Dominic Ambrose Blogblot

of words: narrative, film and non-fiction

SRT: interactive Glossary

For the Western European or American reader, my first novel, The Shriek and the Rattle of Trains, is aglossclick journey into another world, Europe from an entirely opposite perspective. For this reason, a glossary was provided at the end of the book to help readers navigate. Here it is in an interactive version. Browse through it for a taste of the journey. The book itself is no longer in print, but I hope to have a new edition available soon.

Just clink on the linked word to see more!

Anschluss : (German) unification. Historically this word refers to the Nazi annexation of Austria on March 12, 1938, but here it is used figuratively to indicate the Soviet takeover in Eastern Europe.

apparatchik: (Russian) a mindless bureaucrat, especially in a socialist government, or communist “apparat”; a blindly devoted follower or member of an organization.

Arad : a city in Northwestern Romania, near the Hungarian border. Take a look at the Arad Municipal Website here.

Azomures : A former Romanian photographic products company. It was privatized in 1998 and has been reborn as a fertilizer plant, majority owned by Luxembourg based Transworld Fertilizers Holding.

Banat : a province of Western Transylvania, part of the Pannonian plains that extend into Hungary. The main city is Timişoara. Actually, it is part of a larger Banat region that is shared with Serbia and Hungary. It is bound by the rivers Tisza, Mures and Danube and by the Southern Carpathian Mountains.


La Bocca della Verità: (Italian) “The mouth of truth”. A famous stone sculpture set under the portico of a Roman church (see illustration). It is claimed that the sculpture can recognize a liar and will snap shut on his hand. Click on the name, and you will read about the ancient sculpture in Rome. Alternately, click on the photo, and you will see La Bocca in its other incarnation, as a fiberglass slot machine that dispenses fortunes. It is a popular attraction at amusement parks, and this is how it appears in the novel, to the wonderment of the gypsies at the market place in Bucharest.

Braşov : a large, historic city in the Carpathian Mountains. Popular with tourists for its well preserved city center and its winter sports facilities. The Romanian Tourism website has more.

British Council: The international cultural and educational agency of Great Britain. It was founded in 1934 to promote British culture in the world. During the 1990s it was active, along with its American counterpart, the USIS, in helping Romanians to improve the quality of English language teaching in the country. It brought over teacher trainers, invited teachers to Britain, funded textbook revisions and maintained libraries in several cities.

Bucegi Mountains : a small section of the Southern Carpathian Mountains. It has a rugged, unspoiled beauty rare in Romania, with two national parks and the Peles Castle, the Nineteenth Century summer retreat of the monarchy.

Bucureşti: (Romanian) Bucharest. Pronounced Bu-cur-resht. The city’s official website is here.
17th Century camera obscura. Click to enlarge

17th Century camera obscura

bună seara : (Romanian) “Good evening.”

bunică : (Romanian) grandmother

calea : (Romanian) a large street.

camera obscura : type of camera as large as a room. This Latin name meaning “dark room” dates from the Renaissance, but this type of instrument has been in use since ancient times.

Carpathian Mountains : A mountain range extending from Poland down through Romania. They make a great arc through the heart of Transylvania.

Casa Poporului : “The House of the People”. This enormous palace was still underimages construction when Ceauşescu was overthrown. It is one of the largest buildings in the world, and is now officially called the Palace of Parliament. It is hard to imagine the immensity of this building. Click on the name to see a downloadable 3D version, or on the thumbnail photo to the aerial photo large.

Casa Corpului Didactic : (Romanian) Teachers’ Center. These are found in each of Romania’s 41 counties, and they usually contain offices, a library and classrooms for training courses. This is not to be confused with the County School Inspectorat, which supervises and administers the teaching staff in the county.

Ceauşescu, Nicolae: Communist dictator of Romania from March, 1965 until the Revolution. He was a cynical and manipulative politician who managed to pit East against West in his foreign policy, however, his domestic policies were disastrous economically and socially, and his regime repressive, corrupt and cruel in the extreme. He was executed, along with his wife, Elena, in the courtyard of a military

Nicolae and Elena sometime before getting executed.

