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Explaining Romanian Grammar in the Christmas Story, Part 7, (Beyond the Birth)

In my last blog about Romanian grammar in the Christmas story, we left off at verse 25 of Matthew the first chapter. Jesus had been born. Now, we will go on into the second chapter because the time around Jesus birth is not finished. Everyone knows the story of the wise men or Magi, and this is where we pick up the story, in Matthew chapter 2:1, when the Magi appear on the scene:

Au venit niste magi. (Some Magi came.)Photo by Jonathan Meyer on Pexels.com

Matei 2:1: Dupa ce s-a nascut Isus, en Betleheemul din Iudea, in zilele Imparatul Irod, iata ca au venit niste magi din Rasarit la Ierusalem,

Matei = Matthew. It is pronounced “Mahtay” with the “t” being more blunt than English and letting out let air.

Dupa ce s-a nascut Isus – “After Jesus was born.” “Dupa” means “after.” “Ce” is pronounced “chay” and means “what” or “that.” I don’t always translate the relative pronoun from Romanian to English because it only makes sense part of the time, and if you translated it here, it would make no sense. “S-a” is a contraction. “S-a” is actually “se, and then a.” “Se” means “himself.” It is a reflexive pronoun which comes with the reflexive verb “a nasca.” In English the grammar of “born” is rather complicated and illusive to some even though I could explain it, and this reflexive Romanian verb is also rather complicated and illusive.

People don’t realize that in English, the word “born” is not actually a verb, but a past participle of the verb “bore” used like an adjective. In the sentence, “He was born,” the actual verb is “was,” not “born” unless you want to make “was born” into a passive voice verb which it could be because when we are born, we are not the one doing the bearing. Our mothers are. “He was born” if you were being specific, should be “he was born by Mary which actually means “Mary bore him.”

S-a nascut Isus.. (Jesus was born.)Photo by kelvin octa on Pexels.com

As far as the Romanian “S-a nascut,” “A nascut” means “was born,” and “Se” is himself basically saying, “it was Jesus, himself, that was born by Mary.” That is why “Isus”(Jesus) comes after the verb. This makes Jesus the stressed direct object of “a nascut,” and “se” (himself) the unstressed direct object pronoun that is referring to Jesus. Unstressed direct objects come before the verb in Romanian, and there is always either another direct object pronoun our noun after the verb that explains the unstressed direct object that is called the stressed direct object. The way to pronounce “Isus”(Jesus) is “eesoos.” There is more than one way to say “Jesus” in Romanian. Another way is “iesu” (eeyesoo). “Dupa ce s-a nascut Isus” is an introductory clause because there is a subject and a verb, but the “after” makes it a dependent clause. That means it can’t be a sentence alone even though it has a subject and a verb.

S-a nascut Isus in Betleehemul din Iudea. (Jesus was born in Bethlehim of Judea.)Photo by Haley Black on Pexels.com

In Betleehemul din Iudea – “in Bethlehem of Judea.” “In” usually means the same thing in Romanian as it does in English, “in.” “Betleehemul” actually means “the Bethlehem.” The “ul” on the end means “the” which means the Romanian Bible sets Bethlehem out as being a specific Bethlehem. “Din” means “from” or “of.” “Iudea” (Judea) is pronounced “yooday-ah.” “In Bethleehemul din Judea” is two prepositional phrases. “In” is the preposition, and Bethleehemul is a noun that is the object of the preposition. “Din” is also a preposition and “Iudea” is a noun that is also the direct object of “din.”

Imparatul Irod era un om foarte rau. El a ucis mult oameni sa devini imparatul, chiar si oameni din famiia lui. (The emperor Herod was a very had man. He killed a lot of people to become the emperor, even people from his own family..)Photo by Cinestyle India on Pexels.com

in zilele imparatul Irod – “In the days of the Emperor Herod.” Again, “in” usually means “in” in English. “Zilele” means “the days.” “Zi” alone means “day.” If “le” is put on the end, “le” is “the.” If there is another “le” on the end, that “le” means “s” and makes it plural. “Imparatul” means “the emperor.” Imparat” (eemparat) means “emperor.” The “ul” on the end of a word means “the.” “Irod” (eerod) means “Herod.” “in zilele impartul Irod” is another prepositional phrase. “In” is the preposition. “Irod” is the object of the preposition.

