What I love about Romania: The language, a mix of Latin and Balkan influences

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Guest Writer Yvette Larsson covers yet another thing she loves about Romania: its language. 

I am a language person. I’m a native Swedish speaker, I manage Norwegian and Danish too. English and French come easy for me. I also understand a bit Dutch and Spanish. I’d say I’m an eager language learner. – Why ? Because I believe learning languages is a door into the culture of a people. You get under the skin. When you understand jokes from another culture, you know you’ve come a long way.

When I tell people here, in Scandinavia, that the Romanian language is a Latin based language many are surprised. Usually we associate Latin languages with Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese. The fact that Romanian belongs to the Latin language -family intrigues people outside Romania.

We believe easily that Romanian is a purely Slavic language as Romania is squeezed into the Balkans. It doesn’t help either that Romanian is a language not widely heard. It’s not heard because Romania is not on the common travel circuit for foreign tourists.

I remember the first time I was in Romania in 1985, as a 13 year old, and hearing the language, I thought it sounded like a mix of Italian and Russian. Last week, when I visited Romania with my tri-lingual children, I asked my five year old daughter, Emma : “What does Romanian sound like?” She said , in a child’s way : “ Spanish and Elena’s language” . Elena is our baby-sitter and she is from Ukraine. So, my daughter had a similar first experience to me, with regards to the Romanian language. A Latin language with Slavic overtones.

I think that is the core of Romania. It is eclectic. That’s one, big strength.

Romanian is spoken by around 24 million people , as a native language, and by another 4 million people as a second language.

Visually, the language looks like a mix of Latin and Slavic, to me. The words often resembles Latin and I wonder how close Romanian is to old Latin, compared to Italian.

In October I took Romanian lessons with Violeta Ieremie, from Scrie Bine. She introduced me to the language in a structured way. She told me about the “diacritice” , that were so difficult for me to pronounce in the beginning. She showed me words with three vowels connected , for example : ceai and copiii.

I believe that it is the abundance of vowels that makes Romanian sound like a flowing river to me. It was a friend who first used those words “ flowing like a river”. Romanian is a melodic language and I can’t wait for the day when I can read Eminescu in Romanian.

By Yvette Larsson, Guest Writer

Yvette Larsson is Swedish, born 1972 in Gällivare, Lapland. Between the years 1991- 1998 she studied English, Swedish, Education, Media & Communication and Science Journalism at the University of Umeå.

The University studies followed by one year in Stockholm and 13 years abroad. First overseas move was to French Reunion Island, followed by Stavanger/Bergen:Norway, Cassis/ Aix-en-Provence: France, London: UK, and now Copenhagen: Denmark.

Her continuous education constitutes of numerous courses within the field of Sports and Health and she dedicated ten years to Sports Management. When the children came she trained to become a Coach and Leadership Trainer, passionate about making individuals and organisations the best they can be, and she had her own practice for four years.

She runs  the blog and a Facebook -page called The Bucharest Lounge, where she displays the beauty and meaning of  Romania , seen through the eyes of a Swede.

(photos by Yvette Larsson)


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