While the law says there is such a thing as a Moldovan, and Moldovan language, in historic reality Moldovans are ethnic Romanians and Moldovan language is just Romanian. (Note when Joni was learning Romanian we didn’t call it Moldovan. This is controversial here and in talking about it with locals I have to choose which word I use carefully).
- Pre-1812, most of the land mass constituting
Moldovawas part of . Romania
- 1812- this land mass was taken by the Russian Empire and named
Bessarabia. encouraged Russians and others to settle there, and began to replace the Romanian Orthodox church with the Russian Orthodox church, and discouraged Romanian in education. Russia
- 1918- Russian Empire collapses and Bessarabia joins with
as a single country. Transnistria splits off and forms its own Romania . Socialist Republic
- 1940- Hitler and Stalin sign the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact that officially gives Bessarabia to the
. Transnistria is united with Bessarabia and area is officially called USSR . (Most industry would be introduced in this Transnistrian section, made up mostly of ethnic Russians and Ukranians). Moldova
- 1941- Hitler invades
USSRand Romaniaagain resumes control of . Moldova
USSRre-takes . Moldova
- Stalin begins deporting Moldovans to Siberia and
, while importing Russians and Ukranians to the area. The local language is officially called “Moldovan,” and a new official alphabet in Cyrillic is introduced. Changes in the official language are made to make it different from Romanian. Kazakhstan also begins a new education program stating that Moldovans are their own race and Romanians are something different. (De-nationalization programs like this are designed to keep USSR Moldovafrom re-joining with more independent-minded , whose leadership had gotten on Stalin’s bad side). Romania
passes a law restoring Moldovan language to a Latin script. “Moldovan” is still the name of official language of the country. Moldova
Moldovadeclares independence from the . Some people begin to push for re-uniting with USSR . Transnistria declares independence from Romania and civil war ensues. Moldova
- Russian troops assist Transnistria, and a cease-fire is signed. Transnistria becomes its own entity. A 1994 vote shows that most Moldovans prefer independence to uniting with
. Schools in Transnistria teaching Romanian/Moldovan continue to use the Cyrillic script introduced by the Russians. Romania
becomes the only country in the world with freely-elected Communist government (in name, at least). Government continues policy of Moldovan as the official language. Moldova
- A 2004 census says that 60% claim Moldovan as their mother tongue, whereas only 16% claim Romanian.
Now, most former Soviet countries recognize Moldovans as their own ethnicity.
You can read the heated debate among Wikipedia contributors here.
The local media, and even the national anthem, don’t refer to the national language by name only simply as “Limba de Stata” (“Language of the State”). The ruling Communist party has clearly made their commitment to independence from
So, is Moldovan the Soviet-modified Romanian written in Cyrillic script? Or is it the dialect of Romanian that’s spoken here in
While most Moldovans claim Moldovan as their language, hundreds of thousands are applying for Romanian passports and citizenship based on their Romanian ethnicity…
If there’s enough interest in this post, I’ll post some of the latest political theories about how this is all going to end up. If I’ve made errors here, Serghei and anyone else more knowledgeable than myself should feel free to point them out.