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The Psychological and Spiritual Profile of the Romanian People in Relation to Romanian Language
article [ Regional ]

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by [donaris ]

2010-01-20  |   

Literary Translation - Translations of classic and original poetry and other materialsThis text is a follow-up  | 

The spiritual identity of the Romanian people, suggestively named by some researchers, the soul of the Romanian people, is a complex subject, which has aroused, along time, the interest of a large number of psychologists, philosophers, historians, ethnologists or Romanian or foreign writers who put forward, everyone in his turn, a very rich variety of opinions, sometimes contradictory, but most often complementary, putting together an attractive documentary material for those interested in this domain and very useful to those who wish to approach it from the standpoint of the research.
I will try further on to accomplish a short historic of the researches in this field and of the stated points of view.

Without referring to the indirect mentioning of this matter of some Romanian Chroniclers such as Grigore Ureche or Miron Costin, the first scholar who made an elaborated study regarding the spiritual profile of the Romanians, in this case of the Moldavians, was Dimitrie Cantemir, ruler of Moldavia, an encyclopaedic personality with an European renown of the 18th century who, in his work Description of Moldavia, tries to define this profile, dwelling on the prevailing psychical and character traits of the Romanians from Moldavia and reviewing some of the beliefs, superstitions and their habits. Very objectively, he noted some qualities but also many shortcomings of his countrymen, pointing out, especially, the very low desire to learn, to literacy and the bad opinion about it. Among the qualities, the scholar distinguished in what concerns the Moldavians, their hospitality (Cantemir 1936: 214-221).

After a long period of time in which the spiritual profile of the Romanians wasn’t systematically studied by the researchers, only in the 20th century, a large number of authors, belonging to some varied domains, were interested in the matter, approaching it from all the perspectives.
A very interesting work is the ample study of the philosopher and sociologist Dumitru Drãghicescu entitled ,,From Romanian People's Psychology''. The author considers, as a decisive factor for the spiritual profile of the Romanian people, the ethnic elements, which form it. Thus, from blending the Dacian with the Roman element would have resulted, according to the quoted author’s opinion, a brave people, with a tenacious will, sense of order and sacrifice and “inquisitive cleverness”. Beside these qualities, Drãghicescu mentions, among the prevailing shortcomings of the Romanians, their passivity and the “defensive, resigned resistance” (Drãghicescu 1907: 448, 488). From the latter characteristic, very realistically surprised by the author, the Romanians made often for themselves renown, especially in the communist period. The Romanian philosopher Emil Cioran in his work The Transfiguration of Romania argued this tendency of the Romanians towards the defensive resistance also.

About the psychology of the Romanian people was also interested the philosopher and psychologist Constantin Rãdulescu-Motru in many works, among them the conference entitled ,,The Soul of Our People'', in which he identifies, among the prevalent characteristics of this people, the gregariousness, considered by him “an ordinary state of being at young peoples” and which would have been favourable to the Romanians in the past, contributing to preserving their ethnic identity (Rãdulescu Motru 1990: 12-14).

Original and full of essence is also the work ,,The Romanian Dimension of Existence'', of the philosopher Mircea Vulcãnescu, in which he enumerates, among the prevalent characteristics of the Romanian people, the lack of “the feeling of the gravity of being”, having as consequence “the easiness in facing life”, characteristic remarked also by the French politician Raymond Poincaré, former president of France, who considered that in Romania everything is dealt with easily (Vulcãnescu 1944: 34-41).

But, maybe neither of the Romanian researchers was so seriously and profoundly involved in the Romanian people’s spirituality as the philosopher and the poet Lucian Blaga. He observes, in many of his works, among which ,,The Trilogy of Culture'' stands out, as the most important characteristics of the Romanians: the harmony, discretion, the developed aesthetic sense, also referring to a possible withdrawal from the history, isolation into an out of time age, eternal, compensated, though, through a strong and profound introversion, which was successful especially in what concerns the morals and in the art field. This tendency of the Romanians towards the lasting dimension of the existence, seeming to be sprang from a hidden wish of stopping the time or, at least, to slow down its quick passing, is so beautifully portrayed as well in Blaga’s poem entitled ,,The Soul of the Village'', from which I quote the following lines:

„I think eternity was born in the village.
Here any thought is slower,
and your heart beats more seldom,
as if it were not beating within your chest,
but deep down in the ground.”

