We have said many times on this blog why we think Romanian is indeed one of the most beautiful languages. In fact, here we have also discussed some of the most beautiful words in Romanian. And indeed, there are so many beautiful words in the Romanian language, not so much for the way they sound because in this aspect Romanians will inevitably be subjective and consider Romanian to be the most beautiful language on the face of the earth – who doesn’t think the same about their own language? – as much by the beauty and richness of meaning that these words convey. Some of them are simply impossible to translate into another language without losing much of the emotion you feel when you hear them spoken in Romanian. So, let us talk a little bit about…
Untranslatable Romanian words
There are many words in the Romanian language that cannot be translated into another language without losing their richness of meaning. There is even an attestation of this fact, although it concerns only 3 words, officially speaking. And when we say official, we mean the International Dictionary of Literary Terms, a compendium compiled by Unesco, which brings together certain words from all the languages of the world, those that are specific to each language and which are difficult or impossible to translate into other languages. These words are in fact considered part of the world’s universal heritage. For just as there are places on this earth that are unique and that offer the viewer and his soul emotions that are specific to that place, so there are words that express unique states, and that can only be described in the words of that language. Well, there are three words in Romanian that UNESCO has included in the universal heritage: dor, doina, and colindă.
DOR is an absolutely fascinating word, which will immediately awaken in the soul of the one who hears it an explosion of the most different states and feelings. This is precisely why the word cannot be translated. Its meanings can be rendered by words in other languages, but to describe the word ”dor” in English, for example, you will have to use whole expressions, sentences and phrases to get closer to the hidden treasure that lies in Romanian in a single word. DOR means the strong longing to see someone, but it can also be the sweet nostalgia for dear things, times, places, or people. At the same time, it can also be melancholy and that state in which the heart yearns and is consumed by the thirst to have again a thing or a person who can bring it peace.
DOINA is a genre of Romanian folk lyric and musical folklore that renders precisely the infinite nuances of the word “dor”. Doina can be both a poem and a song, it can be a cry of love but also a cry of strong pain. It can speak of parents waiting for their children to return to their parents’ home, but also of the bride who will wait forever for her lover. It can be about the tree under which you had your first kiss, but also about the war that took your brother or sister. Doina can be a gentle meadow where the shepherd plays his flute and is heard only by the sky above and his sheep, it can be a quiet lake where the moonlight caresses the face of the one who waits trembling for his beloved, but it can also be a shivering storm. For example, this song was included in the 1960s in a list of the ten most beautiful songs on earth.
COLINDĂ is the last of the 3 untranslatable words. Although in other languages there are also words or expressions to describe the songs that are sung at Christmas, the Romanian word “colindă” has more meanings and it exactly captures the traditional Romanian atmosphere, the moment when children go from one house to another and delight all those who welcome them with their songs and their beautiful voices. If you want to know more about this time of the year and how Romanians experience Christmas and New Year, you can read this article.
Well, now that we have tried to understand a little about the words in Romanian that cannot be translated, we understand how true Salman Rushdie’s words are:
“To understand a society, it is best to look at its untranslatable words.”
Other beautiful Romanian words
In addition to the above words, if you learn Romanian (don’t forget that you can always request a free demo lesson for online Romanian lessons you will discover a treasure trove of words that will help you express the most beautiful things, states, and actions.
For example A DĂRUI. It is a verb formed from the noun DAR (gift) and does not describe the simple act of giving something to someone. It implies much more than the act of giving, it implies an inner state of warmth and joy that accompanies the act of giving. It implies both the happiness of the giver and the joy that the receiver will be richer and use what he has received.
Another special word is STINGHER. In a simple translation, it will be equated with ALONE, but the nuances of the Romanian word are much richer. It is not only about loneliness, but also about the state of feeling alone, incomplete, and restless. It can mean sadness, it can mean misery, and it can mean fragility in front of those around. In short, it is a loneliness that one can feel even if one is at that moment in the midst of a thousand people.
Finally, let’s also take a look at the word FREAMĂT. In the most colloquial sense, it can be translated as a wail or noise. But this word actually describes the dull noise produced by the movement of leaves being blown by the wind, or the waves of the sea crashing incessantly against the shore. That’s it? No. It can also be that muffled noise of voices fading into the background, while the soul and mind are… elsewhere. Metaphorically, it may describe that thrill that you feel at the approach of an experience that can transfigure you.
Of course, there are many beautiful words in the Romanian language and we could do a whole blog series on the subject. But until then, why don’t you try discovering them yourself? We’re waiting for you at probably the best online Romanian courses!