– Take the music cases and your stockings and we’ll go swimming at the lake!
– Are you kiddin’? I won’t put on my stockings when it’s so hot, and I won’t carry with me the music cases!
I once had this dialog with one of my friends from the Western part of Romania and it took us more than 5 minutes to clarify what we were both trying to say. It seems that she actually meant to say “Take some juice cans with you and your swimming suit”, which makes more sense when preparing to go to the lake.
Romanian is a very united language, with no dialects that can count as (almost) different languages. However, we do have a lot of regional words which vary from one part of the country to another, and these can be sometimes the subject of some really funny misunderstandings. What does make the difference is the accent, which in the Eastern part can be so strong, that you might feel as a foreigner in your own country. But let’s get back to the point; there are 3 regions of the country which tend to use more regional words: Western, Northern and Eastern, and that make Southern Romania the place where the “literary” language is spoken.
Ardeal (the Western part of Romania)
People who live in this area are known for their very slow pace of delivering a sentence. The first rule you must know before going there is that, when greeting someone, you must say “Servus!”. And if in the middle of the winter they say they wear slippers (papuci), don’t worry: that is the word they use for all types of shoes!
Maramureș (North Romania)
I myself love the way they speak in Maramureș, but I’m afraid that being there for one week would turn me into the supreme victim of all the language disasters. In the region where “pears” actually means “potatoes” and “gem” stands for “yard”, no wonder they can “scream” a thing that they “learned” in the “little one” (this actually means they threw away a thing they found in the drawer). Don’t be surprised, I am just as confused as you are.
Moldova (the Eastern part of Romania)
First of all, let me clarify this: there is one region in Romania called Moldova, which is located at the border with the Republic of Moldova. The last one takes its name from the historical region of Romania (Moldova), since it used to be part of our country, but now it is an independent state. I will give you now some examples of the regional words spoken in the two regions mentioned above.
Cucumber = melon
To break = to tear (the trousers broke)
On the room = in the hall (the jacket is on the room)
Fur = wooden board
Split hair ends = grazed hair ends
To drop = to beat
To make an effort = to quarrel
These were the best examples I could come up with to make you understand how Romanian is spoken here and there. I admit, most of them I had to browse them on the internet, so they are completely new to me. However, apart these regional words, one can survive with no predictable problems in the North of Romania, even if he was born in the South; one thing is a must when travelling around the country: the sense of humor.