https://www.duolingo.com/KevanSF

Finished my Romanian tree & some comments on the course

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I finally finished my Romanian tree. It took quite awhile, considering I started the course the day it came out, and this tree is on the shorter end. (I took some breaks.)

General notes:

Romanian doesn't get a lot of love or attention here in the US, possibly because it isn't considered an important language to learn, as the Romanian population and economy are relatively small, and Romania isn't a common tourist destination for us.

Further, Romanian isn't as common an ancestry in America, unlike, say Irish, Swedish, German, Italian, Greek, Polish, etc. (Other than for business reasons, Americans most often learn a language due to family heritage/cultural reasons.)

Additionally, we Americans generally have a very limited attention span when it comes to language learning in general (present company excluded), and most of that limited energy is directed at "major" languages such as Spanish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Chinese.

So its rarity was one reason I wanted to finish the Romanian tree, but my main reason is my background in Romance languages. Italian is my main L2, but I've studied French and Spanish extensively, Portuguese a good deal, and Catalan a bit. Romanian completes my "collection" of major Romance languages, in a manner of speaking.

Thoughts on the course:

Although the tree is a bit on the short side, it seems fairly complete. I would have liked to see a "cultural" unit focusing on Romanian foods, traditions, holidays, tourist attractions, sports, literary figures, things like that. A very little bit of cultural info was scattered throughout the course, but not to the level of other language trees, such as Danish or Russian, for example.

The tree lacked the humor I appreciated in many of the other languages, especially Danish and German.

The notes and grammar explanations were fair, but they inexplicably disappeared about 2/3 through the tree. There was no info or explanation of any kind for important topics such as subjunctive, past, future, impersonal reflexive constructions, and conditional. I think that's a great loss, as well as a fine opportunity for future improvement.

One thing that kind of irked me was that on the multiple choice questions there were almost always 2 (or occasionally even 3) correct answers. It seems like every single sentence had multiple correct answers or way of phrasing, with little or no explanation. Some of the words in the multiple choice were introduced in the multiple choice and used only there. Given the lack of explanations, I found it a little confusing.

Compared to Italian:

I've heard people say that Romanian has a lot in common with Italian. I didn't find that to be the case. Spanish and Italian are far more similar, both grammatically as well as in vocabulary.

There are a couple of words (very few) that are the same in Romanian and Italian (ieri and voi are the two that spring to mind), and pretty much everything else is different.

One commonality between Italian and Romanian is that plurals are formed by changing end vowels rather than by adding an "s" as in Fr, Sp, Port.

Romanian vocabulary and grammar definitely make it the "odd man out" among the RL.

(She always closes the window before dining.)

Italian: (Lei) chiude sempre la finestra prima di cenare.

Spanish: (Ella) siempre cierra la ventana antes de cenar/comer.

Port.: (Ela) fecha sempre a janela antes de jantar.

French: Elle ferme toujours la fenêtre avant de dîner/souper.

Catalan: (Ella) sempre tanca/clou la finestra abans de sopar.

Romanian: Ea închide întotdeauna fereastra înainte de a cina.

(Notice the "the" (usually "la" in the other languages in this example) becomes an "a" and gets stuck to the end of the word for "window" in Romanian. This is a great example of what I mean by Romanian being the "odd man out" among the RL. There were tons of other oddities about the language as well.)

(The sentences were taken from Wikipedia, if you disagree with them, let Wikipedia know. They seem correct based on my knowledge, but of course, there are always multiple ways to say things in any language.)

Final notes:

No, I'm not fluent in Romanian after completing the tree (someone is bound to ask that). Frankly, no one could ever be fluent in any language after just doing a Duolingo tree.

I can't even hold a basic conversation in Romanian or even say much of anything at all. That wasn't really my goal.

My goal was to complete the tree to get a basic overview of the language, see the different features (grammatical rules, constructions, vocabulary) and how they compare to their equivalents in the other Romance languages, and to have background in the language so that I could further explore it at some later date should the need arise.

I really have no need or special desire to learn Romanian, in that I don't know anyone who speaks the language, and I don't have any imminent plans to go there.

Still, it was a good experience overall. I'd recommend giving it a look if you are familiar with and enjoy other Romance languages.

My appreciation to the volunteers who worked so hard to complete it. I'm hoping that some time in the future some further work could be done to improve and expand the tree.

12/30/2017, 4:37:32 AM

8 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Maughanster_
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Great job completing the tree! I personally got into Romanian not only because of its rarity and beauty, but also because of Romanian history. It never ceases to fascinate me.

12/30/2017, 4:55:24 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/MartenSanden
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Kevan, I agree with almost everything you said, and especially the bit about the missing grammar tips. It's really hard to find a good, concise Romanian grammar book for beginners, and even rarer to come across online exercises (like the ones L'Express has for French, for instance). A solid grammatical overview in the Romanian Duolingo tree would have been a welcome addition to (the few) existing online resources.

12/30/2017, 8:36:52 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Woof.
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Congrats!

12/30/2017, 6:01:58 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Danielconcasco
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Congratulations! As a Latin teacher, Romanian is on my list of languages to dabble in. The Balkan sprachbund is one of the most fascinating topics in linguistics, so I'd love to dabble in all of the languages involved (one day ;)).

12/31/2017, 8:20:58 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss
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Hi Kevan,

it was interesting for me to read about your experiences and detail summary.

If you want you can test Mondly for Romanian and record yourself on some "voice lessons", or take the VoiceBot challenges.

I took myself a few topics (skills) from the tree for Portuguese BR, where hearing the recorded sound is a nice alternative to all this other TTS stuff....

No, I do NOT know it's course quality - in a "Pros and cons" thread on DuoLingo about Mondly it was said by others, that it greatly varies depending on the target courses and languages.

I am sure that one of the available tree themes may be interesting for you https://www.duolingo.com/comment/23524002/Mondly-languages-added-19-new-topics-to-their-tree

Mondly is like the DuoLingo Android app (which I am testing on several Android emulators on Windows PC).

They use tapping many times (probably too many), so it won't be as hard as the DuoLingo web portal, when you would start a reverse Romanian tree which would force you to write (RECALLING by tying!) in the L2 target language.

I really have no need or special desire to learn Romanian, in that I don't know anyone who speaks the language, and I don't have any imminent plans to go there

You may want to try www.hellolingo.com for chatting :-)

Once you have the chat window open, you can click on the "Voice" button.

12/30/2017, 12:52:35 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss
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I updated my above text and included a link about 19 new topics.

12/30/2017, 1:13:43 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/flootzavut
Plus
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The definite article being on the end of words is characteristic of the Balkan sprachbund. I know it's true of Bulgarian, anyway.

12/30/2017, 10:58:22 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Maughanster_
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It also appears in Scandinavian languages. And, Greek doesn't have that, from what I know, if you consider Greece to be a Balkan country. And from what I know of Albanian (which is very little), there is no definite article (I could be wrong, and if I am, please correct me).

12/31/2017, 3:44:19 AM
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