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Explaining Romanian Grammar in Matthew 2:10

Buna Ziua! (Good Morning!) Ce mai faci astazi? (How are you today?) Tot e bine aici. (Everything is fine here.) Mai este zapada pe pamant. (There is still snow on the ground.) Mult localitatele caut sa aiba o craciun Craciun, dar aici in Oklahoma, ei stiu ca daca e ninja, va fie in Ianuaria. (Most places look to have a white Christmas, but here in Oklahoma, they know that if it snows, it will come in January.) Dar nu a venit in Ianuaria in anul acest, dar in Februaria. (But it didn’t come in January this year, but in February.) Existat oamenie aici pe care au decis ca nu va fie ninja in anul acest ca Ianuaria a trecut fara ninja. (There are people here who had decided that it wouldn’t snow this year because January passed without it snowing.) Ei au gandit ca primavera va veni pe curand. (They thought that spring would come soon.) Neimeni poate sa prevedea vremea in Oklahoma. (No one can predict the weather in Oklahoma.) Oklahoma are cel mai ciudat vremea pe care am vazut pe acest pamant. (Oklahoma has the strangest weather I have seen on this earth.) A existat un umorit se cheama Will Rogers, si el a zis despre Oklahoma ,,Daca nu iti place vremea, stai o clipa, ca va schimba.” (There was a humorist named Will Rogers, and he said about Oklahoma, “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute, it will change.”) Conduc mult pe drumul pe care a chemat pentru el. (I often drive on a road named after him.)

In sfarsit, Oklahoma are zapada. (Finally, Oklahoma has snow.) Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Poate nimeni poate sa te spui cum vremea va fi in Oklahoma, dar existat profetile pe care au putut sa ne spune ce sa caut cand Isus va veni. (Maybe no one can tell you what the weather will be in Oklahoma, but there were prophets that could tell you what to look for when Jesus would come.) Si tot semnele au existat. (And all the signs existed.) Pana acum, noi am vorbit despre faptul ca el ar fi nascut de o fecioara, si el era. (Until now, we have talked about the fact that he would be born of a virgin, and he was.) Si noi am vorbit despre faptul ca el ar fi nascut in Betelehem, si era. (And we talked about the fact that he would be born in Bethlemen, and he was.) Dar sti, de asemenea, Matei spune in primul capitolul in primul vers ca Isus ar fi in familia David lui, e escrito in cartea intuit a Cronicilor 17: 11-14 in Vechiul Testamentul din jural de timpul de 457 B. C., si tin aminte ca Isus nu va nascut pana 4 B. C. (But, in the same way, Matthew says in the first chapter in the first verse that Jesus would be in the faily of David, and it is written in 1 Chronicles 17:11-14 in the Old Testament around the time of 457 B. C., and remember that Jesus was born in 4 B. C.) Exista cat de mult de profesia despre Isus ca asta. (There are so many prophecies about Jesus like this.)

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Si cel magi din est au gandit ca ceva minunata a intamplat din cauza de acea stea. (And the magi from that east thought that something wonderful had happened because of that star.) Daca ti am spus tot proba despre faptul ca Isus e cel pe care era promit din Dumnezeu din Vechiul Testamentul, ar ie mult timp. (If I gave you all the evidence about the fact that Jesus is the one which God promised from the Old Testament, it would take a lot of time.) Exista atat de mult de proba din profecia si din alti sursele. (There is so much evidence from prophecies and from other sources.) Cel magi e unul de alti sursele. (The magi one of the other sources.) Si astazi, vom vorbi despre magi din noua. (And, today, we will talk about the magi again.)

Sunt sigur ca ei erau gata sa faca celebratia! (I am sure they were ready to celebrate!) Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

Matei 2:10: Cand au vazut ei steaua, n-au mai putut de bucurie.

Matei = “Matthew.” “Matei” is pronounced “mahtay” with a thick tongue that rests on the ridge in the top of your mouth behind your teeth and on the bottom of your teeth at the same time on the “t.”

