Romanian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Romania and Moldova, as well as in some parts of Hungary, Serbia and Montenegro, Bulgaria and Ukraine. It is useful to know the language if travelling in Romania, especially in rural areas, and even though nowadays nearly everyone knows some English, your experience in the country will be so much better and friendlier if you speak the local language.
Romanian is a fairly difficult language to learn and speak, due to its complicated grammar. It is, however, fairly similar to Italian, and, to an extent, other Romance languages (French, Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, etc.), so speakers of these languages are more at an advantage.
Note that in Romanian, there is a formal and informal form when addressing people. The informal is tu (you) and the formal is voi (also plural). This is similar to the construction in most other Romance languages, and, to an extent, German, although Germans usually make less use of the informal forms. Use tu when addressing friends or people you know well. When addressing strangers, use Dumneavoastră or voi (Dumneavoastră is used instead of the name, like Sir in English, voi is used as a pronoun, like you).
Even though Romanian pronunciation is very phonetic, a lot of foreigners find it hard to speak it, especially English speakers. The accent and sounds are very similar to Italian (with slight Slavic influences), so remember to sound every letter clearly. Also, sounds very rarely differ between words (i.e. the letter i is always pronounced the same, everytime, unlike in English).
Like English, Romanian has secondary stresses in words. We have not attempted to represent those here.
Questions in Romanian that end with a verb often use a rising tone on the last syllable or two.
like 'i' in "dip" when in the middle or start of a word. When at the end, it is barely sounded - for example, in the word Bucureşti, it is pronounced Boo-KOO-resht with a very short and slight i - never pronounce it as Boo-KOO-reshtee. The terminal "i" causes a slight "softening" of the preceding consonant. The few Romanian words with a very strong terminal "i" sound are spelled with a double "i" ("ii"). Hear the sound for i
like 'a' in "digital". This sound is usually mispronounced (people tend to pronounce it like 'u' in 'cup', but in fact, this sound is frequently found in English. When seeing ă always think of the sound in the rather than in bra Hear the sound for ă
no precise English equivalent - it's best to hear it being spoken. â and î are the same sound in Romanian. î is used at the beginning of words, â in all other cases. The closest American English sound is the ""oo"" in "book", but it's a bit shifted toward a "soft 'i'", as in "it". Hear the sound for â, î
like 'b' in "bed"
like 'ch' in "cheese" (like Italian 'c') when followed by 'e' or 'i', otherwise like 'k'
like 'd' in "dog"
like 'f' in "federation"
like 'g' in "gym" when followed by 'e' or 'i', otherwise like 'g' in "gear"
like 'h' in "help" (never silent in Romanian)
like the French 'j' in "Bonjour" - closest English equivalent is the "s" in "pleasure" Hear the sound for j
like 'c' in "cat"
like 'l' in "love"
like 'm' in "mother"
like 'n' in "nice"
like 'p' in "pig"
like 'k' in "king" (this sound is rarely used in Romanian)
usually dipthongized, like the "a" in the East-coast American English "cat" or "sat". However, this letter pair is not always a diphthong.
like 'c' in "collar" (hard sound)
like 'g' in "giving"
NOTE: The pronunciation guides in brackets beside each word only act as guides, due to the fact that they will make the Romanian word have a strong English accent. To get a better pronunciation, it is generally better to look at the Pronunciation Guide above and learn the right pronunciation for each letter (this is easier than it sounds). Throughout the following, "ooh" is pronounced roughly as in "oo" in "book"; "oo" without the "h" is as in "boot".
How are you?
"Ce mai faci?" (chay my FOTCH)
Fine, thank you.
"Mulţumesc, bine." (mool-tzu-MESK BEE-nay)
What is your name? (formal)
"Cum vă numiţi? (coom vuh noo-MEETZ)
What's your name? (informal)
"Cum te cheamă? (coom tay KYAHM-uh)
My name is ______.
"Numele meu e ______." (NOO-meh-leh MAY-oo yay ______.)
Nice to meet you.
"Încântat" (oohn-kahn-taht) or "Îmi pare bine" (OOHM pah-reh BEE-nay)
"Vă rog" (vuh ROHG; usually follows the request.)