But the absolute artistic expression of dream of eternity, which characterized from ancient times the Romanian people, is the well-known and impressive tale ,,Youth without Old Age and Life without Death'', unique, probably, in the world literature.

Among the foreign authors who referred, in their works, to the Romanians, I will mention only the Spanish Romόn de Basterra who in his work ,,Trajan’s Achievements'', notices, among the traits of the Romanian people, the simple grandeur, discretion, sobriety, wisdom, “the archaic characteristic” and serenity: “nowhere else I have found something comparable with the distinguished and simple grandeur and with the archaic characteristic which the commoners breath.
The native who descends from an old family appears to be surrounded by a restrained quiet, he moves little, he tends to a statuary posture. (…) Neither to happiness, nor to sorrow, he does not loose his temper. He keeps in any circumstances a serene and moderate attitude: as if his sensitive nature of a commoner would have resulted from a kind and merry wisdom.” (Basterra 1921, quoted after ,,România Literarã'' nr. 10, from 1978).

Starting from the above-mentioned researches, I will try to accomplish, in this paper, a psychological, spiritual and cultural profile of the Romanian people, connecting it to that of another Indo-European peoples, more or less geographically near. I will also specify that from the Romanian people’s profile referred before, I will highlight especially those characteristics that belong to its ancestral background, and, as the most distant ancestors of the Romanians known until now, because of their names, are the Dacians, this study will try to establish a correlation between the Romanian linguistic elements of Dacian origin and certain psychical, spiritual and sometimes cultural characteristics of the Romanians. The readers may notice that a part of the traits I will analyze in the paper could be also found in the researches I referred to at the beginning of this study, but, in addition, will be pointed out some new ones.

I divided the paper into three sections. In the first, I will analyse the correlations between the phonetic characteristics of the Romanian language and the spiritual profile of the Romanians, and in the second and third part, between the lexical and respectively grammatical characteristics and the spiritual profile mentioned before.

I. The first significant phonetic trait of the Romanian language, inherited from the Dacian and Slavic languages, is a certain rudimentary mark of a part of the vocabulary, from which results both a characteristic, somehow negative, that of a certain primitiveness of this part of the language, but also others positive such as strength, vigour, as content feature on one hand, and a certain grave musicality and plasticity, as eloquent features, on the other hand. The mentioned characteristic is given especially by the recurrence of the consonants ,,b'', ,,g'', ,,v'' and ,,z'', into an entirely series of terms, alone or in combination of two or three sounds. Here are some examples of terms of this kind, inherited from the Dacian language:
1. Terms that contain the sound ,,b'' combined with ,,g'': baligã [´baligə] (dung), (a) bãga [bə´ga] (to put into), bãrãgan [bərə´gan] (steppe), (a) bâigui [bəigu´i] bulgãre [´bulgəre] (ball), buturugã [butu´rugə] (stump), (a) gãbji [gəb´зi] (to seize), (a) grãbi [grə´bi] (to quicken), jgheab [зgæb] (eaves), (a) îmbârliga [əmbərli´ga] (to coil up), (a) înjgheba [ənзge´ba] (to scrape together), neghiob [ne´gįob] (clumsy).
2. Terms that contain the sound ,,b'' combined with ,,z'': barzã [´barzə] (stork), brânzã [´brənzə] (cheese), bulz [bulz] (lump of hominy with cheese inside it), buzã [´buzə] (lip), (a) dezbãra [dezbə´ra] (to wean smb. from), (a) îmbulzi [əmbul´zi] (to crowd), (a se) zbânþui [zbəntsu´i] (to gambol), (a se) zbârci [zbər´t∫i] (to get wrinkles), (a) zbârli [zbər´li] (to bristle up), (a) zbiera [zbje´ra] (to bellow), (a) zburda [zbur´da] (to frisk), zâmbre [´zəmbre] (flaps).
3. Terms that contain the sound ,,g'' combined with ,,z'': gâzã [´gəzə] (flying insect), grumaz [gru´maz] (neck), grunz [grunz] (clod), (a) îngurzi [əngur´zi] (to fold), mâzgã [´məzgə] (slime), zgancã [´zgankə] (crust), zgardã [´zgardə] (dog collar), (a se) zgâi [zgə´i] (to stare), (a) zgâlþâi [zgəltsə´i] (to shake), (a) zgândãri [zgəndə´ri] (to embitter), (a) zgâria [zgəri´a] (to scrape), (a) zgorni [zgor´ni] (to banish), (a) zgrepþãna [zgreptsə´na] (to scratch), zgrunþuros [zgruntsu´ros] (rough), (a)zgudui [zgudu´i] (to convulse), zgurã [´zgurə] (dross).
4. Terms which contain the sound ,,z'' combined with ,,b'' and ,,g'': zbârciog [zbər´t∫iog] (morel), zgaibã [´zgajbə] (crust), (a se) zbengui [zbengu´i] (to gambol), (a o) zbughi [zbu´gi] (to scamper), (a se) zgâmboi [zgəmbo´i] (to grimace), (a se) zgribuli] [zgribu´li] (to huddle oneself up).

