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Beginning to Speak Romanian, The Alphabet, Lesson 1

My student base has expanded. I was only teaching Spanish Bible and Korean online, but now I have students who want to learn to speak Romanian too, so I decided that I would begin the easy Romanian lessons again in case any of them want easier lessons than the Bible stories I have been putting out. It is actually easier for me to tell Bible stories in Romanian than to water my Romanian down enough to teach it. You see, I studied Romanian, but I also learned Romanian like a child learns a language, by listening to the people around me and repeating what they said in the right situation. I studied Romanian children’s books until I could read the adult’s books. I learned a lot of Romanian from reading the Romanian Bible. There were no book made especially for learning Romanian when I began studying Romanian. I am still friends with my original Romanian language teacher, and I know he is very happy with what I do in Romanian. When I send my Romanian blogs out on Facebook, he clicks “like,” and that is good. I know it feels good for a teacher for their students to take what the gave them and then go on and bloom and use it. I am not going to stop the Romanian Bible story blogs, but I am also going to begin at the beginning again in case any of my Romanian students want to log on and get some extra help from my blogs.

Pronunciation:

To begin with, Romanian is not pronounced the same as English, even though our letters look similar. Some of the letters are pronounced the same, but not all, and there are letters in Romanian and sounds in Romanian that are not in English. Romanian is a Latin language, so if you speak Spanish, Italian, or Portuguese, the Romanian sounds are basically the same with a few variations. Here are the letters with their pronunciations in English.

a= ah

ă = uh

â = This sound is not in English. It is like “u,” but it is said way down in your throat like a grunt.

b = b

c= c, except in certain situations. ci or ce = ch

d = d, but a bit more blunt than in English

e = eh

f = f

g= g, except in certain situations, gi or ge =j

h = h

i= ee

The Romanians, at times, have attitude problems toward Russia because they didn’t like the Russians trying to dominate them under Communism. Russian was taught in their schools, and they would say to me, “They made me study Romanian in school, but they can’t make me speak it!” They refused to speak Russian. They are a language people and learn the languages of many other cultures, but they wanted nothing to do with the Russian language.

î = This has the same sound as the Romanian â which is not an English sound, but like uh, but said way down in your throat like a grunt. When I learned Romanian, they were the same letter, but they changed them because they were trying to differentiate Romanian sounds from Russian sounds.

k = k

l = l

j = j

m = m

n = n

o = a long English “o”

p = p

q – q

Brrrr….

r- a trilled “r” like in Spanish. Many English speakers have trouble with this sound. You just have to practice it until it becomes natural. You put the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth, flap it, and kind of growl at the same time. Think of how you same “brrr” when you are cold, and it is that “r.” Think of what children say or what you used to say when you played cars and wanted to make an engine noise.

s = s

ș = sh

Hold just one thin piece of paper in front of your face like she is holding this book, and practice the “t” sound in English and Romanian, and you will physically see the difference.

t = This is slightly different from an English t. It is blunter than an English t and you don’t let as much of an explosion happen in your mouth when you say it. The tongue placement is slightly different. In English, you put the tip of your tongue on the ridge at the top of your mouth, but in Romanian, you put your tongue on the ridge and the back of your teeth, and it is more than just the tip. It is not so much of an explosion in Romanian as in English. To see if you are saying it right, take a piece of paper. Hold the paper in front of your mouth. Say the sound for “t.” If the paper moves, you are saying an English “t.” If the paper doesn’t move, you are saying the Romanian “t” because the Romanian “t” is not an explosion like the English “t.”

ț – ts, One of my Romanian friends suggested you may want to think of this as being pronounced like a z.

u = “oo” like in the word “food,.”

v = v

w = “v”. When we see this letter in English, we say it is “double u,” but they say “dublu vey.” the word “sandwich” in Romanian is read “sahndveech” with English letters for pronunciation.

x = x

y = y

z= z

Example Pronunciations:

Sometimes, Romanian words look a bit daunting because they put a string of vowels, and we don’t do that in English. We only have at the most two vowels together, so I will give you some examples of Romanian words now, and some will have those three vowels.

Bună Ziua = Hello. or good day. (Pronuncation: boonah zeewah)

Ce faci? = How are you? (Pronunciation: Chay fahch)

Sunt bine = I am fine (Pronunciation: Soont beenay)

ouaia = sheep (Pronunciation: wahyeh)

mâncarea = food (Pronunciation: The first “a” in this word doesn’t have a sound in English. It is like a grunt down in the throat, so I will write “uh,” but it is not really “uh:” muhncahreya.)

ași vreau = I would like (pronunciation: ahsh vrayoh)

greau = difficult, heavy (pronunciation: grrrayoh)

vorbesc = I speak (pronunciation: vorbesc)

vorbiți = you speak (pronunciationȘ vorbeets) Often, when there is an “i” at the end of a word, you just sort of half way saw the “i” and not really say it. “I” is pronounced like a stronger “ee” at the end of the word if there are two or more “i’s.”

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