Return to the ROMANIAN ArchiveForward to the Current ROMANIAN discuss

maddersWednesday 06th of October 2004 09:23:39 AM
Pronunciation - Salut!

Ok, so I'm picking up written Romanian rather quickly- but I'm having a bit of trouble with pronunciation.

For example, 'numes,ti'- do I pronounce the 'i' at the end? Or is it just pronounced 'noo-mesh-t'? How do I know when to pronounce 'i's at the end, and when not to?

Also- 'eu', 'ea' and 'ei'- how are these pronounced?

Mult,umesc for the help!
odiliaWednesday 06th of October 2004 06:24:51 PM
The letter i in final position - "The letter i in final position after consonants stands for a very short sound, shorter and less sonorous than the syllabic . ... There are nouns in Romanian that have two letters i in the word-final position. These are read as [i(i)]*. Even three letters i can appear, and are read as [ii]..."
*(i) - this second i is shorter and almost voiceless

From "Cojocaru Romanian Grammar" -
odiliaWednesday 06th of October 2004 06:30:08 PM
The letter e in initial position - "Initial e in words that come from Latin (some personal pronouns and some forms of the verb "a fi" - to be) stands for the diphthong [ie]: "eu" - I, "ea" - she, "el" - he, "ei" - they, "eşti" - (you) are, "este" (he/she) is, "e" - (he/she) is. In neologisms, initial e is pronounced [e]: "electricitate" - electricity, "emoţie" - emotion, "elev" - student, "extraterestru" - alien."

From Cojocaru Romanian Grammar -
DenisWednesday 06th of October 2004 06:32:06 PM
- hi odilia are you romanian? were both online right now but i dont konw how we can both get in Classroom .. ?
odiliaWednesday 06th of October 2004 06:37:05 PM
Hi Denis - so sorry, i have problems with this Classroom - probably i don't have the 6 player but i'm not authorised to do it on my office comp ... no, i'm bulgarian, not romanian :) just trying to study and looking for teachers .. i'll try to get online from home in the weekend, maybe we can meet then?
maddersWednesday 06th of October 2004 07:04:26 PM
- [quote]Originally posted by odilia

"The letter i in final position after consonants stands for a very short sound, shorter and less sonorous than the syllabic . ... There are nouns in Romanian that have two letters i in the word-final position. These are read as [i(i)]*. Even three letters i can appear, and are read as [ii]..."
*(i) - this second i is shorter and almost voiceless

From "Cojocaru Romanian Grammar" -[/quote]
Anca+Saturday 15th of January 2005 06:29:16 PM
the "i" at the end - also,you always pronounce the 'i's at the end
sandmanSaturday 15th of January 2005 08:54:50 PM
- afaik, there are cases when two 'i' at the end are read as single 'i' not as 'i(short i)'

but i don't know the rules on that
can everybody clear this up ?
rbrumaMonday 17th of January 2005 03:33:40 PM
- I'm not an expert on phonetics, but here is a simple rule:

-i after a consonant is not pronounced, but softens the previous consonant (as in Russian with the 'soft sign' or whatever it is called, I don't have the proper keyboard layout here). Compare

lupi (wolves, both in Italian and Romanian), pronounced

lup' (' stands here for soft sign) in Romanian
lupi in Italian

-ii after a consonant is pronounced a soft consonant followed by a full featured 'i' (for all practical purposes this is equivalent to a consonant followed by 'i')

To continue with the example above, in order to obtain (almost) the Italian prononciation for 'lupi', in Romanian we must write 'lupii', but this means not 'wolves' but 'the wolves' (articulated)

I hope this helps a little bit.

sandmanMonday 17th of January 2005 07:00:05 PM
- Thanks, Răzvan

i always try to form the set of rules as simple and precise as possible.

so i suggest these rules below, on words, ending in -i, -ii, -iii after a consonant:

1. single 'i' just softens the previous consonant. except for the verb infinitives (even without 'a' in front of them) and the following words: zi (i don't know any other but i guess there exist some)

2. two 'i' is pronounced as 'i' followed by short 'i' (as in 'copii' - pl. from 'copil') only if the last 'i' is not the definite article attached to a masculine noun in plural. in the latter case it is pronounced as just single normal vowel 'i'

3. three 'i' is always pronounced as two normal vowels 'i' in a row

i'm not sure those rules are absolutely right
please, help me out to define them good and useful for others %)
rbrumaTuesday 18th of January 2005 05:19:25 PM
- Two notes:

1. Rule one might be better stated by saying that '-i' after a consonant softens the previous consonant when it is not stressed. In this latter case it is pronounced like a normal '-i'

