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.
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. ngu → mb):
- Lat. octo → Rom. opt (eight)
- Lat. lingua → Rom. limbă (tongue, language)
- Lat. signum → Rom. semn (sign)
- Lat. coxa → Rom. coapsă (thigh)
- rhotacism [l] → [r] between vowels
- 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").
Romanian language sections
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