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Oct 23, 2016
Romanian phonologyFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In the phonology of the Romanian language, the phoneme inventory consists of seven vowels, two or foursemivowels (different views exist), and twenty consonants. In addition, as with all languages, other phonemescan occur occasionally in interjections or recent borrowings.
Notable features of Romanian include two unusual diphthongs /ea/ and /oa/ and the central vowel //.
1.1 Less frequent vowels
1.2.1 Diphthongs in borrowings
1.3 Vowel alternations
2.1 Palatalized consonants
2.2 Other consonants
7 External links
There are seven monophthongs in Romanian:
Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid e o
Although e, o are written above with diacritics to show their mid height and with a diacritic to show its centralbackness, in virtually all phonetic transcriptions of Romanian these characteristics are implied and the symbolsare written without diacritics. The same convention is applied in this article.
The table below gives a series of word examples for each vowel.
Vowel Description Examples
/a/ Open central unrounded
ap /a.p/ water
balaur /bala.ur/ dragon
cnta /knta/ to sing
/e/ Mid front unrounded
erou /erow/ hero
necaz /nekaz/ trouble
umple /um.ple/ to fill
/i/ Close front unrounded
insul /in.su.l/ island
salcie /sal.ti.e/ willowtopi /topi/ to melt
/o/ Mid back rounded
ora /ora/ city
copil /kopil/ childacolo /ako.lo/ there
/u/ Close back roundeduda /uda/ to wetaduc /aduk/ I bring
simplu /sim.plu/ simple
// Mid central unroundedsta /s.ta/ thispros /pros/ hairy
alb /al.b/ white (fem. sg.)
// Close central unroundednspre /n.spre/ towardcrnat /krnat/ sausage
cobor /ko.bor/ to descend
While most of these vowels are relatively straightforward and similar or identical to those in many other
languages, the close central unrounded vowel // is uncommon as a phoneme and especially uncommonamongst Indo-European languages.
Less frequent vowels
In addition to the seven core vowels, in a number of words of foreign origin (predominantly French, but alsoGerman) the close-mid front rounded vowel //, the open-mid front rounded vowel //, and the mid-centralrounded vowel // (different from the already existing unrounded //) have been preserved, without replacingthem with any of the existing phonemes, at least in careful speech. The borrowed words have become part ofthe Romanian vocabulary and follow the usual inflexion rules, so that the new vowels, though less common,could be considered as part of the Romanian phoneme set. Romanian dictionaries use in their phoneticdescriptions to represent all the three vowels, which suggests that they may be actually pronounced identicallyby Romanian speakers. However, the 2005 edition of the prescriptive work Dicionarul ortografic, ortoepici morfologic al limbii romne gives for the ad-hoc phonetic symbol two distinct values: the mid frontrounded vowel (example: acheuleean, 'Acheulean') and the French "e caduc", that is, the mid-central rounded
vowel (example: chemin de fer, 'the card game Chemin de Fer'). The vowel occurs in words such as: bleu/bl/ ('light blue'), pasteuriza /pastri za/ ('to pasteurize'), loess /ls/ ('loess'), cozeur /kozr/ ('pleasant talker').As it is not a native phoneme, its pronunciation may fluctuate or it may even be replaced by the diphthong /eo/.In older French borrowings it has often been replaced by /e/, /o/, or /eo/, as in ofer /ofer/ ('driver', fromFrench chauffeur), masor /masor/ ('masseur', from masseur), and sufleor /sufleor/ ('theater prompter', fromsouffleur).
Similarly, borrowings from languages such as French and German sometimes contain the close front roundedvowel /y/: ecru /ekry/, tul /tyl/, frer /fyrer/. The symbol used for it in phonetic notations in Romaniandictionaries is . Educated speakers usually pronounce it /y/, but other realizations such as /ju/ also occur.Older words that originally had this sound have had it replaced with /ju/, /u/, or /i/. For instance, Turkish klbecame ghiul /jul/ ('large ring'), Turkish ttn became tutun [tutun] ('tobacco'), but tiutiun [tjutjun] in theMoldavian subdialect, German Dse gave duz /duz/ ('nozzle') and French bureau became birou /bi row/('desk', 'office').
According to Ioana Chioran, Romanian has two diphthongs: /ea/ and /oa/. As a result of their origin
(diphthongization of mid vowels under stress), they appear normally in stressed syllables and makemorphological alternations with the mid vowels /e/ and /o/.
In addition to these, the semivowels /j/ and /w/ can be combined (either before, after, or both) with mostvowels. One view considers that only /ea/ and /oa/ can follow an obstruent-liquid cluster such as in broasc
('frog') and dreag ('to mend'). can form real diphthongs, while the rest are merely vowel-glide sequences.
The traditional view (taught in schools) considers all of the above as diphthongs.
