When I first learned this language (in 37 easy steps), it was extremely difficult to get English-language books on how to learn Romanian. Now there’s a lot more material out there, really good stuff (including Wikipedia).
Unfortunately, there’s always going to be two kinds of Romanian – regular “law books” Romanian and “two ladies jabbering over a fence in a village” Romanian. And to live here or have any long-term dealings, you need to learn both kinds.
Today’s language tip has to do with the verb “to be”.
Check out this song title: Ce triste-s noptile.
I’m assuming you know some Romanian here (or Spanish, Italian, Catalan, etc) and it’s pretty easy to see:
Ce – what/how (que/che/ce)
Triste – Sad (trista, tristo, trist)
and maybe you can parse out noptile as the plural of night (noapte) and is in the particular kind of noun declension (see my article here) that means “the nights”.
So putting it together we’ve got: how sad (something) the nights.
But what’s that -s?
If the syntax in Romanian freaks you out, just realize anytime (about) you see a “-” dash mark it’s the same as in English the –‘– as in the apostrophe to make a contraction like “that’s” instead of “that is” and “isn’t” and “is not”. For much more on the dash mark and what it means, see here.
Ok so far so good but if you parse it out, it becomes:
Ce triste is noptile.
Is? Looks like good old-fashioned English for the third person form of to be, as in “he is” or “it is”.
Except in Romanian it’s actually something different, which is actually meaning any form whatsoever of the verb “to be” in the present tense.
Saying “is” can be anything from “I am” to “He/she/it is” to “You/they are”.
Knowing that it becomes (in this case):
How sad are the nights
Let’s do some dialog and you’ll see how it goes.
You: Tarancuta, tarancuta, unde esti?
Ea (Her): Eu is acasa. Unde is voi?
So there you go. It’s not considered anything to be “correct grammatical” Romanian but it isn’t slang either. It’s just like “lazy” Romanian when you feel too lazy to parse it out :P
As always, remembering our pronunciation, is is pronounced like the word “geese” without the “g”.
Phrase to learn for the day: Eu-s vorbitor nativ, ma (Dang right I’m a native speaker, yo) :P:P