Friday, 12 May 2017

The Last of the Dalmatians

llyria lay on the Western shore of the Adriatic. After the Roman conquest which was completed by the second century B.C. in towns spoke Latin. Their Latin developed, after the fall of Rome, into a Romance language Dalmatian. Later the well-educated in towns like Ragusa (Dubrovnik) spoke Italian, while Croatian language s subsumed Dalmatian (how?), except in Albania. Was this because Slavs move in?

The last speaker of Dalmatian was Tuone Udaina, who was accidentally killed in an explosion on June 10, 1898. His language was studied by the scholar Matteo Bartoli, who visited him in 1897 and recorded 2,800 words.

Dalmatian was once thought to be a language that bridged the gap between Romanian and Italian, but it was only distantly related to nearby Romanian dialects, such as the nearly extinct Istro-Romanian. Istro-Romanian is spoken today only in a few villages and hamlets in Istria (northern Croatian coast).

I believe there is a dotted line between Albanian and Romanian, even though they are in different sub-groups of Indo-European.

Albanian has many words in common with Romanian. I get cross when Serbs think they were in the region longer. But all is obscure.

Thank God for languages. Languages, with the exception of English and perhaps Chinese, preserve cultures. They are constantly changing, like cultures, but they are the strongest bulwarks against globalism. If it weren't for languages, which impede communication, we'd all be Americans.


  1. Here's a list of common words between Romanian and Albanian:

    The first table is less interesting. It contains 432 words but many are of Latin or Slav origin, so I don't think they are specific to either Albanian or Romanian.

    However the second table, of 85 words, is highly interesting.

  2. The book "Albion's Seed" discusses 4 varieties of English that had to merge to become what Americans speak now.

  3. Not all languages preserve culture. Almost 40% of the Romanian lexicon (according to wikipedia) comes from new borrowings from French (and to a lesser degree, Italian). There are a number of languages which went through similar processes during the golden age of nationalism (in the 19th century). I believe Turkish is radically different from what was spoken in the Ottoman Empire. Haitian creole seems to be half language and half brand names (e.g., xerox for copying machine, frigidaire for refrigerator, adidas for sports shoes) Maybe this also says a lot about a people's aspirations and their belief about their place in the world.