|Trans||Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften||16. Nr.||März 2006|
14.1. Re-Shaping Eastern Communities’ Patterns through the European Union Context
Anca Irinel Teleoacă ("Lower Danube" University, Galati, Romania)
The present paper is about the ways and means the Romanian language has drastically changed from a well-known wooden language before the communist times to a dynamic, fresh and new language reinvigorated by its users’ openness, ingenuity and eagerness to change everything in their lives especially, the main tool they have been communicating under the agonizing period of propaganda and censorship. The study also needs to reflect diachronically upon other linguistic influences on the Romanian language just to give good reason for the appearance of so many non-lexicalised concepts from different domains that have been or will be naturalized in our mother-tongue, at least some of them.
The geographical position of Romania has resulted in significant Slavonic (10% of the words in modern Romanian are Slavic - e.g. da for yes, a iubi for to love, bogat for rich, leb ădă for swan - attested by many Romanian scholars starting from Sextil Pu ş cariu, Ovid Desunşianu, E. Petrovici, I. P ătruţ , et.al.) , Turkish (cafea for coffee, papuc for slipper), Hungarian and Greek influence (nostim for funny, politicos for polite, prosop for towel, anapoda for tupsy-turvy) to which major French influence (i.e. 38% of the number of words in Romanian are of French or Italian origin) can be added in the nineteenth and early twentieth century (birou < bureau for ‘desk’; creion < crayon for ‘pencil’; conştiinţă < conn aissance for ‘conscious’; (it.) secol for ‘century’, lege for ‘law’, a.s.o) and, in the present day, the influence of English. Recently, an increasing number of English words have been borrowed (such as: interviu < interview; meci < match; manager < manager, mobil < mobile, and many others to be discussed later in the paper).
English is now by far the most used language by especially the younger generation, while French remained the language of our grandparents spoken in the mid 1930s when Bucharest was called little Paris due to a strong influence of French on our culture.
In most cases, the issue here is not about losing our mother-tongue but it is the frustration of losing the elegancy of the French influence on our mother-tongue and implicitly the fancy manners of saying ‘bonjour’ and ‘merci’, influence that has been present for more than a century or so in Romania.
We have to admit and, at the same time, to acknowledge the fact that we are no longer living in an elegant society with elegant behaviour and elegant manners for a long time. Before 1989, during the Ceau ş escu’s totalitarianism - well-known in our history as the ‘gold epoch’ - we have preserved the French language in our schools just to remind us of the bygone period of prosperity and welfare and to oppose the Russian language which was seen as the communist instrument of oppression. Each and every kid in the Romanian Educational system was obliged to learn Russian but, fortunately, there was the ‘healing’ option of studying French against the Slavic influence, and relying on our Latin origins, despite the fact that our geographical universe is Eastern Europe and not Western as many may consider. The communist educational system had its fortunate flaws since it could not control the whole country and there existed a few schools and high-schools with French and English in their curricula. In their free time, not too many kids could have fun with the ‘Pif’ magazine, probably the only French magazine to be bought from the newspaper boutique at that time. Without any doubt, French had had an enormous influence over the Romanian culture, because it had succeeded in acquiring the status of a lingua franca after the Great French Revolution and it had permeated all domains of activity, especially literature and culture all over Europe. However, we should not forget that the exaggerated use of French neologisms had been mocked at by our greatest playwright I. L. Caragiale in his plays and many other Romanian scholars, like M. Kog ălniceanu , V. Alecsandri, C. Negruzzi, due to the French direct sway over the 19 th century population and its way of communicating; many lexical items like, amurez (< amourez, lover), ivoriu (ivory), musiu (< monsieur, mister), uvraj (< ouvrage, a piece of literary or scientific writing), a ambeta (get drunk) were in wide use, but soon they vanished as they came. Yet this European language so pleasing to the ear, associated with freedom, could not survive under the communist era of terror, violence, ignorance of human rights, and the adoption of a ‘wooden’ language. Words like burghezie < bourgeois and negustor (merchant) ceased to exist actively due to the seizure of goods, lands and properties under the communist regime and those who did not wish to comply with the new oppressive rules were put into prison. And too few broke out.
