According to Wikipedia,

Romanian has [...] the glottal fricative /h/.

You can hear it, for instance, in the Romanian word arhaic.

This cannot be of Latin origin because, as explained in the book La filologia romanza by Pietro G. Beltrami, Latin /h/ was lost everywhere in the Romance domain and has left no trace in the Romance languages. So I suppose that this /h/ was acquired at a certain point in the history of Romanian. Can someone explain this? Is that to be attributed to the Slavic superstratum?

1 Answer 1


All examples in the article are of Slavic origin: e.g. duh & hrean.

Also note Slavic loanwords spread the consonant "h" in Common Romanian in Slavic influence on Romanian:

The majority of specialists say the consonant "h" was alien to Common Romanian, but borrowings from Slavic languages—like duh ("spirit") from *duxŭ, and hrean ("horseradish") from *xrĕnŭ—enabled its appearance in Romanian.

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    it's interesting that there don't appear to be any words of Albanian origin (or a variety more closely related to Albanian than any other surviving language) given the extent of contact there. I wonder if this can be used to periodise the development of h in Albanian (it either being early, having become glottal before Romanian lost Classical Latin h; or being late having still been VsV, sk, or ks at the time of borrowing)
    – Tristan
    Commented Jul 4, 2022 at 9:21
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    @Tristan I’d say that mostly just shows that the contact from Slavic was much more intense than that from some relative of Albanian. Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 17:38
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    @AdamBittlingmayer I don't see why that would follow. Besides, we know contact between pre-Romanian and pre-Albanian was intense, as evidenced by the fact that the Venn diagram of Balkan-sprachbund features present in Albanian and Romanian is almost a circle, much closer than between Romanian and the South Slavic languages
    – Tristan
    Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 10:06
  • @AdamBittlingmayer - The absence of h in Albanian and its omnipresence (and naturalness) in Romanian shows the strong Slavic lexical impact on Romanian compared to that impact on Albanian - but it doesn't show that the impact of the "Albanian-relative" on Romanian was weak. And it is consistent with the idea that Slavic invasions is what separated the Romanian and Albanian linguistic areas.
    – cipricus
    Commented Sep 26, 2022 at 9:21

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