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Romanian, also spelled Rumanian, is the national language of Romania, spoken by about 90 percent of the country’s population, or some 20 million people. It is also spoken in neighboring Moldova, but there it is referred to as Moldovan.
As its name suggests, Romanian is one of the Romance languages, the only one spoken in Eastern Europe. It is descended from the Latin introduced by the Roman Emperor Trajan when he conquered the region in the 2nd century AD.
Romania switched from the Cyrillic to the Roman script in 1860. The present alphabet contains four special letters the ă, an unstressed vowel (e.g., vară – summer) the î, a guttural vowel (gît – neck) the ş, pronounced sh (şase – six) and the ţ, pronounced ts (preţ – price). The Romanian definite article, like that of Bulgarian and the Scandinavian languages, is suffixed to the noun (rege – king, regele – the king).
Modern Romanian contains relatively few words from the Latin that was brought there by the Romans. Over the centuries it has borrowed heavily from the Slavic languages, from Greek, Turkish, German, and especially French. It has been estimated that as many as a third of all Romanian words today are of French origin.
Authorized from the original edition of The Languages of the World 3rd edition by Keneth Katzner published by Routledge, a member of the Taylor & Francis Group.
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