Sunday, March 05, 2006

Heavy Tools

There has been a growing tendency in Csikszereda to name shops and other businesses in English. I was told that this was because it avoided the dilemma of using both Romanian and Hungarian. You see, if your shop has a Hungarian name, you also have to use the Romanian one, and vice versa – all üzlets are also magazins, and all restaurants are also vendéglõs. You can get around this limitation by using English or some other non-local language, and negate the need to translate anything.

However, I suspect that many of the new places, such as the “Office 1 Superstore” are actually chains that exist beyond the limits of Harghita County, and are thus named in English purely because it’s fashionable and modern and westward looking and all that. A new restaurant (or “Restaurant & Pizza” as it has cunningly labeled itself) has just opened on Petofi street, called “Bandido’s”, thus being fantastically international. A Spanish word with an English grammatical form taken from German (that ‘s bit, otherwise known as the saxon genitive). I’m hoping it serves high quality Mexican food, but I strongly suspect it will be pizza, pasta, burgers, csirke paprikas and mamaliga, and so merely add to the number of restaurants serving “international food” with some Hungarian and Romanian options thrown in to appease the local palates.

This Anglicization does lead to some odd names though. A few weeks ago, for example, a clothes shop opened in the middle of town called “Heavy Tools Clothing Division”. This too, must be a chain of sorts since it is way too fancy looking to be purely a Csiki business. A mischievous part of me would really like to go in and tell the manager what slang meaning “tool” has.

March 1st

An English friend who is married to a Romanian woman sent me a message on March 1st to remind me that it was Marţişor. Marţişor is the first of March, and functions as a kind of Romanian Valentine's Day, when men give little red and white brooches to the women they know. He was anxious that I should be reminded so that I wouldn't commit the ultimate faux-pas of not giving my loved ones these tokens of my affection. I had to admit I'd never heard of it so I checked with Erika, who informed me that it's a Romanian thing and Hungarians don't do it. Which let me off the hook, but made me imagine that it must be hell for Romanian teenage boys going out with Hungarian girls (or just hoping to be noticed by them). If you give the subject of your attention a Marţişor brooch, you just know she's going to turn around and tell you she's not Romanian and she doesn't do that (thus crushing you, her emotionally fragile suitor). If you don't, she's going to ask you why you didn't and don't you love her and tell you I'm sorry it's over (ditto). It's difficult enough being a teenage boy and knowing that you will never understand how girls' minds work, without throwing in an added inter-cultural counndrum.

4 comments:

Romerican said...

An interesting point on the English-named businesses. To add further evidence of names in other languages, I'm happy to tell you about two such places in Brasov.

One is named, in Italian, "Bella Musica" and they offer up Mexican food. They also run an adjoining hotel.

The other is named, in Mexican (Spanish), "El Barrio" and they server Italian food. They stumble through the motions of a feeble attempt at a pub, which doesn't work (but, then, they do offer Chimay, which is nice).

The best part is that they are *almost* across the street from one another. Go the Italian place for Mexican food. Or go to the Mexican place for Italian food. I guess being in Romania just means its all about latin unity... or something.

Anonymous said...

About "Bandido’s" name: One of the restaurant's owner is called Bandi...

No imagination...

Cantemir said...

Boy am I late to the party. Anyway, martisori are not just given to sweethearts but to members of your family. This year, my mother-in-law sent my wife some pressed edelweiss, for instance, because we couldn't be with one another in person.

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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