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Relation between the Romanian and Russian languages
Thread poster: Ya CISSE

Ya CISSE  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:48
English to French
+ ...
Jun 6, 2007

I would like to have your opinions about the relation between the Romanian and Russian languages.
I am currently in charge of recruiting translators for a company. One of the candidates I received for an interview for a French to Russian translator and interpreter position told me that, thanks to her Russian mother tongue, she has a good command of Romanian. This person has never lived in Romania or Moldova and has never taken any Romanian lesson.
I was quite surprised by her statement. She added that thanks to her Russian mother tongue, she understands Romanian better than any other Romance language speaker. We decided to submit her to a French to Romanian test, as we were curious, and her results appeared to be quite average. We have eventually recruited her for the French to Russian position.
So, in your opinion, does the command of Russian help understanding Romanian?
Thanks in advance for your answers.

[Modifié le 2007-06-06 21:57]


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Liliana Roman-Hamilton  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:48
English to Italian
my humble opinion Jun 6, 2007

Hi there

I can give you my personal opinion, but please don't base your choice simply on it. Probably somebody else will give a different point of view.

Anyhow....

My father is Romanian, I have been speaking Romanian since I was 3 years old, so I know it pretty well, I can understand it even better, my relatives on my father's side are all Romanian, they are spread all over Romania (including in the north-east area around Iasi, which is pretty close to the Moldavian border). I even studied for 2 years Romanian language and literature at the University of Rome.

Having said that, in my opinion Russian and Romanian are very VERY different, they belong to 2 different language groups, the former being a slavic language, the latter a romance language with a strong latin imprint (it's the only romance language that maintains the latin declension). As any other language, also Romanian was subject to linguistic influences through the centuries (german, french, slavic, turkish, greek influences).

However, even if I speak and understand Romanian pretty well, I can't say that I understand Russian as well or that listening to it I can get a sense of it. It could be probable for someone living in Moldova to understand both languages as in Moldova a lot of people speak Romanian and Russian or at least understand them, but I don't know how a person who has never been in Romania or Moldova could understand Romanian if she/he has never studied it (unless this person has a natural talent for foreign languages).

I have a colleague whose parents were both Russians, she speaks perfect Russian, and once she introduced me to a Romanian girl. I talked to this girl for a while, but my colleague couldn't understand much of what we were saying. Same thing happens to me when I hear her talking Russian on the phone: I can't understand anyhing she says.

Bottom line, I don't see how a person who has never lived in Romania or in Moldova and who has never studied Romanian, could understand it, unless she/he speaks other romance languages (French, Italian or Spanish for example)and is therefore able to pick words here and there, and, based on the similarity of these words with Romanian, can understand roughly the sense of the speech.

Again, this is my personal point of view, let's see if someone else has a different explanation.

Cheers
Liliana

[Edited at 2007-06-06 21:38]


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Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:48
Member
French to English
+ ...
Virtually no resemblance Jun 6, 2007

I've been studying Romanian linguistics over the past year and in my opinion the answer is a definite "no" - which is why I'm just as surprised at her claim as you are (in fact I'm amazed). French would certainly be a help, but not Russian; the languages are structurally very different and I can hardly think of any similarities at all, other than a handful of calqued expressions and loanwords (these are more common in the Republic of Moldova, where officially "Moldovan" is spoken, but to all intents and purposes this is a dialect of Romanian - and the few minor differences in pronunciation aren't an issue in the written language). In terms of syntax and morphology, which constitute the essence of linguistic structure and are the basis on which languages are classified, Romanian is unmistakably a Romance language.

There was a time, from the 1930s or so onwards, when Soviet linguists actively promoted the idea that Moldovan was a separate language from Romanian and more closely related to Russian, though the "similarities" they postulated were highly superficial in nature. A variant of the Cyrillic alphabet was introduced in the 1930s, then dropped for a few years, then reinstated; and efforts were also made to introduce Russian loanwords into the language, though many of these failed to catch on. These cosmetic changes were made (allegedly) for purely political reasons; yet I remember reading somewhere recently that no Moldovan-Romanian dictionary was ever published in the Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic (it would have been a bit of a waste of time!)

So in my opinion, it is absolutely impossible that a knowledge of Russian would automatically give anyone a good command of Romanian.

[Edited at 2007-06-06 21:56]


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Evija Rimšāne  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 19:48
Member
English to Latvian
no way Jun 6, 2007

I am fluent in Russian (I know this language since my childhood) and I can tell you certainly that it's impossible to know Romanian automatically if one knows Russian. If it were true, she could claim she knew Polish and Czech as well
It would be the same if native English claimed he/she knew French because he/she is English (and the both languages have much in common).
Really weird statement:)


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stanna  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:48
English to Russian
+ ...
absolutely agree with Peter and Liliana Jun 6, 2007

I am a native Russian and when I was listening in a past my Romanian classmates speaking their language at the ESL class, I did not notice any similarites with Russian language:-))

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Ya CISSE  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:48
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Liliana and Peter Jun 6, 2007

Thank you Liliana and Peter for your answers.
In my opinion, this translator is what I call a "stuntwoman". In my recruiting activity, I am regularly in contact with stuntmen and stuntwomen who claim that as they speak one language from a specific languages group, they are able to work with all the languages of that group. For example, once, I received a translator's CV, a Serbian native speaker, who pretended being able to translate from and into Ukrainian, Byelorussian, Russian, Bosnian, Croatian, Bulgarian, Slovenian and Macedonian. Such cases are rare but they do exist.
Same thing for few translators and the Romance languages and French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian and local Spanish and Italian languages.

