Crişana subdialect of Romanian

Crişana subdialect of Romanian

The Crișana subdialect (subdialectul / graiul crișean) is one of the several varieties of the Romanian language, specifically of the Daco-Romanian dialect. Its geographic distribution covers approximately the historical region of Crișana, in western Transylvania.



The Crișana subdialect is part of the group of relatively fragmented Transylvanian varieties, along with the Maramureș subdialect. As such, the Crișana subdialect is a member of the northern grouping of Romanian varieties, which also includes the Moldavian and the Banat subdialects, and shares with them a large number of characteristics, as opposed to the Wallachian subdialect.

As with all other subdialects of Romanian, the one of Crișana is distinguished primarily by its phonetic features and to a lesser degree by its morphological, syntactic, and lexical features. However, in the context of the more fragmented Transylvanian speech varieties, these characteristics are less distinct than those of other dialectal areas. As a consequence, in some classifications the Crișana subdialect is not individualized, such as those of Gustav Weigand, Alexandru Philippide, Iorgu Iordan and Emanuel Vasiliu. Other analyses, however, include the Crișana subdialect in their classifications of four or five subdialects (the fifth would be the even less distinct Maramureș subdialect); this view is supported particularly by more recent studies, such as those of Romulus Todoran, Emil Petrovici, and Ion Coteanu. This divergence is a matter of definition.

Geographic distribution

The Crișana subdialect has its name from the historical region of Crișana, although the dialectal area and the historical region only partially overlap. More precisely, the subdialect is spoken in the following Romanian counties: Bihor, Sălaj, Satu Mare, Alba (north-western part), Cluj (western half), Arad (northern half, delimited by the Mureș river), Hunedoara (northern part), Maramureș (south-western part).


Several varieties can be further distinguished within the Crișana subdialect, specifically those of Bihor, Țara Moților, the area of the Someș River, and Țara Oașului.


Phonetic features

  • Unstressed vowels [a, e, o] often close to [ə, i,u], respectively: [pəˈhar, ˈpuni, akupeˈrit] for standard pahar, pune, acoperit.
  • Conversely, vowel [ə] sometimes opens to [a]: [paˈduri, kapaˈtat] for standard pădure, căpătat.
  • The diphthong [o̯a] is systematically monophthongized to [ɔ]: [ˈpɔtʲe, ˈkɔʒə] for standard poate, coajă.
  • After labials, [e] becomes [ə] and the diphthong [e̯a] is monophthongized to [a]: [mərɡ, ˈmarɡə] for standard merg, meargă.
  • After the consonants [s, z, t͡s, d͡z], front vowels become central, and the diphthong [e̯a] monophthongizes to [a]: [ˈsɨnɡur, ˈsarə, ˈzamə, t͡sɨn] for standard singur, seară, zeamă, țin. In certain areas, the same occurs with the consonants [ʃ, ʒ], whereas in other areas these become palatal and lead to following central vowels to become frontal: [ˈkwɔʒʲe, ˈuʃʲe] for standard coajă, ușă.
  • The vowel [o] in word-initial positions diphthongizes to [wə]: [wəj, wərb] for standard oi, orb.
  • Asyllabic word-final vowels [ʲ, ʷ] occur: [a spusʷ] for standard a spus.
  • The diphthong [ɨj] monophthongizes to [ɨ]: [ˈkɨne, ˈmɨne, ˈpɨne] for standard cîine, mîine, pîine.
  • The diphthong [ja] becomes [je] in certain words: [bəˈjet, təmɨˈjet] for standard băiat, tămîiat.
  • The archaic consonant [d͡z] becomes [z] in most of the dialectal area, whereas [d͡ʒ] is preserved, although in free variation with [ʒ].
  • The labials and the labio-dentals are palatalized in specific ways when followed by front vowels: [p, b, m] become [ptʲ, bdʲ, mnʲ], respectively; [f] becomes [hʲ] or [ʃʲ], and [v] becomes [ɦʲ] or [dʲ]. Examples: [ˈptʲele, ˈbdʲinʲe, mnʲik, ˈhʲi.e / ˈʃʲi.e, ɦʲiˈt͡səl / dʲiˈt͡səl] for standard piele, bine, (să) fie, vițel. However, the palatalization is not generalized (it is more widespread in the northern part of the dialectal area[1]) and fluctuations occur.
  • Dentals [t, d] palatalize when followed by front vowels: [ˈfratʲe, ˈbadʲe] for standard frate, bade.
  • The affricate [t͡ʃ] remains unchanged, while [d͡ʒ] becomes [ʒ]: [ˈsɨnʒe, ˈfuʒe] for standard sînge, fuge.
  • The sequence [sl] receives an epenthetic [k] and becomes [skl]: [sklab, skləˈninə] for standard slab, slănină.
  • In Țara Moților, a specific kind of rhotacism occurs, by which intervocalic [n] is replaced with [r] in old words: [ˈwamirʲ, lumnʲirə] for standard oameni, lumină. An identical phenomenon, which may be historically related, occurs in Istro-Romanian.
  • In Țara Oașului, when [l] is followed by a consonant, it is velarized to [ɫ] or even [w]: [aɫb / awb] for standard alb.
  • In Țara Oașului, the consonant [r] is realized with multiple vibrations.

