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sandmanThursday 20th of January 2005 07:40:46 PM
need help with a piece of text - i am trying to read 'micul prinţ' in romanian and right from the start i have lot of questions %)
could somebody help me, please ? i emphasized the problem places in bold, and stated concrete questions for each one after the text.

Lui Leon Werth
2000mi cer scuze copiilor 1 că dedic această carte 2 unui om mare. Am o scuză serioasă: acest om mare este cel mai bun prieten din lume pe care l am. Mai am o scuză: această persoană poate nţelege orice, chiar şi cărţile pentru copii. Am şi o a treia scuză: acest om mare locuieşte n Franţa, unde suferă de foame şi frig 3. El are nevoie 4 să fie consolat. Dacă toate aceste scuze nu sunt de ajuns, aş vrea să fac dedicaţia copilului care a fost odinioară cel care 5 este omul mare de acum. Toţi oamenii mari au fost mai nti copii. (Dar puţini 6 dintre ei şi mai amintesc). Corectez deci dedicaţia mea: Lui Leon Werth, băieţelul 7 de odinioară

1. what is the government for 'cere' ? is the 'copiilor' in dative or in genitive here ? is the government for 'cere' in general and for 'cere scuze' different ?

2. do nouns always have no definite article when modified by 'acest' ? is it true for any modifier, which uniquely definites a noun (except for possessive pronouns) ?

3. what gender are 'foame' and 'frig' and how are they declined ?

4. the same as above for 'nevoie'. and what is the difference in usage between 'nevoie' and 'trebuie' when an object or some action is needed ?

5. can be used 'şi care' here ?

6. has 'puţini' different forms for masculine and feminine persons ? i.e. in the phrase 'puţini dintre ei/ele'.

7. why not the 'băieţelului' ? can 'lui' only be used once in a sentence, or is it the case only when it stands alone ?

8. how 'băiat' and 'băieţel' are declined ?
rbrumaThursday 20th of January 2005 08:34:16 PM
- A few notes:

1. Dative. The govt. is general (you ask smth (AC., here 'scuze') to smbd (D., here 'copiilor').

2. No. Ex: 'cartea aceasta' (this book, art). However, w/o art. the topic is reversed (always). The meaning is the same, however (probably because 'acest' is determinative)

3. 'foame' - fem., no pl. D-G sg. foamei
'frig' - neuter, pl. friguri, frigului, frigurilor

4. 'nevoie' - fem., pl. nevoi, nevoii, DGpl nevoilor
Here used in an expression, 'a avea nevoie' (litt. 'to have need') = a trebui.

Usage is pretty much the same, only the constructs are different:

'am nevoie de o carte' (I need a book) = 'a avea nevoie' + 'de' (prep) + noun

'mi trebuie o carte' = 'mi' (pron. D) + vb. + noun

Obs. 'a trebui' may mean 'it's mandatory'. In this cases 'a avea nevoie' does not apply, of course.

5. Yes. The meaning is slighty changed:

'cel': (to) the child (that)was... the nowadays grown-up man
'şi': (to) the child that he was... and now he is grown-up

6. Yes.

'puţini dintre ei' (m) / 'puţine dintre ele'

7. Both forms are (virtually) correct. The ones you suggested is gramatically pure, but here it is implied something like:

'To L.W. (who was) the little boy...'

Generally in spoken Romanian this latter form is frequently used.


- 'băiat', (boy, m.) pl. băieţi, DGsg băiatului, DGpl. băieţilor

- 'băieţel' (little boy, m.), pl. băieţei, DGsg. băieţelului, DGpl. băieţeilor

Hope it helps. Good questions. Waiting for more.

sandmanThursday 20th of January 2005 09:51:12 PM
- yes, your comments are really of great help
llllot of thanks ;)

just two little questions:
1. i.e. the dative here works more like 'luative', right ? since the 'scuze' goes from the children to the asker, and not vice versa ('mi' is in real dative %). maybe some preposition is implied here ?

2. when a possessive pronoun stands in front of the noun, the definite article is absent too ?

new questions are to come, for sure %)
rbrumaThursday 20th of January 2005 10:23:17 PM
- 1. I don't know what 'luative' is. However, we are dealing with an expression here:

'a şi cere scuze'

with a reflexive pronoun in Dative but also constructed with a (normal) Dative.

