Shut up and Dâns With Me


A few years ago in Cluj (to be specific, it was when I first saw the hilarious David Ciceo on TV) I heard a word that I’d never heard before, and I had to ask a Romanian what it meant. Now I know, and since moving to the Republic of Moldova, I hear it all the time, but I realize that it’s something that might be missing from dictionaries or beginner’s language courses in Romanian, so time to discuss it!

The male version is dâns (dunce), and the female version is dânsa (dunce-uh), meaning “he” and “she” respectively.

Normally, in modern Romanian speech these would be “el” (he) and “ea” (she). And, of course, the â is critically important, otherwise “dans” just means “dance”, so you’ve got to use the guttural uhhhh sound (pretend like someone just sucker punched you in the stomach – that’s the sound) rather than the standard “a” sound.

Dâns and dânsa are extremely polite forms of saying he/she, and usage varies depending on where you are. I only heard it rarely in Cluj but people here in the Ewok Village (Chisinau) use it far more commonly than el/ea.

It’s also important to know that these words usually carry the definite article, meaning that in almost every case it’s actually dânsul in the male form (dânsa remains the same), especially when starting a sentence. So:

He asked me to dance = Dânsul mi-a invitat la un dans

Note: for bonus points, the related polite form of “him” is dumnealui, which literally means “his lordship”, while the plural version is dumneaei, literally “their lordships”. Extremely rarely used is dumneasa, for the female equivalent. And sometimes you can “split the difference” and address someone half polite/half formal by saying dumneata.

Standard modern Romanian just uses “dumneavoastra”, literally “your lordship” for both sexes and/or plural forms of address. This is often written as “dvs” so you don’t hurt your hand writing that long ass word out 100 times in a letter beseeching your lordship for clemency towards your miserable peasant self :P


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