Moldovan: La revedere!

I’ve only looked at a little Moldovan and I’m ready to move on. And I’m referring to the language as Moldovan from this point, as I believe it is the correct designation in English.

Yes, like I mentioned before, this language is pretty much identical to Romanian. Whenever I tried looking for videos or text about Moldovan, I was almost always linked to Romanian or a note that reminded me how Moldovan was really another dialect of Romanian.

One thing I didn’t mention is that Moldovan is written in Cyrillic almost exclusively in Transnistria, a breakaway region in Moldova that declared its independence in 1990. The conflict between Moldova and Transnistria is still happening, unfortunately.

SUMMARY: Like Romania, Moldavia (the predecessor of Moldova) saw an influx of Eurasian migration in the Middle Ages before becoming part of the Ottoman Empire. The region would go back and forth between Russia and Romanian rule until it eventually split up, with one chunk going to modern-day Ukraine and the rest unifying with Romania until it declared independence in the early 1990s.

Moldovan’s status as a language continues to be disputed. While Moldovans recognize it as a separate language, linguistics believe it’s just another dialect of Romanian. The language controversy has also strained Romanian-Moldovan relations as well.

American libraries aren’t recognizing Moldovan either. I sort of agree with Ion Bărbuţă, the head of Moldova’s Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Linguistics, who states that the difference is an absurdity. Moldovan technically didn’t appear until the 1940s, which makes me wonder if political ties play a role. I’ll let you make your own conclusions.

FINAL IMPRESSIONS: Apart from the gross similarities, Moldovan sounds a bit more Slavic when spoken. It still has the flowing quality of Romanian, but I had trouble deciphering words. There’s also confusion about whether to learn Cyrillic, as it’s still used in some places. Because I didn’t list the Moldovan’s Cyrillic alphabet, I’ve added it below (the letters that don’t appear in the Slavic languages we reviewed already are in orange):

А а – a as in father
Б б – b as in book
В в – v as in vow
Г г – g as in give
Д д – d as in deer
Е е – e as in pet
Ж ж – a “zh” sound similar to the “si” in vision
Ӂ ӂ – a soft “g” sound before e or i; similar to dg in judge
З з – z as in zebra
И и – e as in me
Й й – y as in yes
К к – c as in cat
Л л – l as in love
М м – m as in mother
Н н – n as in new
О о – o as in bold
П п – p as in pat
Р р – r as in race
С с – s as in sale
Т т – t as in type
У у – u as in yule
Ф ф – f as in five
Х х – h as in help
Ц ц – cz as in czar
Ч ч – ch as in chew
Ш ш – sh as in shy
Щ щ – scht as in schtick
Ы ы – i as in bill
Ь ь – a d/t sound*
Э э – the schwa sound, sound like English “uh”
Ю ю – a “yu” sound
Я я – a “ya” sound

*This indicates palatalization (when the tongue makes a “d” or “t” sound). -ь makes consonants softer after an “ah” sound (o as in pot).

So, if I were to actually learn Moldovan, it would probably make sense to learn Romanian. But I doubt that will happen, as nothing jumped out at me from Romanian either.

Intelligibility: 2
Complexity: 3
Resonance: 2
Continuation Factor: 1

UPDATE, 4-19-2009: I mistakenly posted a video of Moldovan TV with reporters speaking in Russian. This was the last video I listened to after reviewing the samples, but I want to give a huge thanks to David for pointing it out.

Instead, here’s the Moldovan entry for this year’s Eurovision! Enjoy!

4 thoughts on “Moldovan: La revedere!

  1. That UFO video is in Russian. If you were using it as a sample of Moldovan, that might have been why it sounded Slavic and you had trouble making out words. In any event, it deserves to be noted.

    1. Yikes! Thanks David, I’ll definitely replace it. That was the very last video I listened to – thank goodness it wasn’t one of the first!

  2. Hello. I live in Romania.
    Here’s the difference between romanian and moldavia:
    what is it?->da’ ce este? (ro)->da shi?(md)
    in most cases, e is i and c is sh and stuff like that.
    Voronin, moldavias presidentm is a communist and tries to make moldavians think that hey speak moldavian and not romanian and they are another contry…

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