In what concerns the mirroring of the above-mentioned characteristic in the psychology and the life of the Romanians, it is easily to ascertain, even to a concise analysis of the traditional occupations, of the costume, of the habits and of its usual behaviour. The specific occupation of the Romanians is breeding, especially the sheep, and its primitive characteristic (especially in the conditions it is carried out, in mountain areas, forestry) doesn’t need to be proven. In what concerns the behaviour, there can be observed a certain inflexibility and resistance to change of a large part of the Romanians, traits characteristic especially to the people with a simple heart, less refined and complicated. These traits are characteristic especially to the less taught persons, but not only, and to them is closely connected the powerful religious conservatism of the Romanians and their strong opposition towards other religions but Orthodox, considered, by many researchers, as being an important element which contributed along the history to preserving the ethnic identity.

Ascribing the Romanian language to other Indo-European languages, in what concerns the above-mentioned rudimentary character of a part of its vocabulary, there can be ascertained that this characteristic is met even to a greater extent, in some Slavic languages, especially in Ukrainian, Russian, Bulgarian, Albanese, in some Celtic languages, such as Irish and to a less extent, in the Germanic idioms. It is interesting to discuss here, for example, the Romanian word ,,vãgãunã'' [vəgə´unə] (hollow), compared with his English correspondent ,,vug'' < Celtic dialect. ,,vooga'' (hollow in the rock), and his Albanese homologue ,,vurg(u)'' (marshy hollow ).
In all the three languages, the quoted terms have an eloquent component, easily to observe, being obvious that at naming, in Indo-European, the respective form of relief, they took into account precisely the sonorous expressiveness, with semantic function, of the word, fact frequently met, as a matter of fact, at naming the notions in Indo-European. Then, worth to be observed is the fact that in the Romanian language the term’s expressivity was increased by the vowel ,,ã'' (doubled) from the root and by adding the ending ,,- unã''. A similar sonority with a somehow negative connotation has the Romanian word ,,mãtrãgunã'' [mətrə´gunə] (belladonna), also of Dacian origin. Beyond the vocation, we might even say the linguistic genius of the people who created these words, their signification in the psychological and anthropological field is that those people must have had a certain kind of mood on the moment of naming, due to the unfavourable historic conditions which would have compelled them to live long time into such hollows, used as shelter or retreat. The same suggestive and expressive, both from the sound and the semantic perspective, are the words: ,,buturugã'' (stump), ,,mâzgã'' (slime), ,,vlãjgan'' (stalwart fellow), ,,(a se) zbengui'' (to gambol), ,,zgaibã'' (crust), ,,(a se) zgâi'' (to stare), ,,(a) zgrepþãna'' (to scratch), ,,(a se) zgribuli'' (to huddle oneself up) and so on.

I have shown that the Germanic languages have a less rudimentary character than the Romanian language, but they are more rigid and firm, because of their consonantism, more accentuated. The correspondent of this trait in the psychological field is a greater sobriety and seriousness of the speakers of these languages compared with the Romanians and moreover, with the members of the Romance peoples in general. The reverse of this situation is the less sociable character of the Germanics, their well-known coldness, compared with the warmth and with the affectivity which characterises the Romanians. From the linguistic point of view, Romanians’ affectivity mirrors in the frequent usage of the diminutives, which are almost absent in the Germanic languages. Another European language in which the diminutives are largely used is Italian, and Italians are also well-known for their affectivity, fact observed also by the linguist Sextil Puºcariu in his work ,,The Romanian Language'' (Puºcariu 1940: 52-54). In what concerns the Germanic languages’ consonantism, it is the most prominent in the German language, and may be connected with the well-known leaning towards war of the speakers of these languages. Consonantal languages have also the Albanians and the Serbians, peoples known as well for their harsh character, even pugnacious of their members.