Nicolae and Elena sometime before getting executed.

base in the city of Tirgoviste on Christmas Day, 1989.

Ceauşescu, Elena : Nicolae’s wife. Widely hated during her husband’s reign.

CFR : “Caile Ferate din România.” The Romanian National Railway. The CFR website has information about routes and history and a map of the lines.

Chaussee : (French) roadway. In Romanian spelling, Şosea.

Constanța: a city of Dobrogea, near the mouth of the Danube River at the Black Sea. Pronounced “Constantsa.” has interesting pictures and info about the city.

Craiova: a major city in the Olțenia area of Wallachia. It is Romania’s 6th largest city, and is the capital of Dolj County, but it is mainly of commerical interest.

cu plăcere : (Romanian) “with pleasure”, used as is “You’re welcome”.

da : (Romanian) yes.

Dacia: The ancient Roman province which later became Romania. Click on the name to read more about that. But Dacia is also the name of2192517_1 the national automobile, formerly a state run industry. In recent years the Dacia brand has been completely renewed, but at the time of this story, Romanian roads were still filled with the ancient Dacia models of Ceausescu’s time, modeled on a 1970s Renault 12. click on the photo of the old Dacia car to find out about the new.

Erdely: (Hungarian) Transylvania. Hungarians make up a very large ethnic group of Transylvania, being in the majority in certain areas. This has caused a certain amount of tension between nationalists on both sides.

Ferenc körút: a major thoroughfare in Budapest.
gara de nord
Gara de Nord : (Romanian) North Station. It is the main train station in Bucharest, where all international and major intercity trains arrive and depart. In the 1990s it was a dark, smelly and uncomfortable place, but in recent years it has been cleaned up and modernized considerably.

Iaşi: capital city of Romanian Moldova. Pronounced “Yash.” It is a very historic city that has great importance in the cultural development of the country. Although its city center was much transformed during the communist era, it still has some very important monumental structures.

internat : a school dormitory

irredentist: a somewhat extremist political view calling for the return of some land from a neighboring country. It is a recurring problem everywhere in the world, but especially in the Balkans. A discussion of irredentism here.


Keleti Pu. : (Hungarian) the Eastern Railway Station. It is the largest in Budapest. Built in the 1880s, in an impressive imperial style, much like the city’s other two main stations, Nyugati Pu and Deli pu. However, this is where nearly all international trains arrive and depart.
la Lupa Capitolina: (Latin) the Capitoline Wolf feeding Romulus and Remus. The symbol of ancient Rome. According to the founding myth of Rome, the wolf found the abandoned boys in the Tiber River, and cared for them till they were found by a herdsman. The statue can be found in the public squares of many, if not most, Romanian cities.Lupa

La revedere : (Romanian) Goodbye.

László Tökés: A minister in the Hungarian Reformed Church, his activism in the late 1980s caught the disapproving attention of the Ceausescu regime. When he was ousted from his church in Timisoara, this was one of the immediate causes of the revolt that shook the city, and eventually spread throughout the country. For that reason, he is considered one of the heroes of the Romanian Revolution. He was later President of the UDMR and a member of the European Parliament.

mamaligă: A type of cornmeal polenta. A traditional staple of Romanian cuisine.

Maramureş: (spelled Maramuresh in the text) a historic province of Northern Transylvania. On this tourism website, there are photos of the famous wooden churches and the traditional folk culture of this most traditional area of the country.

minunat : (Romanian) wonderful.

noapte bună : (Romanian) “Good night.”

occupat : (Romanian) occupied.

Olțenia: a historical province in the region of Wallachia. It extends from the Olt River to the Danube on the Serbia border (the famous “Iron Gates” region of the river) and includes cities such as Craiova and Tîrgu Jiu, the hometown of the sculptor Constantin Brancusi.

