Explaining Romanian Grammar in the Christmas Story, Part 10

Up until now, we have talked about the grammar from chapter 1 of Matthew about before the birth of Jesus, about the prophecy from Isaiah 7:14 that talks about the circumstances of the birth of Christ, and then the actual birth, and then on into chapter 2. In chapter 2, we have talked about the grammar in verse 1-6 where the Magi come from the east, from India, and King Herod invites the Chief priests and the scribes to find out where Jesus would be born, and we ended with the prophecy in verse 6. This is the second prophecy about Jesus’ birth. Matthew quoted Micah 5:2 talking about where the Messiah would be born. It is important to point out, and I did, that Jesus was born in 33 A. D., and Isaiah’s prophecy about his birth was written around 740 B. C., and Micah’s prophecy was written somewhere between 750 B. C. and 680 B. C. These prophecies were specific, not like other prophecies that are not in the Bible that are so general that it could mean anyone. Only Christ could have fit these prophecies, and they were made a long, long time before his birth. It is important to add that we only know the year Jesus was born because history tells us the time of the great registration in Bethlehem when Herod was the king, the reason Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem.

Now we are ready for verse 7 of Matthew 2. You will get a review of the grammar as we go because I will explain all the grammar.

Irod era un rege foarte rau si a ucis mult oameni. (Herod was a really bad king and killed a lot of people.) Cel magi au trebuit sa fie teama, dar in timpul acest, nu au stiut cat de mal Irod era. (Those mai should have been scared, but at this time, they didn’t know how bad Herod was.)Photo by Jimmy Chan on Pexels.com

Matei 2:7- “Atunci Irod a chemat in ascuns pe magi si a aflat intocmai de la ei vremea in care se aratase steaua.”

Matei = “Matthew.” “Matei” is pronounced “mahtay.” The “t” is not as sharp as an English “t.” You put your tongue up on the roof of your mouth right behind your teeth and lay it on the back of the teeth and he ridge behind the teeth to say the “t.”

Atunci Irod a chemat = “then Herod called.” “Atunci” means “then.” It is pronounced “ahtoonch.” The “a” is like in “father.” I described how to make the “t” above. The “u” is like the “ou” in “you.” The “ci” is pronounced like a “ch.” Any time there is an “I” or and “e” after “c,” it becomes a “ch” in Romanian.

“Irod” means “Herod.” “Irod” is pronounced “eerohd.” This is the subject. Sometimes the subject comes after the verb in Romanian, but if they want to make it important, they put it before the verb. You say whatever word you think is the most important first. The verb is “a chemat.” It comes from “a chema” which means “to call.” “A chemat” is in third person singular past tense. This means that “he, she, or it” is embedded in “a chemat,” and since we know Matthew is talking about Herod, the pronoun “he” is embedded here. It is past tense because it has a “t” on thend and because it has the prefix before it. Each person has a different prefix for past tense: * “I” carried “am.” “you” carried “ai.” “He, she, or it” carries “a.” “We” carried “am.” “They carried “au.” To pronounced “a chemat,” if there is a “ch,” is is pronounced like a “k.” “A chemat” is pronounced “ah keymaht.”

in ascuns = “hidden” or “in secret.” “A ascunde” means “to hide.” We normally translate “ascuns” when it is alone as “hidden,” but the best translation here is “in secret.” “In” should have an inverted “v” over it. # It is not pronounced the same as the English “in,” but usually means the same thing. The sound of that Romanian “i” with an inverted “v” over it is not a sound in English. It is said way down in your throat, and then you kind of grunt. “Ascuns” is pronounced “ahskoons.”

Cel trei magi au au venit din India si au crezut in Dumnezeu. (Those three magi came from India and believed in God.) Photo by Jonathan Meyer on Pexels.com

pe magi – “magi.” That “pe” simply points out that “magi” is the direct object. If the direct object is a person or people, they put “pe” in front of it. “Pe” is pronounced “peh.” “Magi” is pronounced “mahjee.”

