I recently went to Romania for a holiday and was pleased to find a lot of the words were familiar to me. The Latin I studied at school came in handy because Romanian is a Romance language but more surprisingly, I recognised a lot of Turkish words too. Looking into the history of Romania, it’s not hard to see why.
In Medieval Times Romania was divided into three separate entities, Transylvania, Wallachia and Moldavia. These principalities were under the control of different ethnic groups and countries, but over the centuries skirmishes erupted in Wallachia and Moldavia against the Ottoman Turks. Wallachia, which lay on the border of the Ottoman Empire, was the most fiercely independent, with successful raids carried out by Vlad III the Impaler (also known as Vlad Dracula and the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s novel of the same name). Moldavia also achieved Independence under the rule of Stephen the Great but by 1541 Romania was under Ottoman suzerainty. What this meant was the Ottomans controlled Romanian foreign policy and its international relations, while allowing them internal autonomy to rule the country in the manner of their own choosing.
During the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 Romania fought on the Russian side against the Turks, and gained complete independence from the Ottoman Empire. Nonetheless many legacies of the Ottoman rule remain, including the language.
Here are some words I picked up during my short stay.
bacşiş – bahşiş – tip
çiorba – soup
cuafor – kuafor – hairdresser. I know this isn’t really a Turkish word and comes from French but I first learnt it as part of my Turkish vocabulary.
harta – harita – map
kapluja – kapı – door/gate
masa – masa – table
papuc – pabuç – slipper
simigeria – simit– simit
tarhon – tarhun – tarragon
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