LinguEast: Romanian

 

(INTRO: This post was first published on January 17, 2008. I am officially re-using it today)

Do you know which famous text the following extract was taken from?

Toate fiinţele umane se nasc libere şi egale în demnitate şi în drepturi. Ele sunt înzestrate cu raţiune şi conştiinţă şi trebuie să se comporte unele faţă de altele în spiritul fraternităţii. (source)

You do?

If you guessed correctly, your knowledge of Latin or possibly Italian/French/Spanish must be good and you probably ignored the complicated, ornamental alphabet that Romanians call their own.

For no reason I can put my finger on I really like the look and feel of Romanian. I find it even more beautiful and intriguing than Italian – it’s one of those hybrid languages that people murmur on dusty evening streets, that lively children shout in the parks, while their smoking parents discuss politics, money or men. It may sound good in a pub – I don’t know. But it looks lovely to me.

Time for some facts:

The Romanian alphabet consists of 28 letters, five of them have diacritical marks: Ă, Â, Î, Ş, Ţ. I do not want to delve into pronunciation here, I’m sure you’ll understand.

An interesting element of Romanian grammar is the vocative case, which it inherited from Latin. You know, the case of a person or thing being adressed, as in Serbian rano moja (o my wound).

The normal word order for “the + adjective + noun” (e.g. the good student) is quite different in Romanian, as the article sticks to the end of the noun and the adjective follows it, thus yielding the sequence “noun-the + adjective”: studentul bun (student-the goodthe good student). To put it with Borat: “Student – good!”

Romanian has 10 tenses, 4 of which are used for expressing future and 1 for expressing future in the past (and 4 past tenses, all of them perfect forms), go figure. It must be a good sign to be able to adress the future in so many ways and to talk about the present in one tense only. Their EU-presidency might yield interesting results.

Just like in Slovenian, verbs in the past participle are marked for gender and thus behave like adjectives: făcut means HE has worked (slov. delal) and făcută says SHE has worked (slov. delala).

Nice. I hope to have an opportunity to hear it spoken one day.

Till then: La revedere!

 

 

 


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