The Romanian dialects (Romanian: subdialecte or graiuri) are the several regional varieties of the Romanian language (Daco-Romanian). The dialects are divided into two types, northern and southern, but further subdivisions are less clear, so the number of dialects varies between two and occasionally twenty. Most recent works seem to favor a number of three clear dialects, corresponding to the regions of Wallachia, Moldavia, and Banat (all of which actually extend into Transylvania), and an additional group of varieties covering the remainder of Transylvania, two of which are more clearly distinguished, in Crișana and Maramureș, that is, a total of five.

The main criteria used in their classification are the phonetic features. Of less importance are the morphological, syntactical, and lexical particularities, as they are too small to provide clear distinctions.

All Romanian dialects are mutually intelligible.


The term dialect is sometimes avoided when speaking about the Daco-Romanian varieties, especially by Romanian linguists, who regard Daco-Romanian, Aromanian, Megleno-Romanian, and Istro-Romanian as dialects of a single Romanian language. Linguists make no universal distinction between a dialect and a language, as there is no clear boundary between the two and in common usage the distinction is often made based on other cultural, political factors, rather than purely linguistic ones, and these can be very inconsistent across the world. This can also make description of a variety as a language or dialect very sensitive. Nonetheless, common working conventions arise in particular cases and contexts, and for the purposes of this article, Aromanian, Megleno-Romanian and Istro-Romanian are considered separate languages from Romanian rather than dialects of it.


Early dialectal studies of Romanian tended to divide the language according to administrative regions, which in turn were usually based on historical provinces. This led sometimes to divisions into three varieties, Wallachian, Moldavian, and Transylvanian,[1] or four, adding one for Banat.[2] Such classifications came to be made obsolete by the later, more rigorous studies, based on a more thorough knowledge of linguistic facts.

The publication of a linguistic atlas of Romanian by Gustav Weigand in 1908 and later, in the interwar period, of a series of dialectal atlases by a team of Romanian linguists,[3] containing detailed and systematic data gathered across the areas inhabited by Romanians, allowed researchers to elaborate more reliable dialectal descriptions of the language.

The criteria given the most weight in establishing the dialectal classification were the regular phonetic features, in particular phenomena such as palatalization, monophthongization, vowel changes, etc. Only secondarily were morphological particularities used, especially where the phonetic features proved to be insufficient. Lexical particularities were the least relied upon.[4]

Phonetic criteria

Only the most systematic phonetic features have been considered in dialectal classifications, such as the following.

For ease of presentation, some of the phonetic features above are described by taking the standard Romanian pronunciation as reference, even though in dialectal characterizations such a reference is not necessary and etymologically speaking the process might have had the opposite direction. A criterion such as "closing of word-final [ə] to [ɨ]" should be understood to mean that some Romanian dialects have [ɨ] in word-final positions where others have [ə] (compare, for instance, Moldavian [ˈmamɨ] vs Wallachian [ˈmamə], both meaning "mother").

The most important phonetic process that helps in distinguishing the Romanian dialects concerns the consonants pronounced in standard Romanian as the affricates [t͡ʃ] and [d͡ʒ]:


An early map representing a three-dialect system, published by Gustav Weigand in 1908. The map shows the isoglosses corresponding to the pronunciation of a few words.

The Romanian dialects have proven hard to classify and are highly debated. Various authors, considering various classification criteria, arrived at different classifications and divided the language into two to five dialects, but occasionally as many as twenty:[5][6]

Most modern classifications divide the Romanian dialects into two types, southern and northern, further divided as follows:

Argots and speech forms

The Romanian language has developed some peculiar argots and speech forms. One example is the Gumuțeasca, spoken by the people of the commune of Mărgău so outsiders could not understand them on their way to bigger cities to sell their traditional glass products. It has thousands of words and a rich vocabulary that differs greatly from Romanian.[18][19] Another example is the Totoiana, spoken in the village of Totoi. It consists in the inversion of Romanian words and is unintelligible for normal Romanian speakers, but its origins are unknown.[20][21][22]

See also


  1. ^ Moses Gaster, Chrestomatie Română, 1891
  2. ^ Heimann Tiktin, "Die rumänische Sprache", in Grundriss der romanischen Philologie, vol. I, Strassburg, 1888
  3. ^ Atlasul lingvistic român, in several volumes, coordinated by Sextil Pușcariu and based on field work by Sever Pop and Emil Petrovici.
  4. ^ Such criteria were proposed and used by Emil Petrovici, Romulus Todoran, Emanuel Vasiliu, and Ion Gheție, among others.
  5. ^ Marius Sala, From Latin to Romanian: The historical development of Romanian in a comparative Romance context, Romance Monographs, 2005. p. 163
  6. ^ Marius Sala, Enciclopedia limbilor romanice, 1989, p. 90
  7. ^ According to Alexandru Philippide, Iorgu Iordan, Emanuel Vasiliu.
  8. ^ According to Gustav Weigand, Sextil Pușcariu (in his earlier works).
  9. ^ According to Emil Petrovici, in certain analyses. He called the Crișana variety "the north-western subdialect".
  10. ^ According to Ion Gheție and Al. Mareș.
  11. ^ According to Sextil Pușcariu (in latter works), Romulus Todoran, Emil Petrovici, Ion Coteanu, and current handbooks.
  12. ^ According to Gheorghe Ivănescu, Istoria limbii române, Editura Junimea, Iași, 1980, cited by Vasile Ursan.
  13. ^ Mioara Avram, Marius Sala, May we introduce the Romanian language to you?, The Romanian Cultural Foundation Publishing House, 2000, ISBN 973-577-224-8, ISBN 978-973-577-224-6, p. 111
  14. ^ Mioara Avram, Marius Sala, Enciclopedia limbii române, Editura Univers Enciclopedic, 2001 (in Romanian) At page 402 the authors write: "The Romanian literary or exemplary pronunciation is materialized in the pronunciation of the middle-aged generation of intellectuals in Bucharest. While the orthoepy has been formed on the basis of the Wallachian subdialect, it departs from it in certain aspects, by adopting phonetic particularities from other subdialects."
  15. ^ Ioana Vintilă-Rădulescu, "Unele inovaţii ale limbii române contemporane şi ediţia a II-a a DOOM-ului" (in Romanian) Page 2: "The literary or exemplary language use, in general, is materialized in the speech and writing of the middle generation of intellectuals, first of all from Bucharest."
  16. ^ Marius Sala, From Latin to Romanian: The historical development of Romanian in a comparative Romance context, Romance Monographs, 2005. p. 164
  17. ^ Institutul de Cercetări Etnologice și Dialectologice, Tratat de dialectologie românească, Editura Scrisul Românesc, 1984, p. 357 (in Romanian)
  18. ^ Arjocu, Florin (29 June 2020). "Satul din România unde se vorbește o limbă secretă. Tălăuzeşti gumuțeasca?". Știri România (in Romanian).
  19. ^ Florea, Sorin (1 June 2020). "Care este satul din România unde se vorbește o limbă secretă?". Shtiu (in Romanian).
  20. ^ "În localitatea Totoi, județul Alba, se vorbește o limbă specifică locului". Realitatea TV (in Romanian). 19 January 2009.
  21. ^ Arsenie, Dan (9 December 2011). "Totoiana – messengerul de pe uliță. Povestea unei limbi inventate de români". (in Romanian).
  22. ^ ""Limba intoarsă" vorbită în Totoi". (in Romanian). 2 November 2009.


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