'Scuzele' go from the asker to the children, but the meaning implied here is that he awaits their confirmation / acceptance. Don't ask me, however, why the reflexive pronoun is used and why in Dative because I ddon't know :)

2. Yes, but the possessive pronoun should be in its 'full form' (with 'a' preceding it)

cartea mea
a mea carte

Note, however, that the last form is rarely used and only to produce some stylistic effects or in poetry.

sandmanFriday 21st of January 2005 02:12:03 PM
- well, i was thinking i understand it more or less, just before opening the thread %) but now i'm confused

a somewhat twisted verb it is %)

let's try to crack it with little steps.

first of all, i was thinking of 'scuze' here as more of 'pardon' than of 'excuse'. i.e. 'scuze' is the grounds for being forgiven, right ?

i don't understand, whom the asker is asking %) if 'scuzele' go from him to the children, then he's asking himself ? or 'cere' is not like 'ask' but more of 'ask to accept' ? then the direct and indirect objects seem exchanged or there must be both A. it seems that 'cere' is just 'give' or 'ask myself to give'.

ohhh %)

tell me please what is, in your opinion, the best translation for 'cere' in general and in this situation ?

i wonder, how it is used in different situations. please translate the following ('ask' may be not suitable in some places, but used as a substitute for 'cere'):
- i ask you (for) a glass of water
- he asks you (for) your book
- i ask you (for) her book for him
- i ask you (for your) pardon
- she asks him to hug her
- i ask you (for your) attention
- what do you ask me (for) ?

well, of course, if you have better examples, that depict the usage of 'cere' you can use yours instead of mine.

and the last - is it correct 'el si cere scuze ţie' ?
rbrumaFriday 21st of January 2005 03:20:15 PM
- OK, I'll start from the end:

'el şi cere scuze ţie' is absolutely correct (*congrats*) and means 'he apologizes to you', he demands that you pardon him' In normal speech, however, a Romanian will say 'el ţi cere scuze' and use your form only for particular emphasis (he apologizes to you, not to anyone else, etc).

For some reason or another, that is an expression per se, that cannot be broken into it's parts. If an English speaker asks me how one says "to apologize" in Romanian, I would answer 'a-şi cere scuze'.

I don't know the English terminology, but in Romanian this is called a "locuţiune verbală", a 'verbal block' whose indivisible meaning is equivalent to that of a verb (in this case 'to apologize'). Internally, it has a structure formed by a verb with reflexive form in Dative plus a noun in Accusative and one might argue that in a simple phrase like

"El şi cere scuze ei"

we have one subject (el), one indirect object (ei) and only one predicate. This main predicate is formed by a main verb (a cere) in dative reflexive form with a direct object.
So it's not about what is the govt. of 'a cere' but what is the govt. of the block 'a-şi cere scuze'.

The general meaning, however, is 'ask you to accept my apologizes'.

The general translation of 'a cere' is 'to ask'. So your phrases would be translated like this:

- I ask you (for) a glass of water = ţi cer un pahar de apă
- he asks you (for) your book = (el) ţi cere cartea
- i ask you (for) her book for him = ţi cer cartea lui pentru ea
- i ask you (for your) pardon = ţi cer scuze (derived from 'mi cer scuze ţie'; you could also say 'mi cer scuze' but then wouldn't be clear to whom. Similarly, to use your example from the book:

'mi cer scuze copiilor' = 'mi cer scuze lor' = 'le cer scuze'

The two datives seem to merge together when using pronouns and the former 'verbal block' is destroyed.

Note, however, that this merging is possible only with these kinds of blocks, not with 'a cere' in general.

'el ţi cere scuze' = 'el şi cere scuze ţie' BUT
'el ţi cere cartea' <> '*el şi cere cartea ţie*' (WRONG)

- she asks him to hug her = 'ea i cere s-o mbrăţişeze'
- i ask you (for your) attention = 'fiţi atenţi' (pay attention, litt. be attentive). 'A cere' cannot be used here.
- what do you ask me (for) ? Ce mi ceri?

