exerted in the 11th and 12th centuries (cf. above, p. 101).

During this period, approximately from the end of the 7th century to the end of the 12th, the two populations lived in close symbiosis in the Bulgarian state. The geographical extension of this state has been described above (p. 22); it was south of the lower Danube, extending towards the southwest to Macedonia etc. (see also maps 4 and 5). During the 9th century, Bulgaria also occupied what is today Muntenia and southern Transylvania. This period lasted less than a century, which is a totally insufficient time to explain the South Slavic impact on Northern Rumanian.



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