Word of the Day: Povața

What with the cold rain and my nostalgic look at the past yesterday, I must admit I found myself listening to a lot of sentimental Romanian music.

One of the songs on my playlist was Cu bani nu cumperi ani, the linked version sung by Nicolae Guta although it’s not a manele song but rather a kind of Romanian ballad, sad, sweet and about the lessons we learn in life.

In that song I heard an old word I haven’t heard in a while, namely povața, unique in the fact that it comes originally from Polish (although the DEX uses an archaic form, the modern spelling for the source word would be przodownik).

But what does this word mean?

To illustrate, I thought I’d translate the chorus of the song:

Romanian Literal English Normal English
N-am de gand sa alerg o viata No I have of thought to run a life I have no desire to hustle my whole life
Ca nebunul dupa bani Like the crazy after money In the crazy pursuit of money
Din batrani este o povața From old people is an advice The elderly have a wise saying
Cu banii nu cumperi ani With the monies no you buy years That all the money in the world can’t buy more time

Obviously it’s a little more concise in the original Romanian ;)

I think most people are more familiar with the word sfat for “advice” or “counsel”. The word povața has a slightly different connotation, originally from a Polish word meaning “leader” but used generally today (in Romanian) to mean well-meaning advice from an elder, particularly one’s parents.

So while your friend might give you some good sfaturi (advice), your parents and grandparents might give you povețe, or relate to you (hopefully) wise advice or counsel that they’ve learned through experience.

If you’re interested, the rest of the lyrics can be found here.