Short history of how the Romanian people came to be
Unlike what most people think Romanians are not a sub-category of Russia nor are they a Slavic people.
Depending on how much world history&geography you know, you’d be more or less surprised to find out that while surrounded by Slavic countries and the Black Sea, Romanians are of Roman origins (Roma, Romania, doh!). Their language is very similar to Italian, Spanish and French and almost not at all with Russian, Polish, Serbian or other Slavic languages. One of the exceptions is “da”, meaning “yes” which is the same in Russian and Bulgarian as far as I know.
I guess the reason why foreigners can’t say if Romania is a country in Africa, a city in Russia or a fancy dish is because although Romania was economically flourishing between 1918-1930s, our whore-ish behavior during WWII (we fought with the Germans than cheated on them with the Allies) brought on 45 years of communism which propelled everything in the Middle Ages. And all connections with the outside world were cut in the bud.
To most foreigners when asked about Romania, 3 names come to mind: Nadia Comaneci, Ceausescu and Dracula. And more often than not they are disappointed to find out that no, Dracula is actually not Romanian, but as American as Coca-Cola or the McDonald’s clown. Bummer!
Now back to the Romans.
The Romans had the habit of conquering other peoples in Europe, they had the veni, vidi, vici bug. The Gauls were invaded and the melange Romans+Gauls became France as we know it today. The Iberians and the Basques were also invaded and thus the Spanish were born.
The territory of Romania as we know it today was inhabited by the Dacians, a “sub-tribe” of the Thracians. The Dacians were invaded and conquered by the Romans in ~100 AD and the mixture later became the Romanians.
End of short history
Now back to what I actually had to tell you.
One of the former presidents of Romania, a guy who in his youth probably learnt only Russian, the official foreign language in all communist countries, was stubborn enough to speak English whenever he attended any international congresses or summits.
Now let me tell you something else. Learning English in your adulthood is friggin’ hard. I mean rolling the Rs and saying the THs, come on, as my mother says, this stuff can cause tongue fractures. It’s easier if you start when you’re young. Something to do with a youngster’s brain being very sponge-like and quick at assimilating new things.
This president I was telling you about, could not for the life of him roll the Rs or pronounce the THs properly and instead blurted out a strong, bulky Mother Russia R, and an equally communism-alluding zah or a dah instead of ‘the’.
Combine this crippled pronunciation with a severely suffering vocabulary in English and you get the perfect recipe for a disastrously embarrassing but undeniably hilarious speech.
For right when you thought that Bush holds the gold medal for presidential idiotic speeches told in front of many, many people, you hear the words “zah ducks come from zah trucks” come out of another president’s mouth. So then, what are you, English language speaker supposed to think, not knowing that the man has performed a English-Romanian fusion with no anesthesia and what he actually means is “the Dacians come from the Thracians”. (The Romanian word for Dacian is “Dac” pronounced like “duck” and Thracian is “Trac” pronounced like “truck’” without the rolled R).
Are you thinking that somewhere in the country led by this man eight-wheelers are mysteriously spawning yellow ducklings? It’s either that or the president is trying to explain how through molecular manipulations a truck can be transformed into a duck.
Mommy, mommy! Where do ducks come from?
Why from trucks, Timmy, of course.