Money Talk


Just a brief note on this one topic because I see it get mangled over and over.

In the Romanian language, money (baniibawnee) is always a plural word with normal plural declensions and is not a singular word as it is in English in most cases.

Watch:

Banii vorbesc – Literally “money(s) talk” – using the collective plural form of the verb rather than singular (vorbeste or “talks”).

Banii sunt verzi? – Literally “the monies are green?” rather than “the money IS green.”

Banii mei sunt in contul meu – Literally “my monies are in my account” rather than saying “my money IS in my account”.

Likewise Romanians will often say, “Did you bring them?” referring to money again in the plural rather than “Did you bring it?” which would be correct in English.

What makes this confusing is that 100 bani (or “cents” pronounced “bawn”) make up one leu so sometimes the word “bani” refers to strictly a price involving this currency (i.e. it costs 50 bani).

A few expressions:

Nu dau (platesc) nici un ban pentru aceasta – I wouldn’t give/pay a penny for it, which can be used figuratively as well.

Doi bani – Literally “two pennies” but as a phrase means “worthless,” which you can use to describe anything, as in “este o masina de 2 bani” meaning it is a worn out, worthless automobile.

Bani gheata – Literally “ice money” but the most common Romanian way to say “cash money” (besides using the English word “cash” itself or the far, far rarer numerar). Is always written this way and never “banii gheata”, by the way.

So when do you use “bani” and when do you use “banii” when talking about literal money?

Again, this has to do with Romanian noun declensions, which I’ve covered here extensively before. The ending with two i’s is the “nominative-accusative” version of the plural and is used when money is doing the “action” in the sentence. Therefore it means “the monies” versus “bani” or just plain “monies”.

If it sounds confusing, it is because in Romanian it is not often clear when one noun is “doing” or “receiving” the action (verb) in the sentence.

For a complete list (and photo) of all Romanian money being used today, click here, including the hilarious fact that a 1 leu note is physically the same size as a 5 euro note, which to me is a rare sunbeam of optimism in this country :P

3 thoughts on “Money Talk

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