Monday, May 16, 2011

just for fun

A small sample of the crazy things one says when trying to learn Romanian (these being from the last week or two):

1. E puras. What? Yes, I said the same thing. E meaning is, puras meaning--poftim? Do what? I sat there and asked the person offering me the little bunny three times what puras is. I thought she meant it was made of puras. Turns out the word is iepuras, little rabbit. Makes sense.

2. Copiii vor pizza. The children want pizza. This one was at the camp I went to with the Pitesti students. A few of us were talking and started telling jokes. Now, I can understand way more now than the last time I was with them, meaning I can follow what's happening fine even if I'm not understanding every word. But jokes are still pretty much over my head. However I kept hearing the word pizza and they want (vor) right before it. And every so often I'd hear copiii. So when the joke was over and I wasn't laughing they asked me if I understood, I told them something about kids wanting pizza and then they laughed at me for about five minutes. The joke was really about:

Vulpita. A little fox! You know how the l sometimes sounds like an r (the tap, I mean), and vice versa? Tricky sometimes. And the u is so open, easily sounds like an o if you're tired.

3. Peste (as in pesh-te) and peste. One means fish and the other means over, as in peste-ntreg pamant, which means over the entire earth. Or fish-entire earth, if you mix it up. Which I do every single time. (You'll note that I didn't say which means which.)

4. And the best for last. I have one single American friend here and she doesn't speak Romanian which means I get to have a blast attempting to translate and communicate for her when we go out. Easy enough, most times. But we went to Herastrau the other day and she wanted to go out on the lake in the little paddle boats. And I had no idea what the word for boat was--or, I had learned it at some point and couldn't remember--but when I saw the word vaporas written on a sign near the boats I figured that was it. But for smaller ones, the paddle boats--what could it be? So I applied my logic (or rather, my ear) and decided that they must be called vapori mici.

Vapori mici. Yep. It's a wonder the people I asked didn't straight out laugh at me because it means small vapors. Four days later I found out that the word I was looking for is actually hidrobicicleta and what vapori mici really means. But this is a logical mistake! Vapori sounds plural because it really is!

In other news, language learning also teaches you to laugh at yourself! And you are provided ample opportunity. My language professor tells me I learn language like children and Africans--how Africans learn language I have no idea at all, but the part about children is encouraging. And you know children sound silly. But in the end, I've had people not realize I'm not Romanca until five minutes into the conversation (in which clearly he spoke much more than I did)--this happened the other night. So, getting there. Putin cate putin.

1 comment:

  1. You're learning like the Africans? :)) I have no idea what that means... probably he is referring to the African students that came in Romania (before that fall of communism a lot of African students came here for their education) but I don't know... I don't know if they were good at learning or not. I know some Africans and they speak the language quite well... but I know some that don't want to learn it at all.
    But if he's saying that you learn it like children that's good... that means you learn it quite fast... you make some little mistakes but it really doesn't matter... most of the Romanians make a lot of mistakes when they speak.