Shit or be Shat Upon


asshole in the skyDue to an openly admitted work by another person hereby linked officially on this blog article that I found this morning, I also was informed that the selfsame article had been
concisely rendered into Romanian by Adevarul newspaper.

Quite frankly, I’ll say on the outset I am a little jealous. The one truly Romanian experience I’ll never get have is growing up here as a child and attending indoctrination classes down at the local school. So there’s not a thing I can add to that.

But quite frankly I almost have to laugh as I can hear some ministerial flunky sighing in relief down in Bucharest because they only have to print one version of all the textbooks. I promise you that’s it. Yes, there’s some racism involved but that’s barely tipping the scales. By far the heavyweight gorilla in the room is colossal inertia.

You can call it Communism or ex-Communism or maybe socialism or maybe some hybrid mix of that with some so-called capitalism but down at the heart of literally everything in Romanian culture is the juggernaut of inertia.

It’s really quite simple – people in Romania from west to east get the same textbook because that’s the easiest way to do it. There’s little chance that someone is going to volunteer to increase the budget and make everything as twice as complicated – and for what? So some fucking Szeklers can curse at you in better Romanian?

But here’s the real secret that nobody wants to admit. Everyone asks well why the fuck don’t the Hungarian politicians ever try to do anything about it if it’s such a big deal? The real answer is cold, hard cash. It’s not coming from the Romanian government but the Hungarian one. If you can speak Hungarian and can answer five questions the government of Hungary will be throwing money at you hand over fist.

They love it because of some complicated bullshit politics back at home in Magyaroszag that are way too lengthy to get into here. Suffice it to say, the people running the joint back there profit from having some Poor Widdle Magyars suffering away in some godforsaken country (Romania, in this case) so let’s pay them all kinds of money and bonuses so they stay loyal. So it’s great for the Magyar scumbag politicians when Romanian Hungarians get alienated from their Romanian neighbors. What’s the point of paying for them if they aren’t loyal to you?

There are nutbags in Hungary who drive for hours to come to Cluj-Napoca, put up some political ethnic propaganda shit and then get their asses arrested. For them it’s like being a rap star. See what I gave up for the Great Paprika Homeland?

Likewise there’s red-nosed old Romanian men who practically have a stroke when they see a Magyar. How dare that uppity Hungarian cross the street in front of me? They shiver and literally sometimes froth at the mouth. Pull up some speeches of Corneliu Vadim Tudor on Youtube and you’ll see examples which are perfectly understandable even if you don’t speak Romanian.

But I’m telling you all that’s a drop in the bucket. Nobody really has a motive to expend a tremendous amount of effort to change the textbooks, neither for the Hungarians nor for the Romanians. Some of those books are tremendously old and even when the paper is of more modern vintage the educational material inside of it is not. In other words, Romanian grammar and literature sucks for Romanians too, real deal “all the way” 100% Romanians.

Christ if I had a dollar for every time I’ve had to correct a Romanian’s grammar when they’re speaking Romanian, I’d be a hell of a lot richer than you’d guess, that’s for sure.

If you live in the city then you can probably find a way to jam in all of that insanely archaic way of teaching into your brain, incredibly mindblowingly out of date in some respects, just Xeroxing the same old pages and some of the same old thoughts. You might ask damn, Sam how can you be so harsh on the Romanian educational system when you just admitted that you’ve never gone through it yourself?

Good question. And the answer is just as Sherlock Holmes said, it was the dog that didn’t bark in the night that was curious. Open any newspaper. Search their archives. Look for stories and articles about grammar (elementary) schools. There’s a few negative stories but focus on the positive ones. What do you see? A few being built. Some getting funds from the EU or whatever. Some are renovated. Some win some award or competition. And some received equipment or things like computers. So what’s the dog that didn’t bark?

There’s never a word about updating curriculum. The teachers get the book and they teach it exactly the same as they did last year. Neither the parents nor the teachers have a damn thing to say about it. There’s a committee somewhere in Bucharest and they’re appointed by God knows who and nobody knows where to find them exactly and that’s who updates the curriculum. There’s no outrage and there’s no fuss.

Inertia, I’m telling you is the real culprit here. And that’s Romania. You can shout woulda, coulda, shoulda all day at them and they’ll just smile at you nicely for a minute and nod and then pull out their brand-new iPhone and pay more attention to it than you. It’s like those old racist cartoons where the darkie goes, “Yes, me understand.” It’s phonetical. It’s memorized. It’s handed down year after year barely ever changing at all to each and everyone. It’s inertia, I’m telling you.

And it sucks for everyone. It just might suck in a different way for different people, that’s all. It’s complicated and it’s hard and it’s sometimes excruciatingly boring but you memorize it once and then forget it and then you go back to watching Vocea Romaniei.

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Categorised in: A few of my all-time favorite posts that I've written, Romanian language

12 Responses »

  1. As someone that has passed through the Romanian state educational system not that long ago, and assuming that things haven’t changed much in recent years, all I have to say about Romanian school/high-school textbooks is that for the most part they’re hopelessly old-fashioned in their approach and, in quite a few cases, also riddled with erroneous or out of date information.

    I’ve recently been exposed to primary school textbooks and they definitely haven’t changed much since I was kid. It’s mostly the same old content, only seemingly repackaged for the 21st century. Yeah, right.

  2. “Nobody really has a motive to expend a tremendous amount of effort to change the textbooks… Some of those books are tremendously old and even when the paper is of more modern vintage the educational material inside of it is not.

    Christ if I had a dollar for every time I’ve had to correct a Romanian’s grammar when they’re speaking Romanian, I’d be a hell of a lot richer than you’d guess, that’s for sure.”

