Romanian culture

How the Latin Verb ‘Plicare’ Evolved to Mean ‘to leave’ in Romanian and ‘to arrive’ in Spanish

Language evolution is sometimes ironic and leads to surprising outcomes. It is the case of the Latin verb ‘plicare’ which took on opposite meanings in Romanian (‘a pleca’ – to leave) and Spanish (‘llegar’ – to arrive). The explanation is quite simple and it is proof that the geographical area a people inhabits has a marked influence upon its culture and language.

As linguist Andreas Blank explains in an article about language change, the concept of ‘plicare’ (to fold) was associated in Romanian culture with the activity of folding tents before leaving. As mentioned in a previous post, Romanian culture is traditionally linked to nature and activities pertaining to the natural habitat. One such activity was shepherding, which entailed frequent relocating and temporary dwellings (tents). Thus, the co-occurrence of folding tents with the activity of leaving has led to a shift in the meaning of the verb ‘plicare/pleca’.

In Spain, a country with a very strong naval tradition, the activity of folding was associated with sailing. More precisely, whenever a ship arrived at its destination, its sails were folded by the crew. Following the same pattern as in Romanian, Spanish has adopted the verb ‘llegar’ with the meaning ‘arrival’.

Funny how language evolves, isn’t it? :)

  Thomas   Aug 01, 2014   Romanian culture   0 Comment Read More

Three semantically different equivalents for ”tree” in Romanian

Here’s a fun fact about Romanian language. There are three semantically distinct equivalents for the English ”tree” in Romanian. Depending on the context, this word can be equated with ”copac”, ”pom” or ”arbore”. So what do they each mean?

”Copac” is a tree which doesn’t bear edible fruit. Basically, all trees you would find in a forest are designated by ”copac” (oak, beech, fir, birch etc.).

The word ”pom” designates a tree which bears edible fruit. This means that all orchard trees are ”pomi”.

The latter word, ”arbore”, is the neutral denominator for the concept ”tree”. It can designate both a fruit-bearing tree and a non-fruit-bearing tree.

This distinction shows the degree at which language and culture are interconnected. Traditionally, Romanian culture has been closely linked to nature and everything pertaining to it. Romanians have thus developed a very deep relationship with the environment which is clearly reflected in language. This is only one of the many examples of words, idioms and metaphors depicting this very old symbiosis.

  Thomas   Jul 24, 2014   Intercultural consultancy, Romanian culture   0 Comment Read More

How Romanians Spend their Spare Time

I decided to begin writing about contemporary Romanian culture in order to provide some (hopefully) useful insights to people interested in learning about the way Romanians act and think. Since it’s summer, I will begin this series with a post about spare time activities in my country. Although I used as a source a press release from the Romanian Institute of Statistics, I am not going to bore you with figures, but give you a short, personalized account instead.

According to the aforementioned source, Romanians seem to behave in a traditional manner when it comes to spare time. A first point supporting this statement is the fact that men enjoy more leisure time – despite spending more hours at the office – than women, who are usually in charge of domestic activities (such as cooking, taking care of children and of their household etc.). No surprises here, Romania is a male-dominant country (just slightly, though :) ). The types of activities preferred are traditional as well, with TV watching being the favorite spare time of middle-aged Romanians and computer gaming and online social networking being the dominant hobby for teenagers. It is noteworthy, however, that the younger generations are slowly giving up TV and embracing online film platforms (a couple of services are available on the Romanian market including seenow and voyo.ro).

Regarding physical activity, there is an ever-growing array of activities that people can join. Women can sign up for all sorts of exercises, from pilates to tai bo, kangoo jumps, cardio and many more, while men can opt for fitness clubs, body building and spinning sessions. There are more and more synthetic pitches and tennis clubs, especially in large cities which Romanians can use in their free time. In addition, there has been an increase in sports events organized throughout the country, such as marathons, biathlons, swimathons, cycling races etc.  In the past couple of years, there has been a boom in physical activities in Romania as people have started realizing that exercising is essential to their health and well-being.

On the other hand, alternative spare time clubs and activities are not common in Romania. If you’re looking to sign up for an afternoon literature class, a reading club or a jazz club, chances are you will have a limited range of options. It appears that Romanians are not educated to take up such activities. But who knows, maybe the future generations will bring about a change in that direction considering that children can indeed sign up for various activity clubs. Volunteer work is also quite limited, although there are plenty of opportunities to enrol in various activities.

In conclusion, Romanian society is rapidly evolving towards a Western way of life and with the economic transition from communism to capitalism being complete, people can now focus more on spare time activities. They have realized that in order to enhance their well-being, they should forget their work-related worries once they leave the office and indulge in pleasant, relaxing activities.

  Thomas   Jul 16, 2014   Romanian culture   0 Comment Read More