Opposite to the mentioned rudimentary character and much better represented in the Romanian language is it’s profound musical and poetic character, remarked, among other poets also by the great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda who considered the Romanian language “eminently poetic”. At the basis of this musicality are, of course, the Latin elements of the Romanian language, which make it more similar to the Italian language, one of the most euphoric languages of the world. Not upon this musicality I will insist on but upon other, which gives the Romanian language an original characteristic among the Indo-European languages, namely, the musicality of its terms of Dacian origin, which can be easily observed, even only quoting a list of terms. Here are some of them: ,,plai'' [plaj] (foothill), ,,brad'' [brad] (fir tree), ,,codru'' [´kodru] (wood), ,,pãdure'' [pə´dure] (forest), ,,mugur'' [´mugur] (sprout), ,,gorun'' [go´run] (durmast), ,,deal'' [dæl] (hill), ,,mãgurã'' [´məgurə] (hillock), ,,genune'' [dзe´nune] (abyss), ,,arin'' [a´rin] (alder), ,,anin'' [a´nin] (variant of arin), ,,zare'' [´zare] (distance), ,,departe'' [de´parte] (far away), ,,doinã'' [´dojnə] (Romanian folk song), ,,fluier'' [´flujer] (pipe), ,,tilincã'' [ti´linkə] (flute), ,,ceaþã'' [´t∫ætsə] (fog), ,,negurã'' [´negurə] (mist), ,,abur'' [´abur] (steam), ,,rãcoare'' [rə´koare] (chill), ,,boare'' [´boare] (whiffet), ,,vãpaie'' [və´paje] (flame), ,,viscol'' [´viskol] (blizzard), ,,adia'' [adi´ja] (to breeze), ,,lan'' [lan] (field), ,,claie'' [´klaje] (rick), ,,murg'' [murg] (dark bay), ,,amurg'' [a´murg] (dusk), ,,brânduºã'' [brən´du∫ə] (colchicum), ,,mãceº'' [mə´t∫e∫] (wild rose), ,,pãpãdie'' [pəpə´dije] (dandelion), ,,albinã'' [al´binə] (bee), ,,cintezã'' [´t∫intezə] (chaffinch), ,,graur'' [´graur] (starling), ,,ºoim'' [∫ojm] (falcon), ,,buburuzã'' [bubu´ruzə] (sevenspotted lady beetle), ,,bibilicã'' [bibi´likə] (helmeted guinea fowl), ,,rãsãri'' [rəsə´ri] (to rise), ,,picura'' [piku´ra] (to drip), ,,legãna'' [legə´na] (swing), ,,mângâia'' [məngə´ja] (to caress), ,,bucura'' [buku´ra] (to gladden), ,,privi'' [pri´vi] (to look), ,,anina'' [ani´na] (to hang), ,,îmbia'' [əmbi´ja] (to urge), ,,dor'' [dor] (longing), ,,dori'' [do´ri] (to wish), ,,pleoapã'' [´pleoapə] (eyelid), ,,comoarã'' [ko´moarə] (treasure), ,,gingaº'' [´dзinga∫] (delicate), ,,copil'' [ko´pil] (child), clipã [´klipə] (moment), ,,minune'' [mi´nune] (wonder) ,,minunat'' [minu´nat] (delightful), ,,licãri'' [likə´ri] (to sparkle), ,,lãmuri'' [ləmu´ri] (to clarify), ,,duioºie'' [dujo´∫ije] (gentleness), ,,gânguri'' [gəngu´ri] (to prattle) etc.
The peculiar beauty of these terms emphasizes a poetic-musical sensitiveness of the Romanian people’s soul, being in a perfect concord with the poetic beauty of the places on which they lived for thousands of years, and which influenced their rich folk creation. Paradoxically, this poetic sensibility is in contrast with the bitterness of the life Romanians had, they being compelled to bear, along their history, long series of invasions, wars and oppressions. And we have already shown the way in which the bitterness of life led by the Romanians mirrored in the language.

