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Pronunciation #3 The Pronunciation of Consonants in Romanian
Eric: Hi everyone. I’m Eric, and welcome back to RomanianPod101.com, where we study modern Romanian in a fun, educational format! This is Pronunciation, Lesson 3 -The Pronunciation of Consonants in Romanian.
Mihai: Bună ziua! I’m Mihai.
Eric: Thanks for being here with us. Mihai, what are we looking at in this lesson?
Mihai: Well, we’ll work on your pronunciation of Romanian consonants.
Eric: A consonant is a sound that is obstructed by your lips, tongue, or teeth while producing it.
Mihai: Oh...what a scientific definition! Let's start with our consonants. Romanian has a total of 22 consonant sounds.
Eric: Of which some are completely Romanian-specific.
Mihai: Well, we share most of them with other languages, but, of course, English speakers, for example, have a really hard time pronouncing the R, because the Romanian R is rolled.
Eric: Like in Italian or Spanish, right?
Mihai: Yes, also we have the sounds Ţ and Ş which are written with letters that have diacritical marks. These are referred to as T-comma and S-comma.
Eric: Do they have corespondents in English?
Mihai: Well...the sound Ş exists in English in the words “shopping,” “shake” or “Shakespeare,” but the sound Ţ only exists in English loan words, like “pizza,” “mezzo-soprano,” or “blitz” and “pretzel.”
Eric: Alright! Let’s get into it.
Mihai: Romanian consonants can be divided into two major groups. They can be voiceless or voiced, depending on how they are articulated.
Eric: That sounds really hard to me.
Mihai: Well, it’s not hard when we learn that voiceless consonants are determined by a relaxation of the vocal cords while articulating the sound. The vocal cords are not vibrating, so the throat doesn’t make a lot of effort in order to create the sound.
Eric: For example?
Mihai: When pronouncing the sounds -t or -s, we can feel that our vocal cords are relaxed.
Eric: How can we feel that?
Mihai: Just put your hand on your throat and feel that your throat is not vibrating.
Eric: Can we have some examples of Romanian foods starting with T or S?
Mihai: Tocană and Sarmale!
Eric: Now my mouth is watering.
Mihai: Sarmale are cabbage or vine leaf rolls.
Eric: Let’s hear all the Romanian voiceless consonants.
Mihai: c, c followed by e or i, ch, also followed by E or I, F, H, P, Ş, S, Ţ, T.
Eric: So there are 10 voiceless consonants. Any tips?
Mihai: Maybe we can practice with Romanian food and beverage names.
Eric: Excellent idea!
Mihai: But there is a risk that you’ll be hungry at the end of the lesson.
Eric:That’s ok! Let’s begin!
Mihai: c - Cozonac. Eric, do you know what Cozonac is?
Eric: Of course I do. It’s delicious Romanian sweet bread with hazelnuts, raisins, vanilla flavor, or a different sweet taste that Romanians eat on holidays. Next!
Mihai: c’- Ciorba , This sound is always followed by e or i. Ciorba.
Eric: Romanian sour soup.
Mihai: What’s your favourite Ciorba Eric?
Eric: “Romanian meatball soup.”
Mihai: So you like Ciorba de perişoare. You have good taste in food Eric!
Eric: Of course!
Mihai: Alright now ch-chiftele, this consonant is written as “Ch” and it’s always followed by “e” or “i”. What is chiftele, Eric?
Eric: uum…“meatballs”?
Mihai: Bravo! next we have the consonant -f- Ficăţei ,
Eric: “Little liver.” That is what Romanians call fried chicken livers. It might not sound delicious but believe me it is...unless you don’t like the taste of chicken livers. Next!
Mihai: -h Halva,
Eric: A dense sweet confection made from sunflower seeds. It’s actually common in almost all Eastern European and Middle Eastern countries.
Mihai: Next is -p Papanasi
Eric: Wait, that’s a sweet as well. But I don’t remember what exactly.
Mihai: It’s a type of doughnut that is a mixture of a lot of ingredients, including cheese. Next we have -s Sarmale.
Eric: These are a must-try if you’re in a Romanian restaurant. Sarmale is translated as “cabbage rolls” or “vine leafs rolls” and they are filled with rice, meat, and vegetables. Next?
Mihai: -ş, şniţel
Eric: That’s the Romanian word for “cutlet.”
