We have also discussed the official language spoken in Moldova here, where we learned a little about the history of Moldova and some chronological milestones, such as when Moldova officially declared its independence and the steps taken in terms of legislation up to the current state of affairs. Now the official language of Moldova is Romanian, both written and spoken. This means that, at least in theory, Romanians and Moldovans speak exactly the same language and will understand each other perfectly. Well, things are not that simple and there are a few details to bear in mind.
Is Romanian spoken in Moldova?
Linguistically, the Romanian language is divided into 4 main dialects: Dacoroman, Istroroman, Aromanian and Meglenoroman. Of these, the one used in Romania and Moldova is Dacoroman. However, it is also divided into five sub-dialects, designating those particularities of the popular language which are found in different geographical areas of the country: ”muntean”, ”moldovean”, ”bănățean”, ”crișean” and ”maramureșean”. If we consider that they follow geographically the map of the historical provinces of Romania, we immediately understand that the Moldavian sub-dialect corresponds to present-day Moldavia and to a part of Romania situated on the border with Moldavia.
We have deemed it necessary to make these minimal mentions because our discussion of the Romanian language in Romania and the Romanian spoken in Moldova must start from this fact. The relationship between the language spoken by Moldovans and the language spoken by Romanians in everyday life is in fact the same as the particular relationship between the way the inhabitants of different parts of Romania speak it. At the macro level or at the literary level, looking from somewhere above, the literary language is one, spoken throughout Romania and the Republic of Moldova. However, at a particular, popular level, there will always be differences between local groups of speakers, both in the specific pronunciation of certain sounds and, above all, in vocabulary.
In other words, a literary text or a newspaper article written in Romanian will be understood without problems by both Romanians and Moldovans. However, it is possible that there may be significant differences in conversation, which can sometimes make it difficult for speakers to understand each other.
Romanian language in Moldova and Romania
Every language is a living organism, constantly evolving and changing under the pressure of external factors, continually adapting to the conditions around it and to the elements with which it comes into contact. In fact, just like an organism, a language’s chance of surviving and continuing to be spoken lies precisely in its ability to adapt, over and above the obvious need for as large a community of people as possible to speak it.
The Romanian language spoken by Moldovans has been undeniably influenced by the Russian language over the years, and this influence is still very real today. Thus, there are many differences in vocabulary from the Romanian language used by Romanians. But beyond vocabulary, it is also a question of syntax and the way sentences and phrases are constructed, and here Moldovans will often use a syntax more typical of the Russian language.
Here are some examples of vocabulary differences:
- romanian word – moldavian word
- zăpadă – omăt (snow)
- nasture – bumb (button)
- noroi – glod (mud)
- prună – perjă (plum)
- porumb – păpușoi (corn)
- geacă – scurtă (jacket)
- gaură – bortă (hole)
- șnițel – bătută (schnitzel)
- curte – ogradă (yard)
- plapumă – ogheal (quilt)
- scutec – pelincă (diaper)
And the examples could of course go on. Some of these parallels involve entirely different words that mean only one thing on one side or the other, while some involve the use of words that exist on both sides but have different contextual meanings or simply different meanings altogether.
More difficult is when it involves a word that is identical in form but has a completely different meaning. For example the word ”strașnic” (awesome). In Romanian it expresses the intention to use a superlative, meaning that a thing or action is very good, wonderful, excellent. In Russian, however, страшно means something scary. Well, it is easy to understand the confusion that can arise in a discussion if a Romanian uses this word with the positive connotation it has for him, while for a Moldovan this word will always carry a negative meaning.
Can I learn Romanian?
The answer is Yes. If you need to be able to get by in Moldova, the simple answer is yes. You can learn Romanian and you will be able to speak satisfactorily with both Romanians and Moldovans. Of course, there will be, as I have already mentioned, some differences in local colouring, but one thing is for sure, you will be able to manage without any problems on either side of the border. You will be able to read absolutely any text, you will be able to understand the articles in the press or the news on TV, and you will be able to carry on a conversation with anyone you want, in any context. Romanians and Moldovans are also extremely friendly, so they’ll be happy to help you overcome any small differences in vocabulary between one area and the other.