From the very beginning, the Romanian Literary Society’s primary mission was to elaborate the three necessary instruments of a modern culture, namely to normalize the orthography, set down the grammar, and compile an exhaustive dictionary of the Romanian language. After the transformation of the Society into the Romanian Academy, these three basic instruments remained the Academy’s preeminent tasks.

Ferdousi, Shah Name (The Book of Kings),
a copy from the 19th century.
Detail with a war scene (Oriental ms. 333)

The first academic grammar, written by Timotei Cipariu, was published in two volumes between 1859-1867 and received the Award of the Romanian Academy. After many decades, it was replaced by a collective work coordinated by Al. Graur, Gramatica limbii române (Romanian Grammar), published in two editions (1954 and 1963) and known as Gramatica Academiei (the Academy’s Grammar). It has had an immense importance to Romanian culture and education: all Romanian language schoolbooks were and still are based on it, as were and still are university courses and grammatical research.

A year after the foundation of the Romanian Literary Society, the first project of an orthography was presented. After lengthy debate, in 1881 the modern orthography of the Romanian language was adopted through the vote of the members of the Academy, greatly influenced by that of the distinguished philologist and literary critic Titu Maiorescu. With only minor reforms (in 1904, 1932, 1953 and 1991), the same orthographic norms are still valid today.

The academic Dictionar (Dictionary) has a somewhat more involved history. After A. T. Laurian and I. Massim made a first attempt, publishing between 1871-1876 two volumes of a dictionary unfortunately based on unrealistic principles, the project was entrusted to B.P.Hasdeu, truly a Renaissance man. He published three volumes (letters A-B up to the word barbat) of the celebrated Etymologicum Magnum Romaniae (1887-1895), a revolutionary academic dictionary which, unlike other academic dictionaries, for instance the French or Spanish ones, accepts in principle any word of the respective idiom. However, dissatisfied with the slow pace at which such a dictionary could only progress, the Academy made a third attempt with Alexandru Philippide, Professor at the University of Iasi and founder of an eminent school of philology. Since he proved also unable to meet the scheduled deadlines, the Academy called upon Sextil Puscariu, professor in Cluj, who, with only a small group of specialists, succeeded in publishing letters A-L of the dictionary between 1906-1944. Thus a fundamental work was achieved, which could be regarded as the most scientific academic dictionary in the world. After 1949, the Academy continued this endeavor with three large teams comprised of researchers from the three institutes of linguistics in Bucharest, Cluj and Iasi and headed by Academicians Iorgu Iordan, Al. Graur and I.Coteanu as Editors-in-Chief. Since 1998, the Editors-in-Chief have been Marius Sala and Gh. Mihaila, Associate Members of the Academy. Up to the present, the letters M-T and partially V have been published, while letters D, E, U, V, X-Z are compiled for the most part. In the end, the dictionary will include at least 150,000 words and lexical variants.

We may conclude that at the beginning of the third millenium, all three linguistic instruments have been perfected.

In addition to these fundamental works, we must also mention Atlasul lingvistic român (The Romanian Linguistic Atlas) by Sever Pop and Emil Petrovici, ALR I (2published volumes) and ALR II (8 volumes) both realized in Cluj. Regional linguistic atlases have also been drawn up, 20 volumes of which have been published so far, covering the regions of Oltenia, Muntenia and Dobrogea, Transilvania, Banat, Crisana, Maramures and Moldova. Under the guidance of Al. Rosetti, a group of linguists undertook the research of the history of the Romanian language, finalized in a treatise of which two volumes were published (1965-1969).

Manuscript of the Gospels from the Caldarusani Monastery, 1643.
The beginning of the Gospel of St. Mark (Slavic ms. 13)

At the Institute of Linguistics Iorgu Iordan in Bucharest, other lexicographic works have been completed, such as Dictionarul limbii române moderne (Modern Romanian Dictionary),1958, Dictionarul explicativ al limbii române (Explicative Romanian Dictionary) published in two editions in 1975 and 1996, with a total print run of 560,000 copies, two very rich bilingual dictionaries, Dictionar german-român (German-Romanian Dictionary) and Dictionar englez-român (English-Romanian Dictionary), Dictionarul toponimic al României I Oltenia A-D (Romanian Toponimic Dictionary I Oltenia A-D) published between 1993-1995, and Dictionarul limbii poetice a lui Eminescu (Dictionary of Eminescu’s Poetic Language), 1968. Micul dictionar academic (the Concise Academic Dictionary), a synthesis of the 32 volumes of the academic dictionary, as well as Dictionarul etimologic al limbii române (the Dictionary of Romanian Etymology) and Noul dictionar explicativ al limbii române (the New Explicative Romanian Dictionary) are currently under way.

