From: Herbert Stahlke <hstahlkebsu.edu>
Subject: Romanian Honorifics
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A colleague of mine in anthropology has raised an interesting socio-
linguistic question. Romania underwent an urban transition in the mid
1800s. When people who moved to cities and took on urban manners
and dress returned to their home villages they were addressed as
"lord" and "lady." The terms, for which I do not have the 19th c.
Romanian words, derive from Latin “dominus, -a.” However, Romania
does not have a native aristocracy, so the honorifics do not have the
social class significance their English equivalents have. In Bucharest,
people self-identify as "lord" and "lady" but in business matters use the
equivalents of English "Mr." and "Mrs."
Shifts in honorifics are not uncommon, including the Late Middle and
Early Modern English spread of Mr. and Mrs. and even the
replacement of thou/thee by you/ye. However, the Romanian change
appears to move in the opposite direction, the introduction of an
honorific for a new social class.
We would be grateful for any assistance members of the list could
I will, of course, post a summary of responses.
Emeritus Professor of English
Ball State University
Subject Language(s): Romanian (ron)
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