--- In email@example.com
, "pielewe" <wrvermeer@...> wrote:
> As I argued on earlier occasions, the
> further you put the Romanian "Urheimat" from Ohrid, the more
> difficult it becomes to make sense of the early history of the
In my view the story can be summarized along the following lines:
Albanian was located basically where it is spoken now (discounting
recent spreads) in late antiquity already. The Romanian Urheimat
(i.e. the area where the Common Romanian innovations arose) must have
been immediately adjacent to whatever was the exact area where
Albanian was spoken, probably in the south or south-east, where the
innovations arose that differentiated Tosk from Gheg (denasalization
and rise of a stressed shwa; rhotacism). Romanian is implicated in
those innovations, both of which precede the influx of Slavic loans
into either language.
Put in deliberately simplified fashion: the further you put the
Romanian urheimat from Ohrid, the less plausible it becomes, and the
period of common Tosk-Romanian innovations must have ended before the
speakers of those languages started borrowing Slavic words.
On general grounds one expects that if languages survived both Roman
rule (before 600 AD) and the unsettled conditions following the
collapse of Roman rule which led to the spread of Slavic (after 600
AD), present-day Albanian and immediately adjacent areas provide the
place to look first. What we find is that two languages survived,
both of which can be traced back to this area. General considerations
and the specific evidence converge.
On the scenario presented above, present-day Aromanian and Megleno-
Romanian are still spoken near the Romanian urheimat and it is the
northward spread evidenced by North Romanian (Daco/Istro) that has to
be accounted for. That is not so difficult as it may appear at first
The basic subsistence strategy in the mountains is pastoralism.
Throughout the middle ages the speakers of Albanian and Romanian are
closely associated with that lifestyle. The eventual calming down of
conditions on the Balkans after the dislocations of the sixth and
seventh centuries must have provided opportunities, notably for
pastoralists: areas that hitherto had been too unsafe to contemplate
expanding into, now became less and less forbidding. Tens of
thousands of square kilometers of excellent pasture beckoned. The
speakers of Slavic, who had farmland to spare anyhow, would have had
no use for it. In my view this is what caused the northward expansion
of Romanian (and, less spectacularly, Albanian).
The outcome was a huge bilingual area with Slav-speaking
agriculturalists and Romanian-speaking pastoralists. The entire
process took several centuries, but by the end of the tenth century
at the latest (and perhaps earlier) Vlachs had become visible enough
to surface in narrative historical sources (chronicles and the like).
Normally what one would expect eventually is linguistic assimilation
of the pastoralists to the agriculturalists except in two types of
cases: (a) where there were few agriculturalists to begin with or (b)
where pastoralists could move into the valleys and shift to
agriculture. It turns out that this accounts quite well for the
geographical distribution of the various languages.
South Romanian and Albanian survived in areas where there were no
agriculturalists at all or too few to prevail linguistically, owing
to the mountainous character of the terrain (Pindus, Albania).
In Bulgaria, Macedonia, and what is now southern Serbia, where
Vlachs were obviously a prominent part of the population treated
administratively on a par with the Slavic-speaking agriculturalists,
they shifted to Slavic, not without, however, transplanting to it
such structural characteristics as reduced use of the infinitive and
other features of the Balkan Linguistic Type. Ultimately the new
variety of Slavic this gave rise to spread to the original speakers
in the way Irish English has spread to the original speakers of
English in Ireland. This is the reason why Bulgarian + Macedonian and
southern Serbian SCr ("Torlak") developed the Balkan Linguistic Type.
Since Old Church Slavonic shows no convincing trace of it, the
process (or at the very least the adoption of Balkan Slavic by the
original Slavic-speakers) had not yet made much headway in the mid
ninth century; for all we know it hadn't even seriously begun.
In the remainder of Serbia and in Bosnia, Vlachs, though very
visible, were marginal as compared with their position in the
Bulgarian lands. They were eventually assimilated without SCr
adopting the Balkan Linguistic Type, although traces of the former
presence of Romanian are not difficult to spot in onomastics and in
the presence of such words as "vatra" 'fire'.
The presence of residual North Romanian dialects as far afield as
Istria (and until the early nineteenth century the island of Krk too)
is a consequence of a sixteenth-century expansion from Lika or
thereabouts, caused by the Ottoman conquest and responsible also for
the spread of Central C^akavian, with speakers of which they appear
to be closely associated.
In Romania, North Romanian must have escaped into the valleys,
becoming in that way a peasant language which eventually prevailed.
If anywhere, one expects that to happen here. The low-lying areas of
Romania (notably the lower Danube valley) are easily disturbed, in
usual Balkan fashion, providing opportunities for mountain
pastoralists to move into the valleys once disturbances cease.
This account differs from more traditional accounts by acknowledging
the potential of the following mechanisms to change the linguistic
geography of areas:
(1) Demographic expansion.
(2) Language shift.
(3) The perennial Balkan movement of pastoralists into low-lying
areas following on the latter having been emptied by disturbances
emanating from the Hungarian Plain or elsewhere.