But maybe nothing mirrors better this blending of harshness and violence, on one hand, and candidness, sensibility and delicacy, on the other, than the ballad ,,Mioriþa'' [mio´ritsa] (The Little Ewe) which is nothing else than the story of a plotted crime which is about to be done into a wonderful landscape, a true piece of heaven.
It is well-known, especially by the Romanians, the theme of this ballad, in which two shepherds, a Transylvanian and a Wallachian, plot the murder of their Moldavian sheep breeding companion and the latter, being warn by his favourite ewe about the schemed murder, and, without leaving the impression of taking some precautions, makes up a lyric testament of a great artistic beauty, in which his tragic end is allegorically presented under the form of a magnificent cosmic wedding, to which death will be his bride, conveyed as a “beautiful queen”; the witnesses will be the Sun and the Moon; singers – the sky’s birds; the wedding guests - firs and maple trees; and the torches – the stars of the night sky.
Even at a brief analysis of the ballad, the resigned reaction of the Moldavian shepherd in front of death may seem rather odd, his behaviour being of a true pagan martyr who not only doesn’t fear death, he is even somehow fascinated by it, in other words by the life after death. But this serenity in front of death doesn’t diminish at all the hero’s powerful emotional attachment to his dear sheep, which he wishes to spare of his violent end, and especially to his “old mother” who he imagines desperately lopping about, searching for him, like a true Mater Dolorosa, into an excruciating description of a tragic lyricism.

The inborn predisposition of the Romanians, borrowed perhaps from the music of nature, which has always been so familiar to them, also determined the changing of a large number of terms inherited from Latin, with the aim of increasing their musicality. An example is the diphthongization of the sounds ,,o'', ,,e'', and ,,i'', in certain positions, in a large number of Latin words, resulting, this way, a greater musicality of the respective terms. Thus, the Latin word ,,sol'' becomed ,,soare'' [´soare] (sun), the L. ,,porta'' becomed ,,poartã'' [´poartə] (gate), the L. ,,herba'' become iarbã [´jarbə] (grass), the L. ,,hiberna'' become ,,iarnã'' [´jarnə] (winter), the L. ,,gena'' become ,,geanã'' [´dзænə] (eyelash) etc. Surely, all these changes were unintentional, all happened spontaneously, and they weren’t even aware of the resulted musicality, as the birds that sing aren’t aware of the beauty of their song.

II. In what concerns the vocabulary, the first interesting observation is that the term ,,pãmânt'' [pə´mənt] (ground) has a Dacian origin, consequently, it is very old, and it’s ancientness is a proof of the Romanians’ great constancy, from far away times, on the places they live in the present, constancy recognized by the almost every researchers, excepting some, who, for especially political reasons, had maintained without proofs the Romanians’ arrival from other territories on those they inhabit now. This unbroken living of the Romanians on these lands, from the most ancient times, gave an archaic character so obvious to their beliefs and traditions, to the folk culture and the language they speak, archaic character noticed by majority of the foreigners who had come, in some way or another, in contact with the Romanians or with their culture. In what concerns the language, it’s archaic character results especially from the fact that in the Romanian language we find a large number of words which it has in common with the Albanian or the Sanskrit, languages well-known for their archaic character, and even words which no longer appear in other language than in Romanian, such as: afin [´afin] (bilberry), bârfi [bər´fi] (to gossip), bobârnac [bobər´nak] (fillip), bojoc [bo´зok] (lung), brânzã (cheese), bulz (ball), caier [´kajer] (bundle), cãtinã [kə´tinə] (box thorn), cârlan [kər´lan] (yearling), ciocârlie [t∫okər´lije] (skylark), cocoþa [koko´tsa] (to mount; to settle), corcoduºã [korko´du∫ə] (wax cherry), cormanã [kor´manə] (earth board), cotor [ko´tor] (stalk), cotrobãi [kotrobə´i] (to rummage), covergã [ko´vergə] (shed), crâncen [´krənt∫en] (fiery), cumplit [kum´plit] (terrible), descotorosi [deskotoro´si] (to rid), deºucheat [de∫u´kæt] (madcap), dezmierda [dezmjer´da] (to fondle), dibaci [di´bat∫] (skilled), flãmând [flə´mənd] (hungry), funigel [funi´dзel] (harvest mite), ghiftui [giftu´i] (to stuff), ghizd [gizd] (casing - of a well), gudura [gudu´ra] (to fawn), împresura [əmpresu´ra] (to encircle), întãrâta [əntərə´ta] (to excite), întâmpina [əntəmpi´na] (to greet), întrema [əntre´ma] (to recover) înverºuna [ənver∫u´na] (to become bitter), mãceº [mə´t∫e∫] (wild rose), namilã [´namilə] (thurse), nãscoci [nəsko´t∫i] (to invent), nãtâng [nə´təng] (foolosh), piþigoi [pitsi´goj] (titmouse), plãpând [plə´pənd] (delicate), prunc [prunk] (baby), rãbda [rəb´da] (to endure, to bear), þurcanã [tsur´kanə] (sheep with long wool), vizuinã [vizu´inə] (burrow), zãpadã [zə´padə] (snow), zbici [zbi´t∫i] (to dry), zbuciuma [zbut∫u´ma] (to agitate) etc.

