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, French, 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 French construction, and, to an extent, German. 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 'u' in "cup", 'a' in "target"
Hear the sound for a
- like 'e' in "ten"
Hear the sound for e
- 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.
Hear the sound for i
- like 'o' in "chlorine", rounded, fairly short sound
Hear the sound for o
- like 'oo' in "broom", but much shorter
Hear the sound for u
- 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
- â, î
- no 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
Hear the sound for â, î
- like 'b' in "bed"
- like 'ch' in "cheese" (like Italian 'c') when at the start of the word, like 'k' in king when in the middle or end
- like 'd' in "dog"
- like 'f' in "federation"
- like 'j' in "jello"
- like 'h' in "help" (never silent in Romanian)
- like the French 'j' in "Bonjour" - no real English equivalent
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)
- like 'r' in "row", but slightly harsher (similar to the Italian r)
Hear the word 'Reşiţa' in Romanian, note the 'r' sound
- like 's' in "snake"
- like 'sh' in "lush"
- like 'ts' in "bits"
- like 't' in "knit"
- like 'v' in "very"
- like 'v' in "very"
- like 'cks' in "picks"
- like 'i' in "dip"
- like 'z' in "fizz"
- like 'c' in "collar" (hard sound)
- like 'g' in "giving"
- like 'oy' in "boy"
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)
- Romanian (person): "Român" (Ro-moohn)
- hello: "Salut" (Sa-loot)
- good-bye: "La revedere" (Lah reh-veh-deh-reh)
- bye: "Pa" (in informal occasions in Transylvania - "Servus" [sehr-voos])
- please: "Vă rog" (Vuh rohg)
- sorry: "Îmi pare rău" (Oohm pah-reh ruh)
- thank you: "Mulţumesc" (Mool-tzu-mesk)
- yes: "Da" (Da)
- no: "Nu" (Noo)
- I don't understand: "Nu înţeleg"
- Where's the bathroom?: "Unde e toaleta?"
- Do you speak English?: "Vorbiţi engleza?"
- ieri (yehr)
- mâine (muy-neh)
- this week
- săptămâna asta (sehp-teh-muhna ahs-tah)
- last week
- săptămâna trecută (sehp-teh-muhna treh-coot-a)
- next week
- săptămâna viitoare (sehp-teh-muhna vee-toe-a-reh - no real English pronunciation equivalent)
- duminică (doo-min-ee-ka)
- luni (loohn)
- marţi (mahrtz)
- miercuri (mee-ehr-coor)
- joi (joy with the 'j' like the French "Bonjour")
- vineri (vee-nehr)
- ianuarie (ya-nooh-ah-ree-eh)
- februarie (feb-ruah-ree-eh)
- martie (mahr-tee-eh)
- aprilie (ah-pril-ee-eh)
- mai (mai)
- iunie (yoo-nee-eh)
- iulie (yoo-lee-eh)
- august (ow-goost)
- septembrie (sehpt-ehm-bree-eh)
- octombrie (oct-ohm-bree-eh)
- noiembrie (noi-ehm-bree-eh)
- decembrie (dech-ehm-bree-eh)
NOTE: ah in English represents the sound 'a' as in "far"
- negru (neh-groo)
- alb (ahlb)
- gri (gree)
- roşu (roh-shoo)
- albastru (ahlb-ahstroo)
- galben (gahlb-en)
- verde (vehr-deh)
- portocaliu (pohr-toh-ka-leeu)
- mov (mohv)
- maro (mah-roh)