Pannonian Romance was a Romance language spoken by romanized Celtic and Illyrian peoples that developed in Pannonia, between modern day Vienna and Belgrade after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Despite the Romanized population being mentioned in several Annals, no works of literature and few trace in modern languages survive. It is not clear to what degree Celtic vocabulary was retained, and to what degree the Pannonian Romance language was a distinct language or a language continuum between Rhaeto Romance and Eastern Romance or perhaps a Creole language of the languages present in Pannonian Basin. The language suffered many setbacks under Huns, Germanic, Avar, Slavic, Turkic and Uralic invaders and new overlords, triggering waves of emigration. Nevertheless, it probably lasted until the 10th century, in isolated settlements. The descendants of the speakers suffered worst during the Mongol invasion of Hungary with 50–80% of settlements destroyed and massacred. The demise of Pannonian Romance shows some similarities with that of other romance languages that were replaced and assimilated in Britain, Africa, and Germany, 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.
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.
Image of Roman Pannonian 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), but in the former Pannonian provinces Romance speaking herders and a population of skilled artisans and craftsmen survived around in the area of Lake Balaton.
Sed rogauerunt almum ducem, ut dimissa terra galicie, ultra siluam Houos uersus occidentem in terram pannonie descenderent, que primo athila regis terra fuisset. Et laudabant eis terram pannonie ultra modum esse bonam. Dicebant enim, quod ibi confluerent nobilissimi fontes aquarum, danubius et tyscia, et alij nobilissimi fontes bonis piscibus habundantes. Quem terram habitarent sclauij, Bulgarij et Blachij, ac pastores romanorum. Quia post mortem athila regis terram pannonie romani dicebant pascua esse, eo quod greges eorum in terra pannonie pascebantur. Et iure terra pannonie pascua romanorum esse dicebatur, nam et modo romani pascuntur de bonis Hungarie.
The grave inscriptions and mentions of the language disappear from the beginning of the 9th century, the Roman craftsmen of the "Keszthely culture" are assimilated, Roman pastoralists are no longer mentioned and the language, Pannonian Romance, soon disappears with them in the 10th century.
Geographic distribution and demise
The area where and for how long the langoid was spoken can be hypothesised from written records, gravestone inscriptions, archaeological excavation of houses characterized by Romanized architecture and furnishings, oral tradition and linguistic remnants in successor languages.
Pannonian Romance was spoken around Lake Balaton in western Hungary, mainly in the fortified villages of Keszthely and Fenékpuszta.
Romanized tombs of Pannonians of the 6th century were found include Pécs (the Roman Sopianae),Possibly in Szentendre (Castra Constantia) and Visegrád or Pote Navata, but unclear how much influence from Avar and Slavic speakers. Speakers disappears or assimilated before 8th century Dunaújváros. Early Slavic and Avarian settlement activity was concentrated along the Danube south of Aquinicum (Buda), only expanding up river into the Roman towns after 6th century.
At the time of late Slavic and Avarian expansion up the Danube, Pannonia Superior towns still had an substantial Roman population as attested to by coin dated graves. In Tokod (Brigetio) the population had shrunk considerably in the 5th century but can be attested into the 6th century.Carnuntum suffered a population collapse after being transferred to Hun control and was described by a witness Ammianus Marcellinus, as an abandoned and rotting nest in the 5th century. The rest population of the area moved to settlements close to what would become Hainburg. Further up river on the Danube Roman graves from 6th century Vindobona were documented, and although Vienna had a continues population, when the last Romanized inhabitants were assimilated after the 6th century is uncertain. Place names along the Tullnina rivers suggest a continued rural Roman population above Tulln. Many Roman town names are kept or adapted, Zeiselmauer-Zeizinmure, Vindobona-Vienna. The Vienna Woods is catalogued as Cumeoberg or Comagenus mons into the Carolingian era. Vita S. Severini notes the emigration of the Roman population of Lauriacum in the 8th century.
The area around Lake Balaton has an almost Mediterranean climate, similar to the one of the subalpine lakes in the north of Italy which enabled wine production. The terrain of Transdanubia surrounding the lake is varied with gentle hills, valleys, basins, mountains, swamps and plains.
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) ...
Some words in Pannonian Romance were of Celtic or Illyrian origin. According to the linguist Roxana Curcă, 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 Istriot–Venetiancastei, which means "castle", and is probably an original word of the Pannonian Romance language, according to the Austrian linguist Julius Pokorny. 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 Rosetti, 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, 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.
^Hilduin Einhard? (821). Annales regni Francorum (in Latin). Paschalis Romani pontificis legatis, Petro videlicet Centumcellensi episcopo et Leone nomenclatore, eisdemque celeriter absolutis, comitibus etiam, qui aderant, ad expeditionem Pannonicam destinatis ipse paululum ibi remoratus Aquasgrani reversus est. Et post paucos dies per Arduennam iter faciens Treveros ac Mettis venit; indeque Rumerici castellum petens reliquum aestivi caloris et autumni dimidium exercitatione venatoria in Vosegi saltu atque secretis exegit.
^unidentified author. "De pace inter ducem et ruthenos". Gesta Hungarorum. Széchényi National Library in Budapest.
^Sós, Árthur/Salamon Á. Cemeteries of the Early Middle Ages (6th–9th c.) at Pókaszepetk
^Alois Stuppner (1 January 2007). "Rural settlements in the middle Danube region from Late Antiquity to Middle Ages". Antiquité Tardive (21). 1250-7334.
^Orsolya Heinrich-Tamáska; Gerda von Bülow; Heinrich Zabehlicky (2011). "Überlegungen zu den Hauptgebäuden der pannonischen Innenbefestigungen im Kontext spätrömischer Villenarchitektur.". Bruckneudorf und Gamzigrad: spätantike Paläste und Großvillen im Donau-Balkan-Raum: Akten des internationalen Kolloquiums in Bruckneudorf vom 15. bis Österreichischen Archäologischen Institutes (in German). Bonn. pp. 104, 102, 95, 106. ISBN978-3-900305-59-8.
^Irene Barbiera (2005). Changing Lands in Changing Memories. Migration and Identity during the Lombard Invasion. p. 136. ISBN9788878143012.
^Friedrich Lotter (2003). Völkerverschiebungen im Ostalpen-Mitteldonau-Raum zwischen Antike und Mittelalter (375–600). p. 155. ISBN9783110898668.