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Lesson Transcript


Antoni: What are diminutives and how are they formed in Romanian?
Anna: And are they commonly used?
Antoni: At RomanianPod101.com, we hear these questions often. In the following situation, Bogdan Balan is visiting a pet store with his daughter, Beatrice Balan. He says, "Look! A little mouse!"
Bogdan Bălan: Uite! Un șoricel!
Bogdan Bălan: Uite! Un șoricel!
Beatrice Bălan: Drăguț!
Antoni: Once more with the English translation.
Bogdan Bălan: Uite! Un șoricel!
Antoni: "Look! A little mouse!"
Beatrice Bălan: Drăguț!
Antoni: "How cute!"

Lesson focus

Antoni: In the dialogue, Bogdan uses the word
Anna: șoricel
Antoni: to refer to a mouse, instead of the word
Anna: şoarece,
Antoni: This is because he has added the suffix
Anna: -el
Antoni: in order to express the fact that he thinks the mouse is cute. This suffix is a diminutive suffix and what this means is that it is used to make something sound cuter, smaller, more endearing, less harsh or, at times, to indicate that it is something to be looked down on. In the Romanian language, you will find that there are many words with this suffix. It is very common.
Other common suffixes are:
Anna: -aș
Antoni: and
Anna: -uț.
Antoni: We'll talk some more about these suffixes in a moment. First, let's quickly recap what we've learned thus far.
Antoni: So far, in this lesson, we have learned that diminutives are expressive suffixes that we can use when we want to convey that we think something is cute, small, or endearing.
The common suffixes that were briefly mentioned were:
Anna: -aș [pause], -uț
Antoni: and
Anna: -el.
Antoni: We can also use diminutives when we are being derogatory or when we want to soften the tone of what we are saying. Let's now look at an example of the former. Romanian people will sometimes refer to a small-time or unsuccessful actor as
Anna: actoraș.
Antoni: This is the diminutive form of
Anna: actor,
Antoni: and it is not a compliment. In fact, it is a little derisive so, as with all the diminutives that express a degree of contempt, use it with caution. You don't want to end up in a situation where you find yourself apologizing to someone.
While this kind of diminutive might make you sound a little rude, there are diminutives that can help you do the opposite. Consider, for instance, a situation where someone has borrowed money from you and you want to ask them to give it back. It is easy to come across as a little aggressive or impolite if you simply say, "When can you give me the money?" or:
Anna: Când îmi poţi da banii?
Antoni: Instead, it might be better to ask
Anna: Când îmi poţi da bănuţii?
Antoni: As you will have noticed, the word
Anna: banii
Antoni: meaning "money," was changed to its diminutive form, which was
Anna: bănuţii.
Antoni: which means "pennies." In this way, the speaker comes across as less confrontational but still manages to get their point across.
Expansion/Contrast (Optional)
Antoni: There are a great number of diminutives in Romanian, and it's not possible to look at them all in one lesson so, for now, let's look at some examples of words that take the common diminutives we have already mentioned. We started with the suffix
Anna: -el
Antoni: because that is what Bogdan used when he wanted to talk about the cute mouse. Another example of this suffix being used to form a diminutive is the word:
Anna: Bogdănel,
Antoni: which, as you will probably have guessed, is the diminutive of the name
Anna: Bogdan.
Antoni: There are several suffixes that can be used to form the diminutives of people's names. Another suffix we mentioned earlier was
Anna: -aș.
Antoni: You already heard it being used in the somewhat derogatory word
Anna: actoraș,
Antoni: and it can also be used to form a word like
Anna: balconaș
Antoni: which means "small balcony." This is the diminutive form of
Anna: balcon
Antoni: which, of course, means "balcony."
Our next suffix is
Anna: -uț
Antoni: and it can be used to form a diminutive like
Anna: bunicuț
Antoni: which is an informal way of saying "grandfather." It would translate to "grandpa" in English. The Romanian word for "grandfather" is
Anna: bunic.
Antoni: This suffix also has a female version–
Anna: -uță
Antoni: and it can be used to form the informal word for "grandmother," which is
Anna: bunicuță
Antoni: or "grandma." The word for "grandmother" is
Anna: bunică.
Cultural Insight/Expansion (Optional)
Antoni: Very often, in Romanian, diminutives are used to express endearment. In other words, they are used when someone wants to express their fondness for someone or something. Some of the diminutives you've already heard are examples of this, such as
Anna: bunicuț
Antoni: and
Anna: bunicuță
Antoni: meaning "grandpa" and "grandma," respectively. We also used the diminutive form of Bogdan's name earlier. It was
Anna: Bogdănel.
Antoni: This is one of the most common ways to express endearment towards a person. Here are some other diminutives of Romanian names. The name
Anna: Măriuca
Antoni: is the diminutive form of
Anna: Maria
Antoni: and the name
Anna: Sveta
Antoni: can be changed into a term of endearment by calling her
Anna: Svetuţa.
Antoni: The boy's name
Anna: Adrian
Antoni: becomes
Anna: Adi
Antoni: when it is used by someone who is wanting to express their fondness for him. Interestingly, this same term of endearment can be used for the female name
Anna: Adriana.
Antoni: There are many diminutives of Romanian names and you will probably only get to know them when you hear other people using them with people they feel close to. Please do keep in mind that using the diminutive form of a person's name should be reserved for people you know well and are fond of. It would certainly not do to use your boss' name in this way, or someone else you don't know well!


Antoni: Do you have any more questions? We're here to answer them!
Anna: La revedere.
Antoni: See you soon!
Credits: Anna (Romanian, Romania), Antoni (English, synthetic voice)