In the field of grammar, there have also been Limba româna (The Romanian Language), a work known as "the one-volume grammar," published in 1956 and, between 1970-1989, three volumes of a treatise on word-formation in Romanian, with Al. Graur and Mioara Avram as Editors-in-Chief. A reference work is Dictionarul ortografic, ortoepic si morfologic al limbii române (the Dictionary of Romanian Orthography, Orthoepy and Morphology) of 1982. Ion Ghetie has conducted a great number of works researching the history of the Romanian literary language. The latest, a collective work of synthesis, Istoria limbii române literare. Epoca veche 1532-1780 (History of the Literary Romanian Language. The Old Epoch 1532-1780) appeared in 1997.

The Romanian school of linguistics founded and headed by Iorgu Iordan has contributed the following works: Crestomatia romanica (Chrestomathy of the Romance Languages), 5 volumes totaling over 6,000 pages, Vocabularul reprezentativ al limbilor romanice (Representative Vocabulary of the Romance Languages) in 1988, and Enciclopedia limbilor romanice (Encyclopaedia of the Romance Languages) in 1989, coordinated by Marius Sala. In the field of American Spanish linguistics, the work El léxico indígena del español americano. Apreciaciones sobre su vitalidad, 1977, by Marius Sala, Dan Munteanu, Valeria Neagu and Tudora Sandru-Olteanu obtained the award of the Mexican Centenary at an international competition. Another work by the same authors, El español de America. I Léxico, 2 vols., has been published by the largest institute of linguistics in Latin America (Bogotà, 1982). Both are reference works in the domain of hispanic language studies.

Research in linguistics is being undertaken, outside of the two already-mentioned Bucharest institutions, in Cluj-Napoca at the Institute of Linguistics and Literary History Sextil Puscariu, in Iasi at the Alexandru Philippide Institute of Romanian Philology, in Timisoara at the Titu Maiorescu Institute of Socio-Human Reasearch, in Craiova at the C.S.Nicolaescu-Plopsor Institute of Socio-Human Research and at the Institute of Socio-Human Research in Sibiu.

These institutes collaborate in large international projects such as the Linguistic Atlas of Europe, the Romance Linguistic Atlas, Patronymica Romanica, the project PRACTEAST within the Copernicus program of the European Commission, etc. They have perfected accords with similar institutes from abroad: Institut National de la Langue Française, Paris-Nancy, University of Anvers, and the academic institutes of Bulgaria and Ukraine.

Publication of academic periodicals in linguistics began after 1940. The most important are: Langue et littérature, Studii si cercetari lingvistice (Linguistic Studies and Research), Revue (roumaine) de linguistique, Fonetica si dialectologie (Phonetics and Dialectology), Cahiers de linguistique théorique et appliquée and others. In addition, there have been miscellaneous series of volumes, published non-periodically, specialized in various branches of linguistics: grammar, word-formation, literary language, dialectology, onomastic studies, Slavic studies, general linguistics.

To the already-mentioned eminent scholars, Members or Associate Members of the Romanian Academy, we must add the names of foreign scholars who, in time, have been elected Honorary Members or Associate Members: Manuel Alvar, Graziado-Isaia Ascoli, Matteo Bartoli, Viggo Brödal, Eugenio Coseriu, Giacomo Devoto, Friedrich-Christian Diez, Theodor Frings, Emil Gamillscheg, Moses Gaster, Jules Gilliéron, Karl Jaberg, Vatroslav Jagic´, Norbert Jokl, Alf Lombard, Antoine Meillet, Ramon Menéndez Pidal, Wilhelm Meyer-Lübke, Franz von Miklosich, Angelo Monteverdi, Kristian Sandfeld-Jensen, Hugo Schuchardt, Petar Skok, Leo Spitzer, Carlo Tagliavini, Hayman Tiktin, Adolf Tobler, Viktor V. Vinogradov, Walter von Wartburg, Gustav Weigand. Their names illustrate the extent and quality of Romanian academic relationships in the domain of linguistics.



copyright © Romanian Academy 2006

copyright © Academia Română 2006