Romanian A-Z: J

This will be a short post. My dictionary doesn’t have a huge number of words beginning with J and I couldn’t think of anything much to say about most of them, so I’ll start with this:


It’s our local parc de joacă. It caught my attention the first time we walked through the village because it seemed so out-of-keeping with the single storey village houses, semi-subsistence farm holdings and the ‘vehicle’ we saw crossing the ford:

Hay Cart 1

Interestingly, I have yet to see a child use it. Either I haven’t been around at the right moment, or they have taste!

Joacă. It’s a noun meaning ‘play’. A juca is the verb, corresponding to the Latin joco, from which we get the word ‘joke’. Un jucător is a player. The j is pronounced the same way as in French – a softer sound than in English.

My second word is județ. This refers to an administrative district, much like the English county. Hence Jud. Cluj on our address refers to the district in which we live. The comuna is a smaller administrative district comprising one or more villages. Village addresses in Romania are interesting in so far as they don’t usually require a street name. The number of the house is deemed sufficient, with the result that we have already had someone stop and ask for the whereabouts of number four hundred and eighty something! In contrast, if you live in a block of flats (apartments) you can expect to have a flat number, a stair number, a block number and a street number. That’s communist efficiency for you!

My final word is jumătate. This means ‘half’. When giving the time, it is often shortened to jumate. Hence both the following mean ‘it’s half past five’.

Este cinci și jumătate
E cinci jumate

And that’s it for today, except to note that some words that you might expect to begin with J do not. Examples include ianuarie (January), iunie (June) and iulie (July). As a result, their pronunciations are closer to the German equivalents than they are to the French.

My next letter will be L as K does not exist in the Romanian alphabet and is only used for words borrowed from other languages, such as kilometru, kilogram and ketchup.


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