Meanwhile, English has stood back like a volcano which eagerly awaits for its time to come. And the time of English has indeed come with the ‘1989’ Revolution, and French was replaced by a new and fresh language which is not so much British English, but more like American; it’s not 100 per cent European but more like a European blend with the American Continent. There rose voices in our Parliament against this linguistic influence, voices that were and still are unable to understand the reasons that lie behind the growing influence of the American English on our way of borrowing, adopting, perceiving and understanding it. Some scholars have become concerned with the fact that the words ‘management’ and, especially, ‘manager’ which has a target equivalent in director, are used as such in our language. More than that, manager incorrectly takes the Romanian definite article and it is assigned a grammatical gender; thus "the manager" is managerul (masculine) or managera (feminine). My own belief is that Romanians cannot forget and, more than ever, must not simply wipe out their suffering in the recent past. The word ‘director’ was one of the main instruments of oppression under Ceau ş escu, because all directors were communists; no one holding an official position could escape from possessing the ‘red party card’ and acting accordingly. However, we still have and use ‘director’ in domains like education (school director), culture (museum director) and health system (hospital director). More recently, there is a tendency to introduce the concept of manager in all domains where money is involved; consequently, the ‘director’ might disappear even in the above domains. However, the word has been moved - we may say it has been adapted from the English directory - to the world of computers, and it is preserved as director with a minor adjustment on the phonological level: the stress has been moved from the first syllable to the third syllable: [di-rek-‘tor]. Similar to the word ‘manager’ is ‘supervisor’, also used as such in our language and it is also preferred to the dusty ‘director’. The same we adopted the English word leader (> ro. lider) and eliminated the communist words conduc ător (= leader) and tovarăş/ă(1) due to their negative connotations before 1989. Therefore, despite the fact that there are many political parties in the Romanian Parliament, we do not use conduc ător de partid (= leader of the party) as our nation used to ‘cheer’ once but preşe dinte de partid (= president of the party).
To conclude, we have opened the doors of a world that we could only imagine and dream of before 1989. There are so many things unsaid, things like:
The main conclusion to be drawn is that many English neologisms have permeated all Romanian strata. However, there are other means of showing the openness towards new and fresh linguistic and lexical concepts, and the dynamism and the inventiveness of our language. The word collapse (> ro. colaps), for instance, has become a lexicalized metaphor frequently used in the context of economy (colaps economic).
To conclude, we have changed from a Francophone country into an Anglophone one, a linguistic event which I think is very normal under the economic revolution we have been witnessing for some time. If the all of Europe is talking more English and little French at summits and congresses and if we hopefully become an integral part of this European Communion, why should we be afraid of using English under various circumstances even if the usage blocks the natural Romanian way to adapt new expressions, due to the fact that it misses existing target equivalents or because the native speakers of Romanian do not wish to use the existent target equivalents, because they find them weird and unfit in the European context we actually live in. I would have liked to say that the continuous French influence is not so dangerous in making some of the Romanian lexical items disappear as it seems to happen with English, because the former has found a way to ease the borrowing process in the Romanian lexical strata a long time ago; however, there are French words as well as English words that are stubbornly used by native speakers of Romanian despite the fact that we possess the lexical means to express those concepts in our own language. And these contemporary words for which we may use a sfătui and a întreţine, are: consilia (< fr. conseillee for ‘to advise’) and mentenan ţă (< engl. maintenance).
On the other hand, due to the fact that Romanian has been under the sway of the French language for a century and more, the latter still seems to influence our native language, not on the lexical level, but on the semantic one, because many native lexical items coming from French have been modernized and have currently acquired semantic extensions in Romanian as, for instance, the verbs ‘to begin/start’ - the Romanian ‘a începe’ is no longer widely used in mass-media and there is a strong tendency to replace it with French verbs, like debuter/demarrer, derouler (> ro. a debuta/a demara/a derula) in various contexts, like: ‘The show will start ...’ has become ‘Emisiunea debuteaz ă/demarează / derulează ...’. Similarly, we intensively use cohabiter (> ro. a coabita), strategie, segmenter (> ro. a segmenta), algorithme (> ro. algoritm) in our political life. The French rehabiliter (> ro. reabilita) is used in our native tongue in the law and health system; recently, it has developed a new meaning which is technological, like: "programul de reabilitare a re ţelei de apă" (= the rehabilitation program of the water system). The same happens with the French noun injection used in Romanian health system as such, but it has freely crossed the borders of its primary meaning to the economic domain (= injecţiide capital).