/aj/ rai /raj/ 'heaven', aisberg /ajs.ber/ 'iceberg'
/aw/ sau /saw/ 'or', august /aw.ust/ 'August'
/ej/ lei /lej/ 'lions', trei /trej/ 'three'
/ew/ greu /rew/ 'heavy', mereu /merew/ 'always'
/ij/ mii /mij/ 'thousands', vii /vij/ 'you come'
/iw/ fiu /fiw/ 'son', scriu /skriw/ 'I write'
/oj/ oi /oj/ 'sheep (pl.)', noi /noj/ 'we'
/ow/ ou /ow/ 'egg', bou /bow/ 'ox'
/uj/ pui /puj/ 'you put', glbui /l buj/ 'yellowish'
/uw/ eu continuu /konti.nuw/ 'I continue' (partly replaced by eu continui)
/j/ ri /rj/ 'bad (masc. pl.)', vi /vj/ 'valleys'
/w/ dulu /dulw/ 'mastiff', ru /rw/ 'bad (masc. sg.)'
/j/ cine /kj.ne/ 'dog', minile /mj.ni.le/ 'the hands'
/w/ ru /rw/ 'river', bru /brw/ 'girdle'
/ea/ beat /bea.t/ 'drunk' (f.), mea /mea/ 'my (fem. sg.)'
/eo/ Gheorghe /eor.e/ 'George', ne-o ploua /neo.plowa/ 'it would rain us'
/eu/ (only in word combinations) pe-un /peun/ 'on a'
/ja/ biat /bja.t/ 'poor' (f.), mi-a zis /mjazis/ '(he) told me'
/je/ fier /fjer/ 'iron', miere /mje.re/ 'honey'
/jo/ iod /jod/ 'iodine', chior /kjor/ 'one-eyed'
/ju/ iubit /jubit/ 'loved', chiuvet /kjuve.t/ 'sink'
/oa/ goace /oa.te/ 'shell', foarte /foar.te/ 'very'
/we/ piuez /pi wez/ 'I felt (a fabric)', neuez /n.ewez/ 'I saddle (a horse)'
/wa/ bcuan /b.kwan/ 'inhabitant of Bacu', ziua /zi.wa/ 'the day'
/w/ dou /do.w/ 'two (fem.)', plou /plo.w/ 'it rains'
/w/ plound /plownd/ 'raining', ound /ownd/ 'laying (eggs)'
/eaj/ ceainic /teaj.nik/ 'tea pot', socoteai /so.koteaj/ 'you were reckoning'
/eaw/ beau /beaw/ 'I drink', spuneau /spuneaw/ 'they were saying'
/jaj/ mi-ai dat /mjajdat/ 'you gave me', ia-i /jaj/ 'take them'
/jaw/ iau /jaw/ 'I take', suiau /sujaw/ 'they were climbing'
/jej/ iei /jej/ 'you take', piei /pjej/ 'skins'
/jew/ maieu /majew/ 'undershirt', eu /jew/ 'I (myself)'
/joj/ i-oi da /jojda/ 'I might give him', picioic /pi tjoj.k/ 'potato (regionalism)'
/jow/ maiou /majow/ 'undershirt'
/oaj/ leoaic /leoaj.k/ 'lioness', rusoaic /rusoaj.k/ 'Russian woman'
/waj/ neuai /n.ewaj/ '(you) were saddling'
/waw/ neuau /n.ewaw/ '(they) were saddling'
/wj/ roui /ro.wj/ 'of the dew'
/eoa/ pleoape /pleoa.pe/ 'eyelids', leoarc /leoar.k/ 'soaking (wet)'
/joa/ creioane /krejoa.ne/ 'pencils', aripioar /a.ri pjoa.r/ 'winglet'
As can be seen from the examples above, the diphthongs /ea/ and /oa/ contrast with /ja/ and /wa/ respectively,
though there are no minimal pairs to contrast /oa/ and /wa/. Impressionistically, the two pairs sound
very similar to native speakers Because /oa/ doesn't appear in the final syllable of a prosodic word, there areno monosyllabic words with /oa/; exceptions might include voal ('veil') and trotuar ('sidewalk'), though Ioana
Chioran argues that these are best treated as containing glide-vowel sequences rather than diphthongs. Insome regional pronunciations, the diphthong /oa/ tends to be pronounced as a single vowel //.
Other triphthongs such as /juj/ and /oaw/ occur sporadically in interjections and uncommon words.
Diphthongs in borrowings
Borrowings from English have enlarged the set of ascending diphthongs to also include /j/, /we/, /wi/, and /wo/,or have extended their previously limited use. Generally, these borrowings have retained their original spellings,but their pronunciation has been adapted to the Romanian phonology. The table below gives some examples.
/j/ yearling /jr.lin/ 'one-year-old animal (colt)'
/we/ western /wes.tern/ 'Western (movie set in the American West)'
/wi/ tweeter /twi.tr/ 'high-pitch loudspeaker'
/wo/ walkman /wok.men/ 'pocket-sized tape/CD player'
Borrowings such as whisky and week-end are listed in some dictionaries as starting with the ascendingdiphthong /wi/, which corresponds to the original English pronunciation, but in others they appear with the
descending diphthong /uj/.
Romanian has a broad process of alternating between a mid vowel and a "low" vowel: /ea/ alternates with /e/,
/oa/ with /o/, and /a/ with //.
Originally, this was the result of a phonological process wherein mid vowels (Balkan Latin, by this time, hadmerged the long and short mid vowels) lowered to [