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…

Brânză vs. Cașcaval

One of the great difficulties in learning any foreign language is when there are two words in the new language for something, but you only have one word in your own. Nearly 20 years ago now (my goodness, how the time has flown!), I remember asking the woman who taught me so much about Romanian…

The Hardest Word to Say in the Romanian Language (for English Speakers)

Unfortunately, this tongue-twister of a word is not some rarely used, technical word like jhgeaburi. Instead, it is literally a plague of a word to learn, and if you spend any time in Romania (or Moldova), you’ll definitely have cause to try to wrap your mouth around this particular bon mot. You can’t blame Romanians…

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…

Gospodar, Gospodina

Many, many years ago in Romania, I had to open a bank account for reasons that I can’t remember right now. Everything was going fine until the bank employee asked me for my profession. I tried to explain that I work from home over the internet, something that wasn’t really well understood at the time….

Good News

When you have a language like Romanian, sometimes you get two (or more) similar words with subtle shades of meaning that come from two different linguistic sources. In Romanian, stiri (shteer) and veste (ves-teh) both mean “news.” The first comes from Latin and means “knowledge” while the second comes from Slavic roots and means “that…

Ba

When you’re an English speaker learning Romanian, two of the first words that you’ll learn are the equivalents for “yes” and “no.” These are “da” and “nu” respectively, and you might think that’s the end of the story. But Romanian is a unique language that has preserved a lot of Latin grammar, and that includes…

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…

Going Down?

The other day I was walking in town and I passed a billboard with some admonishments to passersby on how to stay healthy. One thing “fun” about Moldova is that a huge percentage of billboards are used by the government, governmental agencies, or foreign NGOs to broadcast helpful information. Not quite sure if that’s due…

The Net Bag Mini Sack Pack

Following up on my post A Refreshing Drink of Sweet Water Juice, I thought I’d explore some other common words in the Romanian language which have a number of common variants. When I first moved to Cluj-Napoca and I’d go to the grocery store, the clerk would ask me if I wanted a punga. This…

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…