Last week I made no-bake cookies for my host family and colleagues at work. It was my partner’s last day (she is moving on to a new job, one that is a great opportunity for her), and I wanted to do something nice, so I thought I’d dazzle my Moldovan co-workers with some good ol’ fashioned American baking.
The good news is, everyone loved them. Or, if they didn’t, they were kind enough not to point it out. And it felt good to hear their positive feedback (these are better than what you can buy in the store!), but I enjoyed one line in particular: “ești buna de maritat,” which technically translates “you’re good to marry.”
I enjoyed this for a few reasons.
So much of a culture is encapsulated by its language. The two are inseparable. And so, when my colleagues told me, “you’re good to marry,” I suspect the American version of that would be more along the lines of “you’re a good cook.” Culturally, there are certain sentiments, certain norms, that just don’t translate well, or at all. So I first enjoyed what the phrase says about Moldovan culture.
Second, sometimes I try to imagine certain conversations I hear in Moldova taking place in the States, and it just makes me laugh. And it’s not as though the conversation itself is funny or offensive or strange. But there are just certain phrases that wouldn’t be used in the States. And I think “you’re good to marry” is probably one of them. I think there’s an expectation of political correctness in the States that doesn’t quite exist in Moldova. And I think it sort of gives more character to the language here. There are just some things that are distinctly Moldovan, and other things that are distinctly American. And imagining the convergence of those two camps makes me smile.