Eastern Romance languages

Eastern Romance
Southeast Europe, Istria
Linguistic classification:


Proto-language: Proto-Romanian
Glottolog: east2714[1]


Map of Balkans with regions currently significantly inhabited by Romanians/Vlachs highlighted
Evolution of the Eastern Romance languages according to Brezeanu, Niculescu, Rosetti & Sanfeld

The Eastern Romance languages, in their narrow conception, sometimes known as the Vlach languages, are a group of Romance languages that developed in Southeast Europe from the local variant of Vulgar Latin. Some classifications include the Italo-Dalmatian languages; when Italian is classified as Western Romance, Dalmatian generally remains in Eastern. This article is concerned with Eastern Romance in the narrow sense, without Italian.


An asymmetrical merger of Latin vowels, with /i/ merging with /ē/ and /e/ but /u/ merging with /ū/, sets off Eastern Romance from the symmetrical merger of /u/ with /ō/ and /o/ found in Western Romance. However, while this persists today in only a few isolated dialects in western Basilicata, such as Castelmezzano dialect, as well as Dalmatian and the Romanian languages, there is evidence that it once occurred throughout southern Italy.[2]

Several hundred years after the Roman Empire's dominance of the region, the local form of Vulgar Latin developed into Proto-Romanian, a language which had most of the features of modern Romanian. Probably due to foreign invasions (see Romania in the Dark Ages) Proto-Romanian split into separate languages (Daco-Romanian):

The place where Proto-Romanian formed is still under debate; most historians put it just to the north of the Jireček Line. (See: Origin of Romanians).

Common features

The Proto-Romanian branch was one of the earliest language groups to be isolated from the larger Latin family. As such, the languages contain a few words that were replaced with Germanic borrowings in Western Romance languages, for example, the word for white is derived from Latin "albus" instead of Germanic "blank".

They also share a few sound changes with the western Romance languages: some with Italian, such as [kl] > [kj] (Lat. clarus > Rom. chiar, Ital. chiaro) and also a few with Dalmatian, such as [gn] > [mn] (Lat. cognatus > Rom. cumnat, Dalm. comnut). However, most of them are original, see: Latin to Romanian sound changes.

The languages that are part of this group have some features that differentiate them from the other Romance languages, notable being the grammatical features shared within the Balkan language area as well as some semantic peculiarities, such as lume ("world") being derived from Latin lumen ("light"), inimă ("heart") being derived from Latin anima ("soul"), etc.

The languages also contain a Paleo-Balkanic substrate of a few hundreds of words, shared with Albanian.


  1. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Eastern Romance". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. Michele Loporcaro, "Phonological Processes", in Maiden et al., 2011, The Cambridge History of the Romance Languages: Volume 1, Structures

See also

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