To this archaic character of the language, of the beliefs and of the Romanians’ traditions is also closely connected their well-known wisdom, mirrored in the great richness of the paremiologic expressions (of the proverbs and the sayings). This Romanian popular wisdom was remarked by a large number of Romanian and foreign culture men (ethnologists, folklorists, writers), among them being also Romon de Basterra, whom we have already quoted in the work. Again, the simple wisdom, belonging to the peasants, in relation with sobriety and candour, characteristics specific to the Romanians as well, inspired the famous sculpture of Brâncuºi, ,,Wisdom of the Earth'', equaling over time the same famous Neolithic statuette ,,The Thinker of Hamangia''.

Looking down the list of terms remarked for their musicality, from the first section of the paper, there can be observed that three important words for the Romanian people, as we will further see, such as: ,,codru'' [´kodru] (wood), ,,pãdure'' [pə´dure] (forest), ,,brad'' [brad] (fir), to which is added ,,crâng'' [krəng] (grove), are all of Dacian origin, fact that certifies once more, that the well-known vocation for the forest of the Romanians dates from ancient times and maintained itself unchanged along the ages. It appears also in the collocation “the wood – brother with the Romanian”, belonging to Mihai Eminescu, the greatest poet of the Romanians, a true accumulation of sensibility and talent and their spirituality stored in time, he actually taking over a frequently met idea in the Romanian folklore, that of a communion of man with nature, especially with the forest. Man’s close conjunction with the wood, was permanently so deep imprinted in his soul, so as it had influenced the lexical selection, in such a manner that no Latin term with the meaning of “pãdure” (forest) wasn’t preserved in the language, neither of these terms could manage to replace from the mind of the locals the Dacian words, deeply imbedded into their conscience. To this, probably contributed also the fact that the forest played, in the Romanians’ history, a less important role than in that of the Dacians, and in the Roman Dacia, the Romans’ contact with the forest continued to be little, consequently the Latin words in this field couldn’t come into prominence against the Dacian words, as it happened, for example, in the sheep breeding sphere where the majority of the Romanian words are of Dacian origin: ,,baci'' [bat∫] (shepherd), ,,stânã'' [´stənə] (sheepfold), ,,strungã'' [´strungə] (enclosure), ,,þigaie'' [tsi´gaje] (sheep breed), ,,þurcanã'' [tsur´kanə] (another sheep breed), ,,þap'' [tsap] (male goat), ,,vãtui'' [və´tuj] (kid), ,,brânzã'' (cheese), ,,smântânã'' [smən´tənə] (sour cream), ,,urdã'' [´urdə] (soft whey cheese), ,,zer'' [zer] (whey), ,,saricã'' [´sarikə] (peasant’s fluffy woollen mantle), ,,fluier'' (pipe), ,,tilincã'' (flute), ,,cârlan'' [kər´lan] (yearling) and ,,crintã'' [´krintə] (wooden vessel).

In contrast with the conditions in the Romanian language, in the other main Romance languages there was preserved for the meaning “pãdure” (forest), at least one Latin word having this signification: in Italian, ,,selva'' < L. ,,silva'' and ,,foresta'' < L. ,,forestis''; in Spanish, ,,selva'' and ,,monte''; in Portuguese, ,,selva''; in French, ,,forêt'' “forest’’ and ,,taillis'' “grove’’ < L. ,,taliare''.

