General Considerations

The TAFOC Project is carried out in the Lexicology and Lexicography Department of the Institute of Romanian Philology 'Alexandru Philippide' of the Romanian Academy, Iași Branch, and is funded by UEFISCDI as an exploratory research project (project code PN-III-P4-IDPCE-2020-1277) for the period 2021-2023. The project director is Research Scientist I, Dr. Cristina Michaela FLORESCU.

The research is carried out by a multidisciplinary team, including linguists: Research Scientist I, Dr. Cristina Florescu (project director), Research Scientist I, Dr. Laura Manea, Research Scientist I, Dr. Elena Isabelle Tamba, Research Scientist I, Dr. Florin-Teodor Olariu, Research Scientist I, Dr. Daniela Butnaru, Research Scientist II, Dr. Alina-Mihaela Bursuc, Research Scientist, Dr. Cristina-Mariana Cărăbuș, Research Scientist, Dr. Maria-Marilena Ciobanu; astronomers - mathematicians: Prof. Univ. Dr. hab., Research Scientist I, Cătălin Galeș, Research Scientist, Gabriela-Ana Azamfirei; and the computer scientist, Research Scientist, Claudius Teodorescu.

The project team members have significant professional experience: five lexicographer linguists - co-authors of DLR, DTLR^d^, CLRE, DÉRom, TMFA; a dialectologist - co-author of NALR - Mold. Bucov, TMFA; a specialist in toponymy - co-author of TTRM1; a young PhD in linguistics; a computer scientist, collaborator on DLR and CLRE, who managed the project's database and website; a university professor of mathematics specialized in astronomy2, and a doctoral student working with the specialist professor.

The project proposes a contrastive and interdisciplinary, diachronic, diatopic, and diastratic research on Romanian scientific and popular astronomical terminology related to phenomena, cosmic objects, and constellations. Theoretically and methodologically, it builds upon a previous project - Romanian Meteorological Terminology (scientific vs. popular) of atmospheric phenomena - which was successfully completed.

The central result of the research is the volume Romanian Scientific and Popular Astronomical Terminology: Phenomena, Cosmic Objects, and Constellations (TAFOC) (University Press Cluj ISBN 978-606-37-1924-0). It comprises 841 pages (over 1500 typewritten pages), within which the dictionary, DAFOC, spans 491 pages and contains 1314 entries. The volume is composed of an introduction, eight linguistic studies focused on the research subject, a presentation of the history of astronomy in Romania, an INDEX of words and variants analyzed in these studies, DAFOC (Dictionary of Astronomical Terms: Phenomena, Cosmic Objects, and Constellations), the bibliography of this dictionary (the lexicon includes over 18,000 citations and illustrative sources from specialized literature), project dissemination, and author presentations.

The research includes: 1) a meticulous linguistic analysis (with detailed and clear explanations of astronomical lexemes carried out with the assistance of an astronomy specialist); 2) a detailed record of popular and dialectal terms (Tp) obtained with the help of a dialectology specialist; 3) an association of Tp with Ts through the effort to scientifically identify popular-dialectal names of cosmic objects and constellations; explanatory definitions are created for the common user regarding various Ts elements, and a series of Tp elements are referentially clarified; 4) Part I of the first extended, detailed, and correlated Ts–Tp dictionary of astronomical terminology is drafted, based on specific lexicographic norms (taking into account the team's experience as authors of DLR).

For the first time in European linguistics, astronomical phenomena are lexicographically defined in an understandable manner (up to a certain level, of course), being linguistically analyzed and classified: chromospheric eruption, formation of seasons, meteor storm, dissociation of aspects of time – astronomical phenomenon: names of months (93 names, especially Tp), popular names for moments of the day; light propagation, cosmic radiation (background, primary, secondary), astronomical refraction, and so on.

A systematic, synonymic hierarchy and grouping of cosmic objects is established.

Constellation names are dissociated: a) within the diastratic relationship Ts–Tp; b) diachronically, strictly astronomically, Ts, between the older astronomical meaning, similar to the current sense of the term constellation as a 'grouping of stars,' and the contemporary meaning (after 1923) as a 'region of the celestial sphere.'

For the first time in Romanian astronomy and linguistics, the specific Ts outline of the portion of the celestial vault delimited by the Romanian language is identified and studied. This involves the creation of four astronomical maps containing the names of visible stars in the Romanian language territory (one map for the positions and names of visible stars, on the ever-moving celestial sphere, for each season).

The astronomical perspective is essential in all undertaken taxonomies. The linguistic perspective constitutes the very substance of the material studied.

