Our research in the area of bread-related idioms continues with Romanian! Raluca Topala is explaining today 10 popular idioms in her native language; I found her article really fascinating and I realised that the Latin root shared by our languages is also reflected in some of our sayings and traditions. Thank you Raluca for your contribution! I’ll leave you to it, but before, I encourage you all to follow Raluca on Twitter! Her handle is @RTopala. Bread can be considered, more or less, universal food; equally, idioms containing the word bread are omnipresent in most languages. Romanian is no exception. The Romanian word for bread (pâine) comes from the Latin panis, similarly with most other Romance languages (pain in French, pane in Italian, pan in Spanish and pão in Portuguese). And so, as Giulia has invited me, I’ve thought it would be nice to make a short list of Bread idioms in Romanian. BREAD AS VERY PRIZED AND VERY CHERISHED FOOD
- A fi bun ca pâinea caldă (literally, to be good/kind as warm bread). This one is common with Italian, and it’s probably one of the nicest things you can say about someone.
- Pâinea lui Dumnezeu (literally, God’s bread). This is an alternative version of Good as warm bread.
- Se caută (sau se vinde) ca pâinea (cea) caldă) (literally, it is sought after/ it sells like warm bread). For reasons that might have to do with our Communist past, warm bread has been very prized here, and as such, is no wonder that we compare something that is very in demand, or something that sells very well, with warm bread.
- A ieși înaintea cuiva sau a întâmpina cu pâine și sare (literally, to greet someone with bread and salt) – to welcome someone with utmost respect. As bread and salt have been essential foods for centuries, it is somehow logical that this was, back then, a way of showing respect for one’s guests.
BREAD AS SYMBOL OF LIFE, OR PROFESSIONAL AND SOCIAL STATUS
- A câștiga o pâine (literally, to earn one’s bread). Like in many other cultures (Greek, for example), bread is a metaphor for life in general, or for means of living. Equally, a mânca o pâine albă means having a good life, or a high professional status.
- A pune în pâine (literally, to put someone in bread) – to help someone get a job. As you can see, the metaphor of bread as daily life is expressed in various ways. Equally, one can make someone else lose one’s job, (a scoate din pâine).
- A lua pâinea de la gură (literally, to take bread out of someone’s mouth) – to deprive someone of their means. The meaning is similar with Italian. This is yet another expression of bread as metaphor for life.
- A mânca pâine degeaba (literally, to eat bread for nothing) – to be useless. Given that bread is an essential food, one should also be productive, in useful, in order to earn the right to eat this. Thus, eating bread for nothing means being useless.
- A mânca pâine și sare cu cineva (literally, to eat bread and salt with someone) – to share one’s life with someone, for better or worse. (Usually, it was uttered as part of threat – you won’t eat bread and salt with me if you do this and that, but these days it’s not so much in use – perhaps because people don’t eat so much bread any longer?).
BREAD AS A SYMBOL OF POWER
- A avea pâinea și cuțitul în mână (literally, to have the bread and the knife in one’s hand) – to have decision making power. Probably comes from the times when the father was the one who was cutting the bread and sharing it to others – bread and butter.
So, that was it. I might have forgotten some. If so, let me know. Thanks, Giulia, for the opportunity, and thanks everyone for reading.