Romanian’s Special Word: DOR

For years and years and years almost beyond counting, there’s one thing that I have continually been told by Romanians. And that’s that there’s a special word in their language that “cannot be translated.” And that word is dor. Last week, the Unsleeping Eye brought me a perfect example of this: DOR: an untranslatable Romanian…

The 200 Lei Chisinau Challenge

Although the Republica of Moldova doesn’t draw too many tourists, there are still a non-trivial number of foreigners who manage to find their way to Chisinau for one reason or another. Therefore, if you’re reading this and you want to make some spending money while you’re in Chisinau, I hereby offer to pay you 200…

Sharpy, Licky, and Mini Pitchfork

Romanian is an interesting and colorful language, but it’s actually quite rare to find an entire set of words that are strictly derived from Latin. One such case involves everyday kitchen utensils. Knife = cuțit Spoon = linguriţă Fork = furculiţă The Romanian word for “knife” comes directly from the Latin term cotitus which means…

Four Eyes

When I was a kid, we considered it the height of hilarity to refer to someone as “four eyes”. In modern terms, we thought this was a “sick burn,” but all it means it that the person wears glasses (spectacles). Not all that original, I know. In Romanian, however, saying ochii-n patru means something completely…

WOTD: Baraj

All the recent events over in Crimea put me in a somber mood, my thoughts turning to that strange old aristocrat Lord Alfred Tennyson and his poem The Charge of the Light Brigade about pointless and foolish deaths on that peninsula 150 years ago. Although thousands of soldiers from Russia and Britain suffered horribly, the…

Media Acronyms

If you’re like me and you’re trying to learn Romanian by watching the news, you can sometimes get stymied by the (seemingly) hundreds of acronyms that the media uses here. For the past week or so I’ve been keeping a list of the ones I’ve seen. For your own elucidation, here they are in alphabetical…

Word of the Day: Stabor

I’ve realized over the years that I keep writing about gypsies, a race of people that few “outsiders” ever want to bother to understand. The gypsies are just there, usually bothersome, and the most compassionate outsiders just want them to “integrate” and be like everyone else. One of the reasons they won’t “be like everyone…

WOTD: Rămâne

With the internet being so ubiquitous and dictionaries (online and “offline” in print) so accessible, there isn’t much need for me to “teach” or translate most Romanian words here on the blog. That being said, sometimes some words aren’t in the dictionary but nonetheless are essential components of speaking the Romanian language. Today’s word is…

Ghost Writer

As you (probably) know, I keep a sharp and vigilant eye on Romania and politics in this country. Although I have zero respect for Crin Antonescu, I was glad he went to England a few days ago to help lobby against the recent outpouring of hate towards Romanians (and Bulgarians) spearheaded by the UKIP in…

WOTD: Cauciuc

As Europeans began their centuries long business of exploration, subjugation, genocide, slavery and colonization of lands inhabited by the indigenous peoples (“Indians”) of the Americas, it isn’t surprising that along the way they adopted native words into their own language for the plants, animals and activities that they encountered. Modern English has hundreds of words…

WOTD: Bătut în cuie

When I write about “Words of the Day” I like to find either rare expressions or ones that you might not casually find in the dictionary. Whether it’s common everywhere or not, it seems like lately I’ve been hearing this one quite a lot. Today’s phrase bătut în cuie (batoot in kwee-yeah) literally means “beaten…