Learning the language and culture of Romania! Language offerings of the University of Helsinki expanding
What do we know about Romania other than Count Dracula and the country’s less flattering recent past? A chance to learn more about the country will arise in autumn 2023, as a study module in the language and culture of Romania will be introduced in the Bachelor’s Programme in Languages at the Faculty of Arts.

Associate Professor Silvio Cruschina, the module coordinator, is pleased with the new addition.

“Up to now, the Romance languages available at the University have included the large national languages of French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. Now, at last, Romanian is in the mix. From among minority and regional languages, Catalan, Galego and Basque languages spoken on the Iberian peninsula have been available.”

Romanian for language students and anyone interested in it

The Study Module in Romanian (15 or 30 credits) is intended not only for language students and linguists, but also anyone interested in Romania and the Romanian language.

Dean Pirjo Hiidenmaa of the Faculty of Arts and Maria Ligor, Ambassador of Romania to Finland, negotiated on cooperation and the opportunity to introduce the language and culture of Romania into the University’s educational offerings. Under the partnership, a lectureship was established at the Faculty. The teacher’s mission is to teach the language, literature and culture of Romania, increasing awareness of Romanian society and the history of the country.

“Romanian is spoken by a large number of people, which makes it sensible to include it in the teaching programme. As stipulated in a government decree, it will thus be included in the teaching responsibilities of the University of Helsinki from next autumn,” Dean Hiidenmaa says. 

Since Romanian is also one of the official languages of the EU, there is a need for those proficient in the language. According to Hiidenmaa, there is also demand in the cultural sector. For example, translators are needed for Romanian literature and films. 

“For social scientists and scholars of Eastern Europe, studies in language and culture open up new opportunities.” 

Romanian is a large and important language

Romanian is the largest European language (approximately 22–26 million speakers, mainly in Romania and Moldova) not already taught at the University of Helsinki. 

The Romanian language originates in an ancient Roman language spoken in the historical region of Dacia, whose location roughly corresponds to that of contemporary Romania. However, because of its geographical distribution, Romanian shares certain common features with the languages of the Balkan peninsula, in particular the Slavic languages. Unlike other Romance languages, Romanian preserves many constructs of Latin origin. The vocabulary is familiar to anyone who is proficient in especially Italian as well as, naturally, other Romance languages.

“That’s why the language and culture of Romania may be of interest to students of Slavic languages, in addition to those studying other Romance languages and Latin,” Cruschina says.

The Romanian language has historically been isolated from other Romance languages, and has been in contact with Slavic as well as other languages, such as Greek, Hungarian, Albanian and, in the past, Turkish.

“The considerable impact of other languages makes the language very interesting and attractive to students of linguistics as well.”
According to Cruschina, literature, culture, film, history and society in Romania can also be of interest to other undergraduate and postgraduate students of the Faculty of Arts besides language students. Courses in Romanian could be included in study programmes pertaining to Eastern Europe and the Balkans. In any case, the study modules are open to all degree and exchange students of the University of Helsinki. The aim is to make the courses openly available so that others interested in the language can take part. 

The University of Helsinki will organise an information session on the language and culture of Romania, and the new study module, on 27 April from 13.00 to 16.00 in room 406 at the Language Centre (Fabianinkatu 26),