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Review of A simplified grammar of the Roumanian language

posted June 19th, 2013

A simplified grammar of the Roumanian language. By R. Torceanu. (LINCOM gramatica 51.) LINCOM Europa, 2011. Pp. 79. ISBN 9783862900374. $22.99.

Reviewed by John Ryan, University of Northern Colorado

A simplified grammar of the Roumanian language by R. Torceanu was originally published in 1883 with the same title by Trübner & Co. of London as part of a series of ‘simplified grammars’. A reminder of the book’s age is the former English spelling of ‘Roumanian’, now considered obsolete, which has been preserved in the title of the new edition. The book is divided into ten unnumbered major sections (numbered here for convenience) which correspond to the Romanian alphabet, eight of the major parts of speech, and syntax. The book’s preface provides a short introduction to the external history of the Romanian language and a brief description of where in the world it was spoken at the time the book was written.

Section 1 begins with a list of the Romanian alphabet, followed by five pages of ‘phonetic remarks’, or ‘hints’ as the author suggests since there is not enough room for a more exhaustive account. The focus is primarily on the pronunciation of the vowels. Sections 2 through 8, which comprise the principal focus of the book, pertain to Romanian grammar in terms of each of the parts of speech. The subject of Section 2 is nouns and covers such areas as gender (masculine, feminine, and neuter), pluralization, and accent/intonation. Closely related is the topic of Section 3, the article, the explanation of which is dependent on the previously covered explanations of gender. This section finishes with a short explanation of the cases of nouns.

Section 4 presents the use of the adjective, including formation of the feminine from the masculine, comparisons of inequality, and numerals. Section 5 treats the use of pronouns, both standard use and abbreviated forms of the genitive and dative. The section ends with corresponding subsections on reflexive, possessive, demonstrative, interrogative, relative, and indeterminate pronouns. Section 6, the longest of sections, covers the use of verbs. Beginning with the formation of the three auxiliary verbs in all its tenses, discussion then proceeds to a comprehensive treatment of regular verbs and formation of all tenses for all three conjugations. The section ends with short subcomponents on the passive voice, reflexives, and irregular and impersonal verbs.

The last three sections of the book relevant to the parts of speech are adverbs (Section 7), prepositions (Section 8), and conjunctions and interjections (Section 9). Section 10, the final section of the book, pertains to syntax and provides a more detailed explanation of the use of cases of nouns and also of how the different parts of speech interact syntactically.

This book will make an adequate resource for students needing very basic information about structures in Romanian, particularly the use of verbs. For a more comprehensive treatment of grammatical structures, students might find some other, more current, resource more helpful.