Cand = “when.” “Cand” has one of those stange “a’s” in it that should have an inverted “v” over it and is pronounced like “uh” in the bottom of your throat, a place no English letter comes from. It is more like a grunt. It is one of those letters the Romanian changed how they wrote after they left Communism because they thought it was too much like a Russian word. It used to be written as an “i” and an inverted “v” over it, but was pronounced the same as it is now. “Cand” is pronounced “K”uh”nd.” This begins the “when” clause, and this s a clause because it has both a subject and a verb, but the “when clause” can’t be a sentence alone even though it has a subject and a verb because that “when” (cand) makes it dependent on the rest of the sentence. This means it is a dependent or subordinate clause.

au vazut ei = “they saw” or “they have seen.” “Au” is the prefix for past tense. It is actually the prefix for present perfect (a kind of past tense), but it is often translated as simple past tense. The first translation I wrote here in English is simple past tense. The second translation in English is present perfect tense. With that “au” before the verb, and that “t” on the end of it, you know it is past tense. “Au vazut” comes from “a vedea” which means “to see,” and that is the form you will find in the dictionary.

The “au” tells you this verb is in past tense, but also in third person plural which means the pronoun embedded here is “they.” You can see “they” added after the verb which is “ei.” The translator didn’t have to add “ei” because it is already there in “au.” As I have told you before, often, in Romanian, the subject comes after the verb instead of before in English because they don’t have the absolute word order that English does of “subject + verb.” Their idea of which one comes first is which one the speaker thinks is most important, so the subject could come before or after the verb. In this case, the speaker thought the fact that they saw the star was more important than who saw it, but they put the “ei” there to clarify who saw it.

“Au vazut ei” is pronounced, first with that “au” being like the “ou” in our English word “ouch.” “Vazut” is pronounced “vahzoot.” “Ei” is pronounced “yay.”

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steaua = “the star.” “Star” is actually said “stea.” To say, “stars,” say “stele.” The “a” on the end of “stea” is “the,” a feminine definite article to match the “a” in “stea.” Whenever you see an “a” in Romanian, it means it is feminine. That “u” is put between the two “a’s” in “Steaua” to smooth it out a bit. The first time I saw words like this in Romanian, it really confused me about how to say them because we have nothing like this in English. “Steaua” has four vowels in a row! You just have to learn how they blend those vowels. In this case, they blend the first two together, and the last two together. This is the pronunciation: “steeyah-wah.” “Steaua” is the direct object of the dependent clause. Remember, ask, “what?” (ce?) to find the direct object. “What did they see? (Ce au vazut ei?) The answer is “the star” (steaua), so “the star” (steaua) is the direct object of the “when” clause.

n-au mai putut = “they were full” or “they were overcome.” “They were overcome” nor “they were full” are not the literal translations, but “n-au mai putut” is a special phrase called an idiom. We have idioms in English too that make people who speak English as a second language crazy because if you take idioms literally, they make no sense.

Multumesc, nu. Nu mai pot. (No thanks. I am full.) Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When we say, “I am full,” after we eat we understand, but the Romanian say, “nu mai pot” which doesn’t literally translate “I am full.” We actually mean our stomachs are full because that is the only place the food goes, but we are not literally “full,” our stomachs are full. We can’t put anything else in our stomach. That is what the Romanians are saying when they say “nu mai pot.” “Nu mai pot” literally means, word by word, “I can no more.” “Nu” means “no.” “Mai” means “more.” “Pot” means “I can.” Knowing this, will help you understand what “n-au mai putut” means.

“n-au” is a contraction. That first “n” is missing the “u” that makes it “nu,” meaning “no.” The “au” and the “t” on the end of “putut” tells you that it is past tense, and it is literally in the past tense called present perfect that begins in the past and continued until now. “Au putut” comes from “a putea” which means “to be able” or “can.” “Au putut” actually means “they could,” with our “could” being the past tense meaning. “n-au putut” means “they couldn’t.” I have already told you that “mai” means “more,” so “n-au mai putut” literally means “they couldn’t anymore” or “they couldn’t more.” It is like “nu mai pot” that means ” I can’t more” or “I am full,” so “n-au mai putut” means “They were full,” but not literally.

