Today Elena bought a mouse. The type on the left, not the type on the right. The Romanian word for “mouse” is “șoarece” or “șoareci” for mice, but they call the computer mouse a mouse, using the English word.
We’re in Iasi, Northern Romania on the 2nd day of our holiday staying with Elena’s brother and Elena needed the hardware peripheral for her laptop. We plan to bring our laptops with us to blog and do techie stuff on the way as this career break is partly about travelling and partly about learning things as Elena wants to learn more about databases and I want to teach myself to program.
I started to come regularly to Romania in 2005 and since then I’ve probably been here about 10 times, but despite this I still have a pretty rudimentary grasp of the Romanian language. I’ve never been great with languages.
When I first came to see Elena’s family in Romania they took me to the country house and when we opened the door there were two mice dead on the floor in the middle of the landing. Trying to impress the family with my Romanian, I said “Look, doua șoareci”, at which point the whole family fell about laughing.
“What have I said?” I wondered, thinking that I’d really put my foot in it.
Romanian is a Romance language, influenced by the Slavic languages in the middles ages, and as such has elements of both. Among other grammatical points, Romanian nouns are characterized by gender of which there are three, Masculine, Feminine and Neuter. As with all languages with gender classes for nouns, you just have to memorise them, and it turns out that șoarece is masculine but I’d just made it feminine. This is apparently still a source of hilarity in the family and I am these days referred to as “Doua șoareci”
If you ask me, they look pretty feminine to me. What do you reckon? Mice – do they look masculine or feminine to you?