Hey, Hey, It’s the Genitive A!

If you’re learning Romanian, you’ll soon find out that there are a metric ton of strange and confusing grammar rules. The vocabulary and verb conjugations are relatively easy, but understanding noun cases is pretty tricky. And probably one of the most difficult things to learn is when and how to use the genitive “a”. If…

Dong Ma?

I think most people are familiar with the ancient Latin aphorism in vino veritas, literally in wine there is truth, usually interpreted to mean that a person drinking (wine) is often prompted to speak a truth. But for me, what happened not too many days ago at a bar at 2:00 in the morning was…

WOTD: Băcănie

If you want to know what life is like in my house, consider that my wife and I spent half an hour debating the sign you see above. I took that photograph here in Chisinau because I was delighted to see a very old Romanian word that I hadn’t seen in years. Alas, even the…

The Case of the Frustrating Cases

If your native language is English, you’re almost hopelessly fucked when it comes to learning a foreign language. Basic English grammar is very simple, with no genders, no need for adjective/adverb matching, simple verbs, and no cases. At one time in the distant past, English was far more complex but was then simplified into its…

A Refreshing Drink of Sweet Water Juice

The other day, a friend of mine posted a rather humorous breakdown of the differences between some words used in Romania and the Republic of Moldova. One of them, in particular, made me smile, as I remember learning all three versions during the course of my adventures in learning the language. Making the issue even…

Akum noi toti govarim pa romaneste

Ever since I read The Brass Check on my first e-reader about 10 years ago (yep), I’ve been fascinated by which news stories that people who are hyper-aware of the media know about and which stories seem to drift into the general population’s consciousness, as if my magic osmosis. Last night I was doing yet…

Forever Put Asunder

It’s snowing beautifully here in Unicorn City as I write this and I can see that all the news channels are busy pumping the one bit of good news that they have, that the Republic of Moldova has signed a free trade agreement with the European Union at the summit in Vilnius (overshadowed globally by…

Word of the Day: Maidanez

I’m sure many of you have been following along with the events unfolding in Egypt, incredibly reminiscent of Romania’s own 1989 revolution. My hat is definitely off to Al-Jazeera‘s live coverage (in English) as it has been phenomenal. The center of Egypt’s protests is in “Tahrir Square”, also known as “Midan” (sometimes Maidan) Tahrir, which…

Double Plus Ungood

Although I often write about the strange and mysterious aspects of the Romanian language (and its grammar), sometimes things are fairly straightforward. One example is the prefex “ne” in Romanian, which generally follows right along with the prefix “un” in English, to indicate an opposite meaning. adevarat/neadeverat – true/untrue placut/neplacut – pleasant/unpleasant However there are…

The Possessive “A”

Part one can be found here. A few months ago, I mentioned that on the back of all Romanian money it says Banca Nationala a Romaniei and someone asked what that “a” means, and how to use it. As we know quite well, Romanian is a language with declinations, which means that the “receiving” noun…

Slang Word of the Day: Mess

The other night at the book party a couple of people I’ve written about many times on this website attended and it was great catching up with them. One of them used a word I knew quite well but had forgotten about: mess. It’s a local short form of the longer “Yahoo Messenger”, the instant…