by Dumitru Martinas
The term Chango (Csángó) is the name of a population whose ethnic origin has been the subject of much controversy. The term originates from the Magyar language in which it means “mixed” or “impure.” Most Changos live on the territory of Romania, the largest number in Moldavia. Many are bilingual, speaking Romanian and Magyar, and their religion is Catholic. This book makes an important contribution to the scholarly discussion surrounding the question of the origin of the Changos and sheds new light on the history of this little known, but fascinating people.
The only work on the subject written by a Chango scholar, this book disputes the theory that the Changos are of Magyar origin, a theory based to a large extent on their Catholicism, demonstrating that this population is in fact of Romanian ethnic origin. The author, Dumitru Martinas, bases his argument on linguistic evidence, reaching the conclusion that “the study of the old Transylvanian dialect of the Changos illustrates and demonstrates the Transylvanian Romanian origin of the people who speak it.”
Reviews: “This densely argued study is presented in a dispassionate and scholarly manner, based in large measure on technical ethnographic, phonetic, and linguistic matters…” — P.W. Knoll, Choice.
The author, Dumitru Martinas, was born to a Chango family in the village Butea, in the county of Iasi, Romania. He dedicated his life to the study of the origins of the population to which he belonged. He made linguistic and historical investigations both in Targu Mures, where he worked as a professor of Romanian literature and language, and in his native village and other Chango villages. He died in 1979, at the age of 82.