The Romanian language (românește, rumânește) is an Eastern Romance language which descends from the Vulgar Latin spoken in the Roman provinces of South-eastern Europe and has a considerable Slavic superstrate. Romanian is spoken by 24 to 26 million people as a native language, mostly in Romania and Moldova where it has an official status. Other Romanian speakers can be found in Serbia, Hungary, the Ukraine or Bulgaria, where Romanian ethnic minorities can be found. In the last decades of the 20th century numerous Romanian speakers spread over many countries of the European Union, as well as North and South America and Oceania. The Romanian language has much in common with other Romance languages such as Italian, Spanish, French and Portuguese. However, the closest to Romanian language varieties are Aromanian, Meglen Vlach and Istrian Vlach or Istroromanian. Traditionally the Romanian language (by Romanian linguists also called Daco-Romanian) was divided into two categories: a southern and northern one.
The southern category consists in the Wallachian dialect spoken in the southern part of today's Romania in regions such as Muntenia, Oltenia, northern Dobrudja and southern parts of Transylvania. The northern category consists in more dialects. The most widespread is the Moldovan dialect spoken in the historical region of Moldavia/Moldova, now split among Romania, the Republic of Moldova and the Ukraine. The Banat dialect is nowadays (though rarely) spoken in the historical region of Banat, including parts of Serbia. There are also some Transylvanian variants, among which the dialects Crișana and Maramureș are most pronounced. During the second half of the 19th century Romanian stated to evolve once with the new established state Romania. The Romanian vocabulary was gradually expanded by French and Italian. The situation was different in Transylvania which was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire until 1918. As Romanian was mainly spoken by peasant communities, it retained rather archaic traits, and was strongly influenced by Hungarian and German.
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