Banat | Village Coordinator: Nick Tullius


Schwowische Dialect of Alexanderhausen Article by Nick Tullius

Exams in Temeswar
Translation by Nick Tullius

     It happened around 1946 or ’47, when high school (called “Gymnasium”) started right after fourth grade. Our Romanian principal prepared us, two boys and a girl, to pass the admission exam to the high school “in the city” (for us, “the city” was always Temeswar). All subjects were in Romanian, in which we were getting along nicely at that time. And mathematics was pretty much the same in all languages.

Religion presented a little bit of a problem. In the village school, our catholic priest taught religion in German, while the orthodox priest taught our Romanian colleagues in Romanian. The principal agreed with our priest, that the priest would separately teach religion in Romanian to the three of us, in preparation for the high school admission exam. Our priest found some Romanian bibles and we went to the rectory, two or three times a week, for our private lessons in religion.

As the exam drew closer, Bessl Liss, a woman that sold produce on the Temeswar market, found us a place to stay in the city during the days of the exam. We stayed at with Erschi-Neni, who lived somewhere around the Kittl Square. I slept on the couch in the kitchen, and during the night, something bit me around the neck and near the eyes. Erschi-Neni declared that it was a "rash", because “We haven’t got bedbugs.” She treated the “rashes” with alcohol, and I thought to myself “you can tell that to the bedbugs”, but I did not say it out loud.

The first day of exams was uneventful; only math and religion remained for the second day. Once again we sat two to a bench and worked on our test papers. The test supervisor, probably a math teacher from the high school, was walking up and down between the rows of school benches. He had a big moustache and the rest of his face resembled the picture of the Neanderthal man from the biology book. One could easily get scared from looking at him. He stopped a few benches behind me, glanced at the work of a student, and yelled at him: “Pişta, mă Pişta, ce faci tu acolo?” (“Pishta, Pishta, what are you doing there?”). Now I got really scared, as he was standing behind me. But he did not say a word and marched on.

The religion test was the last of our exams. As we sat in our benches, the door opens and in comes a young, blond chaplain in black robe, who says in a friendly voice: "Good morning, boys, would you like to retell me something from the Bible?" He said this in literary German, indicating that, naturally, we could write our essay in German. When I notice how my bench neighbour spelled “Egipten” (Egypt), I realized that he also received his religion lessons in Romanian. When we reported this experience to our village priest, he laughed and said: “Learning religion is always good, whether in German or in Romanian.”

I don’t remember ever seeing the results of these tests. Around this time, the government issued a decree reforming high school. Every student had to complete seven grades at elementary level, and then continue to high school (now called “Lyzeum”). I can tell you that this was a relief: I could now stay at home three more years.


The Banater Post published two short stories written in the schwowisch dialect by Nikolaus (Nick) Tullius about his home village Schandrhaas in Banat. Nick shares these with us as a reminder of days gone by but still close at heart.




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Last updated: 26 Aug 2020