Biblia nu spune ca erau doar trei magi. (The Bible doesn’t say there were only three wise men.)Photo by Chattrapal (Shitij) Singh on Pexels.com

iata ca au venit niste magi – “Behold some Magi came.” “Iata” is pronounced “eeyahtah” and means “look!” or “behold!” “Ca” means “what” or “that,” and I didn’t translate this again because this would make no sense in English. In “au venit,” the “au” is pronounced like the first part of English word “ouch” without the “ch.” The “au” is the prefix for past tense, third person plural which means the pronoun that is imbedded is “they.” “Venit” comes from “a veni” which means “to come.” The “t” on the end is added to make it a past tense form just as the “au” is added. “Niste” means “some.” There should be a comma on the bottom of the “s” which means the “s” should be pronounced like the English “sh,” so pronounced this word: “neeshtay.” “Magi” is the same in English: “magi.” However, it is pronounced “mahjee.” In this case, “magi” is the subject. Yes, it comes after the verb. Often in Romanian, the subject will come after the verb. The rule in their word order basically says you put the word you consider the most important first, and then the word that you don’t consider as important second. That means the translator of this Bible felt it was more important that they came than who they were. “Magi” is the subject of this sentence. “Au venit” is the main verb of the sentence.

Sol a rasarit din oriente. (The sun rose in the east.)Photo by NO NAME on Pexels.com

din Rasarit la Ierusalem, – “from the east to Jerusalem.” “Din” (deen) means “from” or “of.” “Rasarit” technically means “it rose.” The sun rises in the east, so the translator was saying “from the east” when he said “din Rasarit.” “La” means “to” in English. “Ierusalem” (pronounced: “yeroosahlem”) means “Jerusalem.” “din Rasarit” and “La Ierusalem” are both prepositional phrases. “din” and “la” are both prepositions, and “Rasarit” and “Ierusalem” are both nouns, objects of the preposition. Yes, there is a comma at the end of this verse which means the sentence isn’t finished.

Au venit in Betleehemul.. (They came to Bethlehem.) Photo by Jessica Lewis on Pexels.com

Let’s put this verse all together: “After Jesus was born, in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of the Emperor Herod, behold, some Magi came from the east to Jerusalem,”

Many people ask me who these Magi were. I have actually written two blogs on who they were. I did my research a long time ago and even met some of them, and they are part of a tribe whose leader was called Zoroaster. They were from India, east of Jerusalem. The followers of Zoroaster were known for constantly studying the stars in the old world. If a star moved, they knew something had changed. That is how they recognized the big bright star over where Jesus was. They knew something was going on over there and were trying to figure it out. The followers of Zoroaster eventually left India and went into Egypt. After that, they went to Romania, and today, they are known at the gypsies. Yes, the followers of Zoroaster, the gypsies, believe in God. However, unlike the Jews and the Christians, they attribute as much power to the devil as they do to God. Whereas the Jews and the Christians know God is stronger than the devil. The people who follow Zoroastrianism choose which one they want to serve, God or the devil, and some choose God, and some choose the devil. They are included in the story of Jesus because they are foreigners. They were not Jews. God was trying to let us know that Jesus was not born king of just the Jews, but of every nation in the world.

Ei au urmat steaua mare. (They followed a big star.)Photo by Hristo Fidanov on Pexels.com

Matei 2:2 – “si au intrebat: ,, ….Unde este imparatul de curand nascut al Iudeilor? Fiinca I-am vazut steaua in Rasarit si am venit sa ne inchinam lui.”

si au intrebat – “And they asked.” The word “si” should have a comma attached to the bottom o f it which means, that “s” is pronounced “sh.” The “i” is pronounced, “ee.” “Si” means “and.” This is the beginning of another clause. The last verse was just a clause. “Au intrebat” means, “they asked.” The “au” part in front of “intrebat” and the “t” part on the end of “intrebat” means this is past tense, third person, plural. It also means that “they” is imbedded into “au intrebat.”

Au cautat pe un imparatul. (They looked for an emperor.)Photo by Mike on Pexels.com

,, …Unde este imparatul de curand nascut al Iudeilor?” – “Where is the recently born emperor of the Jews?” In Romanian, if there is a quotation, the first quotation marks go at the bottom, and the second quotations marks got at the top like in English. “Unde” means “where.” “Este” means “is,” and is pronounced “yeste.” “Imparatul” means, “the emperor.” The “ul” on the end is the part that means “the.”

“De curand” means “recently.” If these words are separated, “de” becomes “of,” and “curand” becomes “soon,” but together, they mean “recently.” The “a” in “curand” should have an inverted “v” over it which means it is a sound that is not in English. That “a” used to be “i,” but after the revolution, the Romanians decided it was too much like Russian, and they really wanted away from Russia, so they changed “i” with an inverted “v” over it to “a” with an inverted “v” over it. It is pronounced down in your throat like a grunt.