Concerning the relation between Russian and Romanian:

Peter Shortall wrote:

So in my opinion, it is absolutely impossible that a knowledge of Russian would automatically give anyone a good command of Romanian.

[Edited at 2007-06-06 21:56]


It seems logical ...


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:48
English to Spanish
+ ...
El que mucho abarca poco aprieta Jun 6, 2007

Which means basically "jack of all trades, master of none". We see people here pretending to master a whole laundry list of languages, and with the kind of work we have to do, that is just laughable. It´s very demanding when you must only deal with two.

That said, I claim no knowledge of either Russian or Romanian, but out of curiosity I have looked at Romanian sites and I can make at least some sense of the language because it comes from the same roots as Spanish.

On the other hand Russian appears to be quite different.

So much for pretenders.


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Liliana Roman-Hamilton  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:48
English to Italian
Totally agree Jun 7, 2007

Henry Hinds wrote:

Which means basically "jack of all trades, master of none". We see people here pretending to master a whole laundry list of languages, and with the kind of work we have to do, that is just laughable.



I totally agree with you, Henry. I have seen a profile of a translator who says he knows 8 languages and he can translate in 30 (yes, thirty) language pairs..... Somebody that can master 8 languages and can translate in 30 language pairs in my opinion is either a genius or, as you rightly say, a " jack of all trades, master of none".


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Cristiana Coblis  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 19:48
Member (2004)
English to Romanian
+ ...
a test should do the trick Jun 7, 2007

Ya CISSE wrote:
She added that thanks to her Russian mother tongue, she understands Romanian better than any other Romance language speaker.


I assume that if this candidate was called for an interview, she must have been selected, for good reasons, through some previous selection procedure.

In my opinion, a test should clear any doubts. Reading the above statement, one would assume a test from Romanian into Russian would be a piece of cake for the candidate It's quite a rare combination, I think

Good luck with the recruitment.

[Editat la 2007-06-07 07:25]


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:48
Flemish to English
+ ...
Jack-of-all-trades? Jun 7, 2007

As far as I know you have East-Slavonic languages and West-Slavonic. The claim makes sense if the applicant knows languages which belong to the same language family, say Russian and Ukranian. A native of Russian can understand Polish (a little). Russian is Slavonic and Romanian is of Latin origin. So, this claim is nonsense.
What makes sense, is that if you find time and study the languages of the same language family, you will assimilate the apparented language as lot faster.
If you know Spanish for example, you will be able to read, understand and answer a Portuguese speaker in Spanish. The same is true for Italian. I've recently met a Romanian and we were able to conversate: he in Romanian, I in Spanish.



[Edited at 2007-06-07 08:01]


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Evija Rimšāne  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 19:48
Member
English to Latvian
not true in all cases Jun 7, 2007

Williamson wrote:

A native of Russian can understand Polish (a little).

If you know Spanish for example, you will be able to read, understand and answer a Portuguese speaker in Spanish.




Though it is true in the cases mentioned above, there are exceptions, for example, I am native Latvian, and my neighbours in Lithuania speak language that belongs to the same language family as Latvian (Indo-European) and both languages may seem very similar, however, they aren't and without knowing a single word in Lithuanian, I could not understand them at all.

I mean, the Russian translator's claim is false anyway.


Cheers,
Evija


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Boris Sigalov
Local time: 19:48
English to Russian
Total BS Jun 7, 2007

Ya CISSE wrote:

So, in your opinion, does the command of Russian help understanding Romanian?


Absolutely NOT! Being a native Russian speaker I can understand some Ukrainian, Belorussian, Polish, Czech, Slovak. But not a word in Romanian. That "stuntwoman" has no idea what she is speaking about...


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lingomania
Local time: 02:48
Italian to English
A Nadia Comanenci fan Jun 7, 2007

Ever since I became a huge fan of Nadia's (70s), I "tripped" on learning Romanian. All I know is that Romanian has strong Latin influences.

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Paola Dentifrigi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 18:48
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
100% ignorance Jun 8, 2007

Ya CISSE wrote:


So, in your opinion, does the command of Russian help understanding Romanian?


[Modifié le 2007-06-06 21:57]


Hi!
She talks nonsense
Romanian has some slavonic words (eg love=iubire), and that's the reason why I started learning Polish, Russian, Croatian and so on. However, to understand Romanian you need... to learn Romanian. French and Italian help a lot, though.
It's a fantastic language, there are words from Hungarian, German, Turkish, Ukrainian, Serbian, Bulgarian and even
a couple from Romane.
There's a lot of ignorance about Central and Eastern European languages and I just hope this may disappear one day, at least
among language professionals.
If I had to assign a job to someone who claims to understand Romanian just because she speaks Russian, I'd simply disregard her. As I'd disregard someone who claims to understand French because he/she is a native Italian.
I'd send them back to school and abroad before they even turn a PC on again. Am I harsh?

Cheers
Paola


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Paola Dentifrigi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 18:48
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Of course Jun 8, 2007

Ya CISSE wrote:

For example, once, I received a translator's CV, a Serbian native speaker, who pretended being able to translate from and into Ukrainian, Byelorussian, Russian, Bosnian, Croatian, Bulgarian, Slovenian and Macedonian. Such cases are rare but they do exist.


They can, of course, If we want to call these translations
babelfishalikedocs... well, that's another story.

Happy (real) translations
Paola


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