El nu mai a putut de bucurie. (He was full of joy.)Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

“N-au mai putut” is pronounced “Now mah-ee pootoot.” “They” (ei) is the subject of the sentence because “n-au mai putut” (they couldn’t more) is a subject and a verb, and “n-au mai putut de bucurie” (they were full of joy) is an independent clause because it has a subject and a verb and has no word to make it dependent or subordinate. “N-au mai putut de bucurie” (they were full of joy) could be a sentence alone.

Ma bucur.
“Ma bucur” or “Sunt bucuros.
(“I am joyful.” or “I am happy.”) Sunt fericita. (I am happy.) The “fericit” or “fericita” came from Latin. The “bucur,” or “bucuros” or “bucurie” came from Dacian (a kind of Greek). “Am bucurie” = I have joy.
Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

de bucurie = “of joy.” “De” means the same thing it does in Spanish here, “of,” and is pronounced the same way: “dey.” “Bucurie” means “joy” and is pronounced “boo-koo-ree-yey.” “De bucurie” is a prepositional phrase with “de” as the preposition and “bucurie” as the object noun of the preposition.

Let’s put this verse all together: “When they say the star, they were full of joy.”

I actually thought I might do two verses today because this verse looked so short initially, but because of the idiom, it got a little longer that I realized it would. If we think about a lot of things we say, if you would translated them literally into another language, they may not make sense. This is why many universities offer classes for people who speak foreign languages in idioms in those languages, and there are whole books written about idioms to help foreigners.

This is a modern day picture of Greece, but it looks just like Romania too. Photo by Cátia Matos on Pexels.com

Someone asked me the other day if Romanian was anything like Greek. I don’t speak Greek, but I have heard there are similarities. If you look at the things Greeks eat and the way they build their houses as well as their traditional clothing, it is so much like Romania, it is astonishing! I have heard that Greek has a lot of declensions (endings) on the verbs and nouns like Romanian does.

The Greeks, in particular the Dacian Greeks, were the first people in Romania. Photo by Josiah Lewis on Pexels.com

You see, Romanian is a mixture of Latin and Greek. the original people in Romania were called the Dacians. The Dacians were Thracian, and Thracians were Greek. The Dacians were the first people in Europe. We have lots of stories about Greeks if we read books like the Iliad, the Odyssey, Homeric Hymns, etc. The god they all worshiped was called Zues. The word for god in Romanian is “zeu.” The word for God in Romanian is “Dumnezeu” which literally means “Lord God.”

When the Roman soldiers came to Romania, they loved it and stayed!Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Romania began with the Dacians, and during the Roman empire, the Roman soldiers came. Dacia was a popular outpost with the Roman soldiers. They really liked Dacia! When the Roman empire fell, those Roman soldiers all stayed in Dacia and didn’t go back to Rome. The Dacian language and the Latin language just meshed. Neither language took over, and that is why there are so many different words that mean the same thing in Romanian. The grammar also meshed.

If you studied Spanish in school, Romanian would be easier for you than for people who haven’t studied any Spanish. //Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com

Many Americans study Spanish at school just as I did. Spanish is a Latin language, and some of the words in Romanian are exactly the same as Spanish, but not all, but I learned Romanian quickly because I spoke Spanish first. I had Romanian student who went to Italy and learned to speak Italian in two weeks. Those Roman soldiers had a lot of influence! However, they didn’t take the language completely over.

Most European languages overlap with one another. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

As people ask me about Greek in relation to Romanian, probably, Romanian would be easy for Greek speakers to learn too. And, probably, if you speak Romanian, Greek wouldn’t be that hard to learn. Languages overlap. Because the Romans had so much influence on England and the English language, the Romanians find English easy. Because the Saxons, a German tribe, came into England and stayed and because the original language in England was a kind of German, the Germans also find English easy. I knew a girl from South America who studied English for only two years and came to America fluent in English. Spanish speakers can find English easy too, but not as easy as they would find Romanian. Romanian is slightly different from the other Latin languages because of the influx of Greek. French is slightly different from the other Latin languages because of the influx of Gaelic, and English has Gaelic in it too. All the European languages are related in some way except languages like Hungarian that is a language island in Europe because it came from Mongolian, a language very much like Korean. If you can understand the Romanian grammar and want to study Greek, it would be easier for you than someone else who doesn’t understand how the Romanian language works.

Next time, I will explain the grammar in verse 10 of Matthew 2. Have a nice day!

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