17+ Ways to Say “Romanian”

I know a lot of you hate the grammar posts on this blog, and find them lengthy and tedious. That’s fair enough, especially if you already speak perfect Romanian, and so feel free to skip this one as well, even if I do try to write them as in an interesting, fun way :P

Again, despite the utter murkiness and controversy and debate concerning “why” these things occur, Romanian language is quite complicated.

Yesterday I spoke about nationalities. Today we’re going to talk about three or four other forms.

First let’s review what we already know for nationality with plurals in parenthesis:

Male: roman (romani)
Female: romanca (romance)

Again this “m-a-n” part in all of these forms is the deeply guttural “muuuuuun”.

The second form used to say Romanian means “of the culture of”, slightly different than nationality.

Male: romanesc (romanesti)
Female: romaneasca (romanesti)

Note: you might notice there the plural is the same regardless of female or male.

Since this means “of the culture”, a person from another country (with a different nationality) can make or do something “culturally” Romanian.

Example: Un chinez a facut o mamaliga romaneasca.

This means “A Chinese (nationality) man made a (culturally) Romanian mamaliga”.

The third form used to say “Romanian” is for everything else (that’s not a person):

Male: roman (romani)
Female: romana (romane)

Wait a second! Isn’t the Romanian national anthem “Desteapta-te romane”? Does that mean it’s referring to a group of female objects and not nationality?

No. In this case it is an older form used for the vocative declension of nouns and is generally archaic today. In other words, don’t worry about it.

The modern form of the vocative declension, which would be used quite rarely (esp in the singular):

Male: romanule (romanilor)
Female: romanco (romancelor)

In other words, if you went up to a Romanian person (or persons) and said “Hey you, Romanian(s)” that’s how you’d say it.

But isn’t there even yet another form? What about romaneste? Clearly this word is everywhere.

Yes, this is mysterious “17th” form, which primarily refers to the name of the language.

Example: Eu inteleg putin romaneste.

I understand a little Romanian (language).

The other common way to say Romanian (language) is: limba romana or “(everything else) Romanian language” using the singular female form (romana) because “limba” is singular and female.

While other languages sometimes have this mysterious 17th form, often times they don’t.

Note: I am technically skipping another entire dozen ways to say “Romanian” due to Slavic diminutives. For example, “Little Romanian girl” would be “romancutza”.

So now that you know the 17 standard forms, let’s throw them into a table for handy reference.

Who Nationality Cultural Hey You! Everything Else
Boy roman romanesc romanule roman
Girl romanca romaneasca romanco romana
Boys romani romanesti romanilor romani
Girls romance romanesti romancelor romane

Again again, the 17th form used almost only for the language itself: romaneste.

Now let’s do one for English.

Who Nationality Cultural Hey You! Everything Else
Boy englez englezesc englezule englez
Girl englezoiaca englezeasca englezoiaco engleza
Boys englezi englezesti englezilor englezi
Girls englezoiace englezesti englezoiacelor engleze

In this case, the English language is always called by the “everything else” form: engleza and is never, to my knowledge, ever referred to as “englezeste” although it is clearly a word.

Now let’s do German:

Who Nationality Cultural Hey You! Everything Else
Boy neamt nemtesc neamtule german
Girl nemtoiaca nemteasca nemtoiaco germana
Boys nemti nemtesti nemtilor germani
Girls nemtoiace nemtesti nemtoiacelor germane

Usually the 17th form, or the way to say German language is: (limba) germana and never (to my knowledge) nemteste although again, it is a real word.

Note: Sometimes doing or describing something as “German” has a slang or argot meaning of being “urban” or “sophisticated” or sometimes “high-tech” and doesn’t always literally mean of or related to actual German people/things.

I think the forms are generally self-explicative, if something of a tongue twister to say. Clearly you’re not going to need to spontaneously address a gathering of (Romanian-speaking) German girls and suddenly need to know the “hey you” form, so don’t let this information bog you down.

It’s more about recognizing the forms as you read them and then understanding how it all goes together.

