When you hear the word Romanian, what do you think of? Most people think of an inhabitant of Romania. But for Romanians, the word has more meaning and can be divided into 10 or even more categories by the regions of Romania. Each category is defined by a series of features which characterizes the people differently.
This aspect is also encountered in other countries when people refer to themselves as from one part of the country (i.e. north, centre, south etc) and everyone thinks of some specific characteristics of those people who live in those areas.
To make it easier to understand, here’s a map of Romania with the regions I’m referring to:
The names given to the people living there are closely connected to name of the region and some of the smaller outlined regions are actually included in one of the larger categories. So, within Romania, you can find around 10 names that are used to refer to Romanians and I will try, in the following lines, to describe you the difference between the most well known names: olteni, bănățeni și moldoveni.
Olteni – is the name given to the people who live in Oltenia (in the south-western part of the country). The name is derived from one of the biggest rivers of Romania that flows through this region, called Olt. The most commonly known thing about the “olteni” is that they often use the simple perfect indicative tense with verbs. The tense is absolutely grammatically correct, but it’s not used in all the country and is sometimes mocked in other regions. This tense is used to express a past action which ended really close to the present. Another generally known fact is that the “olteni” people are always in a hurry, they are talking and thinking fast, they are really talkative and open to others and sometimes they might get angry really fast. Besides this, although it doesn’t apply to all the cases, the “olteni” people and the “bănățeni” people don’t get along.
Bănățeni is how we call the people living in Banat region, in Western Romania. They are known for being a bit cocky and they say of themselves they are the forehead of the country (in Romanian: “Banatu-i fruncea”). It is also known that they do not get along with the “olteni” people, especially when the later ones move to Banat. Another known fact about the “bănățeni” people is their way of talking in slow motion, when compared to the speed in the southern part of the country. A language characteristic is the use of the compound perfect indicative tense. Normally, this tense expresses an action done in the past, just like past tense in English, but in Banat it used to express all past actions, even the ones that can be expressed though the simple perfect tense mentioned above, or with the present perfect if we think of English.
Moldoveni are the people from Eastern Romania, who live in the region called Moldova. They are known in the rest of the country especially for their regionalisms. They also speak Romanian, but for some words they use totally different words; here’s an example: potatoes in Romanian is “cartofi” while the “moldoveni” people call it “barabule”.
There are the most frequently encountered names for Romanians, but you can also hear the following: ardeleni (people who live in the central part called Transylvania), moți (people from the western part, above the Banat region), maramureșeni and bucovineni (the ones from the north), basarabeni (are actually people from Republic of Moldova, which is now an independent state but not so long ago it used to be part of Romania, and their official language is still Romanian), dobrogeni (these are the people of the sea, located in south-east) and of course the munteni people, which are located in the southern part, between olteni and dobrogeni, and can be sometimes also included in the olteni category.
Now you know more about Romanians and how they are called. Just keep in mind that this is just a personal view based on my personal interaction with Romanians from different parts of this country, so not all the things are so black and white all the time.