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All About, Lesson 2 - The Romanian Writing System
Eric: Hi listeners, and welcome back to RomanianPod101.com. This is All About Romanian Lesson 2 - The Romanian Writing System. Let’s continue on our trip through Romanian culture. In this lesson, we’re going to talk about a very important aspect of the language...
Raluca: The Romanian writing system! Bună ziua din nou! Raluca here!
Eric: Raluca, what type of alphabet do Romanians use?
Raluca: Romanian is written using the Latin alphabet, plus five additional letters.
Eric: The five additional letters are specific for the Romanian alphabet.
Eric: And they are...
Raluca: Ă,
Eric: which is the letter “a” with a semi circle above it that is also called A-breve.
Raluca: Then we have ,
Eric: which is called A-circumflex.
Raluca: Then there is Î,
Eric: which is called the I-circumflex. Next is
Raluca: Ș, called the S-comma. And finally, Ț
Eric: which is called the T-comma.
Raluca:Those letters, once more, are Ă, , Î, Ș, and Ț. Other than that, in Romanian we also use the letters K, Q, W and Y.
Eric: Which are mostly used to write loan words, proper foreign names, and international neologisms like Qatar, Washington, watt, Yahoo, and karate.
Raluca: That’s right. The rule in Romanian is to pronounce foreign words as closely as possible to the original.
Eric: Very interesting! What about the vowels and consonants?
Raluca: Standard Romanian has 7 vowels and 22 consonants. But we also use foreign vowels like ö and ü in foreign words like “bleu,” the French word for “blue,” or Bruxelles. Other sounds like ci and ce are created by using two letters.
Eric: These sounds are also used in Italian, right?
Raluca: Yes. Ce and ci are some of the sounds that make the two languages sound very similar.
Eric: Could you give us some examples?
Raluca: Of course! For the sound ci we have cinema,
Eric: The word for “cinema.”
Raluca: and for the sound ce we have cercetare,
Eric: Which means “Research” in English.
Raluca: Next, let’s go back to the origins of written Romanian. The oldest known text written in a Romanian language is a letter from Neacşu of Câmpulung to the mayor of Braşov, written in in the 16th century
Eric: However, there is evidence that attests to a translation of the Bible in Romanian made at the beginning of the 12th century. Okay, what about the Dacian language spoken by Thraco-Dacians?
Raluca: Few documents have been found from that era and they are the subject of research and archaeological studies. Later on, in the middle ages, the Romanian regions were preoccupied by wars and political problems for many centuries.
Eric: That’s why the earliest documents that have been found are religious documents and letters.
Raluca: That’s right!
Eric: The Cyrillic alphabet was used in Romania as a writing system between the 14th and 15th centuries, when Romania was in contact with Slavic cultures.
Raluca: Yes, and the transition back to the Latin alphabet started with the Moldavian chroniclers Grigore Ureche, Ion Neculce, and Miron Costin, who asserted the Romance characteristics of the language.
Eric: The transition came about and a transitional alphabet was used, containing both Cyrillic and Latin letters.
Raluca: Yes. The transition back to the Latin alphabet was a slow process that took place until the middle of the 19th century.
Eric. It was a very long period. But who made the biggest contributions to this transition?
Raluca: Writers such as Mihai Eminescu, Alecu Russo, Vasile Alecsandri, and Bogdan Petriceicu Hasdeu.
Eric: All big names, aren’t they?
Raluca: Exactly, they’ve been so important for Romanian language and literature that Romanians study them in schools every year.
Raluca: The first book that became the basis of the first Romanian dictionary was titled Etymologicum Magnum Romaniae, and it was written by the savant Bogdan Petriceicu Hasdeu.
Eric: This book is considered an unaccomplished dream, as it was never finished.
Eric: But it was enough to put the basics of Romanian grammar together. Raluca, let’s go through the Romanian letters now.
Raluca: Okay, as we mentioned, Romanian is written using the Latin alphabet with 31 letters.
Eric: In ancient times the letters had just one basic form, similar to the upper or lower case depending on our styles of writing.
Raluca: During the Middle Ages, people began to alternate between two different styles while writing, majusculă and minusculă. At that time, the upper-case was used to initial letters in titles of certain words and the lower-case was used for the rest of the text.
Eric: I see, so it’s only gradually that they started to be used together in a text as in modern Romanian.
Raluca: At this point I think we should go through the letters in the Romanian alphabet and the way they’re pronounced. Alfabetul Românesc!
Eric: Good idea! Listeners, you should open the lesson notes for this lesson and read along while we go through these letters. Raluca will say the Romanian, and I will follow it with the English equivalent. Let’s start:
Raluca: A, a.
Eric: A
Raluca: Ă,ă
Eric: As in the English word “about.”
Raluca: ,â
Eric: This has no English equivalent.
Raluca: B be
Eric: B
Raluca: C ce
Eric: C
Raluca: D de
Eric: D
Raluca: E e
Eric: E
Raluca: F ef
Eric: F
Raluca: G ge
Eric: G
Raluca: H haș
Eric: H
Raluca: I, i
Eric: I
Raluca: Î î
Eric: This has no English equivalent
Raluca: J, je
Eric: J
Raluca: K, ca or capa
Eric: K
Raluca: L, le
Eric: L
Raluca: M, me
Eric: M
Raluca: N, ne
Eric: N
Raluca: O o
Eric: O
Raluca: P pe
Eric: P
Raluca: Q chiu
Eric: Q
Raluca: R re
Eric: R
Raluca: S se
Eric: S
Raluca: Ș șe
Eric: As in the English word “shepherd.”
Raluca: T te
Eric: T
Raluca: Ț țe
Eric: as in “quartz” or “tsar.”
Raluca: U,u
Eric: U
Raluca: V, ve
Eric: V
Raluca: W, dublu ve
Eric: W
Raluca: X ics
Eric:X
Raluca: Y i grec
Eric: Y
Raluca: Z, zet
Eric: Z
Eric: The nice part is that Romanian is basically pronounced as it is written, all the letters are clearly pronounced, and always in the same way – even in stressed syllables.
Raluca: That’s true Eric.
Eric: Okay, that’s all for this lesson. Thanks for listening everyone, and we’ll see you next time.
Raluca: la revedere!

5 Comments

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RomanianPod101.comVerified
Wednesday at 6:30 pm
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Is the Romanian writing system similar to the one used in your country? 

RomanianPod101.comVerified
Thursday at 2:09 am
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Hello David,


Both letters are pronounced the same, yes. But "â" is always used inside a word, while "î" is used at the beginning or at the end of a word. For example, the correct form is "sârba". I hope you understand.


If you have more questions, let us know.


Thank you.

Mika

Team RomanianPod101.com

David Gloster
Monday at 6:32 am
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I see that â and î are pronounced the same. But I can imagine that for one particular word only one form is correct. For example I have seen both "sîrba" and "sârba". Is one right and the other wrong? Or are they dialectal/regional variants?

RomanianPod101.comVerified
Tuesday at 2:43 pm
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Hello Adam J,


Thank you for your kind feedback.

Let us know if you have any question.


Cheers,

Lena

Team RomanianPod101.com

Adam J
Thursday at 6:20 am
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Really fascinating insight and the lesson notes are amazing!