The linguistic analysis (from the studies and the DAFOC) includes:

a) generic and common terms in astronomy: simple and compound lexemes, phrases, derivatives; nouns, adjectives, and verbs, etc.: light-year, asteroid, calendar, culminate, declination, decontaminate, extragalactic, galactic, galaxy, lună^1,2^ („moon" and „month"), nebula, meteor shower, star cluster, satellite, sun, star, trans-Neptunian, etc., astronomical zodiac;

b) scientific names, both common and proper names, of cosmic, celestial, or natural objects, named in philology astronime, names of meteor shower, asteroides, planets, stars, nebulae, quasars, etc., and constellations;

c) naming methods for series of astronomical processes, laws, and phenomena:

gravitational collapse, conjunction, meteor stream, circumstellar disk, universe expansion, supernova, interstellar gas, cosmic inflation, dark matter, molecular cloud, galactic nucleus, occultation, opposition, stellar parallax, cosmic dust, cosmic radiation, electromagnetic radiation, infrared radiation, electromagnetic spectrum, etc.

The dissociation and selection of lexemes are based on the established bibliography, including specialized dictionaries, atlases, and dialectal texts, scientific works in linguistics and astronomy, old and modern texts in Romanian literature, university textbooks, websites of astronomical observatories, star maps, etc.

In addition to the published volume, the list of works resulting from the scientific activity of the project members includes:

• 15 articles published in national and international journals and volumes;

• the organization of five Workshops;

• 37 presentations, of which 26 were given at the TAFOC Workshops (all held within international symposia) and 11 at various national or international conferences and congresses.

A productive communication between linguists and astronomy specialists is one of the commendable outcomes of the project, ensuring the continuity of this collaboration for future discussions.

The authors of this research believe that, in this way, the knowledge of the vocabulary of both literary and popular Romanian language will be enriched, several etymologies will be clarified, and the relationship between the scientific and the popular lexicon will be redefined.


CLRE = Romanian Electronic Lexicographic Corpus, a collection of digital editions of the most representative dictionaries of the Romanian language, aligned at the entry level, 2014 –, Institute of Romanian Philology "Alexandru Philippide" of the Romanian Academy, Iași Branch.

DA = Pușcariu, Sextil, et al., 1913–1949. Dicţionarul limbii române (A-De, F-Lojniță), Bucharest, Romanian Academy / Socec / Universul.

DÉRom = Dictionnaire Étymologique Roman (DÉRom). Première phase : le noyau panroman (ANR and DFG subsidized, 2008-ongoing, http://www.atilf.fr/DERom).

DFA = Cristina Florescu (coord.), Laura Manea, Elena Tamba, Alina Pricop, Cristina Cărăbuș, Liviu Apostol, Florin-Teodor Olariu, Mădălin-Ionel Patrașcu, Dicționarul fenomenelor atmosferice, 2017, Iași, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University Press.

DLR = Iordan, Iorgu, et al., 1965–2010. Dicţionarul limbii române. Serie nouă (D-E; L-Z), Bucharest, Romanian Academy / Romanian Academy Publishing House.

DTLR^d^ = Cristina Florescu (coord.), Laura Manea, Elena Tamba, Marius-Radu Clim, DTLRd. Bază lexicală informatizată. Derivate în -ime şi -işte, Iași, 2008, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University Press, 2008.

NALR – Mold. Bucov. = Arvinte, Vasile, et al., 1987–. Noul Atlas Lingvistic Român pe regiuni. Moldova şi Bucovina, Bucharest, Romanian Academy Publishing House.

TMFA 2015 = Terminologia meteorologică românească a fenomenelor atmosferice (ştiinţific versus popular). Cristina Florescu (coord.), Laura Manea, Elena Tamba, Alina Pricop/Bursuc, Cristina Cărăbuș, Florin-Teodor Olariu, Maria Iliescu, Rodica Zafiu, Bardu Nistor, Mariana Neț, Iași, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University Press.

TTRM = Tezaurul toponimic al României. Moldova. Dragoș Moldovanu, Daniela Butnaru, Dinu Moscal, Ana-Maria Prisacaru, Vlad Cojocaru, Toponymic Thesaurus of Romania. Moldova. Volume II. Mic dicţionar toponimic al Moldovei (structural şi etimologic), part 2. Toponime descriptive, Iași, 2014, 2021, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University Press.

  1. The abbreviations are explained at the end of this presentation. ↩︎

  2. Prof. univ. dr. hab. Cătălin Galeș is also responsible for the teaching and research activities of the Iași Astronomical Observatory. ↩︎