Essential Romanian words and phrases before you travel
If you’ve already learned and practiced Essential Romanian 1 , you’ll be ready to tackle the next 12 essentials.
These are words and phrases that’ll help you ask “Where is …?” questions – if you’re looking for the bathroom, a pharmacy, a bus stop, or the subway or railway station, a bank or an ATM.
You may also want to know if the person you’re talking with speaks Italian, or English – that is, one of the languages you may speak as well.
The Next 12 Romanian Phrases: “Unde este…?”
Some Modern Romanian History…
Romania was formed and declared its independence from Turkey in 1877. In 1881 it became a kingdom under King Carol.
During World War 1 Romania joined Britain, France and Russia against Germany and Austria-Hungary. At the end of the war in 1918, Romania took Transylvania from Hungary and, with Bessarabia back from Russia, its population increased by 60% to nearly 12 million people.
However, political life for the next 70 years was quite erratic:
The 1920s and 30s saw many different governments with the king ruling with a royal dictatorship after 1938.
In 1940 Stalin pressured Romania to cede the eastern province of Bessarabia to Russia; Hitler forced the country to give Northern Transylvania to Hungary and other parts to Bulgaria.
King Carol had to abdicate in favor of his son Michael. As Marshal Ion Antonescu established himself as a fascist dictator, King Michael had little power.
Antonescu set on the wrong horse to regain Bessarabia and joined Hitler’s invasion of Russia in 1941.
In 1944, after a coup that toppled Antonescu, Romania switched sides and joined the Allies.
After the war, Russia took Bessarabia again, occupied Romania until 1958, and established a totalitarian communist dictatorship.
In 1965 Nicolae Ceausescu became Romania’s ruler. He ruled with an iron hand until 1989, when the political events of that year overtook him. He was shot on Christmas Day 1989.
Since then, Romania has had a difficult time evolving from a communist dictatorship to a market-based democracy. It joined the NATO in 2004, the EU in 2007. And while the 2008 world wide recession affected it severely, it has recovered and is growing steadily.
Romania’s population is now 21.5 million.
“Unde este…?”-Questions Answered…
Asking “Unde este…?” questions could let the person you are asking assume that you speak Romanian.
The result will often be an answer and a stream of Romanian words you may not understand.
It would therefore be good to know some basic directional words and phrases in Romanian – left, right, straight ahead, etc.
Check back with us for next 13 Romanian phrases in a few weeks.
Romanian polite phrases and greetings…
Travelers visiting Romania can learn and practice 50-100 essential words and phrases here. We’ve posted the first 11 below.
Play back and compare.
(See “Learn and Practice Tips” below!)
Why learn these Romanian Phrases?
Learn and Practice Tips
- Click the black arrow to hear the Romanian speaker.
- Click the red dot once to record yourself, click the black square to stop recording.
- When you click the black arrow again, you’ll hear the native speaker and then yourself.
- Do it several times until you sound like the Romanian speaker
The First 11 Romanian Phrases
Whenever you travel to a country where you don’t speak the language, you’ll encounter situations when these words will be useful.
Let’s say, you’ve ordered your first meal in a restaurant in Romania and as the waiter serves you, you say “Mulțumiri”.
Even if the waiter knows that you don’t speak Romanian, your effort may make him smile …
And beyond “Please” and “Thank you”, basic greetings really are the staple of first words you should know in any country you visit.
And we start with the most obvious and easiest ones: “Yes” and “No”. We end with asking whether your conversations partner speaks any of the languages you may also speak.
Good Things to Know
Romanian is a Romance Language (like French, Spanish and Portuguese), which all originated from “Vulgar” or spoken Latin.
Romanian is most similar to Italian, especially because Romanian has a large number of Italian loan words.
But of the Romance languages, Romanian is the language closest in grammar to Vulgar Latin. It has three genders: Masculine, Feminine, and Neuter, and has kept the six Latin cases.
Romanian is the official language of Romania and of the neighboring Republic of Moldova.
Romanian Pronunciation Tips
In Romanian, there are a few letters that don’t exist in English, but their sounds are not that hard to learn.
Romanian pronunciation is phonetic and if you know any Italian, you’ll find that their sounds are quite similar.
Let’s start with examples from the list of phrases below.
Romanian “ț” has a “ts” sound. Examples: “Mulțumiri” and “Bună dimineaţa”.
The letter “ă” is pronounced “ah” (as in “father”). Examples: “Vă rog”, “Bună ziua!”, “Bună seara”, and others.
Romanian “r” is similar to an Italian trilled-r, (and not like an American guttural “r”).
Finally for this list, Romanian “c” has a “k” sound before “u” or “a”, and a “ch” sound (as in “cheese”) before “i” or “e”. Example: “Cu plăcere!”
Walking in the country side…
While there’ll be many opportunities to use basic greetings in Bucharest and other large Romanian cities, knowing them when you’re outside of a larger city is even more important.
As we always notice when we walk in the countryside or in smaller towns, greetings are common and even expected!
Being a visitor in Romania will make you much more welcome, when you make the effort to greet people in Romanian.
The Next 12 Romanian Phrases: “Unde este…?
In the next installment – Essential Romanian 2– you’ll learn to ask where the bathroom, train and bus station, bank, pharmacy etc. are located.
Even if you have a GPS enabled smart phone, it won’t tell you where the bathroom is – and you’ll certainly find plenty of opportunities to ask other “Where…?” questions. It’s also often a good way to start a conversation!