When we hit our pinky toe we say “shit”, when we like someone we “poke” them, when we laugh at something online we add an “emoticon” and when we reach an agreement we say “it’s a deal”. It sometimes seems like we speak two languages at the same time. The “Romglish” dialect is becoming more and more spread as part of our cultural evolution.
A lot of Romanian people condemn the large usage of the English language that is happening nowadays among multiple categories of Romanians. Not only youngsters, but also older people are frequently using words such as “business”, “deal”, “brief” instead of their Romanian correspondents. Moreover, a lot of English words and expressions are translated into Romanian with their English meaning, producing a debate on the issue. An example of this is the expression “makes sense” which is being used in Romanian with its mot-a-mot translation – “face sens” (instead of the Romanian expression that would normally be “it has sense”). This transformation of the Romanian language has been condemned by many, who think that people should speak Romanian and stop replacing so many of the words with English translations, some of them believing that the Romglish slang is a profanation of the Romanian language, identity and spirit, others considering it a sign of snobbism and arrogance.
However, I think that the incorporation of English words in the Romanian language is part of a natural, evolutionary process that is currently taking place. In order to process the information flow surrounding us, we need to understand the language it comes in. The entertainment field, as well as business, technology and all sorts of media come to us from English speaking countries, specifically from the USA and UK. In order to be able to understand and use that information, we need to be able to use English. After absorbing that information in a certain language it seems somehow pointless to translate it into Romanian.
Furthermore, if one would to translate it, for every word in English one would probably need multiple words in Romanian. The English language facilitates a concise delivery of information. The Romanian language has approximately 200 000 words while as English has around 300 000 words. The Oxford English Dictionary contains 172 000 words whereas the Romanian DOOM has only around 63 000. Many English words don’t have exact correspondents in Romanian, therefore requiring a further explanation or a clumsy expression. For example, an agency’s “brief” should be translated as “punere la curent” and new media language such as “to post”, “to tweet”, “spam” or “to like” have inaccurate translations in Romanian (e.g.“a posta” actually means “a aseza; a pune de paza”).
Another reason is that Romanians tend to be a “bashful” nation in the sense that they have a rule about cacophonies, which are accidental combinations of sounds between a word’s last syllable and the next one’s first resulting in sounds such as “că-ca”, “ca-co”, “la-la”, “să-să”, “ma-ma”, “ci-ci and so on. These associations are often hard to avoid, especially because of the frequently used “că” conjunction. Also, because the Romanian subtitles translate English curse words with softer equivalents, for example the English “shit” is translated as “la naiba”, Romanians feel less rude if they curse in English.
In addition, English is perceived as a being “cool” by younger generations. If the XVI-XVII centuries were dominated by the Renaissance and people borrowed Italian words, the XVIII-XIX centuries were dominated by the French and their language was used as a sign of “dandyness”, our century of communication and entertainment is dominated by the American music, movies, TV shows, books, fashion trends etc. It is only natural for people to perceive as “cool” the culture that creates all these “cool” products.
All in all, English is the package in which information comes wrapped nowadays. Accepting all the other cultural perks while declaring ourselves completely outraged by the English infestation and complaining about it from our iPhones or from our PC that operate with Windows is massively hypocritical.
by Georgiana Bigea