Pannonia: This region of Central Europe, inhabited by Illyrian tribes was conquered by Rome and became a Roman province in 9 BC. It came under heavy Barbarian pressure during the Fourth Century A.D., however, and was abandoned in the year 378. Over the following centuries it has become associated with Hungary.

Piața (spelled Piazza in text) : (Romanian) plaza. The pronunciation is identical to the Italian form piazza.

Pu. : (Hungarian) short for “pályaudvar”, railway station.

puszta: (Hungarian) the extensive plains that cover much of Eastern Hungary and extend into the Banat area of Romania. The peasant cultures of the past used these aridSassoferrato-Putti grasslands for cattle grazing.

putti: (Italian) baby angels seen in Baroque and Rococo paintings.

rom Rom, Roma, Romany : language and culture of the Roma people, commonly called “gypsies”. Not to be confused with Romanian or Roman. Read about Romani language on Wikipedia. The lives of Roma or gypsy people in Europe are very varied, but there are many things that unite them. The Roma Union is a Europe wide political organization that seeks to focus this energy and address these needs. Click on the image of the Roma women, and see a young woman, Sebihana Skenderovska speak about the Roma Summit at Strasbourg.

Schadenfreude : (German) joy derived from seeing other people’s misfortunes or suffering. Schaden means damage, and Freude means joy.

şmecker (spelled schmecker in the text) : (Romanian) deceitful or a deceitful person.

Securitatea: Romanian secret police under the Communist dictatorship. Their power was intensely feared.

Selbstbewusstsein : (German) self dignity.

Siebenburgen : (German) Historical name for Transylvania, used by the German inhabitants. The Saxon migration to Transylvania began during the 12th Century and continued for several hundred years, contributing to the development of Transylvania’s most iconic cities, such as Brasov, Sibiu, Cluj and Sighisoara.

Soros Foundation: A private foundation instituted by the Hungarian American financier George Soros to promote democracy, especially in Eastern Europe. During the 1990s it was especially active in Romania.

stradă : (Romanian) street.

Tănase, Maria: (1913-1963) Well known singer of Romanian traditional music.maria tanase stamp Click on her name to learn more about her, or on the Moldovan postage stamp for a link to fnac music site. There you can scroll down and here some short clips from an very early album of hers.

terra terra : (Italian) down-to-earth, nitty-gritty

țigan (spelled tsigan in text) : (Romanian) “gypsy”

tsiganerie : gypsy mess.

Timişoara: city of Western Transylvania. Pronounced Tee-mee-schwa-ra. One of the most important cultural and economic centers of the country outside of Bucharest. The CyberTim website has information about the city.

Tîrgu Mureş (Târgu Mureş): a city in central northern Transylvania. Pronounced Turgu Muresh.

țuică: (spelled tsuica in the text) plum brandy, often homemade, the national alcoholic drink of Romania.

UDMR: acronym for Uniunea Democrată Maghiară din România, or Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania. An ethnic Hungarian political alliance in Romania it regularly receives about 6 percent of the votes, roughly corresponding to the ethnic Hungarian part of the electorate. In 2006, it became part of the governing coalition.

-ul : (Romanian) when used as a suffix, this means “the” for masculine singular nouns.

USAID: United States Agency for International Development. The principle conduit of foreign aid monies overseas. Not shown in a flattering light in the novel, but actually, it is the structure for some of the most positive aspects of US foreign policy.

utca : (Hungarian) street.

Wallachia: one of Romania’s four regions, along with Dobrogea, Transylvania and Moldova. These regions are further divided into provinces (e.g., Banat and Olțenia) vicopenguinclassicand then again into smaller units called counties (e.g., Timiş County).

vă rog : (Romanian) please.

Vico, Giambattista: 18th Century philosopher. He is often considered the first modern philosophical narrator of history. His ideas were at variance with the Cartesian principles and probably because of this, he has not become widely known. Click on his name to link to the Institute for Vico Studies, or click on the image of the Penguin edition of New Science to read about his concept of historical cycles.

The Shriek and the Rattle of Trains is available as a paperback and as a Kindle e-book. For more information about this novel, please visit Amazon dot com. 


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