Irod a chemat pe magi in ascus. (Herod called the magi secretly.) Photo by Luis Aquino on Pexels.com

Si a aflat intocmai de la ei – “And found exactly from them.” “Si” means “and.” That “s” should have a comma attached to the bottom of it which makes it sound like the English “sh.” The “i” sound like “ee,” so “si” is pronounced like the English word “she,” but means “and.”

“A aflat” means “he found.” It comes from “a afla” which means “to find.” “A aflat” is in simple past tense, third person singular. If you look above*, I have listed all the prefixes for past tense. The “a” means “el,” (he) is embedded into the verb, and the “t” on the end and the prefix mean it is past tense. “A aflat” is pronounced “ah ahflaht.”

“Intocmai” means “exactly.” “Indocmai” is an adverb. “Intocmai” begins with the “i” that has an inverted “v” over it, and I have already explained how to pronounce it above. # And I have explained how to pronounce a Romanian “t’ at the very top, right after the scripture. “Intocmai” is pronounced “intohkmah-ee.”

“De la ei” is a prepositional phrase meaning “from them.” If you know any Spanish, “de” in Romanian and “de” in Spanish are exactly the same in pronunciation and meaning. “De” means either “of” or “from,” but here it means “of.” “De” is pronounced “dey.” “La” is pronounced like the Spanish “la,” but has a completely different meaning. The pronunciation is “lah.” The meaning in Romanian is either “at” or “to,” but in Spanish, it means “the.” In English, we don’t translate this word because it makes no sense in English. The object of the preposition “de,” here is “ei” which means “they.” To pronounce “ei,” it is “yey.”

vremea – “the time.” “Vreme” means “time” in Romanian. It is a feminine noun. To make “vreme” into “the time,” they need “the” which is that “a” on the end of “vreama.” “A” is a feminine “the” and can only be tacked onto the end of feminine nouns. “Vremea” is pronounced “vrehmeyah” with the end of it glidling together. It is not “meh-ah” on the end, but “meyah” said as one syllable.

Irod a vrut sa stie intocmai cand Steaua se aratrase. (Herod wanted to know exactly when the star appeared.)Photo by Luck Galindo on Pexels.com

in care se aratase steaua – “in which the star appeared.” That “i” is another “i” that should have an inverted “v” over it. To find the pronunciation, look for # above. It is not an English pronunciation. “Care” is pronounced “kahrey.” “Care” is a relative pronoun that begins the relative clause that is the end of the sentence.

“Se aratase” is rather complicated, so stay with me, and I will explain. If you had just “a arata,” it means “to show.” If you put the “se” before it, it becomes a reflexive verb, and so, “se arata” is translated “to show itself, herself, or himself.” If I show myself, it is “ma arata.” That “se” introducing “se aratase” means “himself, herself, or itself.” If you also put a “se” on the end of “a arata,” then “a aratase” become “appear,” so “se aratase” has a strange translation in English: “appear itself” which actually makes no sense in English, so you have to choose either “appear” or “show itself” as the meaning. “Se aratase” is pronounced “sey ahrahtahsey.”

“Steaua” means “the star.” The part that actually means “star” is “steau.” The “a” on the end means “the.” This tells you that “Steaua” is a feminine noun.” It is the subject of the relative clause, but it is at the very end of the clause. In English, the clause would read “which the star appeared,” but the word order in Romanian is what I would call notional. The speaker decides which word they think is the most important, and they put that word first. Evidently, the translator who translated this to Romanian thought the appearance was more important than what appeared. “Steaua” is pronounced “steyawah.” Glide “steyah” because the only separate syllable you might have is the “wah.” These word with so many vowels all together drove me crazy when I first began speaking Romanian. It just takes practice to get used to them.

Let’s put this verse all together:Then Herod called the magi in secret and found out exactly from them the time from which the time appeared.”

Ierta ma ca trebuie ma opresc un pic. (Forgive me, because I have to stop a bit.) Photo by Ivan Oboleninov on Pexels.com

I actually had plans to do more than one verse, but I am tired, and it is making my eyes begin to hurt, so I need to get off the computer. You have a lot of information about Romanian just in in this verse. I hope you enjoy it. Maybe I will begin early in the day next time so I won’t tire easily and can give you more next time.

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