However, all these non-lexicalised concepts that have invaded our language will be sedimented somehow and get their target equivalents so that we can finally say that our mother tongue ‘has settled’ and stopped the dinamics of borrowings into all strata. For one prominent example, as far as I can remember, the year of 1995 was important for computer science in Romania, because Jodal Endre’s dictionaries brought instant enlightenment for the Romanian computer users who had tried to manage the language of computers by partially taking it in its original form. This does not mean that they did not understand the meanings of the SLwords, on the contrary, they had the knowledge to use them correctly but they did not have the referents, or, they did not look for them closer in the TL. Words like kit, byte, bus, path, shortcut, icon, pad, share, zipand many others seemed to get naturalised because they were wrongly used as: kituri, byte-uri, pasuri, iconuri, paduri, busuri, şarare , zipare/dezipare , etc. Bus, for instance, was an unfortunate blending of source language and target language (TL), in the sense that, its pronunciation was English and the inflectional morphemes were Romanian, like /basuri/. It is now translated as magistrală as a functional and descriptive target languageequivalent . The computer term pathentered the TLas paswith the wrong plural morpheme in -uri and not ‘paşi’ as a TLuser might expect. This possibly happens because of a need to distinguish between the common noun and the specialized word. Nowadays it is to be found in its correct translation as cale. The SL sharewas wrongly used as şarare , a kind of loan translation, not to be found in any Romanian dictionary on computers. TheSLword has finally foundits TL referent in partajare(5), as to be found in the 1995 - 2002 Computer Dictionary Editions. The next computer word, zip is still used in its original form, and I would say, mostly because of the minimum effort needed in pronouncing it - like the word hit (pl. hit uri) which is now naturalized and is subjected to a similar process -, but also because it is a kind of trademark of the data compression techniques. However, it is translated as comprimare(de informa ţie): WinAce, WinZip, StuffIt are zip programs used to compress data in a format that requires less space than usual and takes less time to send to someone . To put it differently, a zip means the same amount of data in fewer bits. For instance, a zip file is translated fi şier comprimat . The key word useful in finding a proper referent in the TL is the activity it performs, that is, to compress. Consequently, unzip becomes synonym to decompress and it will be translated as decomprimare. And, the last example to be emphasized here, refers not to the process of zipping a file but to the Zip programs that perform this task, and to the newly-born, yet non-standardized TL term of arhivor/arhivoare. In our culture, this lexical item does not exist as an inanimate entity. There is instead the person (arhivar/i) who archives files and folders and who performs his job in a library or another official institution.
The first conclusion to be drawn is favourable to the persistence of these non-lexicalised concepts in our mother-tongue for several good reasons:
© Anca Irinel Teleoacă ( "Lower Danube" University, Galati, Romania)
(1) This was the comunist formula of addressing instead of mister or misses.
(2) Freeware is to be found in Spanish, Russian, Dutch, German; modem Romanian, Spanish, Dutch and German, Russian; newbie Spanish, Russian, Dutch, but not German.
(3) Following initial contact in 1991 between The Open University (OU) and representatives of the University of Bucharest, a joint stock company operating in association with the University of Bucharest was formed in 1993 under the name of The Centre for Open Distance Education for a Civic Society (CODECS). (www.open.ac.uk/collaborate/pdfs/CODECSpartnership, 2003).
(4) In Romania, with a population of 22,364,022, there existed a number of 38 of Internet providers and 600,000 Internet users in 2000. This means only 2,69 Internet users per 100 inhabitants. In 2001, the number has increased to 10% of the population, meaning that 2,1 millions of Romanians have had access to Internet.
(5) Dic ţionar de calculatoare . Bucureş ti: TEORA. 1999, 2002. p.456, p.533
Stilistica Presei. Bucuresti: Ed. Victor. 2003
Enciclopedia Limbii Rom â ne . Bucuresti: Univers Enciclopedic. 2001. pp. 201-202, 221-223, 301.
Stoichi ţoiu -Ichim, Adriana. Vocabularul Limbii Rom â ne Actuale . Bucuresti: All. 2001
Niculescu, Alexandru. Outline History of the Romanian Language. Bucharest: Ed. Ştiinţifică şi Enciclopedică. 1981
Teun A Van Dijk. Discourse as Structure and Process. Sage Publications. 1998
Dic ţionar de calculatoare . Bucureş ti: TEORA. 1999 / 2002
14.1. Re-Shaping Eastern Communities’ Patterns through the European Union Context
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