Romanian Language – How Many People Speak It Globally?

The Romanian language, a member of the Romance language family, is spoken by millions around the world. Around 24 million people speak Romanian as their native language. This makes it the official language of Romania and Moldova, where it is used in government, education, and daily life.

In Romania and Moldova, the language holds great cultural and historical importance. The rich legacy of the Romanian language is reflected in its literature, music, and traditions. As more people around the world become interested in learning new languages, Romanian continues to attract a growing number of language learners.

Key Takeaways

  • Romanian is spoken by about 24 million native speakers.
  • It is the official language of Romania and Moldova.
  • Romanian language has rich cultural and historical significance.

Historical Background

Romanian has a rich history rooted in the Latin language, shaped by various influences, and its evolution into the modern language spoken today.

Latin Origins and Evolution

The Romanian language originates from Latin, introduced during the Roman Empire’s rule over Dacia, which began in 106 AD. Romans brought Vulgar Latin, the spoken form of Latin, to the region. Over centuries, the local population adopted this language. By the 5th century AD, Vulgar Latin had evolved uniquely in the area.

As time passed, regional variations and changes in speech patterns further distinguished early Romanian from other Romance languages. Despite invasions and migrations, the Latin roots of Romanian remained dominant. This Latin foundation gives Romanian its place among Romance languages like Italian, French, and Spanish.

Influences from Neighboring Languages

Romanian’s development was influenced by various languages from neighboring regions. During centuries of Slavic presence (around the 6th to 12th centuries), Slavic languages left a substantial impact on Romanian vocabulary, especially in everyday speech and cultural terms. Words from Old Church Slavonic, the religious language, were integrated into Romanian.

The Greek language also contributed to Romanian, especially through interactions with the Byzantine Empire. Many Greek cultural and religious terms made their way into Romanian. Additionally, Hungarian and Turkish influences can be found, particularly during periods of political and economic interaction.

Development of Modern Romanian

The modern form of Romanian began to take shape around the 16th century. Over time, efforts were made to align the language more closely with its Latin roots. Scholars, particularly in the 19th century, worked on reforming Romanian, introducing new terms based on classical Latin to replace borrowed words.

By the 19th century, these reforms helped standardize the language. The development of education and literature in Romanian further solidified its modern form. Today, Romanian retains its Latin origin while showcasing a blend of historical influences. This unique development makes it distinct among Romance languages, yet still closely related to its Latin siblings.

Geographical Distribution

Romanian is primarily spoken in Romania and Moldova. It has significant communities in other countries due to migration. The regional presence of Romanian is also notable in southeastern Europe.

Romanian in Romania and Moldova

Romanian is the official language of Romania and the Republic of Moldova. In Romania, it is spoken by over 85% of the population. Moldova also has a large number of Romanian speakers, often referred to as Moldovan per the local constitution.

The language is used in government, education, and media. In both countries, Romanian serves as a key part of national identity. Schools and universities teach it, ensuring linguistic continuity.

Romanian Language
Romanian Language

​Hungarian Minority in Romania

The Hungarian minority in Romania, which constitutes a significant ethnic group, predominantly resides in the region of Transylvania. This community has a unique cultural and linguistic identity, with many members speaking Romanian as a second language while maintaining Hungarian as their primary language.

Romanian Language in Neighbouring Countries

Romanian is spoken not only in Romania but also in parts of Ukraine, Serbia, and Hungary. In Ukraine, especially in regions like Bukovina and Hertsa, a significant number of ethnic Romanians maintain their language and traditions. Many schools offer Romanian language classes to preserve their heritage.

In Serbia, the Romanian-speaking population is mainly found in the region of Vojvodina. They have official recognition and access to education in their mother tongue. Cultural organizations also work to protect and promote the Romanian language and culture here.

Hungary has a smaller Romanian-speaking community, primarily in the area near the Romanian border. Efforts are made to keep the Romanian language alive through cultural associations and language schools. These communities play a crucial role in maintaining the linguistic diversity of the region.

Historical Context of Romanian in Slavic-Speaking Countries

Romanian communities have long existed in Ukraine, Serbia, and Hungary. These areas have seen shifts in borders and populations, impacting the Romanian-speaking communities. The history is intertwined with Slavic-speaking countries and their interactions with Romanian populations.

Romanian had to coexist with majority languages like Ukrainian and HungarianRomanian speakers often faced policies promoting the national languages, affecting the use and status of Romanian.

Status of Romanian Language in Ukraine

In Ukraine, Romanian is a minority language spoken mainly in regions like Bukovina and Zakarpattia. These regions have sizeable Romanian populations. Most Romanian speakers in Ukraine are bilingual, speaking both Ukrainian and Romanian.

