Romanian spelling reform (from Romanian discussion group)

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Fenek
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Postby Fenek » 2004-08-16, 22:06

I've recently read a book about the 20th century history of Romania and I saw a picture of a poster from the fifties which said "Republica Populara Romîna". My question is: why "Romîna" rather than "Româna"? I've heard about some spelling reform in Romania, but I don't really know what it was about.
I'd appreciate any corrections to my messages!
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Luís
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Postby Luís » 2004-08-16, 23:08

Well, as far as I know, during the communist regime in Romania, spelling of the language was changed in order to efface its Latin origin and make it seem more Slavic. Â and î represent the same sound (I suppose its usage has something to do with etymology), so they simplified it by choosing to write only î in all situations (it seems that î is graphically more similar to the Russian letter that represents this same sound - ы ).

But it seems that when Ceausescu and the Soviets started to diverge in the 60's, one exception to this rule of using only î was authorised: the word România and derivations (român, româna, româncă, româneşte, etc.).

If you say the poster was from the 50's, then at that time everything was still written with î, so that's why it's written Romîna and not Româna.

Another change was that the forms of verb to be "sunt" (just as in Latin), "sunteţi", etc. were changed into sînt, sînteţi, etc.

With the communist period over , the pre-war spelling was restored (in 1994 or something like that) though I suppose there are still many resources (including many learning materials) and people using the old spelling.

The converting rules are quite simple though. In the forms of verb "to be", î -> u.

In all other words, î is written at the beginning or at the end of a word and â in the middle. So curînd becomes curând, tîrziu becomes târziu, but în or învăţ remain the same.
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Postby Nukalurk » 2004-08-17, 5:16

*lol* Ceausescu (without the cedille) means Cocksucker or something similiar. :lol:

Once, there was a woman who worked for a newspaper and she had written c instead of the ç. She got problems with the Securitata...

I only say it because Luís also wrote the name that way. :wink:

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Postby duko » 2004-08-17, 6:11

The spelling was changed back and forth several times in recent/modern history, not to mention switching to latin characters in the first place.

The latest is the one with â in the middle of the words and î at the beginning - but keeping the î in compound words.

About "sunt", nota bene: almost noone pronounces it this way. I remember, when I was a child, the speakers from Radio free Europe used to say sunt. Actually the first latin orthography was "sunt" with a circumflex above the u.
It's usually pronounced "sînt".

Amiceko: that must be an urban legen. The dictators name comes from the word "ceauş", of turkish origin, which was an administrative function in the past. And Romanian does not have the letter ç.
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Postby Fenek » 2004-08-17, 8:44

Mulţumesc! :)
I'd appreciate any corrections to my messages!
Vi sarò molto grato per ogni correzione!
Zelo vam bom hvaležen za popravke!
Aş fi recunoscător pentru orice corectare!
Bio bih vam veoma zahvalan na ispravkama!

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Postby Luís » 2004-08-17, 9:50

Amikeco: In fact, the cedille is on s, not c: Ceauşescu. But sincerely, I suppose only Romanians are writing it like this...
Glad to know that your story is just a myth...

Secondly, I was thinking about what I said (that in the 90's they returned to pre-war spelling) and I realise it probably wasn't really this way. If the â and the î were used according to etymology, their position in words would be random. Changing from this spelling to one where you use only î is quite easy, but the opposite I believe is not so easy (to change from "everything has î" to "suddenly some words have â and there's no specific rule to tell which have and which don't"). So maybe the "use î at the beginning and at the end of a word and â in the middle" rule was an artificial rule created so that the transition would be easy and that would work (or correspond to etymology) in the majority of cases.

This is just pure speculation though. I have no idea. I'll wait for the Romanians to say something ;)

I thought about it when I notice that there are such Romanian words as înger (angel), that according to this rule are written with î, but that etymologically speaking would make much more sense if written with â (ânger, from Latin angelus).
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Postby dapyx » 2004-08-17, 10:53

Luís, actually, all vowels before "n", "r" or "v" in Latin words transformed into "â".

a: romanus -> român (Romanian)
e: ventus -> vânt (wind)
i: rivus -> râu (river)
o: fontana -> fântână (fountain, well)
u: aduncum -> adânc (deep)

In the early 1800s, the words were written etymologically, like "vênt", but then it was simplified to â and î, which is an approximation of the etymology.