    Sam, your logic sucks. Those Romanians you had to correct were making mistakes not because of the books, but because they never showed any interest to really learn correct grammar.

    I graduated almost 40 years ago, so I guess you can say that I learned from books which “are tremendously old”. And yet I never make any mistake. Go figure!

    And now you know!

  3. Unfortunately, the educational system changes every year (almost). They pull some things out, they put others in… but it’s a total mess. I have friends working in education, some out of bad luck, some out of passion, and they all say the same: the books change every once in a while, but they’re making less and less sense.
    However, if you want to blame something for the level of education the average Romanian has, you can’t blame the books, my friend. Blame the teachers, the parents, and ultimately, the individual. Those books have taught me, and generations before me. If I can speak proper Romanian, so can anyone, since we learned from the same (kind of) books.

  4. I quite agree with everyone who commented on this post. I also have a couple things to add to the pile. This, for instance. “…if I had a dollar for every time I’ve had to correct a Romanian’s grammar when they’re speaking Romanian, I’d be a hell of a lot richer than you’d guess..” Well, Sam, what would you say if I told you that if I had a pebble for every time I noticed (and not bothered to correct, I admit) a native English speaker’s grammar when they were speaking/writing English, I’d have collected enough to build a medium sized hill. I don’t really want to know how many pebbles could gather a person who, unlike me, has learned to speak and write proper English. So, Sam, how could be explained this little fact in your opinion? In the Romanians’ case, we’ve got it: we are apathetic like hell and that’s why we cannot be bothered to strive for having an properly updated curriculum and that’s also the reason for we make tremendous grammar mistakes while speaking our native language. What is then the reason for you (not only the Americans, but every single other native English speaker) making the same mistakes as we do and as often as we do? Are you too hit with a case of inertia or what?

    Ah. There’s another thing. “..Romanian grammar and literature sucks for Romanians too, real deal “all the way” 100% Romanians.” So, Romanian literature sucks for the Romanians, I gathered from your wording. I very much beg to differ and, as a fact, there are millions of Romanians also begging to differ as regards this statement. Only yesterday we celebrated the birth of the poet who will be always remembered on the account of both his hauntingly beautiful work and his heart wrenchingly tragedy of a life. There is a Romanian diamond shining brightly among the most precious jewels of the world literature and I personally don’t plan to forget this anywhere in the future.

    • Thank you, Sitara, for this great comment. I was also tempted to say a few words about the very frequent cases of English speakers making mistakes, but I let it go because… well, even Sam has made one or two, and I didn’t want to sound like I was criticizing him.

      As to your beautiful words about Mihai Eminescu, is there anything more to say? To be honest, yesterday I was expecting to see Sam post here a nice article about Romania’s national poet. Or at least to say a few words about the National Day of Culture being celebrated on Eminescu’s birthday.

      After all, isn’t Sam always telling us I’m More Romanian Than You?

      And maybe now he will know. Vai ce bine!

      • I also thank you for your kind words. I was too expecting to see a post concerning Romania’s national poet because he’s such an important part of the Romanian culture and because, well, I was thinking that maybe it would be more worthy to ponder Mihai Eminescu’s work rather than Nicolae Guta’s latest productions in order to understand Romania. Next year, perhaps!

    • Haha, that is true!

      My English may be far from perfect… well maybe not that far, but the point is I’ve had plenty of opportunities to spot and even correct mistakes made by obviously native English speakers. And I’m not talking typos either, I’m talking full-blown grammar 101 mistakes.

      It’s obvious that, if you dedicate a significant amount of time to learning a certain language, you might well end up with a better handle on that language than some of its less “learned” or more careless native speakers.

      • I am not a native speaker but want to show that………we are human and we are bound to commit mistakes….
        It is obvious that……. time …………to LEARN (not learning) a certain language. (you are using infinitive to learn here)
        2) you might well end up.with a better HANDLE on that language? Did you mean fluent in that language? or adept at that language?
        Please, this is only to show, to repeat my initial statement, that we are human.
        I was told by my French teacher and all the other language teachers reiterated that…” if you can learn to use the prepositions correctly, you have taken a major step in learning that language”…
        talking typos…………..talking of typos….
        talking full blown grammar……….talking regarding…….(you are not talking grammar you are talking about it and same with the typos)

        hope you would take this letter in the spirit in which it was intended
        regards

  5. asta i un papagal ma ce spam infect baga de luni de zile…

  6. ” If you can speak Hungarian and can answer five questions the government of Hungary will be throwing money at you hand over fist.”

    I can guarantee you this isn;t the case. There is Hungarian money in this country funding often farcical projects, but nobody from Hungary pays anyone. My family nor anyone I know gets money from Hungary – and I am quite sure some of them would be getting this money if it were available.

    “They love it because of some complicated bullshit politics back at home in Magyaroszag” that are way too lengthy to get into here.”

    “Back home in Magyarorszag” is the language of Vadim Tudor and you should be better than that. Magyarorszag is not back home for any Romanians, ethnic Hungarians included. The idea that Hungary is the “home” of the 1.6 million Maghiars is simply put, bollocks. This is their home. Suggesting otherwise is the first step on the road to ethnic cleansing.

    ” Suffice it to say, the people running the joint back there profit from having some Poor Widdle Magyars suffering away in some godforsaken country (Romania, in this case) so let’s pay them all kinds of money and bonuses so they stay loyal. ”

    This is arse about face. Firstly as already mentioned – what money? And yes, there are a lot of politicians in Hungary who get off on this poor oppressed Magyar brothers shit, but it is in and for their own interests. How does it help anyone in Hungary if people here are “loyal”?

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  7. That sure hit a nerve…

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