Romanian is a Balkan language that serves as the official and national language of Romania and Moldova, as well as an official language of the European Union.
In Moldova, it is sometimes also called Moldovan. The language is spoken by around 26 million people, around 4 million of whom speak it as a second or further language.
The language pre-dates the Romanian state and one of its earliest attestations was in the 15th century. The following facts describe some of the history, distribution, structure, and other interesting tidbits about this old and fascinating language and culture.
A Few Amazing Facts about Romanian
1. Romanian is a Balkan Romance language
The following family tree traces Romanian back from its Indo-European roots to modern day, only following the relevant branches. Those languages marked with crosses are now extinct.
2. As well as Moldova and Romania, Romanian is an official language in Vojvodina, an autonomous Serbian province
It’s also a recognized minority in Hungary, Ukraine, and Serbia.
3. There up to twenty major dialect groups of Romanian
These are split by geography, and generally include at least the following seven:
4. Romanian was written in a Cyrillic alphabet until the 19th century, but it is now mostly written in a Latin alphabet
In the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (Transnistria), a breakaway state, they still write Romanian in Cyrillic. The modern alphabet has 31 letters is as follows:
|Letter||Sounds like||Letter||Sounds like|
|A a||Rather||N n||Night|
|Ă ă||Aloof||O o||More, can be like water if not preceded with a consonant|
|Â â||Rude||P p||Pot|
|B b||Buy||Q q||King(As qu it is pronounced kw, kv, or palatized k)|
|C c||Car||R r||Burr|
|D d||Dog||S s||Sing|
|E e||Berry (can be ye like yellow when used at the start of words)||Ș ș||Shore|
|F f||Frog||T t||Tone|
|G g||Goal or giraffe||Ț ț||Rats|
|H h||Between loch and hat. Can be silent.||U u||Foot OR now OR few|
|I i||Vaccine or year||V v||Van|
|Î î||Same as â, used at the beginning or end of words for aesthetics||W w||Van OR win OR lampoon|
|J j||Measure||X x||Six OR example|
|K k||Toucan||Y y||Year OR vaccine|
|L l||Lamp||Z z||Zap|
Though used earlier, Q, W, and Y were only added to the alphabet officially in 1982. They only appear in foreign or foreign-inspired words. K only appears in foreign words, proper names, and neologisms like karate. Unlike in English, when foreign proper names have diacritics, proper spelling dictates that the diacritic stays.
There are also several old letters which became obsolete in the spelling reform of 1904. These are: ĭ, ŭ, ĕ, é, ó, ê, û, ô, and d̦.
5. Romanian nouns have three genders, two numbers, and three cases
|Gender||Masculine||Usually ends -u in singular and -i in plural, but there are many exceptions to this rule. Nouns which refer to people are always based on natural gender, no matter what their ending.|
|Feminine||Usually ends -ă or -a in singular and -e in plural, but there are many exceptions to this rule. Nouns which refer to people are always based on natural gender, no matter what their ending.|
|Neuter||Usually behaves as masculine in singular form and feminine in plural form|
|Number||Singular||Any noun where there is one of them.|
|Plural||Formed by adding -i, -uri, -e, or -le and sometimes changing the word structure|
|Case||Nominative/ Accusative||The subject or predicate noun of a verb / the direct object of a transitive verb / the indirect object of an intransitive verb|
|Dative/ Genitive||The recipient of an action or the indirect object of verbs / the owner of the object|
|Vocative||The person being addressed|
Nominative and accusative, and dative and genitive, are four separate cases in other languages. Here, the forms are the same for both groups of two.
The genitive and dative forms are the same as nouns but distinct as pronouns.
6. There are four cases for pronouns in Romanian
Some points to remember are:
- The nominative case is only really used for emphasis or clarity, and vocative pronouns use nominative form.
- Stressed accusative pronouns come after the verb and unstressed before it, unless the phrase is inverted.
- Both the nominative and accusative forms must be used in sentences with relative clauses
- In mixed groups, the masculine plural is used
|1st||Eu||Noi||(Pe) mine||Mă||(Pe) noi||Ne|
|2nd||Tu||Voi||(Pe) tine||Te||(Pe) voi||Vă|
|3rd||Masculine||El||Ei||(Pe) el||Îl||(Pe) ei||Îi|
|Feminine||Ea||Ele||(Pe) ea||Ou||(Pe) ele||Le|
The table below describes the genitive case forms for pronouns, using the different terms of both the “owner” (or possessor) and the “belonging” (or possessed).
|Owner||Sing.||1st||Al meu||A mea|
|2nd||Al tău||A ta|
|3rd||Masc||Al lui||A lui|
|Fem||Al ei||A ei|
|Pl.||1st||Al nostru||A noastră|
|2nd||Al vostru||A voastră|
|3rd||Masc||Al lor||A lor|
|Owner||Sing.||1st||Ai mei||Ale mele|
|2nd||Ai tăi||Ale tale|
|3rd||Masc||Ai lui||Ale lui|
|Fem||Ai ei||Ale ei|
|Pl.||1st||Ai noștri||Ale noastre|
|2nd||Ai voștri||Ale voastre|
|3rd||Masc||Ai lor||Ale lor|
As a language spoken by millions worldwide, it’s important for anyone who takes an interest in global culture to learn a little about Romanian and where it came from.
In a time when togetherness and individually are so strangely connected, knowing a little about other cultures changes the world.