Word of the Day: Spor


The other day I was talking to my mother and a phrase rose unbidden in my mind – “spor la treaba“. I didn’t actually say it though because while I know what it means I didn’t have a way to translate it.

Spor la treaba (sometimes spor la lucru) is just a generic phrase Romanians say to one another when beginning to work. I think about the closest way to translate this phrase would be “gung ho!”, itself borrowed from the Chinese.

The word spor (pronounced spore) on its own means something like “productive work” or “easy work”, or sometimes even “bonus”, all from from a Slavic root meaning “unhurried”, “slowly” or even “sluggish”. Therefore spor (by itself) can kind of be translated as “taking it easy” and spor la lucru perhaps something like “have a good day at work and make lots of money but don’t kill yourself by working too hard”.

Incidentally, spor also has the meaning of “spore”, as in a microorganism, this time borrowed from the Greek (via Latin and then French, same as in English).

AND NOW YOU KNOW!

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11 Comments Add yours

  1. Cat says:

    Wishing somebody “Spor la lucru/treabă/învățătură”, does not imply that the person you are adressing does necessarily like or enjoy the task (“lucru”/”treaba”/”învățătură”), nor that (s)he has fun performing it.

    So, when you say in Romanian “Spor la “, that just means that you are wishing somebody who’s already working on a task (or will start some task relatively soon) that they will have great productivity while working on that task, namely that they’ll be able to accomplish as much as possible if their task, as fast as possible.

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  2. (may you have a) fruitful work ;)

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  3. Ana says:

    Let’s see how you translate “sporul casei” ;)

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  4. Victor says:

    SPOR2, (3) sporuri, s. n. 1. Faptul de a progresa ușor, de a avea randament în muncă; progres. ◊ Loc. adj. și adv. Cu spor = cu mare randament; spornic; repede. Fără spor = fără randament; puțin; încet. ◊ Expr. A avea spor = a realiza, a produce mult în timp (relativ) scurt. Spor la lucru! formulă de urare adresată cuiva care lucrează sau merge la lucru. 2. Abundență, belșug, prosperitate; folos, câștig. 3. Creștere, mărire, majorare; adaos, supliment; (concr.) ceea ce reprezintă o creștere, o mărire, un adaos. – Din sl. sporŭ, bg. spor.

    from dexonline

    Not really what you said it means!

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  5. claudiu says:

    Don’t work yourself too hard is unfortunately a moto a lot of Romanians live by.

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    1. Anonymous says:

      This is rather untrue. I had the chance to work with many nationalities (including Romanians) and I my experience doesn’t support. In terms of efficiency and organizational side, there may be arguing, but anyway I find Romanians to be hard-working, and they generally tend to have a passion for what they do.

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      1. Lidia says:

        Just give me a break. Romanii sunt muncitori, dar ni si vi s-a bagat in cap(pe toate canalele) ca vai romanii is puturosi….

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    2. Lidia says:

      Just give me a break. Romanii sunt muncitori, dar ni si vi s-a bagat in cap(pe toate canalele) ca vai romanii is puturosi….

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  6. SGDWS says:

    Quite the opposite,!

    When you say “am lucrat cu spor” you actually say “I exceeded my quota and I liked doing it”. Think sweat and satisfaction in doing a good work.

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  7. Adrian says:

    Regardless of the original Slavic expression, “spor la treaba” doesn’t imply that one should take it easy… I would say, quite the opposite, more like keep or start working and make good progress. If a boss would say to a worker “Mai cu spor!” it would mean, “C’mon, work faster!”.

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  8. Bezbojnicul says:

    „Productivity” is the simplest way to translate it in my opinion. ”Spor la treabă!” = „[may you have] productivity at work!”

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