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The Words "maică" and "mamă"

Discussion in 'Română (Romanian)' started by 123xyz, Sep 7, 2013.

  1. 123xyz Senior Member

    Skopje, Macedonia
    I am curious about the usage of the word "maică" as opposed to the word "mamă". From what I have read so far, it appears that the first words is somewhat archaic and not commonly used to refer to mothers in general. In fact, in a related discussion, I have seen the following comment:

    I have also read the following as a defintion for the word "maică":

    However, I am wonder if it is possible to use the word "maică" in a neutral sense to refer to a mother in general, such as to say "Ieri am vizitat maica mea."
    Could someone tell me if it would sound unnatural/unusual to use the word in such a sense, such that it would only be alright to say
    "mama mea", or if it is acceptable this way too?

    Thank you in advance
  2. farscape mod-errare humanum est

    Ottawa, Canada
    Hi 123xyz,

    Welcome to the WR Romanian forum - please make sure you check out the resources in the sticky, in particular the dexonline.ro (a collection of the current Romanian dictionaries).

    That is true, we don’t use it in every day language instead of or for mother. However there are two cases where one might use it nowadays.

    First, in the contraction maică-mea for mama mea (similar to taică-meu for tatăl meu); it can be construed as a bit irreverent though.

    Second, as a stand alone term, either when an older woman is talking to her charge or protégée (granny talking to her grand kids) or to much younger people, emphasizing the generational gap (Maică, pe vremea mea...). A woman may be talking to her friends in a friendly and/or humorous way and use maică, the same way one would use dear in English: Ascultă, maică (Listen, dear).

    Totally agree with these comments. Please see here for the complete dictionary definitions.

    I don’t agree with the comment in bold typeface: it’s no longer used that way in the current language.

    In conclusion: is it
    Well it’s possible but not recommended, unless you use the contraction maică-mea and are aware that some people, including the mother herself ;) may not find that form to be very polite/respectful.

    Last edited: Sep 7, 2013
  3. 123xyz Senior Member

    Skopje, Macedonia
    Thank you for the reply, farscape,

    It was very helpful. I didn't know about the contractions, which appear to work in the other persons as well, according to some of the resources in the sticky (e.g. "maică-sa"). I was surprised to learn that it is not very polite or respectful to refer to a mother with "maică", since it is word used to refer to nuns.
  4. farscape mod-errare humanum est

    Ottawa, Canada
    Sorry if I gave you the wrong idea: the fact that we use maică (maică stareţă - mother superior) also for nuns and the fact that the contractions maică-(mea, ta, sa) are viewed as somewhat disrespectful are not related. There is actually one step further which is outright disrespectful - but I can't tell you for sure why: mă-sa, (from maică-sa) and mă-ta (from maică-ta).

  5. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    First of all, I think that the topic about 'maică' inevitably led you to ways of shortening the words "mamă", "maică".
    The possessive pronouns: 'sa'(3rd), 'mea'(1st), 'ta'(2nd), only in the singular form blends with 'mama' and 'maica', more specifically, second syllable of the word 'mamă' + 'sa' becomes 'mă-sa', and 'maică-mea' is used instead of saying 'mama mea'(1st person). This means that we shorten to 'maică-mea', while talking about our mother. Notably, 'maica mea' is not the short form. It is also good to know that archaically, there existed 'mumă' = mamă.
    Secondly, these forms of clipping and blending should not be viewed formally or as standards. They are generally colloquial forms, but 'mă-ta' / 'mă-tii'(Dative case), 'mă-sa' /'mă-sii' are also used in argotic constructions.
    I do not agree with farscape that these constructions should not be used. It depends on the context, if there is a friendly talk, the use is permissive (colloquial, not academic). I mean here the use of 'maică-mea/ta/sa'.
    For instance, "Is your mum at home?" can be interpreted as "E maică-ta acasă?" on two levels: either the one who's asking is your friend, or he is an uneducated stranger who is addressing you in an impolite manner.
    And thirdly, 'maică' is older than mamă, so it has to be semantically precious and has to heavily weigh in our linguistic dissemination. To this, I should say that both usage of 'maică', as a 'nun' or 'mother', are from the same word to reinforce the idea of purity, goodness, and delicacy, despite the idea that a nun cannot be a mother. Both share the same semanticity, if I may say so, i.e., they are pure and enriched with limitless love and power of sacrifice towards God or his children.
    Unfortunately, as farscape noted here, the word 'maică' or 'mă-ta'' as 'mother' has undergone a degradation of meaning and got derogatory uses. And this is not unique in the world because we are all aware of the "mother f****r", for example.
    I should stop here now though there are more things to say about the dearest word in the world.
    By the way, we have 'mamă-sa' shortened to 'mă-sa'. Both forms are in usage in the country.

    As a final conclusion, educated persons would never use these contractions.
    Children would in their private conversations. Middle class would.
    Politeness and rigour ban these.
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2013
  6. farscape mod-errare humanum est

    Ottawa, Canada
    :confused: I can't seem to figure out where I wrote that. What I meant to say is that we do not use maică instead of mamă in today's language unless we're looking for a "figure of speech". We don't say o maică cu un copil rather o mamă cu un copil. ;)

    Liked the notes about the grammar and what not :)

  7. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Pardon me then, farscape, if I misinterpreted your words ("...short forms of "maică-mea" are considered disrespectful"- which is valid and true, depending on the context).
    I still don't master the 'advanced edit' key to provide the right quotations here especially when using a smartphone. I am a 100% newbie. I would also like to post a smiley which I obviously can't.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2013

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