One last note to this long and confusing post. 'Locuţiunile' (the blocks I was talking) are a major part of Romanian grammar, one that is in permanent evolution (some of today's monolithic blocks were simple expressions 100 years ago) and they exist for every part of the speech.

sandmanFriday 21st of January 2005 04:20:51 PM
- thank you
now it's me, to take my time to understand it right %)

what i want to say right now, is about the terminology
i think 'locuţiune verbală' is close to russian 'фигура речи' (speech figure) or 'речевой оборот' (turn of speech). and my dic translates those linguistic terms to the english ling. term 'schema'. just as an observation.

hmm, i looked into my romanian dic and found 'locuţiune idiomatică' which is translated just as 'idiom'
i wonder, are those two in romanian different
alinabiFriday 21st of January 2005 06:15:01 PM
- "Locutiune verbala" means an idiom which functions as a verb. I think the English equivalent is called "verb phrase".

Regarding "imi cer scuze", the reflexive noun is there to mark the fact that you are asking for forgivness on your own behalf, as opposed to asking on someone else's behalf.

sandmanFriday 21st of January 2005 06:56:00 PM
- thanks for your comment
well, afaik english 'phrasal verbs' if you meant it, are formed exclusively by verbs and prepositions(adverbs)

mmmm, you meant, if someone asks for forgiveness on behalf of someone else, then the reflexive pronoun changes to a normal pronoun in dative ? (lui, ei etc)
rbrumaFriday 21st of January 2005 07:11:08 PM
- I am lost. I don't know how to ask forgiveness on someone else's behalf, not even in my own language :)

I think with this occasion I'd better give up w/ the "a cere scuze" topic.

I apologize on my behalf. :)

sandmanFriday 21st of January 2005 07:31:15 PM
- stay a bit longer, please %)

maybe, 'n numele ...' ?

i also found on the net 'Suporterii dinamovisti ii cer scuze lui Borcea pentru gardul vopsit'
'ii' here is just duplicate for 'lui' ?
rbrumaFriday 21st of January 2005 07:37:17 PM
- Yes, but it's off topic. The forms are the same.


2000mi cer scuze (n numele meu) w/
2000mi cer scuze (n numele lui)

So the "behalf" has nothing to do w/ the reflexive pronouns, verbal blocks, govt. of 'a cere', etc. Practically I don't see any connection w/ the whole thread.

rbrumaFriday 21st of January 2005 07:47:49 PM
- 'Suporterii dinamovişti i cer scuze lui Borcea pentru gardul vopsit'

Here it's ilustrated a characteristic of Romanian, that is the fact that the object is anticipated by a pronoun.

"i" is anticipating 'lui Borcea'. Both are Datives, first a pronoun, then the noun. Assuming we knew we are talking about Borcea (not the case here), the following forms are also correct:

(Suporterii) i cer scuze lui. (pronoun anticipated by pron)
(Suporterii) i cer scuze.

But the following are NOT correct (although used sometimes)

* (Suporterii) cer scuze lui Borcea.
* (Suporterii) cer scuze lui.

sandmanFriday 21st of January 2005 08:08:24 PM
- ok
thanks, i got it

this 'off topic' was useful for me anyways %)
and increased my knowledge of 'cere' and 'cere scuze'

(in whisper) can i say 'ne cerem scuze copiilor' ? i.e. ask on behalf of us %)
rbrumaFriday 21st of January 2005 08:18:21 PM
- Yes. That means simply "we apologize to the children". On OUR behalf. :)

sandmanFriday 21st of January 2005 08:29:00 PM
- well, but this is also correct if only one person is speaking, not the whole crowd in chorus ? %)
rbrumaFriday 21st of January 2005 08:36:08 PM
- Did you finish Law school? I did and I find a ressemblance in this posting to something I'm very familiar to :)

The grammar form is the same, even if we are not talking all together. It's 1pl.

Otherwise, you'd be arguing that 'we' is plural only when the whole crowd speaks. :)

Your witness.

sandmanFriday 21st of January 2005 08:55:56 PM
- i didn't %)) but once i thought, that programmer's job developes a way of thinking that has something in common with the lawyer's %)

i'm not arguing, but one cannot beg for pardon, saying 'we beg..' unless he's authorised to do that by everybody of 'we' regardless of their presence/absence. since saying this is equal to everybody of them asking for pardon personally, one by one %)

anyways - mi cer scuze tuturor dacă acest subiect a fost plictisitor, dar el mi-a ajutat. mulţumesc foarte mult %)

i hope i get it right %)
rbrumaFriday 21st of January 2005 09:25:00 PM
- You got it right. Almost. 'm-a ajutat' would have been better. This is ok, but sounds archaic (using a ajuta w/ D. instead of Ac)

And I agree also with your argument about 'begging for pardon'. It's absolutely true. However, here we were talking about grammar forms as conveying different meanings and w/ 'a cere scuze' this was not happening. The form was the same.