Although, on a side note, I’d buy you a beer or two just to walk up to somebody and say “Hey, Neamtule!” :P Not to be confused with neamteanule, which means “Hey you person from Judet/County Neamt” (in Romania).

Now let’s do some of my patented mix and match fun bag bonanza! Again, highlight over the blank parts with your mouse if you get stuck.

English Romanian
Hey you, Romanian guy! Romanule!
I made a Romanian mamaliga Eu am facut o mamaliga romaneasca
I met a Romanian woman Eu am intalnit cu o romanca
I saw a Romanian building Am vazut o cladire romana
I ate some Romanian food Eu am mancat niste mancare romaneasca
I saw some Romanian guys Eu am vazut niste romani
I know a Romanian dance Eu stiu un dans romanesc
I know some Romanian dances Eu stiu niste dansuri romanesti
I made an English soup Eu am facut o ciorba englezeasca
I saw an English girl Eu am vazut o englezoiaca
I know an English dance Eu stiu un dans englezesc
I know a German dance Eu stiu un dans nemtesc
I saw a German building Eu am vazut o cladire germana
I speak a little Romanian Eu vorbesc putin romaneste
I speak a little English Eu vorbesc putin engleza
I speak a little German Eu vorbesc putin germana

See? Not so hard.

And last but not least, there are an additional set of forms (yep!) to talk about the word “Romanian” when it refers to the country of Romania.

These are the normal noun declensions, as covered heavily extensively elsewhere so I won’t get into it in great detail. That being said, if you look on the back of any Romanian money you’ll see:

Banca Nationala a Romaniei or literally “The Bank National of the Romania”.

What’s that form Romaniei all about? That’s because it’s the noun form to mean “of the”, in this case the singular, feminine form since “Romania” the name of the country is singular and feminine.

If you ever look(ed) at the money and wonder(ed) why they used this “odd” form, now you know!

Therefore if you click on the Awesome Eagle Clutching Stuff with the red gloves and all the rest on my sidebar, you’ll see it links to Guvernul Romaniei, literally “the government of the Romania” but in regular English “the Romanian government”.


5 thoughts on “17+ Ways to Say “Romanian”

  1. Limba germană – german language

    El vorbește germană / El vorbește nemțește – He speaks german

    Cum se zice în germană? – How does one say that in (the) german (language)?


  2. Mulțumesc for all these helpful grammar posts, they’re really useful.

    I’ve been reading about the “of/to a” and “of/to the” forms like you mentioned at the end, and it makes sense (even if it requires learning a whole load more endings to nouns and freaky things like plural forms of nouns when talking about of/to a/the feminine singular noun) but I don’t understand when al/ai/a/ale need to be used. For example, in your post:

    Banca Națională a României
    Guvernul României

    What is the “a” for in the first one and why isn’t it required in the second?



    1. Donovan,

      To put it simple, the “a” article is needed in the first sentence because “naţională” is interposed between the two nouns.

      Banca României
      Banca Naţională a României

      guvernul României
      guvernul comunist al României


  3. Sam,

    Româneşte is an adverb, therefore it always accompanies a verb. It does not only refer to the Romanian language, but to everything done “Romanian-style”, “like to Romanians”, “the Romanian way”. And there is an equivalent form for many other ethnic groups, especially those that were known to Romanians for a long time.

    Thus, you can say:
    Eu vorbesc româneşte (I speak Romanian)
    Mama găteşte româneşte (Mom cooks Romanian-style / Romanian food)

    We also have: ungureşte, ţigăneşte, ruseşte, franţuzeşte, nemţeşte, bulgăreşte, sârbeşte, chinezeşte, americăneşte.
    But NOT: canadiăneşte, neozeelandeşte, pakistaneşte. :))))

    Also, we say “neamţ” for “German man”, NOT “nemţ” ! The word “nemţ” does not exist.
    And “neamţ” doesn’t mean “person from Neamţ county”, for that we have “nemţean”, like: clujean, prahovean, bucureştean, oltean, ardelean…

    I hope my comments don’t bother you, I’m only trying to give a helping hand, not a “scolding of grammatical righteousness”, lol :))


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