Romanian language lesson: Phonetic alternations in verbs in the Present

[audio:|titles=phonetic alternations_verbs_present]

Vowel and consonant alternations occur very often in various verbs in the present tense paradigm.
The most common vowel alternations are:
a – ă: sar/sări (I jump – you jump)
ă – e: văd/vezi (I see – you see)
o – oa – u: pot/poate/putem (I can – he can – we can)
i – e: vin/venim (I come – we come)
Most alternations occur in the root verb as we can see in the examples mentioned above.
The vowel alternation:
e – ea dansez/dansează (I dance – he dances) occurs in the Present Tense suffix (ez / eaz). All the verbs with the suffix “ez” register this type of alternation in the third person singular.

The most common consonant alternations are:
d – z: văd/vezi (I see – you see), deschid/deschizi (I open – you open), cred/crezi (I believe – you believe)
s – ş: cunosc/cunoști (I know – you know), citesc/citești (I read – you read)
t – ţ: trimit/trimiți (I send – you send)
All the consonant alternations occur in the 2nd person singular (văd/vezi: I see/you see). The Present ending “i” produces a consonant alternation.

Grammatical features
There are specific rules according to which alternations occur in the Present Tense paradigm.
Most alterations in Romanian are the result of some special phonetic laws that can be explained by differences in the phonetic structure of various forms of the verbs in the Present.
The chronology of these alternations is related to the changes produced in the history of the Romanian language. The oldest alternation is “a – ă” and dates from the twelfth century.
The alternations increase the irregular grammatical features of the verbs in the Present and occur also in the Past Tense paradigm (forming the participle).
All the alternations in the Present Tense paradigm occur also in the nouns and adjectives flexion.

Mona Pologea, Ph.D Linguist
Managing Director ROLANG School