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Explaining Romanian Grammar Using the Christmas Story, Part 6

It is now New Year’s Eve. If you haven’t read my blog about New Year’s Eve in Romania, you may find it very interesting. The Romanians are extremely lively people!! They call New Year’s Eve “Revelion,” and they really celebrate big time. Partying is one thing Romanians know how to do! I love Romania, but I can be a bit tame if you compare me to a Romanian. They have an extremely happy spirit and love to rejoice in music, dancing, and liquor. I guess the difference between most Romanians and me is that I don’t drink, and I seldom dance. I was raised not to do either one, but in Romania, I danced at a wedding, and it almost got me in trouble with people in America because I was video taped. They have a special Romanian wedding dance. Everyone dances together in a circle. Romanians dance all night at a wedding, and they kept inviting me and encouraging me to dance, and I did. I was trying to make friends, and Romanians dance. The wedding customs in Romania are very interesting. I will have to write a blog about Romanian weddings for you. You have learned from my blogs that I love music. I have actually learned to play several different musical instruments because I love music so much, and I have sung a lot. I come from a very musical family. In Romania, many of them listen to gypsy music which is quite lively, and they enjoy all the most popular artists through time like Queen, the Beatles, etc. and love classical music too.

Romania is very proud of their old church buildings, and they should be. They have some really beautiful ones! Photo by Leonard Dahmen on Pexels.com

Romanians also like Christianity. They are very proud of their beautiful, old church buildings!! Communism didn’t get rid of the belief in God in Romania. One of the ways I developed my Romanian and made it better is by reading the Romanian Bible. I bought myself one at the bookshop next to the Orthodox Cathedral in Sibiu and across the street from the Orthodox seminary where I taught (I am not Orthodox, but taught English to girls becoming Orthodox nuns who taught me a lot about Orthodoxy.) This takes us to the last verse of Matthew chapter one. The Orthodox teach that Mary was a virgin forever. However, this verse in the Bible doesn’t corroborate what they teach.

Maria s-a nascut pe Isus. (Mary gave birth to Jesus.)Photo by JUAN CARLOS LEVA on Pexels.com

Matei 1:25: Dar n-a cunoscut-o pana ce ea a nascut un fiu. Si el I-a pus numele Isus.

If you remember, in the last verse we did, Joseph decided to marry Mary. He became the hero, and he continued being a hero.

Iosef era un om foarte bun. (Joseph was a very good man.)Photo by SHAHBAZ AKRAM on Pexels.com

Dar n-a cunoscut-o pana – “But he didn’t know her until.” “Dar” means “but.” That “n-a” is a contraction for “nu a.” The “nu” is “not.” The “a” is the past tense prefix that has embedded in it “he, she, or it.” “Cunoscut” is the past tense form of “know,” so “n-a cunoscut” comes out at “he didn’t know.” If you remember from the English Bible, when it says that a husband didn’t “know” his wife, it was an old polite way saying that he didn’t sleep with her. “O” is the feminine object pronoun, “her,” so “he didn’t sleep with her.” “Pana” means “until.” That means that Mary was a virgin when Jesus conceived, but later that changed. If we continue the verse, we will find out when it changed.

ce ea a nascut un fiu. – “she bore a son.” “Ce” actually means “what” or “that,” or perhaps “which,” and in Romanian, this is a relative clause, but in English, it is a prepositional clause because of “pana,” (until), the preposition. The “pana ce” causes an interesting grammatical situation in Romanian because the begin both a prepositional clause and a relative clause. “Ea” is the subject pronoun, “she,” and it is the subject of the clause. “A” is the past tense third person singular prefix which means that “he, she, or it” is imbedded into it, but we know it is “she” because we are given the pronoun. “Nascut” is the past tense of “a nasca” which means to have a baby, so “a nascut” means “she gave birth” or “she bore.” “Un” is the masculine singular indefinite article, which translates to “a” in English, but our “a” is not as defined as “un.” “Fiu” means “son.”

Numele bebelui era Isus. (The name of the baby was Jesus.)Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Pexels.com

Si el l-a pus numele Isus. – “And he put him the name Jesus.” “Si” should have a comma attached to the bottom of it and be pronounce like the English word “she.” and it means “and.” “El” is the same as the Spanish “el.” It is the subject masculine pronoun, “he.” “l-a” is a contraction. “l” is “il” which means “him.” “A” is the past tense third person singular prefix, and we know that “el” (he) is embedded because we are given the pronoun “el” (he) already. “Pus” is the past tense form of “a pune” which means “to put,” so “a pus” means our past tense “put.” “Numele” is the direct object because you can ask, “What did he put?” “He put ‘numele’ (name).” “Numele” actually looks like it is in the plural form, but it is used in this form for both singular and plural. What name did he put? “Isus” (Jesus). This means that perhaps “Isus” is the direct object, and “numele” becomes a noun used as an adjective telling about “Isus.”