Mihai: Next is t- Tocăniţă,
Eric: “Stew”
Mihai: The last voiceless consonant is ţ [ts]... imagine pronouncing –t and –s. –tsssss- ţuică
Eric: Oh...that’s the answer to “how do you get drunk fast in Romania?”
Mihai: Yep! ţuică is a plum or wine brandy that can contain up to 60 % alcohol...depends on how it’s made.
Eric: If you drink it, you’ll only be pronouncing voiceless consonants.
Mihai: Yes, because for voiced consonants you must move your mouth and vocal cords. Voiced consonants are sounds where there is a partial closure of the epiglottis while articulating the sound.
Eric: Epiglottis? Now you sound like a doctor.
Mihai: Well, what I was trying to say is that the air exits almost freely through the mouth and the vocal cords vibrate. Also, the position of the lips and tongue changes more when we pronounce voiced consonants.
Eric: For example?
Mihai: -b and -v.
Eric: V like in Vlad the Impaler?
Mihai: Bravo, Eric. So you don’t want to talk about food and beverages anymore?
Eric: I do!
Mihai: Alright so instead let’s have V- Vin,
Eric: “wine.”
Mihai: Let’s now think of a Romanian dish name that starts with V. How about Varză a la Cluj
Eric: Oh yes... that’s a cabbage dish.
Mihai: Now B- Borş
Eric: That’s another type of Romanian sour soup. Now D.
Mihai: d- Drob de miel
Eric: Wow...how should I explain that? It is a traditional Easter recipe.
Mihai: Yes.
Eric: It’s made from minced lamb organs with eggs and a lot of spices.
Mihai: Bravo! Now G- găluşte
Eric: “Dumplings!”
Mihai: G’- gem,
Eric: “jam”
Mihai: Gh- Ghiveci,
Eric: “vegetable stew.”
Mihai: J- Jumeri de pork ,
Eric: “Pork scratchings.” A lot of Romanians love them but they’re so unhealthy because they’re full of cholesterol.
Mihai: Next we have l-I don’t know any Romanian dish that starts with L
Eric: There must be one.
Mihai:(thinking) L - Lapte de pasăre, but this is actually a French dessert.
Eric: But you have it in Romania as well. What’s next?
Mihai: m, m- Mămăligă
Eric: “cornmeal mush”
Mihai: Next is n, n- I don’t know any Romanian food that starts with n, so I’ll just say negresa.
Eric: “Brownies.” We’re almost done.
Mihai: r, rrrrrr- Rasol.
Eric: I have no idea how to explain this. This is the first time I’ve heard of it.
Mihai: Rasol is a dish made from meat, potatoes and vegetables which are boiled together.
Eric: And our last consonant is!
Mihai: z, zzzzz - Zacuscă.
Eric: “Vegetable spread.” You spread it with a knife on the bread and you eat it. Delicious! OK. So, to sum it up – shall we go through all the consonants again?
Mihai: The voiceless consonants are C, C’ followed by e or i, Ch’ followed by e or i, F, H, P, Ş, S, Ţ, T.
Eric: So remember that when you pronounce these, your throat does not vibrate.
Mihai: The voiced consonants are B, D, G, G, followed by i or e, Gh, followed by i or e, J, L, M, N, R, V, Z.
Eric: We have an exercise for you that will help you understand the difference between a voiced and voiceless consonant.
Mihai: So we don’t care where you are in this moment, in the car, a shopping center, a library and we don’t care if people will look at you...
Eric: Put your a hand on your throat and repeat after Mihai.
Mihai: RRRR (silence) ZZZZZ (silence) D (silence) can you feel the vibrations of your throat? That happens when a voiced consonant is pronounced, because a voiced consonant uses the vocal cords.
Eric: Now do the same and repeat.
Mihai: F (silence), S (silence), P (silence). I hope you can feel the difference. Your throat barely moves when producing the sound. That happens when a voiceless consonant is pronounced.
Eric: Okay, that just about does it for this lesson.
Eric: Before we go, we want to tell you about a way to drastically improve your pronunciation.
Mihai: The voice recording tool.
Eric: Yes, the voice recording tool in the premium learning center!
Mihai: Record your voice with a click of a button,
Eric: and then play it back just as easily.
Mihai: So you record your voice, and then listen to it.
Eric: Compare it to the native speakers...
Mihai: And adjust your pronunciation!
Eric: This will help you improve your pronunciation fast!
Eric: Thanks for listening, everyone. Bye!