The Romance languages or Latin Languages (or Neo-Latin Languages) are called the ones that are the direct ‘’descendants’’ of the original Latin language. They, as well, belong to Indo-European language family. The most widely spoken Romance languages are: Spanish with 489 million speakers, Portuguese with 250 million, French with 77 million, Italian with 67 million and Romanian with 24 million. These speakers can be found worldwide mainly in the Americas, Europe and some parts of Africa. In this article, we will focus on the less widespread Romance language, which is the Romanian.
What language is Romanian closest to?
The truth is that all the Romance languages are very similar to each other. The vocabulary, the grammar, the syntax, the words order in the sentence have many things in common from one Romance language to another. However, some of them are even closer and with much more similarities comparing with the others.
Regarding Romanian, the language that seems to be closer to them, is Italian. Romanian speakers have mentioned that it is quite easy to learn Italian. They are able to understand both the spoken language and the written one and that is because there is a significant amount of words which come from the same latin/indo-european roots. If we want to input some numbers here, an estimated percentage of 15% of what is said in a hypothetical discussion in Italian, will be able to be picked up by a Romanian speaker without prior knowledge of this language and a 20% of what is being written.
There will be definitely opinions claiming that for instance the French vocabulary resembles with the Romanian in a percentage of 29% or in the spoken language, a significant amount of Portuguese words have many similarities with the Romanian ones. But again, all the mentioned languages are ‘’products’’ of the Latin, so it’s absolutely normal for all of them to have so many similarities with each other.
Why is the Romanian language unique?
It is time to see now some factors that render the Romanian language unique among the other Romance languages.
1. The definite article is always attached at the end of the word and not at the beginning which is something that is not happening in the other Romance languages. This is because of a pre-Roman Balcan influence.
2. There is a significant influence from Slavic, Turkish and, in a smaller grade, from Greek and Hungarian on the Romanian language, unlike other Romance languages, as far as vocabulary and pronunciation concerns.
3. Another Slavic influence is that Romanian creates its higher number (like 13,14,15,20,30 etc) via combinations.
4. Many words that come from Latin have turned the L between vowels into an R.
5. They maintained a shorter version of case system that came directly from Latin.
6. In general, they have been greatly influenced by Slavic language due to the location of the state and the adjacency with the Slavic countries.
7. Many Persian, Arabic and Turkish words were adopted into Romanian due to the Ottoman Empire which we cannot find in the other Romance languages.
Is Romanian hard to learn?
To sum up, how difficult is for someone to learn Romanian? We would say in general not difficult at all, but still it is something that depends on some factors. One of them is, how close is Romanian to the native language of each person that wishes to learn Romanian. Also, how many hours per week is willing every individual to spend on learning the language or the learning resources that has at his disposal. Last, but not least, is of course his motivation.
According to a recent research, Romanian language is among the easy languages that someone can learn, along with the French, Portuguese and Spanish. The weeks that were estimated in order for the person to achieve language proficiency, taking into account the above mentioned factors, are 23-24 and the class hours are around 575-600.