Let’s put this all together: “But he didn’t sleep with her until she gave birth to a son, and he named him Jesus.”

Iosef era un erou. (Joseph was a hero.)Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

Yes, Joseph was a hero. He treated pregnant Mary and baby Jesus with respect. That is what this verse means. He was married to Mary and could have demanded “his rights,” but he didn’t because he loved and respected Mary. He was a good man. He listened to the angel and gave Jesus the name the angel asked him to, so he believed what the angel said to him. He was a good choice for the earthly father of Jesus.

And, it looks like Mary was not a “virgin forever,” but only when Jesus was conceived and when he was born, but after that,(“pana” until) she slept with Joseph. There are many churches who have the teaching that she was a virgin forever, but it just isn’t true. It doesn’t mean she wasn’t a good woman because good women sleep with their husbands (1 Corinthians 7). It is not a sin to sleep with your husband, just to sleep with people you aren’t married to (Matthew 5:27-29). There also used to be a teaching in churches that even sleeping together even when you are married was a sin, but the Bible doesn’t corroborate that teaching either. There is a ghost town from the 1700’s in the eastern part of the United States where you can tour through where the people were so religious that the men lived on one side of the town and the women on the other, and they never had babies, so the town eventually died out.

This may be a picture that is on the wall of an old church building in Constantinople, Istanbul, Turkey. They were Christians before they were conquered by the Muslims, and the Muslims painted over the Christian pictures and make a Mosque. Lately, they decided to restore the mosque and when they chipped the paint away, they found pictures of Bible stories showing that it was once a church building before the Muslims declared Jihad on Turkey and converted all the Christians by putting a knife to their throats. Romania deserves credit because they are the ones who stopped the Muslims from coming into Europe. (If you look in the Bible, some of the New Testament books were written to churches in Turkey.) Photo by Emre Can on Pexels.com

In one of the church counsels in the early days of the church in Constantinople, they actually made up the teaching about Mary being a virgin forever because they wanted to say that Jesus didn’t inherit sin from her because they were wanting to baptize babies. People were worried about their babies and wanting them to go to Heaven, so they wanted to baptize them. However, they all knew that baptism was for forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38), so they decided that babies had inherited sins from their parents because babies weren’t big enough to commit a sin. However, they had a conundrum if they did that. If babies inherited sins, that would mean that, yes, Jesus didn’t sin, but that he would have inherited Mary’s sins. That is when they all decided that Mary was sinless, and in their minds, she was sinless because she never slept with a man, back to the teaching that made that town in early America die out. When they decided that Mary was sinless, they decided she was a virgin forever, and they began praying to her thinking she was like God. In fact, some of my students in Romania called her “the Mother goddess.”

Mary was a very good woman, and Joseph was a very good man. They were good parents for Jesus. Neither Joseph nor Mary were a god or a goddess, but the angel said about Jesus that he was “God with us” (verse 21). The story isn’t finished, but the chapter is finished. I will continue with the story in chapter two about the wise men in the next blog.

If you are interested in learning Romanian, here are some good grammatical concepts:

Subject pronouns: I = eu (pronounced “ye-ow”). tu (pronounced “too”)= you. el(pronounced “yel.”)= he. ea(pronounced “ya”) = she. noi = we. voi (pronounced “voy”) = you guys. ei (pronounced “yay”) = they. If you want to use “it,” you have to use “el” or “ea.”

Object pronouns: me = mi (pronounced “me.”) or mine (pronounced “meenay”) you = ti (pronounced tsee) or tine (pronounced “teenay.) il or el = him, o or ea= her, noi (pronounced “noy”)or “ne” (pronounced “neh”) = us,voi (pronounced “voy”)or “va” (pronounced “vah:) = you guys as the object. lor or ei or le (pronounced “ley”) = them.

past tense:

(a vedea = to see)

I saw = am vazut

you saw = ai vazut

he, she, or it saw = a vazut

am vazut = we saw

ati vazut = you guys saw

au vazut = they saw

(a pune = to put)

am pus = I put

ai pus = you put

a pus = he, she, or it put

am pus = we put

ati pus = you guys put

au pus = they put

(a iubi = to love)

am iubit = I loved

ai iubit = you loved

a iubit = he, she, it loved

am iubit = we loved

ati iubit = you guys loved

au iubit = they loved

I hope you can see the patterns. You can use the pronouns with these if you like, and if you put the object pronoun before the verb, it is the direct object. Example: il am iubit = I loved him. O ai vazut? = Did you see her? O am vazut. = I saw her. il a pus = he or she put it or him or her. Am dat o la tine = I gave it to you. (Yes, “la” means “to.”) Mi a o dat la mine. = He or she gave it to me.) This can be contracted to: M-a o dat la mine. Am vorbit cu tine. = I spoke with you.

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