We can speak, in what concerns the traditional Romanian, of a powerful feeling of nature, of a wild genuine nature, which we don’t longer find, into such extent, but only to the English poets of the lakes, at the German romanticists and in the novels of the French writer René de Chateaubriand. And in what concerns the sublime and transcendent dimension of nature and of cosmos, so wonderfully rendered in the ballad ,,Mioriþa'', not even the above-mentioned English or German romantic poem did reach such high level. Here are, to illustrate, some verses from this ballad:

,,Near a low foothill
At Heaven’s doorsill,
Where the trail’s descending
To the plain and ending,
Here three shepherds keep
Their three flocks of sheep.
Say I could not tarry,
I have gone to marry
A princess – my bride
Is the whole world’s pride.
At my wedding, tell
How a bright star fell,
Sun and moon came down
To hold my bridal crown,
Firs and maple trees
Were my guests; my priests
Were the mountains high;
Fiddlers, birds that fly,
All birds of the sky;
Torchlights, stars on high!''

Translated by William D. Snodgrass

In what concerns the word ,,brad'' (fir), also mentioned in the list of musical terms, it is very old, and only in Albanian language could be found a similar word, being considered by some linguists pre-Indo-European and by others archaic Indo-European. However, its origin is certainly fading in the immemorial beginning of the Europeans, being one of the oldest words on the continent. In what concerns its psychological impact, the term expresses, through sonority: pride, greatness, physical and moral beauty, and the great importance of this majestic and always green tree has in the fundamental customs of the Romanians, those related to wedding and burial, and in the folklore of these customs, indicates that the Romanians have always identified themselves with it, and like Dacians, their ancestors, ascribing or striving to have its characteristics mentioned above. Significant is also the fact that the name of another important conifer, ,,molidul'' [mo´lidul] (the spruce), comes also from the Dacian language, and those of another conifers, less known, ,,jneapãnul'' [´зnæpənul] or ,,jep'' [зep] (the mountain pine) and ,,zâmbrul'' [´zimbrul] (Swiss stone pine) are of the same origin. From Latin there were preserved the variants ,,pin'' [pin] (pine) and ,,zadã'' [´zadə] (larch tree). Also to be added here, the term ,,copac'' [ko´pak] (tree) has a Dacian origin as well. Its synonym ,,arbore'' [´arbore] (of Latin origin) is a less common word and more rarely used. By its sonority, copac suggests stability and durability, accents that characterize the Romanian people, as well as we have shown above.

The connection between the psychological profile of the Dacians (and implicitly of the Romanians) and nature was also made by the philosopher Anton Dumitriu, in his work ,,Terra mirabilis'', where we may read the following: “the mixture, the blending of the mountains, plains, and waters (…) have determined the anthropological and psychical elements, which were so powerful that they are present even today like some tops without being conscious about the depth of their origin” (Dumitriu 1991: 21). “The history of the Romanian people determined the fate of every Romanian, fate which, as the river does, carries him as on a wave on the path prescribed by geography and time. This is what Eminescu probably felt in the verses (from ,,The Fourth Letter''):

,,Because your lives are all like the flowing waves,
Only the river is eternel: the river is Demiurge.” (ibidem, 18).

But the most original and interesting relation between the Romanians’ spirituality and nature accomplished the philosopher Lucian Blaga, who in the work entitled ,,The Mioritic Space'', belonging to his more ample work ,,The Trilogy of Culture'', characterizes the Romanian people’s soul, relating it to what he calls the mioritic space, a spiritual matrix space corresponding to ,,the plai'' (foothill), established into a hill-valley alternance. Starting from this form of relief, Blaga defines ,,doina'' (Romanian folk song), also representative for the Romanians’ soul, as expressing “the melancholy of a soul, neither too heavy, nor too light, ascending and descending on an indefinite rippled plane (…) farther and farther away, again and again, or the longing of a soul who wants to pass over the hill, seen as an obstacle of fate, and who will always have a hill to pass, or the sadness of a soul whose fate has its ups and downs, rises and falls (…) recurrently, monotonously and eternally”.
The very close and lasting relations of the Romanians with the nature, especially with the forest, endowed them with a special artistic receptivity and sensibility, so as the assertion of the important Romanian writer Vasile Alecsandri that “The Romanian was born poet” has a great extent of truth.