Thank you very much
"Mulţumesc bine" (mool-tzu-MESK BEE-nay)
"Cu plăcere" (koo plah-CHAIR-eh)
Excuse me. (Getting attention)
"Pardon" (pahr-DOHN) or "Vă rog" (vuh ROHG)
Excuse me. (begging pardon, moving through crowd)
"Îmi pare rău" (oohm pah-reh RAUH)
"La revedere" (lah reh-veh-DEH-reh)
"Pa" ("PAH"; in informal occasions in Transylvania - "Servus" [sehr-VOOS])
Normally, to say "at" a time, one precedes the same form given above with "la", thus:
la prânz (la PROOHNZ)
one o'clock PM
la treisprezece ore (la TRAY-spreh-zeh-cheh ORH-eh) - still, you'll find used more often "la unu după-amiază" (la OO-noo DOO-pah ah-MEEAH-zuh)
la miezul nopţii (laj mee-EZ-ool NWHOP-tzee)
un minut (oon meen-OOT)
_____ minute (_____ meen-OOT-ay)
o oră (OH OHR-ah)
_____ ore (OHR-eh)
o ziuă (OH ZYOO-ah)
_____ zile (_____ ZEE-leh)
o săptămână (OH suhpt-uh-MOOH-nuh)
_____ săptămâni (_____ suhpt-uh-MOOHN)
o lună (OH LOO-nuh)
_____ luni (LOON-ee; the last syllable almost vanishes)
un an (oon AHN)
_____ ani (AHN-ee; the last syllable almost vanishes)
Note: For all of the above, the correct, literary way to express duration is by saying una oră, una ziuă, una săptămână... instead of o oră, o ziuă, o săptămână, but this is never really used in speech, even if the context is very formal. Therefore, it is much easier to learn that o is used to express one or a in the case of minute, hour, month, etc, not una. This is because all of these nouns are feminine. With year, which is masculine, un is used (as in, un an - one year).
săptămâna asta (sehp-teh-MUHN-a AHS-tah)
săptămâna trecută (sehp-teh-MUHN-a treh-COOT-a)
săptămâna viitoare (sehp-teh-MUHN-a vee-toe-A-reh - no real English pronunciation equivalent)
Writing time and date
16 Ian 2004 3:30 (or 16 ianuarie 2004 3:30).
date may also be written 16/01/04 or 16-01-04.
1 Aug 2004 20:00 (or 1 august 2004 20:00).
date may also be written 01/08/04 or 01-08-04.
NOTE: ah in English represents the sound 'a' as in "far"
Bus and Train
How much is a ticket to _____?
Cât costa un bilet până la _____? (COOHT KOHS-tah OOHN bee-LEHT POOHN-ah LAH _____?)
One ticket to _____, please.
Un bilet până la _____, vă rog. (OON bee-LEHT POOHN-ah LAH _____, vuh ROHG)
Where does this train/bus go?
Unde merge trenul/autobuzul ăsta? (OON-day MAIR-jeh TREHN-ool/OW-toh_BOOZ-ool AH-stah?)
Where is the train/bus to _____?
Unde este trenul/autobuzul pentru _____? (OON-day YES-teh TREHN-ool/OW-toh_BOOZ-ool PEHN-troo _____?)
Does this train/bus stop in _____?
Trenul/autobuzul ăsta opreşte la _____? (TREHN-ool/OW-toh-BOOZ-ool A-stah OH-presh-teh lah _____?)
When does the train/bus for _____ leave?
Când pleacă trenul/autobuzul de _____ ? (COOHND PLACK-uh TREHN-ool/OU-toh_BOOZ-ool DEH _____) This may be incorrect. I'm not a native speaker, but I'd expect this to mean "the train/bus from ______" not "...for (/to) ______", which is what we need. Would a native speaker please verify? -- Jmabel 06:43, 3 Jan 2004 (EST)
When will this train/bus arrive in _____?
Când ajunge trenul/autobuzul ăsta la _____? (COOHND ah-ZHOON-jeh TREHN-ool/OW-toh-BOOZ-ool A-stah lah _____?)
How do I get to _____ ?
Cum ajung la _____ ? (COOM ah-ZHOONG la _____ ?)
...the train station?
... gară? (GAH-rah)
...the bus station?
...staţia de autobuz? (STAH-tzee-ah deh OW-toe-booz)
centrul oraşului...? (CHEHN-trool or-AH-shoo-looy)