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Postby Luís » 2004-08-17, 11:05

dapyx wrote:Luís, actually, all vowels before "n", "r" or "v" in Latin words transformed into "â".

a: romanus -> român (Romanian)


Well, in that case, shouldn't it be:

angelus -> ânger ?

After all "a" is followed by "n".

This is what puzzles me. Was it written as ânger, then changed to înger during the communist period and then kept as înger because of the rule that at the beginning of a word you use î or was it always written as this? In a more simple way, I was trying to figure out if this rule "î at beginning and end and â in the middle" was the original pre-war rule or if it was an artificial rule created to simplify the conversion to the new spelling (with â again) in the 90's.

All your examples present these changes inside words, so â fits, but not quite on my example...

P.S. Welcome to Unilang. I was away for some weeks, so I hadn't yet noticed we had a new Romanian member ;)
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Postby dapyx » 2004-08-17, 12:29

In a more simple way, I was trying to figure out if this rule "î at beginning and end and â in the middle" was the original pre-war rule or if it was an artificial rule created to simplify the conversion to the new spelling (with â again) in the 90's.


Yes, the pre-war rules (between 1932 and 1954) were the same as those used now.

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Postby Nukalurk » 2004-08-17, 13:21

duko, then I mixed up the two letters. ;)

Maybe you are right that this is just a legend. I saw an interview with that woman on PHOENIX some months ago who told her story.

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Re: Romanian spelling reform (from Romanian discussion group)

Postby 0stsee » 2008-09-03, 11:56

I read that some major Romanian printed media returned to using î.
Ini tandatanganku.

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Re: Romanian spelling reform (from Romanian discussion group)

Postby Balaur » 2008-09-03, 19:19

.
Last edited by Balaur on 2009-07-21, 17:26, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Romanian spelling reform (from Romanian discussion group)

Postby andrei » 2008-09-04, 6:59

A lot of Romanians (including some very educated people) think that this kind of reform is stupid. It's like you work for Romanian Academy and you have to argue that you deserve your salary and start to dig out all kind of old rules.

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Re: Romanian spelling reform (from Romanian discussion group)

Postby Lietmotiv » 2008-09-04, 19:33

I also use the î writing system because it is more confortable.However, when it comes to write România I use â. The communists used î when writing Romania ,in order to mask the Latin influence in our language as well as its origins

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Re: Romanian spelling reform (from Romanian discussion group)

Postby duko » 2008-09-05, 7:57

I have to correct you there, Andrei. Before the latest spelling reform, â was used only to spell România and its word family: român, românesc, românime, etc. I think there was a period right after WW II when it was spelled Romînia, but not in the recent communist period.
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Re: Romanian spelling reform (from Romanian discussion group)

Postby D39 » 2008-09-05, 7:59

Well... here's me again intruding in discussions.
The communists before Ceausescu (1948 - 1967) were those with the 1956 spelling reform. They wanted, in this way, to clear out all the past of the so called ''bourgeois-landownering dictatorship/oppression'' and the ''tratory regality''. This was simply a political measure, not really having to do with the language itself. The idea is that prior to and in the begining of the 20th century (1890 - 1929) the spelling was with only one letter for the î sound, that one being î, no matter of place in the word. Even the first latin alphabet used in Romania (the transition alphabet of 1864) used only this letter for the sound, except again the words concerning Romanian nationality, language, country which were spelled as roman, Romania etc. The only words that kept the â were those from the lexical group of român (i.e. România, românesc, românism ...) to emphasize the latin/roman continuity of the Romanians. All of the great linguists in the Romanian history were using and suggested using only one letter for this sound, because, quoting one of them (Ion Heliade-Rădulescu if I'm not mistaking), ''it's simply ridiculous using two or more letters to represent one and the same sound''. After 1967 there was another spelling reform that regave ''the right'' to use â in the words I mentioned upper here. As a fact, when I first started school... some 16 years ago, we were taught in the early 2 years to spell with only one letter (î) and from the 3rd grade we had this ''new'' â to use... :P


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