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Old 05-08-2021, 01:59 AM   #32
Soldier of Macedon
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Originally Posted by Carlin15 View Post
I feel like this question is something along the following lines, if I may: You’ve referenced authors who wrote about Roman settlements in Spain, yet nobody denies that Roman colonists settled in many Spanish towns after they brutally occupied the region. What you need to do is demonstrate the direct connection between those Roman colonists and the modern Spanish-speakers (who inhabit similar areas today).
The two cases may appear analogous, but there are some important differences. For example, whilst many of the natives in conquered territories spoke Vulgar Latin out of necessity, the degree to which the peoples in the Balkans adopted it as a primary language is debatable. Clearly, it wasn't on the level of Iberia (or Gaul, for that matter), whose substantial Celtic population was linguistically assimilated with greater effect. Perhaps the language shift was facilitated by similarities within the supposed Italo-Celtic group, not unlike how Arabic extended across swathes of North Africa and replaced kindred languages that belonged to the Afro-Asiatic group. Whether or not there is any depth to that thesis, it is interesting to note that the highest concentration of people in Europe who speak Romance languages, outside of Italy, are found in France, Spain and Portugal, precisely in the contiguous area that was dominated by the Continental Celts. In contrast, areas in which Eastern Romance is spoken are linguistic exclaves, and Celtic settlements in the Balkans, most of which were around the western and central parts of the Danube, represented the fringes of their world. Another difference relates to the incursions and insurrections that both Iberia and the Balkans endured, centuries after the Roman conquest. In the former, these events didn’t sufficiently alter the landscape to displace Vulgar Latin, even though the Germanic tribes who held sway over Iberia and much of western Europe were arguably more organised, prominent and sophisticated than the somewhat ambiguous groups of people who repeatedly crossed the Danube frontier. Yet, in most of the Balkans, the presence of Vulgar Latin all but vanished. That appears to suggest that either the so-called ‘barbarians’ in the Balkans possessed more political acumen and influence than their counterparts in the west, which is unlikely, or that Vulgar Latin just wasn’t that widespread as a primary language in the east. In any case, my point with the quoted paragraph (perhaps with a bit too much intensity given the exchanges we were having back then), was to get you to challenge one theory that considers the Balkans Vlachs as mostly shepherds that came from Romania during a later period rather than mostly remnants who have always remained in the Balkans (south of the Danube) since the arrival of the Romans.
The Proto-Vlach languages (if you will) were most likely formed on either side of the river Danube, including regions and areas such as modern Bulgaria and Serbia. Prior to the coming of the Slavs, 'Latin' was the official language across the entire Balkan peninsula for many centuries. The processes of how and when were likely the same/similar on either side of Danube, and took place over many centuries during Roman rule and domination. The local native populations used (vulgar) Latin as a lingua franca of sorts. Let's not forget Via Egnatia which runs across Macedonia and adjacent regions, which was constructed in order to link a chain of Roman colonies stretching from the Adriatic Sea to the Bosphorus. I believe I have read it although I may be wrong, there is one argument which states that the proto-Romance element/language in the Balkans was formed in the Nish-Sofia-Skopje triangle region.
The relative uniformity of Eastern Romance languages and their distinction from other Romance languages suggests that early development occurred in an area that was more compact than the heterogeneous mass stretching from the Adriatic in the southwest to the Carpathians in the northeast. An outward migration upon the transition to Proto-Romanian may have then assimilated some other scattered populations that were still speaking Vulgar Latin. This seems more plausible than the existence of a language continuum across the Balkans through the mass adoption of Vulgar Latin as a primary language or the assumption that Vulgar Latin was still a widespread lingua franca spoken as a secondary language during that period, in which Proto-Romanian characteristics were disseminated, only to end up in scattered areas later on. The use of Slavic in the Balkans doesn't seem a likely catalyst for such an event, as its appearance generally coincides with the supposed period in which Proto-Romanian was becoming distinct from Vulgar Latin. Even more untenable is the notion that innovations which characterise Eastern Romance languages were concurrently developed by speakers of Vulgar Latin who were scattered across such a vast expanse and then converged afterwards.
