Wallachian is spoken in Wallachia and Moldavia (the modern Roumania), in a large portion of Transylvania, in the adjacent districts of Hungary, and in Bessarabia, and S. of the Danube in parts of ancient Thrace and Macedonia, and even as far as Thessaly. The num ber of people speaking the language is estimated at about 8,000,000. The name is of foreign origin, probably German (Serb. Vla, Hung. Olah), and corresponds to the German Wälschy designating the Romanic languages in general. The Wallachs call themselves Bomans (Romeni, Romuni), and their language Roman (Romenie, Romunie). The grammatical construction and material composition of the language still testify to its Latin extraction; but it is only recently that the majority of scholars have agreed upon classing it with the Romance languages, by the side of French, Provencal, Portuguese, Spanish, Romansh, and Italian. In Adelung's Mithridates it was still made to occupy a place of its own, with the name of Romano-Slavic, and Vater and Raynouard were the first to place it in the list of Romance languages.
The objection to this classification is mainly on the ground that Romance tongues are understood to be languages derived from the Latin and mixed with Germanic as well as Celtic elements, while Wallachian has embodied hardly any German. - It is supposed that the early population of Dacia were of Thracian descent, and spoke a language closely allied to the ancient Illyrian, which was probably related to Greek, and is now represented by the Albanese. The influx of Jazyges and other barbarians, and of Roman emigrants in the 2d century of our era, when Dacia became a Roman province, totally changed the original character of the language. About the 6th century there was a large influx of Slavs, remodelling the language anew, and pushing the population further north and south. Thus hardly half of the language, in its present form, is of Latin derivation, and the roots of the other words are to be found in Slavic, Albanese, Greek, Turkish, Hungarian, German, and other languages. The German element is quite insignificant, and is due in part to the vicinity of the ancient Goths. The Danube now divides the language into the northern or Daco-Romanic and the southern or MacedoRomanic, which has remained a mere popular dialect, and taken up a large amount of Albanese and Greek, and proportionally little of Slavic elements.
The Wallachs, or Roumans, as they are now more properly designated, use the Latin as well as the Cyrillic alphabet, which they obtained from the Bulgarians. Among the principal features of the language are the following: The substantives, as in Italian, are indeclinable excepting a change of terminations which forms the plural: domnu, master, domni, masters. The article, which is appended to the substantive, forms the cases, thus: domnu'1, the master, a domnu'lui, the master's, domnu'lui, to the master, etc. There are two genders, masculine and feminine. The declension of the pronouns is very irregular. The conjugation is similar to the Italian, as (eu) cuntu, I sing, (tu) cuntzi, (el) cunte, (noi) cuntem, (voi) cuntdtzi, (ei) cunte. - The earliest literary monument so far discovered is a large historical fragment of the year 1495. The literature of the following century is principally theological, but the Bible was not translated before 1643, when it was ordered to be done by the Transylvanian prince George Rak6czy. In recent times quite an array of learned and poetical works has been produced, and the late political movements have led to the establishment of several newspapers.
Minor works, mostly political, are rapidly increasing in number, but nothing noteworthy from a purely literary point of view has appeared, though Assaky, Rosetti, Bolintineano, Alexandresco, Negri, Sion, Negrutzi, Alexandri, and others have recently published some very promising poems and romances. - See Kornbach, Studien über daho-romdnische Sprache und Literatur (Vienna, 1850); Miklosich, Die slavischen Elemente im Rumunischen (Vienna, 1861); Rosier, Dacier und Romdnen (Vienna, 1866); and Diez, Grammatik der romanischen Sprachen (3d ed., Bonn, 1870-72).