LINGUIST List 5.591

Sat 21 May 1994

Disc: Romanian spelling changes

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. H.Stephen Straight, Romanian spelling changes

Message 1: Romanian spelling changes

Date: Thu, 19 May 94 11:45:10 ESRomanian spelling changes
Subject: Romanian spelling changes

In response to Martin Haase's note of some time ago regarding the variant
spelling of Romanian words containing the high back unrounded vowel (probably
acquired by Romanian through contact with Slavic), I offer the following.

"Romanian" is itself an example of the spelling preferences of the formerly
"Rumanian" people. The change from ^i to ^a, like the change from "u" to "o",
is quite consciously motivated by the recidivist-Romance inclinations of this
long-chafing nation ("an island of Romance in a sea of Slavs"). The movement
began long ago, but already in 1979-80, when I was in Bucharest on a Fulbright,
the ^i -> ^a change was well underway. For example, all contemporary works
spell the name of the language itself as _rom^an_, while older texts often had
it _rom^in_. It would be interesting to plot the movement of this spelling
change (which has the goal of making more visible the Latin roots of the
language) through the Romanian vocabulary. Note, however, that the sound
itself (high back unrounded vowel) is NOT undergoing change in this direction.

H. Stephen Straight <>
Binghamton University (SUNY) <sstraighbingvaxa.bitnet>
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