The list of similar words of Albanian is possibly a result of 'contact' with Albanian-speakers - words which were then transmitted across the entire area where Romance-speakers were present (the 'contact' could have occured south or north of Danube, anything is possible, and I don't have a strong opinion about it; I have actually read theories that this list of shared words with Albanian is actually a case against Romanians being autochthonous in Dacia. The experts do not agree and there are at least a couple / few theories in play).
It is definitely a result of contact and given that many of those words are also present in Vlach, it further reinforces the likelihood of the abovementioned compact area for the development of Proto-Romanian. If contact occurred in Dacia, then Proto-Albanian must have passed through there before reaching the Adriatic, and given the other similarities, it may have been at a time when Proto-Romanian was already taking shape. If it occurred south of the Danube, then it suggests that there was an unattested migration to Dacia by speakers of Proto-Romanian. One conforms to the Romanian narrative on Dacian autochthony, the other conforms to the Albanian narrative on Illyrian autochthony. Those who don't want to sacrifice either look for a compromise somewhere in the geographical middle. The problem is that both Albanian and Eastern Romance languages are attested late in the historical sources, however, unlike the former, the predecessor of the latter has a proven and definitive existence in the Balkans (incl. Dacia).
We don't know much about this supposed substratum language. Any discussion would be pure speculation. Vlach and Romanian languages are simply eastern Romance languages. Some of it could be coincidental independent linguistic developments.
That may or may not apply to some of the sound changes shared by Albanian and Eastern Romance languages, but I doubt the unique words that are shared came about through independent linguistic development, as they are both too esoteric and numerous to be coincidental, especially given the different origins of the languages in question. If they don't have parallels in other Romance languages, then they most likely come from either Proto-Albanian or some other language(s) that served as a substratum.
For example (an interesting example to illustrate), Sardinian and Romanian/Vlach share some sound changes that are absent, or at least non-standard, in the other Romance languages.
A handful of similar sound changes between two distant yet related languages is not unusual, nor is it comparable to the characteristics shared by the Eastern Romance languages. Macedonian is geographically closer to Serbian than it is to Slovenian, yet Macedonian and Slovenian share the same sound change for apple (јаболко), whereas it is different in Serbian (јабука). Macedonian is geographically closer to Bulgarian than it is to Russian, yet Macedonian and Russian share the same sound change for wolf (волк), whereas it is different in Bulgarian (вълк).
In general, I don't have a "decided" opinion either way about Vlachs being autochthones in Macedonia or Thessaly, or whether they came from the north. I guess anything is possible, but I currently subscribe to the Romance element also being "native" south of the Danube incl. Macedonia for reasons outlined above, as well as (I should add) that first historical references to Vlachs, Vlach language or Vlachia territories were all south of the Danube, and not in Dacia. (Note: I'm not saying the Romanians were not present in Dacia, all I'm saying is that "Vlachs" existed south of the Danube as well.)
Vlachs were indeed attested south of the Danube before any mention of their presence further north. Historical sources record many different peoples residing in Dacia during the early Middle Ages. Not only was it a common transit area, it was often used as a staging point to conduct raids into the (eastern) Roman Empire. In that region, the exonym Vlach was referenced late, and the endonym Roman (as it pertains to Romanian-speakers) even later, yet Romanian became the language of the majority. If you had to provide an informed opinion, how do you think Romanian became dominant in Dacia? Were the speakers of that language the majority throughout the period of scant references who only asserted themselves later? Were they a minority that was augmented by speakers of kindred dialects from the Balkans in something of a reverse-migration? Or did the circumstances occur entirely differently? I understand that much of this discussion is speculative and am open to adjusting my viewpoint on any of the above if opposing perspectives are based on sound logic and evidence, but I am interested in your thoughts on this matter nonetheless, and I trust you won't take two years to respond as I did
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