Is Romanian Similar to Russian? The Truth Revealed.

Is Romanian Similar to Russian? The Truth Revealed.
23 June 2024

Widely known as the black sheep of Romance languages, Romanian is a unique historical occurrence. When compared to its sister languages such as French, Romanian took entirely a distinct linguistic path. It is the country’s proximity to other Slavic nations that seems confusing. Due to this, many question what is Romanian language actually like. Is Romanian similar to Russian? Do they share a lot in common or are they far from being the same? If this spikes your interest, stay tuned for more secrets to be revealed! 


The history of Romanian language

What few people know is that Romanian originates from Vulgar Latin. It was during the Roman Empire that people used to speak the latter. Since Dacia (Old Times Romania) was part of the Roman Empire, the people living here started using Latin. Russian, however, is a direct descendent from Old East Slavic. Thus, it also shares common roots with Belarusian and Ukrainian.


What about the Cyrillic alphabet?

Funnily enough, Romanian used to be written using the Cyrillic alphabet between the 14th and 19th centuries. This was due to the Orthodox Romanian Church at the time. Since the first writings were of religious value, it was then decided to use the Cyrillic alphabet. Soon after, in 1859, Romanians implemented the Latin alphabet. Historically, this had a huge impact on the Romanian language vocabulary. As a result of the Slavic influence, much of its vocabulary on religion, rituals and hierarchy is shared with Russian. 


Romanian Vs Russian vocabulary 

Many believe that Eastern Europeans might have an advantage when learning Russian. While this might be the case for other Slavic language speakers, Romanians are at a huge disadvantage! Besides some common vocabulary, Romanian and Russian could not be any more different. While Russian is famous for its verb aspects, namely perfective and imperfective, Romanian certainly lacks this. Similarly, Russian grammar has no articles. For the Romanian language, this would be considered a felony. This is because articles are a big part of its grammar.

So, for those language nerds, I’ve prepared below some fun vocabulary from both languages!

Similarities in vocabulary

English Romanian  Russian
yes da да
cup ceașcă чашка
sugar zahăr сахар
hell iad ад

Differences in vocabulary

English Romanian Russian
to travel a călători путешествовать
human om человек
sun soare сольнце

While at first, you might hear Slavic undertones in both languages, don’t be fooled! Luckily for Romanians, they get the best of the two worlds. Depending on the topic of conversation, their language could easily be mistaken for Italian as well as Russian!

Elena is currently a student at Liden and Denz, Riga

These images were taken by the author

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