runa27 (runa27) wrote in linguaphiles,

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ROMANIAN help for AmE speaker: some vocabulary translations, plus a breakdown of "negru ca abanosul

So, I'm going to be teaching myself Romanian in the future, because a.) it's a beautiful and intriguing language with a rich and interesting history and b.) I have a story set in Romania using (naturally) some Romanian characters and it's nowhere near close enough to the Spanish I've studied previously for me to "get by" in some of my resources without knowing more of it (heck, even if it were Spanish characters in Spain or South Americans in South America, my Spanish is rusty enough I'd have to brush up again, so you can imagine how useless it is when it comes to deciphering something so different as Romanian). 

All this is well and good for The Future, but I (to my surprise and joy) actually have somebody in my genre within the publishing industry (someone who works with an editor at a company that would work well for it, specifically) who is interested in this story right now and wants to know more.  Unfortunately, this means that some of the character names need to be worked out, um, now-ish, so I can get the material together for a proper proposal as soon as possible. I have focused more on character development than character surnames and such up to this point, but I want the surnames to at least work well (as proper bilingual puns if nothing else) so any help is appreciated.  

The first one I wanted help with is a character whose surname I wanted to base off of ebony. As in, the dark-colored wood. It's a bit of a pun, since the idea is that her family going back several generations both had black hair, and an interest in the, ahem, arcane arts, and I'm debating even throwing in some ebony-trading in there just for fun. Lots of potential layers to the reference. However, Negruescu (which would be the Romanian equivalent of Blackson... I think?), though it seems like it might be the "best" translation (with the closest level level  potential meanings to the English ebony, perhaps)... I don't know if I want to use it or not (or for that matter, if I've "surname-ified" it properly. I remember escu is the Romanian equivalent of son/sen in surnames, and negru means black). I might have to if I want to keep the pun even close to alive, but in addition to checking the "plausibility" in that as a surname, I wanted to clarify something first. 
Google provided EUdict as a source when I searched for the Romanian translation of "ebony", but that was fairly limited: it gave "negru ca abanosul" as the translation for "jet-black; ebony(-coloured); poetic ebon." , which means it's supposedly exactly what I was looking for. But the problem for me is I cannot figure out what the abanosul portion of that means (EUdict is of no help on this, as all it did was provide "negru ca abanosul" all over again, which as you can see, it translates as more than one thing, and at that, things which are derived from completely different sources - jet is a black-colored stone, ebony is the blackish wood, and  ebon is just a synonym for  black, derived from ebony). And I don't see a way to convert that to a remotely plausible-sounding surname?

Other ones I wanted some help on, perhaps a little easier:

I have a character whose surname I wanted to have a "feline" or "catlike" meaning attached to. When I looked up feline, EUdict provided felin.  Would Felinescu work for  a surname in this case?   

There is an English-language given name Selena, which is derived from Greek mythology about the female Titan of the moon. Is there a Romanian equivalent? Assuming parents who borrow from overseas cultures because they "like the name" or liked the concept, would Selina be close enough in spelling/pronunciation to be a "Romanianification" of it as it were (assuming they borrowed more from the English use than the Greek), or would they be more likely to just use the same spelling and pronounce it differently from English speakers? (If possible, avoid IPA - I'm super-rusty at it right now. I can look it up on Wiki if needed, though, so if it's hard to avoid, don't worry about it too much :) ).

Do Nikon, Nekon, Mila, Miko/Mico or Hoshima have meanings in Romanian, or would they just be random syllables to them? (These relate to characters who in some cases aren't actually Romanian, I just want to be on the lookout for accidental meanings that a Romanian would immediately notice - aside from the brand name of the camara or the simularities to Nicolae/Nicu/Nicusor, anyway)

Any help with these is much appreciated. :)

And while we're at it - I think it's obvious I'm a beginner in the language, yeah? I keep seeing potential resources for learning the language, but every time I think I've found a good one, I learn from somewhere else that "oh no, that's no good, they use the old spelling system", or things like that. I'm too new to tell what are good resources or bad ones; so if you have any advice on where I should be looking (preferably free online resources, but even books or tape sets would be okay!), for a fairly reliable resource in the language, please let me know. :) 

Tags: advice, learning languages, romanian, spelling, translation request
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