Romania’s best-known anti-vaxxer has been in her element during the coronavirus pandemic, reaching a national audience with her views.
Perhaps buoyed by her newfound exposure and notoriety, Olivia Steer has taken her so-called expertise to another area: Romanian grammar.
She called out novelist Mircea Cartarescu for his use of the dative case on a Facebook post in which he sent birthday greetings to a friend.
The writer wrote on January 10: “La mulți ani dragii mele prietene Ioana Parvulescu” which translates as “Happy Birthday to my dear friend Ioana Parvulescu.”
Mr Cartarescu later posted a photo saying he’d been inoculated against Covid-19 and encouraged others to do the same.
However, Ms Steer took umbrage at what she said was a grammatical error in the birthday message and chided him for writing “dragii,” instead of “dragei” which she insisted was correct.
„Dragei” may look logical in Romanian (at least to her) but it’s incorrect and doesn’t even exist in Romanian.
„The great professor, linguist and writer who’s been nominated for the Nobel Prize doesn’t know that the feminine dative for ‘draga’ is ‘dragei’ and instead uses the nominative, masculine plural, ‘dragii,” she wrote.
“No worries, at least he knows about the vaccines and gives us wise counsel (like) how to make a gaffe…. Let’s do it like him.”
Facebook users quickly pointed out her error.
Mircea Cartarescu also responded. “Mrs. Olivia Steer, as I am unsure about the subtleties in Romanian, after a 40-year career as a writer and a university teacher, I look at a dictionary from time to time.”
“I found out from DOOM that the correct form of „draga” for the genitive and dative is “dragii’ and not “dragei.” But that isn’t important as everyone can say what he thinks is right,” he added, alluding to her anti-vaxxer views.
Romanian grammar can be tricky and complicated at the best of times. It retains some of the declensions from Vulgar Latin, unlike other Romance languages, and is even influenced from the Slavic languages, with the vocative case.
To the non-linguists, the vocative is used when you call someone, so in Romanian, Radu becomes “Radule!” when he’s being summoned, while Ana is turned into “Ano!”
A noun or pronoun is in the dative case when it is used as an indirect object connected to belonging to something or someone, such as in this case “Happy Birthday to my dear friend,” where English uses the preposition ‘to’ rather than change the adjective and noun into the dative case.
Ms Steer later deleted the post.