The government provides support for minority languages but emphasizes Ukrainian. Romanian-language schools and media exist, though there are challenges related to funding and policy changes favoring Ukrainian.

Romanian as a Minority Language in Serbia

Serbia has Romanian-speaking communities mainly in Vojvodina. These areas were part of the former Serbia & MontenegroRomanian population in this area enjoys certain cultural rights, including education and media in their first language.

Despite these rights, Romanian speakers often have to use Serbian in official and public life. The Romanian language faces challenges in visibility and support compared to other minority languages.

Influence and Presence in Hungary

Hungary has a smaller Romanian population concentrated in border regions. The Hungarian government recognizes Romanian as a minority language, ensuring some cultural and educational rights.

While there are schools and cultural institutions for Romanian speakers, Hungarian dominates in daily life. Romanian communities strive to maintain their language and culture amidst a dominant Hungarian language environment.

The distribution of Romanian language in these regions highlights the diverse cultural landscapes and the challenges faced by minority languages in multilingual environments.

Romanian Diaspora Worldwide

Romanian Language in Europe-

Romanian Language Presence in Germany, Italy, and Spain

The Romanian language has found its way into many European Countries through the movement of Romanian communities seeking new opportunities. Romanian speakers in these countries contribute to the cultural diversity and bring their rich linguistic heritage with them. This presence is shaping local communities and promoting multicultural interactions.

In Germany, Romanian is increasingly heard, especially in cities with larger Romanian populations. Similarly, in Italy, the influx of Romanian immigrants has fostered a noticeable presence of Romanian in daily life. Spain also sees a growing number of Romanian speakers, creating vibrant, diverse neighborhoods.

Learning Romanian in these countries can offer unique advantages. It opens doors to understanding the traditions and perspectives of a significant part of the population. Embracing this language fosters closer community ties and enriches cultural exchanges.

Romanian as a Foreign Language in Germany

The presence of Romanians in Germany has grown substantially, especially since the early 1990s. The fall of the Iron Curtain and Romania’s accession to the European Union in 2007 facilitated greater mobility, allowing more Romanians to move to Germany for better economic opportunities, education, and quality of life. As of recent estimates, there are over 700,000 Romanians residing in Germany, making them one of the largest immigrant groups in the country.

Romanian Language Influence in Italy

The Romanian community in Italy began to grow significantly after the fall of communism in Romania in 1989 and even more so after Romania joined the European Union in 2007. This facilitated greater movement and allowed Romanians to seek better economic opportunities in Italy. As a result, Romanians now constitute one of the largest foreign communities in Italy, with estimates suggesting over 1.2 million Romanians residing there.

Spread of Romanian in Spain

Spain is another country with a notable Romanian-speaking population. The number of Romanian immigrants in Spain has solidified the presence of the Romanian language there. Cities like Madrid and Barcelona have communities where Romanian is one of the main languages spoken.

For the Romanian diaspora in Spain, maintaining their native language is vital for cultural preservation and identity. Romanian is primarily spoken within families and Romanian communities. Cultural associations, churches, and schools across Spain offer language classes and organize cultural activities to ensure that younger generations maintain their linguistic heritage.

Today, there are over one million Romanians living in Spain, making them one of the largest immigrant communities in the country.

Romanian Language in England, Israel, and Cyprus

The Romanian language has found its way into various parts of the world, including England, Israel, and Cyprus. 

In England, the presence of the Romanian language has grown due to the increasing Romanian community. This community includes not just immigrants but also students and professionals who move to the country for education and work.

In Israel, the story is different. Many Romanian Jews emigrated to Israel during the 20th century, bringing their language with them. Although Hebrew is the dominant language, Romanian is still spoken among older generations and is a part of cultural gatherings.

Romanian immigration to Cyprus is a relatively recent phenomenon that reflects broader trends of labor mobility within the European Union. As Romania joined the EU in 2007, its citizens gained the right to live and work in other member states, including Cyprus. This has led to a growing Romanian community on the island, contributing to its multicultural landscape.

Romanian Language in North America

Romanian is a vibrant yet lesser-known language in North America. With a growing community, the Romanian language is making its presence felt in the United States and Canada. Romanian-Americans and Romanian-Canadians have found ways to keep their language and culture alive despite the dominance of English as the main language.

In the USA, cities like Chicago and New York have significant Romanian-speaking populations. Community events, churches, and cultural centers play a key role in maintaining the use of Romanian among younger generations. In Canada, Toronto and Montreal see a similar trend, with Romanian being spoken in homes, schools, and community gatherings.

While English is widely spoken in North American public life, Romanians in the region continue to speak their native tongue at home. This helps maintain their cultural identity and introduces their children to their heritage. The resilience of the Romanian language in North America demonstrates the enduring power of cultural roots.

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