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Dacian language

From Academic Kids

The Dacian language was an Indo-European language spoken by the ancient people of Dacia. It is generally considered to have been on the same language branch as the Thracian language.

Many of the characteristics of the Dacian language are unknown and disputed. There are almost no written documents in Dacian, so our knowledge of the language must derive from:

  • the toponyms, hydronyms, proper names (including names of kings) and Dacian names of some plants written in Greek and Roman sources.
  • the substratum words found in the current Romanian language, the language that is spoken in almost all the places Dacians lived: there are about 400 words with uncertain origin (like brânză=cheese, vatră=hearth etc), some of which have cognates in Albanian. It is thought that these words entered from the Dacian language in ancient times, and are the remains of the Dacian language.
  • Dacian inscriptions; Decebalus Per Scorilo is the longest inscription known.
Contents

Centum or Satem

The common view is that Dacian was perhaps a Satem language, and a few Dacian examples have been cited as indicating satem sound-changes. There are some Romanian words considered to derive from Dacian (such as sută, meaning 'hundred') that may also indicate a satem Dacian language.

In recent years, a linguist and Thracologist has proposed [1] (http://soltdm.tripod.com/limbimod/romana/grecrom.htm) that the Dacian and Thracian languages were in fact Centum languages in their earlier periods and over time developed some Satem features.

Connections to Albanian

The many cognates and common words between Romanian and Albanian have led a number of linguists and thracologists (Vladimir Georgiev, Ivan Duridanov) to propose that the Dacian language was in the same language group with the Albanian language, and there are some cognates between Daco-Thracian and Albanian words that can be viewed as evidence of Daco-Thracian-Albanian language affinity, or merely as evidence of lexical interaction between the groups.

Whatever the case, contact between proto-Albanian and the Romanian substrate language was disrupted before the Roman conquest of the Dacians in 106, as shown by phonetical correspondences that cannot be explained by later phonetical changes of either Romanian and Albanian.

Connections to Baltic and Slavic

Other linguists connect Dacian to the Baltic or Balto-Slavic languages. Evidence for this idea again depends on some correspondances and cognates proposed, including the Dacian names of some plants, some of which may have Baltic (Dac. kinoboila, Lith. šunobuolas) or Slavic (Dac.diesema, Sl. divizna) cognates, though it should be emphasized that only a few out of the many Dacian plant names known have been linked to Baltic or Slavic. There are some substratum Romanian words that may support the relation of Dacian to Balto-Slavic, including doină, juvete, sută, and zârnă.

Since Baltic, Slavic, and Albanian are satem Indo-European languages that share many similarities and cognates, the two views (Dacian close to Albanian, or close to Balto-Slavic) may be compatible.

Connections to Latin

Another hypothesis (originally developed by linguist Bogdan Petriceicu-Hasdeu) is that Dacian was in fact from the beginning closely related to Latin. Similarly, the language of the ancient Gauls, though a Celtic language, was also rather close to Latin and often mutually intelligible. After the Roman conquest, Gaulish was quickly assimilated into Vulgar Latin, and only about 60 French words are considered to derive from Gaulish.

The theory that Dacian was close to Latin is not generally accepted by linguists; yet it would explain the quick "romanization" of the Dacians after the Roman Empire occupied a portion of Dacia, albeit only about on one-seventh of Dacian territory and only for 165 years.

The Roman poet Ovid learned the Dacian language after being exiled to Tomis in Dacia. He composed poems in the language, which have unfortunately been lost.

The last Dacian speakers

It is unclear when the Dacian language became extinct. The initial Roman conquest of part of Dacia did not put an end to the language, as Free Dacian tribes such as the Carpi probably continued to speak Dacian into the 4th century AD in Moldavia and adjacent regions, perhaps exhibiting by then Latin influence in their language. It appears that the Dacian language greatly influenced the vernacular Latin dialects that evolved into the Romanian language, from its basic word-stock to its definitive articles, as well as to its phonology.

See also

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