2. I don't get the distinction you made in rule 2. I have to check this, but just sitting here and speaking out loud I don't see any difference.
sandmanTuesday 18th of January 2005 06:30:30 PM
- 1. a very significant note about the stress - but for a foreigner i guess the rule couldn't be stated solely like that (plus, i think one can hardly stress a softened consonant %), some other rules must be defined such as where is the stress in the words, ending with '-i' %). some rules about the stress would be helpful anyway. e.g. all verb infinitives (ending with '-i' ?) have their last syllable (with 'i') stressed (is it true ? %)

it's a very significant note indeed, 'cause it provokes questions %) i wonder, if the last 'i' just softens the previous consonant, that 'i' forms a syllable anyways ? i.e. 'lupi' can be carried over the next line as 'lu-pi' ? or this is only the case for the words with last 'i' being stressed ?

2. '-ii' in 'părinţii' and 'copii' in the following examples is pronounced differently (as far as i know):

Li s-au ntors părinţii din America?
Bună seara, drage copii !

maybe the stress is determinant here ?

if this won't clear up what i meant i will bring some better examples tomorrow (i have a rus-romn conversational guide at home, which also contains the phonetic transcriptions with cyrillic letters and where i actually noticed this difference)
rbrumaTuesday 18th of January 2005 07:32:09 PM
- 1. Of course in that dream manual there would be rules teaching where the stress lies, but _assuming_ that the reader knows (or sees in a dictionary) where is the stress, the rule can be applied.

I don't know if all the verbs ending in '-i' are stressed on that vowel, but all examples I can think of right now are of this sort.

And of course, if the last '-i' only softens the consonant it cannot form a syllable. That '-i' is not even a vowel there, it's merely a sign, like, 'ь' in russian. 'Lupi' is a monosyllabic word and should be transliterated in cyrillic characters with a 'ь' ending, not with a 'и'.

2. Between 'părinţii' and 'copii' I don't see any difference (except the stress). Maybe it is something very scientific here but I don't realize it.
sandmanTuesday 18th of January 2005 08:21:03 PM
- 1. so, we're building that manual ? %) grrreat %) in fact, for all the linguistic books i've seen, i think all those linguists lack some math/logic education %) i was always dissatisfied with them. so i think the idea of forming if not the manual but at least some 'gained through suffering %)' important articles on the romanian is really good. this site can become then the best online source to learn romanian, since all the sites i've seen so far are very basic.

i can offer a list of 814 verbs ending with '-i' to help you check it out %) (just kidding %)

i was cautious with the syllables since in some languages some consonants can form syllables (e.g. 'm', 'n'). so i imagined, that grammatically that soft sign may be considered just a very reduced 'i', which still forms a syllable (grammar concepts sometimes are kinda abstract %).

2. i'll check my conversation guide for some better examples.

ps: i'd be very happy if i had a dictionary with the stress indicated. but i haven't it, and have never seen it %((
sandmanWednesday 19th of January 2005 02:12:28 PM
- well, i looked through my conversational guide and this is what i have:

1. the words, which have their last 'i' not stressed but read is normal 'i':
t'anti, 'kiwi, cam'pari, mar'tini, co'libri, pe'nalti (what genders are they and how are they declined ?)

in the guide in the following phrase the 'i' in 'negri' is transcribed as normal vowel 'i', is it a typo or not ?
struguri negri

the words, which besides of the verbs infinitives, have their last 'i' stressed:
kaki, taxi, mersi

and maybe when devising the rules for 'i' in final position we should note the monosyllabic words, where 'i' is just 'i', such as
zi, şi, gri, fi, schi. but maybe it would make no sense %)

a) the final 'ii' for the words in the following phrases is transcribed in the guide as [ i ] (in russian [])
ce vă fac parinţii ? cine sunt protagoniştii ? unde pot schimba banii ? aş vrea să probez pantofii. pantalonii sunt nsă călcaţi prost. actorii joacă excelent. aş dori să ascult artiştii. ce amuzanţi sunt clovnii. urşii aceştia se joacă. n ultimii ani.
the same stands for the phrases with: elefanţii, ochii, ochelarii.
all these words are transcribed like that in any phrase they're in, all throughout the guide.

b) the following have their final 'ii' transcibed as [i, short i] (in russian []):
copii, sărbătorii, aniversării, informaţii, servicii, maşinii, călătorii, roşii...
and these are transcribed equally all throughout the guide, too

i guess the stress is not determinant here, since it stands in rather arbitrary positions

c) the following phrase is found twice in the guide but each time it has different transcriptions for the final 'ii'
la miesul nopţii
the first time it is just as a), the second - as b). i think it's a typo, and i guess, the b) is the correct one in this case

3. as for the verbs, ending in 'i', one not so trivial case that comes to my mind is 'a zgi' is '' or 'i' stressed ? i guess it's '', and 'i' is read as short i (in russian ''). so this verb can be an exception.

