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Istro-Romanian language

Istro-Romanian is a Romance language spoken in a few villages in the peninsula of Istria, on the upper northern part of the Adriatic Sea, in Croatia by a population that calls themselves Vlaşi or Rumâni, but called Ciribiri by the local population and Istrian Vlachs by the linguists.

Currently the number of speakers being estimated to only about 500, being listed on The UNESCO Red Book of Endangered Languages as Seriously Endangered, but due to the very small population speaking it there is no education nor press in this language and in Croatia they aren't even recognised as a minority.

Many villages have Romanian words as names like Jeian, Buzet (lips), Katun (hamlet), Gradinje (Garden), Letaj, Sucodru (forest), Costirceanu (Romanian name).


The language resembles Romanian, and traditional Romanian linguists consider it a Romanian dialect, but some other linguistics disagree, and are of the opinion that the language is closer to the extinct Dalmatian language than to Romanian.

One particularity of Istro-Romanian compared with other Romanian dialects is the rhotacism (with intervocalic /n/ becoming /r/, like "lumina" (in Romanian light) becoming "lumira"). This is one of the reasons some Romanian linguists think that Istro-Romanian evolved from the language spoken in Maramures area, Transylvania.


Some linguists (among which Ovid Densusianu) believe that the Istro-Romanians came in this region about 1000 years ago from Transylvania, the other possible origin being from Serbia.

The first historical dates back from 1329 when Serbian chronicles mention that a Vlachian population was living in the area, although there was an earlier mentioning from the 12th century of leader in Istria called Radul (Romanian name).