I place a strong emphasis on foreign languages in our homeschool because I am a European. More precisely, I am from Romania. I learned French and English in school like most Romanian kids. Two foreign languages were mandatory school subjects grades 5-12. I am not sure what they do now, but I expect they still do two languages. We also took one year of Latin in the eighth grade. That’s when we learned “Gaudeamus Igitur” by heart.
Romania used to be a Roman province – hence the name and the strong presence of Latin words in our language.
Latin poet Ovid was exiled to Tomis (modern day Constanta, Romania, a Black Sea port). Back then, he complained nobody spoke Latin. Little did he know how much the local language would be influenced by Latin over the centuries.
Statue of Roman poet Ovid in Constanta, Romania – about two blocks from where I used to spend my summer holidays
Indeed, the Romanian language finds itself in the same group as Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and French – the Romance languages of the world.
Just to give you a glimpse into the similarities… We say “casa de moda” – like in Spanish, “fashion house.” We say “merci” like in French for “thank you.” We say “noi” for “we,” just like in Italian.
We do have some Slavic words, naturally. We are surrounded by Slavic nations: Bulgaria to the south, former Yougoslavia to the southwest, Ukraine to the North and the Republic of Moldova (a bit of Russia) to the East. But we use the Roman alphabet and have been called an island of Latinity in a Sea of Slavic Languages.
No wonder Romania is part of the francophone world and even hosted one of their summits a few years ago. Here’s a map of the Francophone countries of the world:
Map of francophone countries, with Romania being one of them
My husband (who is American) jokes that we Romanians like to get in the news about once a week and, alas, he is right. Sometimes it’s good news. Most of the time, it’s not. Ever since we started dating, he noticed that American media reports on at least one weekly incident involving Romanians. You watch and tell me if it’s true.
They say there are a lot of Romanians working for Microsoft in Seattle. In fact, they say Romanian is the second most spoken language in those offices – after English. That’s according to this youtube video which extols some other great facts about my country. A world without Romania would be, well, not exactly what we have today. You will have to watch to believe. (Viewer discretion advised for some references to alcohol and a short provocative collage of Romanian fashion models.)
If you want to listen to some of Romanian pop/folk music, just youtube names like Angela Similea, Gabriel Cotabita, Mircea Baniciu and Tudor Gheorghe – these are some of my favorites from the 80s. I left Romania in 1993 and have returned several times, but have lost touch with most of the culture. For traditional Romanian music, look for names like Ion Dolanescu and Maria Ciobanu. I have never been a fan, but my mom loves it.
I am proud of my heritage – for the most part – and want to pass on to my children some of the things that made me “me”. Recently, my son told me, “Mommy, I wish I had been with you in Romania when you were growing up.” He is six.
This post is part of a Multilingual Kids Blog carnival, hosted this month my Stephen of Head of the Heard.