Pannonian Romance

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Pannonian Romance
Region Pannonia
Era ca. 500–700 CE[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Linguist list
Glottolog None

Pannonian Romance was a Romance language that developed in Pannonia after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. It seems to have lasted until the 10th century. The development of Pannonian Romance shows some similarities with that of British Romance, lasting only a few centuries.


In the north, a Roman population probably still lived in the former province of Pannonia at least in all the 6th century and the question whether the "dialect" spoken there belonged to East Latin or to the Occidental dialects has been discussed by scholars without a definite conclusion.[2]

The Romanized population of Pannonia (for which the historian Theodor Mommsen calculated a population of about 200,000 around the 4th century) survived Barbarian invasions (by the Huns, Goths, Avars and others), although they were reduced to a few thousands by the 6th century, living mainly in fortified villages like Keszthely and Fenékpuszta.

There were other places in Pannonia where the local population continued to speak forms of Vulgar Latin after the 5th century: Pécs, Sopron, Szombathely, Dunaújváros. Many Christian relics with inscriptions in Latin have been found in these towns.

Image of Roman Pannonia girl (6th century), wearing ornaments of the Keszthely culture

But it was on the western shore of Lake Balaton where a peculiar society of craftsmen formed, called the Keszthely culture, of which more than 6,000 artisan tombs and many products (including in gold) are left.

Romance dialects disappeared due to assimilation with German and Slavic invaders in borders areas of the Roman limes near the Danube river in Pannonia, Raetia (today Bavaria and Switzerland) and Noricum (today Austria),[3] but in the area of Lake Balaton survived because the Avars needed a population of skilled artisans and craftsmen for their own needs.

After the Avars were defeated by Charlemagne and disappeared at the beginning of the 9th century, the Romanized craftsmen of the "Keszthely culture" were no longer needed and so quickly were assimilated: their language, Pannonian Romance, soon disappeared with them in the 10th century.[4]


Pannonian Romance was spoken around Lake Balaton in western Hungary, mainly in the fortified villages of Keszthely and Fenékpuszta.[dubious ][citation needed]

Other places where Romanized tombs of Pannonians of the 6th century were found include Pécs (the Roman Sopianae), Sopron (Scarbantia), Szombathely (Savaria), Tokod and Dunaújváros.

The area around Lake Balaton has an almost Mediterranean climate, similar to the one of the subalpine lakes in the north of Italy.

According to Alexandru Magdearu, this special mild climate is one of the reasons of why the Pannonians remained in Keszthely and did not flee during the Barbarian incursions towards the relatively near coasts of the Adriatic Sea.


Remains of a Christian church of the 5th century in Sopianae (Pécs), Pannonia (Hungary)

At Fenekpuszta (Keszthely) [...] excavations have brought to light a unique group of finds that suggest not only Christians but Romans too [...] There are finds such as a gold pin with the name BONOSA proving that some ethnic group of Roman complexion remained at Fenekpuszta (after the barbarian invasions) [...][5]

Some words in Pannonian Romance were of Celtic or Illyrian origin.[citation needed] According to the linguist Roxana Curc,[citation needed] the main source of evidence on this extinct language are the numerous toponyms in the area of Lake Balaton and some anthroponyms, hydronyms and ethnonyms that come from the Keszthely culture.

The name Keszthely (IPA ['kεst.hεj]) could be related to the IstriotVenetian castei, which means "castle", and is probably an original word of the Pannonian Romance language, according to the Austrian linguist Julius Pokorny.[6] He also posits that the word Pannonia is derived via Illyrian from a Proto-Indo-European root *pen- "swamp, water, wet". If true, that would suggest that the pre-Roman language of Pannonia was an Illyrian language.

According to Romanian linguist Alexandru Rossetti,[7] Pannonian Romance probably contributed to the creation of the 300 basic words of the "Latin substratum" of the Balkan Romance languages.

Some scholars argue that the Pannonian Romance lacks clear evidences of existence, because no written sources exist. However, according to Árthur Sós,[8] in some of the 6000 tombs of the Keszthely culture, there are words in vernacular Latin. This is the case, for example, of a gold pin with the inscription BONOSA.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pannonian Romance at MultiTree on the Linguist List
  2. ^ André du Nay. The Origins of the Rumanians. The early history of the Rumanian language
  3. ^ Romance disappearance in "Romania submersa"
  4. ^ Sós, Árthur/Salamon Á. Cemeteries of the Early Middle Ages (6th-9th c.) at Pókaszepetk
  5. ^ Romans in Kezsthely (Fenekpuszta) in the fifth and sixth century (Google book)
  6. ^ Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch
  7. ^ Istoria limbii române
  8. ^ Cemeteries of the Early Middle Ages (6th-9th c.) at Pókaszepetkin
  9. ^ Mócsy, András. Pannonia and Upper Moesia: a history of the middle Danube provinces of the Roman Empire p.353


  • Du Nay, Andre. The Origins of the Rumanians—The early history of the Rumanian language. Matthias Corvinus Publishing. Toronto,1996
  • Magdearu, Alexandru. Românii în opera Notarului Anonym. Centrul de Studii Transilvane, Bibliotheca Rerum Transsylvaniae, XXVII. Cluj-Napoca 2001.
  • Mócsy, András. Pannonia and Upper Moesia: a history of the middle Danube provinces of the Roman Empire. Publisher Routledge. London, 1974 ISBN 0-7100-7714-9
  • Mommsen, Theodore. The Provinces of the Roman empire. Barnes & Noble Books. New York 2003
  • Remondon, Roger. La crise de l’Empire romain. Collection Nouvelle Clio – l’histoire et ses problèmes. Paris 1970
  • Rosetti, Alexandru. "History of the Romanian language" (Istoria limbii române), 2 vols., Bucharest, 1965-1969.
  • Sós, Árthur/Salamon Á. Cemeteries of the Early Middle Ages (6th-9 th c.) at Pókaszepetk. Ed by. B. M. Szőke. Budapest 1995.
  • Szemerényi, Oswald. Studies in the Kinship Terminology of the Indo-European Languages. Leiden 1977
  • Tagliavini, Carlo. Le origini delle lingue neolatine. Patron Ed. Bologna 1982