For a better understanding, I will make a specification which I consider very necessary: in the present work I referred more to the Romanian from the pre-communist period, because Communism had so baneful influence upon this country’s people that one can hardly identify the former Romanian – not idealized but as he was in reality, with qualities but also with shortcomings and inherent weaknesses – in that of today, perverted by the political system already mentioned. Consequently, the collocations the psychological and spiritual character of the Romanian people and the soul of the Romanian people refer to the former Romanians and only to a relatively short percentage of the present Romanians, more exactly, to that percentage which hasn’t been reached to a greater extent neither by the extremely baneful influence of the communist system, nor the less baneful, but not less important, influence of the market economy, and of the excessive use of computer which is about to bring forth a superficial man, pragmatic, insensitive and uncultured.

III. The Romanian language, through its rather complicated and irregular grammar, with many exceptions from the linguistic rule, a mixture of synthetic and analytic, mirrors a certain tendency of an important part of its speakers towards the lack of punctuality and organization, towards not obeying the rules, the laws (the Romanians abide more by the unwritten laws, of the tradition) and of commitments. To the these traits of the Romanians and of their language, contributed, to a certain extent, their ethnic and implicitly linguistic, heterogeneous structure, they resulting from bringing together different percentage of Dacian, Roman and Slavic elements, predominanting of course the Dacian element, specifying that the Roman element was, as we emphasized, very heterogeneous as well, being formed especially from colonists belonging to different ethnic communities being brought from different provinces of the Empire, rather than genuine Roman inhabitants. There are still two remarks to be done here: the first is that at pointing out the negative traits already mentioned contributed other factors too, a very important one being the long periods in which the Romanians were under the domination or influence of some people with a questionable backward civilisation (Avars, Cumans, Petchenegs, Tartars, Turks etc.), and the second that the respective traits have an unequal distribution in the different Romanian historic provinces, in Transylvania for example, they being diminished for reasons upon which I won’t insist here. Finally, here must be added that in the future through people’s travelling and the exchange of experience between the Romanians and other peoples, we may hope for a significant diminishing of the enumerated negative traits and, on the other hand, that the Romanian people convey to the other peoples the undeniable qualities they have, such as: hospitality, communicability, stability, kindness and so forth, many of them being mentioned in the present work.

I have tried, in the present work, to remark some of the most representative psychical and spiritual traits of the Romanian people, heir of the Dacians’ and Romans’ genetic and spiritual dowry, placing the mentioned traits in a permanent relation with the characteristic traits of the Romanian language. Without claiming that this is an exhaustive approach of the matter, I believe though, I succeeded to make clear some general and essential aspects, following that the acquired results to serve in the future at carrying out a more ample and extensive work. So as the points of view expressed here to be as correct as possible and less questionable, I tried, as much as possible, to remain within the limits of the scientific objectivity, mandatory obligation, essential, in order to achieve a lasting work.


Basterra, Romon de, ,,La orba de Trajano'' (Trajan’s Achievements), Madrid, 1921.
Blaga, Lucian, ,,Spaþiul mioritic'' (The Mioritic Space), in ,,Opere'', vol. 9, Bucureºti: Minerva, 1985.
Blaga, Lucian, ,,Sufletul satului'' (The Soul of the Village), in ,,Poezii'', Bucureºti: Albatros, 1980.
Cantemir, Dimitrie, ,,Descrierea Moldovei'' (Description of Moldavia), Bucureºti: Tipografiile Române Unite, 1936.
Drãghicescu, Dumitru, ,,Din psihologia poporului român'' (From Romanian People’s Psychology), Bucureºti: 1907.
Dumitriu, Anton, ,,Terra mirabilis’’, in vol. ,,Retrospective'', Bucureºti: Tineretului, 1991.
Puºcariu, Sextil, ,,Limba românã'' (The Romanian Language), Bucureºti: Fundaþia Pentru Literaturã Universalã ºi Artã, 1940.
Rãdulescu-Motru, Constantin, ,,Sufletul neamului nostru'' (The Soul of Our People), Bucureºti: Anima, 1990.
Vulcãnescu, Mircea, ,,Dimensiunea româneascã a existenþei'' (The Romanian Dimension of Existence), Bucureºti, 1944.

photo: Asif Akbar

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