Monday, May 12, 2008


So now I'm in Iasi.  No, not Eye-aah-see, Yash.

Yash (Iasi-with an S with a tail that makes it pronounced like a shhhhh.)

Romanian doesn't have the W or the Y in its scrabble set. Really.  

It has dipthongs instead.  For those who left English 101 somewhere back in the 19th century, these thongy things are combos of vowels.  Mostly dip-thongs, or more accurately, like you care, di- or two -pthongs. Got it?  There are also tripthongs and quadrathongs which if you can count to four you can figure out for yourselves how many old MacDonalds there are in the word.  EIEIO. Oa, for example sounds like Wa. Ioa sounds like eeyowah.

And if you want a cup of coffee it ends with an ea that you'd think would sound like eee-yah, but no. ea is a bite-down, spit out sound even western europeans don't do right.  Sort of Cah-f'ya (quickly squishing the fya).  Took me a while, and they still served up their special, delicious caffeine solutions even with my Western pronounciation, but I'm getting better at it, and  hey, it took me almost three years to learn how to correctly pronounce the word for bread. Don't ask.

And that i at the end of iasi (yash) like almost any Romanian word with an i at the end of it, well, don't really pronouce it.  You just kind of keep your mouth hanging open as though you might be going to pronounce it, were maybe going to consider pronouncing it, could pronounce it if you wanted to, but, well, not right now. Bucharest? Nah.  Bucuresti. Pronounced Bue-cuh-resht (half whisper out breathe mouth open) eh.  

Except, of course if there are two i's, which often means that there are more than one of whatever the thing is that, when you spell it, it ends with an i, but adding another makes it plural. Clear? So with two ii's,  pronounce one of them.  I usually chose the first one, but you don't have to. Still with me so far?  And don't even get me started on words with three i's.

But I digress. (Like that's somethingh new, right?)  Back to Yash. Ok, Ok, for the purists: Iasi.

I'm going to skip the history lesson.  Well, as much as possible.  Iasi, like a lot of Romania seemed to be on the road to everywhere.  So all the 13th, 14th and 15th+++ centurians, passing through looked around, said, "Hmmm, nice place to raise us some sheeps (sic) I think I'll take it over." and came, saw and concurred. Not just in Iasi, all over Romania. Turks, Saxons, Austro-Hungarians, Aryans, Capitalists,
later and most recently the Russians, Multi-nationals,  and of course, originally, the  Romans from whence Roman-ia, the country with an italianate language that they claim is easy to understand if you speak Italian (NOT!) A language that could use 3 i's just to call the bunch of kids copiii. (ko-pee-ee) the i of which you pronounce two out of three times, your choice. Cool, huh!

I've only been in Iasi for an hour or so, checked into the best 4 star hotel I've found in Eastern Europe so far, and decided to let you know where I was today. So far.  (The Select Hotel - just in case you're coming soon to Iasi) having debarked from the overnight train from Bucuresti.  There is suppossed to be a building here built in 1300 something.  Maybe I'll go look it up on the net later. Or you can. Maybe we will even go find it and take a nice tourist picture for you so that you can say in your own virtual way that you've seen it too.  But that's not the point.

The point is that a) Iasi is seriously old, (600 years and counting) and b) it isn't the first thing you see when you get off the train (Just before you notice the magnificent Byzantine designed spectacular train station facade.) The first thing you notice is, I won't keep you in suspense here, the McDonald's.

I'm here to find out why the people of Yash don't drink all that much milk.  So I can go back to Bucharest and figrue out how to make them to change their minds.

We have two focus groups here this evening, and all morning till 16:00 (That's four o'clock to us Ami's)  to figure out what else to tell you about Iasi besides how to pronounce it.

La Revedere pentru acum. Arrividerci for now.



Radu said...

Some Romanian names are funny to spell in English.

Like Ionel (Yonell, not Ai-o-nel).

~Robin said...

I just learned more romanian in your blog post than hours listening to the cd set I bought-very helpful stuff, multumesc!