'We walk' is the same paradigm as 'I walk', even though I have to be authorised by my co-walker to say it. :) We leave grammar and even linguistics if we assume otherwise.

I am waiting, nonetheless, for more questions from 'Micul Prinţ'.

Jeremy87Monday 24th of January 2005 04:03:29 AM
- Also to note a-şi cere iertare is another way to say it, and I think (not so sure) that if you want to apologize on someone's behalf you could say

işi cer scuze/iertare
for him/her I ask forgiveness

could you also say "trebuie să-ţi cer scuze/iertare?"
Do I need to apologize for you?

or "poţi să-mi ceri scuze/iertare"
Can you apologize for me?

Just thought those would make the most sense for apologizing on someone's behalf :). Correct me if I'm wrong rbruma.
sandmanMonday 24th of January 2005 03:16:04 PM
- well i thought this reflexive pronoun in dative may be the so-called 'possessive-dative'. or it might be, long time ago %)

to check this out, i have two questions:
1. can i say 'mi cer scuzele mele copiilor' ?
2. can 'possessive-dative' be used in the following phrases:
"i ask you for my book"
"i ask you for your book"
and how it will look like
rbrumaMonday 24th of January 2005 11:29:50 PM
- Jeremy:

'şi cer scuze' = they ask for forgiveness. I do not necessarily ask the forgiveness on their behalf. I can simply relate a story in which two people did something wrong and "they apologize for that". I am not asking pardon for them, I am merely stating a fact. They ask for forgiveness on their behalf.

"trebuie să-ţi cer scuze?" = do I need to apologize to you? (not for you)

"poţi să-mi ceri scuze/iertare" = can you apologize to me (not *for* me)

The act of apologizing on someone else's behalf has no particular grammar usage. If you really intend to apologize on someone else's behalf, you'd always construct a phrase at 1sg and add 'in his/her name', etc, like

"I apologize to you in his name"

2000mi cer scuze n numele lui.

Jeremy87Tuesday 25th of January 2005 02:50:29 AM
- ahh ok. Thank you rbruma. I think I got confused with something in my previous post, thanks again. :)
rbrumaTuesday 25th of January 2005 03:50:54 PM
- Sandman:

1. 'mi cer scuzele mele copiilor' has obvious meaning but it's wrong, maybe because it's redundant. In Romanian one will always say "mi cer scuze copiilor". This form conveys all the needed information, namely that you apologize to them.

2. The second example is a bit trickier and depends heavily on context. I am unable to make a general theory, but:

a. if I ask for MY book that is in YOUR possession:

mi cer cartea (de la tine) -- clearly conveys the fact that it's my book, but unless I add 'de la tine' it's not clear where is my book. This is a 'dative-possesive'.

ţi cer cartea (mea) -- clearly conveys the fact that you have the book (in my opinion), but unless I add 'mea' it's not clear whose book it is.

Depending on the context, you could use both forms, with or without the words in brackets, if that information is already known.

b. If I ask for YOUR book that's in YOUR possesion:

- ţi cer cartea (ta) : us. the fact that's yours is implied. If I want to emphasize this fact, I would add 'ta', but this is a rare case.
sandmanTuesday 25th of January 2005 04:45:20 PM
- thank you, Răzvan, for your clarifications (and patience %)

just as a conclusion, to check if i got it right:

1. if the pronoun in dative (in front of 'cere') looks like a reflexive one (considering the form of 'cere' used), then it's dative-possessive and someone is asking for his own property, right ? the person, whom he's asking, is conveyed by 'de la', and the usage of smth like 'mi cer cartea iţi' is wrong (i.e. the usage of two datives) ?

2. if that pronoun doesn't look like a reflexive one, then it conveys the person, whom the asker is asking, right ?
rbrumaTuesday 25th of January 2005 04:59:14 PM
- Yes, I think you're right.

* '2000mi cer cartea ţi' is clearly wrong.