Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Trilingual Confusion

You'd think that saying "I do" three times in any language would have anyone convinced of one's wish to be married. Not according to the following New York Times article:


June 7, 2004
Romanian Official Refuses to Marry Couple

Filed at 3:50 p.m. ET

CLUJ, Romania (AP) -- The groom said ``yes,'' but a city hall official said ``no,'' refusing to marry a couple because the groom didn't voice his consent first in the Romanian language, authorities said Monday.

Vasile Gherman, a civil servant who performs civil marriages, refused Sunday to marry Andrei Dombi, 44, an ethnic Hungarian with dual Romanian and French citizenship to Anca Diana Toma, 33, after Dombi said ``yes'' in Hungarian, Romanian and French -- ``igen, da, oui.''

Gherman may now face disciplinary action. ``He didn't act correctly,'' said Mircea Jorj, a legal adviser with Cluj City Hall.

The couple said they would sue Gherman.

``I said 'igen' because I am ethnic Hungarian, 'da' because I am a Romanian citizen and 'oui' because I am French,'' said Dombi of Sunday's ceremony. ``It was not something premeditated.''

Gherman said that he needed to hear a clear consent from the groom and hearing ``yes,'' in three languages was confusing.

``If he had said ``da'' first, I would have married them,'' Gherman said. He added that he called for the couple later in the day to marry them, but they weren't to be found.

Gherman already had refused to marry Hungarian couples twice in the past after they said ``yes'' in both Romanian and Hungarian.

After one of the couples sued, the court ordered city hall to pay them $1,200.

A law that took effect in 2001 grants ethnic minorities the right to use their mother tongue in legal affairs that take place in parts of Romania where their minority group exceeds 20 percent of the population.

More than 20 percent of Cluj residents are ethnic Hungarian. The city is 180 miles northwest of Bucharest, the capital. Cluj's nationalist former mayor, Gheorghe Funar -- known for his anti-Hungarian stance -- lost a bid for re-election on Sunday.

Most ethnic Hungarians in Romania live in Transylvania, which was under Austro-Hungarian rule for centuries until 1918. While ethnic tensions have eased, some members of both communities continue to harbor distrust of each other.


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