Phonological Analysis of the Southern Dialect of Istro-Romanian/Vlashki as Compared to Daco-Romanian

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The Ohio State University

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Istro-Romanian is a Balkan Romance language with two dialects spoken by less than 120 fluent and active speakers (Vrzić and Singler 2016). The language is spoken on the Istrian peninsula, where it has historically come in contact with the Čakavian and Štokavian dialects of the Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin, and Serbian (BCMS) polycentric language as well as Slovenian, Venetian, and Standard Italian. Istro-Romanian evolved from Common Romanian, although whether it evolved directly from Common Romanian or from Daco (standard) Romanian (after DacoRomanian had evolved from Common Romanian) is unclear. The purpose of this paper is the following: compare the Southern dialect of Istro-Romanian to Daco-Romanian. This comparison explores sounds changes that have occurred due to language contact, establishes a more current phonological inventory of a language that is considered highly unstable (Nevaci 2017), and appears to be the first study dedicated solely to one of the dialects of Istro-Romanian. Recordings from Dr. Zvjezdana Vrzić's online project "Preservation of the Vlaški and Žejanski Language" and Dr. Petru Neiescu's recordings from were used for this analysis. Dr. Vrzić's recordings were recorded in 2009-2011 and Dr. Neiescu's recordings were recorded at an unknown date. The sample group consisted of 6 women and 3 men originating from Kostrčani, Letåj, Noselo, or Šušnjevica. While only 9 speakers were sampled for the purpose of this study, as it is estimated that there are only 50 speakers that speak the Southern dialect (Nevaci 2017), this accounts for 18% of the total population. Only words clearly shared by Istro-Romaian and Daco-Romanian were collected. All sampled recordings were downloaded and slowed down to 70% speed, after which phrases were listened to individually. All analysis was exclusively impressionistic, however transcriptions were reviewed with both Dr. Martínez-Gil and Dr. Lechintan-Siefer for accuracy. In total 18 phonological differences between Istro-Romanian and Daco-Romanian shared words were identified, 10 of which were vocalic and 8 of which were consonantal. There are 2 phonological changes per word on average. The majority of the differences have multiple possible explanations for their origin, reflecting the ethnolinguistic diversity of the Istrian peninsula. Further research must be conducted to definitively conclude the origins of these identified changes.



Istro-Romanian, Romanian, Phonology, Dialectology, Balkan Linguistics, Romance Linguistics