It is that time of year again.  Cluj Days are just around the corner.  The cactuses are out at the botanical gardens.  This is the perfect opportunity to learn the genitive case.

The genitive case shows ownership, or is used in other situations where you might use the possessive “apostrophe s” in English.

Two examples are: Limba soacrei.  Zilele Clujului.

Who will you take to these events?  Maybe you will go alone, maybe you will go with family and friends.  Or, maybe you will take the in-laws. (socri or socrii.)

Here are a few nouns in the nominitive case.  (Used mostly when the noun is the subject of the sentence).

English  – Romanian indefinite.  – Romanian definite

(a/the) Brother-in-law.  (Un) Cumnat.  Cumnatul.

(a/the) Sister-in-law.  (o) Cumnată.  Cumnata.

(a/the) Father-in-law.  (un) Socru.  Socrul.

(a/the) Mother-in-law.  (o) Soacră.  Soacra.

(a/the) Son-in-law.  (un) Ginere.  Ginerele.

(a/the) Daughter-in-law.  (o) Noră.  Nora.

(a/the) Cactus.  (un) Cactus.  Cactusul.

(a/the) tongue/language.  (o) Limbă.  Limba.

Okay, so can you guess what “limba soacrei” means?

Well, you might catch on a bit quicker if you speak English.  In most latin languages, the genitive case of most nouns is formed with variations of the preposition de/di.  In English, the noun is changed, usually by adding the ending apostrophe s.  In Romanian, the genitive/possessive case is also formed by changing the noun.

The genitive for feminine singular nouns (or names that end in a) in Romanian is usually formed by changing the “a” at the end of the noun to “ei.”

“limba soacrei” is “the mother in law’s tongue.”  What does limba soacrei have to do with the botanical gardens? In the family “cactaceae” we have the Opuntia Engelmannii… Known in English as the “Desert prickly pear.”  However, that doesn’t translate directly to Romanian.

În limba română, Opuntia Engelmannii este, “Limba soacrei.” 

Now, why would Romanians call such a beautiful cactus “the Mother in law’s tongue?”  I suppose the first botanist to bring it back picked a name, and it stuck.  Was it after her tongue, or her language?

Then, we have the Kroenleinia Grusonii.  In English, it is the “golden barrel cactus.”

În limba română, este “Scaunul soacrei.”  The mother-in-law’s chair. 

Is that the chair she sits on, or the one she gives you to sit on?  

As you see, the genitive in Romanian transforms a little in the feminine form.  The “a” tends to become “ei.”

cluj days – zilele Clujului.

In masculine (or singular neutre), you might also notice a transformation of the genitive.  For something belonging to Cluj, you might read “Clujului.”  Scaunul Clujului.  

“Zilele Clujului” are scheduled for 30 May to 2 June.  “Days of the Cluj” or “Cluj Days.”

Last year there were concerts and other events, including a classic play by Caragiale in the center.

There we see how genitive in English is a bit strange.  It would seem logical to call them “Cluj’s Days” as the days are celebrating Cluj.  Every language has exceptions.

Cluj’s mayor.  Primarul Clujului.  In English, you might say “the mayor of Cluj.”

Homework (temele)

Okay, if you have nothing better to do, you can try naming new cactuses for each in-law.  Perhaps the agave could be renamed as the brother-in-law’s chair.  Scaunul cumnatului.

Once you have mastered the genitive case, you can impress your inlaws with these new names as you take them to Cluj Days or the Botanical Garden.

Roses are also blooming at this time of year.  (Sorry, you missed the tulips).

Fun fact – Rose in Romanian is Trandafir.  Un trandafir, trandafirul.  Trandafir comes from a Greek word meaning “thirty petals.”  You could pretend not to believe that, and ask the inlaws to count the petals.  Or, not.  There are so many varieties of roses, you could also name these after your inlaws, cousins, and other family members.

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