Isus era pe curand nascut. (Jesus was recentl born.)Photo by JUAN CARLOS LEVA on Pexels.com

“Nascut” means “born.” It is the past participle of “a nasca,” which means “to bear.” Past participles can be used as adjectives, so it is an adjective. That means that “de curand” is an adverb that tells about “nascut,” an adjective. “Al Iudeilor” is a prepositional phrase. “Al” means “of” or “to.” “Iudeilor” means “belonging to the Jews.” “Iudei” means “Jews.” “Lor” is a post postion particle meaning “theirs.” It means that the “impartul” belongs to the Jews.

Era o steaua mare. (There was a big star.)Photo by Luck Galindo on Pexels.com

Fiinca l-am vazut steaua – “because we saw the star.” “Fiinca”(fee-eencah) is one way of saying “because.” There are several ways to say “because” in Romanian. You can also use “pentruca” or just “ca.” “I-am” is a contraction. Taken out of the contraction, it is “ii” and “am.” The “ii” is a feminine direct object pronoun used before the verb. It refers to “steaua.” The “am” is the prefix to “vazut.” With the “am” and the “t” on the end of “vazut,” this means that it is either first person singular past tense or first person plural past tense because they are the same. “Vazut” comes for “a vedea” which means “to see.” We know that it is the Magi speaking, so “am vazut” means, “we saw.” “Steaua” means “the star.” “Steau” alone is just “star.” The “a” on the end of “steaua” s a post position article that means “the.” It also tells you that the word “steau” is feminine, so when they used the unstressed direct object pronoun, “ii,” it had to be in the feminine from because it refers to “steaua.”

in Rasarit – “in the east.” “in” is the same in English. It is a preposition which means thi sis a prepositional phrase. The object noun of the preposition is “Rasarit.” Literally, “rasarit” means “risen.” However, “risen” is not a noun. They are using “Rasarit” as “East” because India is east of Jerusalem.

Ei au venit sa-l inchinau pe Isus. (They came to worship Jesus.)Photo by Jessica Lewis on Pexels.com

si am venit sa ne inchinam lui. – “and we came to worship him.” “Si” should have a comma under the “s,” so should be pronounced “sh.” “Si” means “and.” “Am venit” is past tense third person plural of “a veni” which is the infinitive”to come.” “Am” and the “t” on the end of “venit” tell you that this is past tense. “Am” tells you it is either first person singular or first person plural, and we know it is the Magi speaking, so we know the pronoun embedded here is “we.” “am venit” means “we came.” “Sa” means “to.” “A inchina” is the infinitive form of “to worship.” “A inchina” is the form you would find in the dictionary, and “sa inchina” meaning “to worship” is the form you would find in a sentence. Since that “m” is on the end of “inchina,” it makes “inchinam” into “we worship.” The “ne” between “sa” and “inchinam” means “us.” “Ne” is an unstressed reflexive pronoun that comes before the verb. “Inchina” can also mean “to bow down,” so “ne” tells you they were going to bow themselves down to worship “lui,” the direct object. “Lui” can mean either “him” or “his.” If something belongs to him, the might say “masa lui” meaning “his table.” However, this “lui” in comes after a verb, not after a noun, so if “lui” is after a noun, it means “his,” and if it comes after a verb like “inchinam lui,” then it becomes “him.”

Ne inchinam pe Isus in fiecare Duminica. (We worship Jesus every Sunday.)Photo by Thgusstavo Santana on Pexels.com

Let’s put Matei 2:2 all together:and they asked, “Where is the recently born emperor of the Jews? Because we saw the star, and we came to worship him.”

This is not the end of the story, but I think I will stop here because this blog is getting kind of long. Here are some interesting grammar concepts from these verses:

1. Romanian has stressed and unstressed direct object pronouns. They both mean the same thing. You can say a sentence and just use one or the other. The stressed pronouns come after the verb, and the unstressed pronouns come before the verb. Here are some examples:

unstressed stressed translation

il lui him

ii ea her

ne noi us

te tine you

le ele or lor them

ma mine me

It is important to say that often, but not always, “pe” is used before the stressed pronoun. The unstressed pronoun comes before the verb, and the stressed pronoun comes after the verb.

2. Here are some possessive pronouns. None of these come before the noun, but after the noun.

my – al meu, al mei, al mea, ale mele

your- al tau, al ta, al tai, ale tale, a voastra, al vostru, ai vostri, ale voastra

his – al lui, a , lui

her – al ei

our – nostru, noastra, nostri, noastre

their – lor

These pronouns are put on the end of a noun. An example is, “camera lor” means “their room.” If one of these ends in an “a,” it is feminine. If it ends in “u,” it is masculine. Except for “ei,” if it ends in in “i,” it is masculine and plural. If it ends in “e” it is feminine plural. If it begins with “v,” it is a respectful “your.” Each possessive pronoun must agree in number and gender with the noun it is attached to.


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