4. in the question about whether last 'i' when it's just the soft sign forms a syllable or it doesn't, i wonder, what means the fact that it can turn to a normal 'i' when something is attached at the end of a word (with '-')

i impatiently wait for some comments on these %)

rbrumaWednesday 19th of January 2005 03:28:23 PM
- Just a few notes, I need more research to give a complete answer.

1. The words you first mentioned:

a. 'negri' is pronounced with normal -i, I don't know what the rule is, but it seems that 'r' preceded by some type of consonants cannot be softened

b. tanti, kiwi, campari, martini, coli'bri (not co'libri), penalti are not Romanian words (with the excp. of 'colibri', a kind of exotic bird). 'Campari' and 'Martini' are pure italian and pronounced as such, while 'penalti' is English 'penalty' (used only in football) with the stress changed.

tanti is fem. and indeclinable (that is, it keeps always the same form: pl. (două) tanti, (unei) tanti, etc)

the other ones are presumably neuters and also inflexible (when you cannot use some forms, you normally resort to an expression, eg: (kiwi) NOT *kiwiului but fructului de kiwi )

That means that their 'gender' is that of the word accompanying it. ('fruct ' = fruit here is neuter, for example. If I would refer to the tree, I could say 'arborelui de kiwi' (='of the kiwi tree') and I would use masc. They are mere determinants, rather that nouns.)

2. Reading the examples with two 'ii' I still cannot see any difference.

3. 'a (se) zgi' is stressed on 'i', not ''

4. PLease post some examples about you mean by the last problem, I didn't understand it very well.

sandmanWednesday 19th of January 2005 04:12:54 PM
- thanks a lot for your answer
here are my comments
a) very interesing, never seen a note on it in any pronunciation guide. what i can say is that even for me it seems innatural to pronounce 'negri' with softened 'r'. although there definitely are some words in russian which are read like that (with softened 'r'), such as 'декабрь' (de'cabri - december), so i can't say, why it seems innatural to me %)
could you put some more such examples, please ?

b. it's all like in russian (except for 'tanti' - we have own word, plus 'colibri' is a loanword). those words are not declinable and the gender is determined by the class word (vermouth for martini, bird for colibri, fruit or tree for kiwi etc.) about 'penalty' i was in doubt, whether it masc. or neuter in russian - it turned out to be masc.

2. hmm, strange, maybe it's kind of patois
the best in showing the difference i mean (and the 'no difference' you mean %) would be to listen those examples pronounced, but i don't know, how is this possible

3. e.g. '-i' is pronounced here in hiatus, and not like in 'mine' ?

4. i'd like to get rid of this question, if you're not interested in it %) it crept out just along the way and not so important (in this level of my knowledge of romanian, at least %)

again, thanks a lot, Răzvan, it was very helpful
rbrumaThursday 20th of January 2005 08:56:26 PM
- 1. Indeed, I cannot give a rule for this, but seems not natural (viz., impossible) to pronounce 'negri' with a softened 'r'. On the other hand, I cannot pronounce декабрь with a soft 'r' either and I'm picking it up exactly like 'negri'. One other example that crosses my mind now is 'codri' (pl. from 'codru' = forest).

2. 'zgi' has and i in hiatus, right, not a diphtong like in 'mine'.
sandmanThursday 20th of January 2005 10:01:57 PM
- thank you, Răzvan, for your continuing help :)
pity, i don't know what i can help you with %(
rbrumaThursday 20th of January 2005 10:06:34 PM
- You are helping me (and others around here) already by your comments and even by your questions. So no need to despair :)
sandmanFriday 21st of January 2005 12:37:20 PM
- well, ok... (but i suspect you're only trying to calm me down %)))

ps: if you're curious about how russians manage to pronounce a softened 'r', you can check the thread
there are audio links for month names in russian there (september through december sound like that, and january (almost like that))
rbrumaFriday 21st of January 2005 09:36:35 PM
- Thanks for the link. That kind of sound is used in Romanian when 'r' is after a vowel, for example (like in 'gări' = railway stations)
sandmanMonday 24th of January 2005 03:00:29 PM
- i found some info on that
it says that the final 'i' is read as 'i' after cl, cr, dr, str, ştr
but since 'gr' and 'br' are missing, i guess some other combinations may be missing too