The Oaș patois (oșenεștɪ) belongs to the Romanian language, Transylvanian subdialect and is spoken in the ethnographic area Țara Oașului, situated on the north-western corner of Romania, on the border with Hungary and Ukraine. Its speakers are called Oșeni (Hung. Vasáyok). The Oaș idiom can be found in the villages from Țara Oașului, situated in Satu Mare county
(Cămărzana, Târșolt, Boinești, Bixad, Negrești Oaș, Racșa, Vama, Prilog, Călinești, Lechința, Certeze Moișeni, Turț, Gherța Mică, Gherța Mare, Bătarci, Comlăușa, Bocicău, Șirlău, Tarna Mare).
The Oaş patois was used until the beginning of the 21st century, as with the mixed Ukrainian-Romanian village Хи́жа (Rom. Hija, Tarna Mică) from Ukraine. There is also a considerable number of speakers in European countries such as Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Austria, most of whom emigrated after 1990.
The Oaș patois also kept distinctive and archaic features, such as with other idioms of the Romanians from Transylvania, due to the remoteness of this hill region. Even within the Oaș idiom, there are two main varieties.
Settlements represented in our collection
The first one is located in villages that were part of Ugocea County during the Austro-Hungarian regime. The dialectologist here found more words of Slavic and Hungarian origin. The second was formed by the villages that were part of the formal Sătmar County.
Even if there are a considerable number of dialectological studies about the Oaş patois, there is a lack of comparative studies. Sometimes the Oaș patois is thought to be a part of the Maramureșean subdialect, but there are more similarities with the patois of Țara Moților and other idioms from the Crișean dialect.
Barbul, Jenő (1900): Az avasvidéki nyelvjárás. Budapest.
Brăiloiu, Constantin (1938): Bocete din Țara Oașului. București: Societatea Compozitorilor Români.
Candrea, Ioan Aurel (1907): Graiul din Țara Oașului. București.
Mușlea, Ion (2004): Cercetări etnografice zonale. Cluj Napoca: Editura Fundației pentru Studiile Europene.
© Răzvan Roșu 2019