Parliament approved a law to change the name of the state language
Originally published on Global Voices
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On March 16, the Moldovan Parliament approved in the second reading a draft law proposed by the Action and Solidarity (PAS) faction to change the name of the state language in the constitution and all other laws from “Moldovan” to “Romanian,” writes NewsMaker. The initiative aims to align the legislation with the decision of the Constitutional Court made in 2013, which ruled that the Declaration of Independence of Moldova — which mentions the Romanian language — prevails over the text of the constitution, including in terms of the name of the state language.
As an article by Dr. Charles King discussed in the scientific journal the Slavic Review (1991), the Moldavian language was constructed during the early Soviet cultural policy, with a focus on the Moldovan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (MASSR), which existed from 1924 to 1940 on the Ukrainian–Romanian border and is now the modern Republic of Moldova.
In the case of MASSR, writes King, the cultural cadres justified their creation of a new language for the Moldovans by claiming that the new idiom, based on peasant speech patterns, was more democratic and genuine than the French-influenced literary language used in bourgeois Romania. However, the Moldovan peasants often resisted the language reforms, and cultural elites were hesitant to adopt a language based on forms of speech and writing they considered uncultured. Thus, the nation-building project faltered not only due to the artificiality of the project’s content but also due to the ambivalence of elites toward the culture they sought to construct.
By the end of the 1980s, the only noticeable difference between Moldovan and Romanian was the use of Cyrillic script in Moldovan and the remaining discourse surrounding linguistic dissimilarities. The Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic had previously attempted to emphasize the distinctions between the two language varieties, but subsequent linguists and cultural authorities did little more than acknowledge them.
It is highlighted in King’s article that, among the many culture-planning efforts within Soviet nationalities policy, the Moldovan case stands out as a unique success story. While many other attempts to indigenize language use or establish new literary standards based on dialectal variants ultimately failed or were abandoned during the cultural revolution, Moldovan emerged as a new language that persisted until the final days of the Soviet Union.
In present-day independent Moldova, the goal of creating a separate Moldovan language is no longer considered. Nevertheless, the country’s constitution still recognised “Moldovan” as the official language up to the recent parliamentary vote, despite the fact that it is essentially identical to Romanian.
Other proposed changes in the bill include replacing the name of the holiday “Limba noastră” [our language] with “Limba română” [Romanian language] and recognizing the phrase of Article 13 of the constitution “functioning on the basis of the Latin script” as obsolete. All changes will need to be made to the regulations within 30 days after the law’s entry into force.
The bill was approved by 58 deputies, with members of the PAS faction celebrating the result with shouts of “Bravo.” “Congratulations. This vote is a bit late,” said Igor Grosu, Speaker of the Parliament.
However, the Communist and Socialist factions opposed the bill, with deputies attending the meeting with posters such as “The Constitution of Moldova: Moldova, Moldovans, Moldovan” and “The people are sovereign. PAS is a tyrant.” The factions even proposed removing the bill from the agenda, but the proposal did not receive the required number of votes.
Written by Daria Dergacheva