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Phonology::Romanian language

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Phonology {{#invoke:main|main}}

Romanian has seven vowels: /i/, /ɨ/, /u/, /e/, /ə/, /o/ and /a/. Additionally, /ø/ and /y/ may appear in some borrowed words. Arguably, the diphthongs /e̯a/ and /o̯a/ are also part of the phoneme set. There are twenty-two consonants. The two approximants /j/ and /w/ can appear before or after any vowel, creating a large number of glide-vowel sequences which are, strictly speaking, not diphthongs.

In final positions after consonants, a short /i/ can be deleted, surfacing only as the palatalization of the preceding consonant (e.g., [mʲ]). Similarly, a deleted /u/ may prompt labialization of a preceding consonant, though this has ceased to carry any morphological meaning.

Phonetic changes

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Owing to its isolation from the other Romance languages, the phonetic evolution of Romanian was quite different, but does share a few changes with Italian, such as [kl][kj] (Lat. clarus → Rom. chiar, Ital. chiaro, Lat. clamare → Rom. chemare, Ital. chiamare) and [ɡl][ɡj] (Lat. *glacia (glacies) → Rom. gheață, Ital. ghiaccia, ghiaccio, Lat. *ungla (ungula) → Rom. unghie, Ital. unghia); another similarity with Italian is the change from [ke] or [ki] to [tʃe] or [tʃi] (Lat. pax, pacem → Rom. and Ital. pace, Lat. dulcem → Rom. dulce, Ital. dolce, Lat. circus → Rom. cerc, Ital. circo) and [ɡe] or [ɡi] to [dʒe] or [dʒi] (Lat. gelu → Rom. ger, Ital. gelo, Lat. marginem → Rom. and Ital. margine, Lat. gemere → Rom. geme(gemere), Ital. gemere). There are also a few changes shared with Dalmatian, such as /ɡn/ (probably phonetically [ŋn]) → [mn] (Lat. cognatus → Rom. cumnat, Dalm. comnut) and /ks/[ps] in some situations (Lat. coxa → Rom. coapsă, Dalm. copsa).

Among the notable phonetic changes are:

  • diphthongization of e and o → ea and oa, before ă (or e as well, in the case of o) in the next syllable:
  • Lat. cera → Rom. ceară (wax)
  • Lat. sole → Rom. soare (sun)
  • iotation [e][ie] in the beginning of the word
  • Lat. herba → Rom. iarbă (grass, herb)
  • velar [k ɡ] → labial [p b m] before alveolar consonants and [w] (e.g. ngumb):
  • Lat. octo → Rom. opt (eight)
  • Lat. lingua → Rom. limbă (tongue, language)
  • Lat. signum → Rom. semn (sign)
  • Lat. coxa → Rom. coapsă (thigh)
  • Lat. caelum → Rom. cer (sky)
  • Alveolars [d t] palatalized to [(d)z] [ts] when before short [e] or long [iː]
  • Lat. deus → Rom. zeu (god)
  • Lat. tenem → Rom. ține (hold)

On the other hand, it (along with French) has lost /kw/ (qu) sound before /a/ from original Latin, turning it either into /p/ (Lat. quattuor → Rom.patru, "four"; cf. It. quattro) or /k/ (Lat. quando → Rom.când, "when"; Lat. quale → Rom.care, "which").


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