Morphological and syntactical features

  • The possessive article is invariable: a meu, a mea, a mei, a mele ("mine", compare with standard al meu, a mea, ai mei, ale mele).
  • Some verbs of the 1st and 4th conjugation groups do not take the -ez and -esc suffixes: lucră, străluce ("he works", "it shines", compare with standard lucrează, strălucește). On the other hand, the suffix -esc does occur sometimes where in the standard language it doesn't: împărțăsc, înghițăsc, simțăsc ("I divide", "I swallow", "I feel", compare with standard împart, înghit, simt).
  • The auxiliary used for the compound perfect of verbs in the 3rd person is o for the singular and or / o for the plural: [o zɨs, or zɨs] ("he said", "they said", compare with standard a zis, au zis).
  • The conjunction used for subjunctives is și: și facă ("for him to do, that he does", compare with standard să facă).
  • The following forms occur for the 3rd person of the subjunctive, both singular and plural: să deie, să steie, să beie, să vreie, ending in [ˈeje], where the standard language has să dea, să stea, să bea, să vrea, ending in [ˈe̯a].
  • The past tense of the optative-conditional mood is formed using the auxiliary a vrea and the infinitive, for instance o vu cînta, totally different from the standard ar fi cîntat.
  • When the object of a verb is another verb, the latter is in its infinitive form.
  • A preference is found for analytic instead of syntactic constructions, such as the use of the preposition cătă ("towards", standard către) to express the dative: [o zɨs ˈkətə ˈminʲe] ("he said to me", compare with standard mi-a zis).
  • In certain areas, the imperative is formed using the long infinitive: nu plecareți!, nu vă lăudareți! (standard: nu plecați!, nu vă lăudați!).
  • In the northern and central parts of the dialectal area, certain verb forms have [n] replaced with other sounds: [spuj, viw, viˈind] ("I say", "I come", "coming", compare with standard spun, vin, venind). This feature is shared with the Wallachian subdialect.

Lexical particularities

  • Particular forms of the indefinite pronouns (and their corresponding adjectives) occur: oarecine ("someone", standard cineva), oarece ("something", standard ceva).
  • Other specific words: arină ("sand", standard nisip), brîncă ("hand", mînă), cotătoare ("mirror", oglindă), ștergură ("towel", prosop), vă! ("go!", du-te!), tulai! ("oh!", vai!), etc.


Crișana subdialect: [aˈtunt͡ʃ jar o jeˈʃɨt ʃɨ so ujˈtat ‖ am rədʲiˈkat ˈbrɨŋka ‖ ʃɨ ˈdomnu o zɨs ‖ ˈɨŋkaʃa nã vəˈzut ˈkɨnʲe ‖ ʃaˈtunt͡ʃ ˈkɨnʲile o vint ku ˈwə.ile ʃɨ so ujˈtat la ˈminʲe t͡ʃej maj spun ‖ kə jel o ʃtʲiˈut kəj maj spun t͡ʃeˈva]

Standard Romanian: Atunci iar a ieșit și s-a uitat. Am ridicat mîna. Și domnul a zis: Așa cîine încă n-am văzut. Și-atunci cîinele a venit cu oile și s-a uitat la mine [așteptînd să vadă] ce-i mai spun. Că el a știut că-i mai spun ceva.

English translation: "The it went out again and watched. I raised my hand. And the gentleman said: I've never seen a dog like this. And then the dog brought the sheep back and looked at me [waiting to see] what else I was going to say. Because it knew I was going to say something again."


  1. ^ Matilda Caragiu-Marioțeanu, Compendiu de dialectologie română, Editura Științifică și Enciclopedică, 1975, p. 159 (Romanian)


See also

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