We are not the only ones who have said it! On the contrary, a number of creators and writers – some of Romanian origin, others foreign – have said on countless occasions that the Romanian language is one of the most beautiful languages and they have argued, each in their own style, that this is so.
For example, Emil Cioran, one of the most important writers of the 20th century, born in Romania and later settled in France, said that:
“Switching from Romanian to French is like switching from a prayer to a contract”.
But what made him – and so many others – remain eternally, if not in love, at least respectful to death, with the Romanian language?
Here we started talking about why we think Romanian is beautiful, and now we want to add a few things.
Romanian – unique among Romance languages
Being part of the Romance language family – along with languages such as French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish – Romanian remains unique within this family. Primarily because of its sound. Although it retains an extremely rich Latin background, the influences of all the peoples who have settled in these lands over the centuries make Romanian sound totally different from its sisters.
Apart from the way it sounds, it is the only surviving Romance language in this part of Europe, and this is all the more remarkable as Romania was and still is surrounded by rather Slavic peoples.
It is precisely because of these peculiarities that Romanian is different from other Romance languages. Because the vocabulary is mostly of Latin origin, because the phonetic laws that governed the changes of sounds are also of Latin origin, but the grammar (topics, syntax) are more of Slavic influence. More understandably, it’s like speaking using Italian words and Russian grammatical laws 🙂
Cât de veche este limba română?
The Romanian language is about 1700 years old. This in itself is not a record. We are well aware that there are languages on this earth, still in use, that are much older than this.
What is noteworthy, however, is continuity and consistency. If you were to go back in time 6-700 years ago, apart from some differences in vocabulary terms, you wouldn’t have much difficulty getting along with the people who lived in then in the territories that now belong to present-day Romania. And this is really a remarkable fact, because things are not the same with some of the major languages in the world today.
Romanian is one of the languages with the most proverbs. On almost any subject you will find all kinds of “sayings” that have become part of the common heritage of Romanians. This heritage of proverbs and quotations (anonymous or not) is in fact a treasure trove, an inexhaustible source of popular wisdom, a source that has been used (without exhausting it) by so many Romanian writers.
And while we’re on the subject of wisdom, it might be interesting to know that about a quarter of Romanian folk proverbs have wisdom as their main theme.
Thinking that, in the end, the proverb is nothing but a metaphor, which in turn represents the attempt to convey as much information as possible in a semantic expression as concise as possible, we better understand the words of one of the great classical poets of the Romanian language, Vasile Alecsandri:
“The Romanian is born a poet”.
Staying with the beautiful words of Romanian poets, I feel the need to mention the words that probably every Romanian knows, and which belong to another Romanian poet, closer to us in time – Lucian Blaga:
“Eternity was born in a village”.
How many words does Romanian have?
Another aspect that makes Romanian a valuable language is the number of words in the vocabulary. Of course, the beauty of a language does not necessarily lie in the number of words, but rather in the way they sound when spoken, and in the richness of meaning that their combination reveals.
However, it is not a minor fact that, with approximately 170,000 words in its corpus, Romanian is thus ranked in the top 8 languages of the world by number of words. And this is considering that this figure does not include the diminutives of Romanian, which number around 30,000.
The definite article in Romanian
As a peculiarity of the Romanian language, it is the only language of Latin origin to have the definite article placed at the end of the word and joined to it.
This aspect brings a certain cursivity, coherence and precision in expression, because in Romanian a single word is enough to express a certain information concisely.
mama = the mother
iubitul = the lover
strigătul = the cry
Is it hard to learn Romanian?
Of course, Romanian can be harder than other languages in some respects. It has enough rules to memorize and enough irregularities to learn by heart.
At the same time, there are many aspects that make Romanian an easy language to learn. For example, the fact that the Romanian language follows the rule that : “we write as we hear, and read as we write”. In other words, writing and reading Romanian always preserve the same characteristics of how sounds are rendered. The same sounds will always be written the same way.
Now, if we think of French for example, or English, where the same sounds are rendered in different ways in writing, we understand how big the difference is.
How many ways can the letter “a” be pronounced in English, depending on the context?
How many ways can the sound “o” be rendered in French?
Well, in Romanian the same sound will always mean the same graphic sign.
In fact, the rules of reading, writing and pronunciation are the first elements to be studied in the online Romanian language course.
At the end of this article, we hope that we have given you a few more reasons why we think Romanian is one of the most beautiful and interesting languages. If you still don’t believe us, we don’t mind, but we invite you to read the next article in the series. (aici va fi ulterior linkul la următorul episod)