Romanian is a Romance language spoken by about 24 million people in
Romania, Moldova and Ukraine. Romanian retains a number of features of Latin,
such as noun cases, which other Romance languages dispensed with a long time
ago. Romanian contains many words taken from the surrounding Slavic languages,
and also from French, Old Church Slavonic, German, Greek and Turkish.
Romanian at a glance
Native name: limba română [ˈlimba roˈmɨnə]; român [roˈmɨnə]
Linguistic affliation: Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Eastern Romance
Number of speakers: c. 24 million
Spoken in: Romanian and Moldova, and also in Serbia, Greece and Hungary
First written: 1521
Writing system: Cyrillic and Latin alphabets
Status: official language in Romania, Moldova, Vojvodina in Serbia, Mount Athos in Greece. Recognised minority language in Hungary and Serbia
Romanian first appeared in writing during the 16th century mainly in
religious texts and other documents. The earliest known text in Romanian dates
from 1521 and is a letter from Neacşu of Câmpulung to the mayor
of Braşov. Neacşu wrote in a version of the old Cyrillic alphabet
similar to the one for Old Church Slavonic,
and which was used in Walachia and Moldova until 1859.
From the late 16th century a version of the Latin alphabet using Hungarian
spelling conventions was used to write Romanian in Translyvania. Then in the
late 18th century a spelling system based on Italian was adopted.
A version of the Cyrillic alphabet was used in
the Soviet Republic of Moldova until 1989, when they switched to the Romanian
version of the Latin alphabet.
Old Romanian alphabet
This version of the Latin alphabet was used during the transition from the
Cyrillic to the Latin alphabets. It is still used, though mostly in church writings.
Cyrillic alphabet for Romanian (16th century - 1860)
Modern Romanian alphabet
Q (chiu), W (dublu ve) and Y (i grec) are also used, but mainly in foreign loanwords.
Sample text in Romanian
Toate ființele umane se nasc libere și egale în
demnitate și în drepturi. Ele sunt înzestrate
cu rațiune și conștiință și
trebuie să se comporte unele față de altele în
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They
are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another
in a spirit of brotherhood. (Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)