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The meaning of «vlachs»

Vlachs (English: /ˈvlɑːk/ or /ˈvlæk/, or rarely /ˈvlɑːx/), also Wallachians (and many other variants[1]), is a historical term from the Middle Ages that designates an exonym mostly for Eastern Romance - speaking peoples who lived north and south of the Danube, in Southeast Europe.[2]

As a contemporary term, in the English language, the Vlachs are the Balkan Romance-speaking peoples who live south of the Danube in what are now southern Albania, Bulgaria, northern Greece, North Macedonia, and eastern Serbia as native ethnic groups, such as the Aromanians and the Megleno-Romanians.[3] The term also became a synonym in the Balkans for the social category of shepherds,[4] and was also used for non-Romance-speaking peoples, in recent times in the western Balkans derogatively.[5]

"Vlachs" were initially identified and described during the 11th century by George Kedrenos. According to one origin theory, modern Romanians, Moldovans and Aromanians originated from Dacians.[6] According to some linguists and scholars, the Eastern Romance languages prove the survival of the Thraco-Romans in the lower Danube basin during the Migration Period[7] and western Balkan populations known as "Vlachs" also have had Romanized Illyrian origins.[8]

Nowadays, Eastern Romance-speaking communities are estimated at 26–30 million people worldwide (including the Romanian diaspora and Moldovan diaspora).[9]

The word Vlach/Wallachian (and other variants such as Vlah, Valah, Valach, Voloh, Blac, oláh, Vlas, Ilac, Ulah, etc.[1]) is etymologically derived from the ethnonym of a Celtic tribe,[5] adopted into Proto-Germanic *Walhaz, which meant "stranger", from *Wolkā-[10] (Caesar's Latin: Volcae, Strabo and Ptolemy's Greek: Ouolkai).[11] Via Latin, in Gothic, as *walhs, the ethnonym took on the meaning "foreigner" or "Romance-speaker",[11] and was adopted into Greek Vláhi (Βλάχοι), Slavic Vlah, Hungarian oláh and olasz, etc.[12][13] The root word was notably adopted in Germanic for Wales and Walloon, and in Switzerland for Romansh-speakers (German: Welsch),[5] and in Poland Włochy or in Hungary olasz became an exonym for Italians.[11][1] The Slovenian term Lahi has also been used to designate Italians.[14]

Historically, the term was used primarily for the Romanians.[1][3] Testimonies from the 13th to 14th centuries show that, although in the European (and even extra-European) space they were called Vlachs or Wallachians (oláh in Hungarian, Vláchoi (βλάχοι) in Greek, Volóxi (воло́хи) in Russian, Walachen in German, Valacchi in Italian, Valaques in French, Valacos in Spanish), the Romanians used for themselves the endonym "Rumân/Român", from the Latin "Romanus" (in memory of Rome).[1] Vlachs are referred in late Byzantine documents as Bulgaro-Albano-Vlachs ("Bulgaralbanitoblahos"), or Serbo-Albano-Bulgaro-Vlachs[15]

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Vlachs of SerbiaVlachs in the history of CroatiaVlachs in medieval Bosnia and Herzegovina
Vlachs (social class)Vlachs in medieval SerbiaVlachs in Bulgaria
Vlach lawVlach People's PartyRomanians of Serbia

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