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Romanian Pronunciation

It is well known that Romanian pronunciation is one of the easiest aspects of the language. Romanian is a language where words are rarely difficult to pronounce or to hear because the vast majority of Romanian words end in vowels. Proper pronunciation in the Romanian language is important for a number of reasons. You want to be able to sound like a native speaker, and you want others to be able to understand your words.

Just as grammar is important, proper Romanian pronunciation is vital to knowing the language. It also helps you when you are listening to speakers of the language, so you can understand what it is that they are saying and so you can process it more quickly. Because native speakers speak very quickly, understanding pronunciation and being able to hear it will improve your grasp of what is happening with speakers around you.

One thing to note is that Romanian sounds are very similar to Italian, with some slight Slavic influences.

Sounds and Syllables

Romanian sounds are made of a combination of consonants, vowels, and semivowels. The Romanian alphabet has twenty consonants (b, c, d, f, g, h, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, ș, t, ț, v, w, x, y, z) four semivowels (-e, -i, -o, -u) and seven vowels (a, e, i, o, u, ă, î).

Vowels can make syllables by themselves. Consonants need a vowel in order to create a syllable. For example, the word apă (“water”) is made up of two syllables, a- and -pă. The first syllable is a, formed from one vowel and the second syllable is , a consonant followed by a vowel.

Semivowels are sounds that form diphthongs and triphthongs together with vowels. Below is a guide to how to pronounce Romanian letters

Letter

Pronunciation

As in the English word

a ah father
e eh bet
i ee beet
o oh pole
u oo pool
ă uh but
î, â ew Two letters, but same sound.
ţ ts Pittsburg
ş sh shower
c ch before an "i" or "e" beach
ch k bike
g j before an "i" or "e" juice
gh g bag

Diphthongs and Triphthongs

Diphthongs are syllables composed of a vowel and a semivowel. There are two types of diphthongs according to the placement of the semivowel in the syllable. The semivowel can come as a first or second sound.

For examples:

(semivowel + vowel)—ea: cafea (“coffee”)

(vowel+ semivowel)- au: auriu (“golden”)

Triphthongs are a succession of sounds. These sounds are two semivowels and a vowel and always come in this order: semivowel + vowel + semivowel

For examples:

- oai: franţuzoaică(“French woman”)

- ioa: creioane (“pencils”)

Stress

The best way to remember the stress mechanism is to listen to native speakers, but aside from that, we could say that comparing the words in English and Romanian could help you find your way through it. If we consider the word naval and “naval,” meaning in both cases “pertaining to ships,” the stress is on the first “-a” in the two-syllable English word. However, in the Romanian word, it falls on the second -a. In Romanian, the stress can fall on any syllable of the word. The stress is important because it can be the only difference between two words spelled identically but with different grammatical forms.

For example:

copii (“copies”) – copii (“children”)