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Languages of Moldova

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Title: Languages of Moldova  
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Subject: Music of Moldova, Religion in Moldova, Moldovan cuisine, Cinema of Moldova, Languages of Europe
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Languages of Moldova

Languages of Moldova
Official languages Romanian
Minority languages Russian, Ukrainian, Gagauz, Bulgarian
Main foreign languages Russian, French, English
Sign languages Moldovan Sign Language (a variant of Russian Sign Language)

The state language of Moldova is Romanian which is the native language for 76% of the population, and is also spoken as primary language by other ethnic minorities. Gagauz, Russian and Ukrainian languages are also granted official regional status in Gagauzia and/or Transnistria.


  • Official language 1
  • Official minority languages 2
    • Russian 2.1
    • Gagauz 2.2
    • Ukrainian 2.3
  • Foreign languages 3
  • References 4
  • See also 5

Official language

The 1989 State language law of the former MSSR declared Moldovan, written in the Latin script, the sole state language, intending for it to serve as a primary means of communication between all citizens of the republic. The law also speaks of a common Moldo-Romanian linguistic identity.

In 1991, the Declaration of Independence of Moldova called the official language Romanian.[1]

The 1994 Constitution of Moldova stated that "the national language of the Republic of Moldova is Moldovan, and its writing is based on the Latin alphabet."[2]

In December 2013, a decision of the Constitutional Court of Moldova ruled that the Declaration of Independence takes precedence over the Constitution and the state language should be called "Romanian".[3]

Most linguists consider literary Romanian and Moldovan identical, with the glottonym "Moldovan" used in certain political contexts.[4] However, in 2003, the then Communist government adopted a political document stating that one of the priorities of the national politics of the Republic of Moldova is the insurance of the existence of the Moldovan language.[5][6]

The subject taught in schools has been called "Romanian language" since the Declaration of Independence in 1991.[7]

2,564,542 people (75.8% of the population of the country) calls Romanian/Moldovan native language, while 2,495,977 (73.8%) speak it as first language in daily use. Apart from being the first language of use for 94.5% of ethnic Moldovans and 97.6% of ethnic Romanians, the language is also spoken as primary by 5.8% of ethnic Russians, 7.7% of ethnic Ukrainians, 2.3% of ethnic Gagauz, 8.7% of ethnic Bulgarians, and 14.4% of other ethnic minorities.

Official minority languages

In localities with significant minority populations, other languages are granted official status alongside the state language.


Russian is provided with the status of a "language of interethnic communication", and since Soviet times remains widely used on many levels of the society and the state. According to the above-mentioned National Political Conception, Russian-Moldovan bilingualism is characteristic for Moldova.[6]

Russian was granted official status in Gagauzia, a region in the south of the country inhabited mostly by ethnic Gagauz, and in the breakaway region of Transnistria in the east of the country.

380,796 people (11.25%) call Russian native language, while 540,990 (16%) speak it as first language in daily use. Apart from being the first language of use for 93.2% of ethnic Russians, the language is also spoken as primary by 4.9% of Moldovans, 50.0% of Ukrainians, 27.4% of Gagauz, 35.4% of Bulgarians, and 54.1% of other ethnic minorities.


Gagauz is an official minority language in Gagauzia, and has significant regional speaker population. 137,774 people declared Gagauz as their native language, but only 104,890 speak it as first language.


Ukrainian has co-official status in the breakaway region of Transnistria. In the main part of the country, 186,394 people declared it native, and (of these) 130,114 speak it as first language.

Foreign languages

While since the 1990s most Moldovans learn English as their first foreign language in schools, very few speak it at a sufficiently advanced level to be able to communicate and understand it freely. Sometimes French, Italian, or Spanish are taught first. These languages are used by the Moldovan expats and working migrants in other countries, including France, Italy, Ireland, Spain, and the United Kingdom, but they usually do not speak them when they leave Moldova for the first time, instead learning them on arrival. The expats and the working migrants in Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Germany learn those countries' respective languages, and as a result it is not unusual to find speakers of Portuguese, Greek, Turkish, and German in Moldova. Moldovans of older and middle generations are generally bilingual in the Romanian language and Russian. There are also many Moldovan expats and migrant workers in Russia. Many of the younger generation, however, despite receiving one hour of Russian per week during school and having more Russian-language than Romanian-language TV channels to watch, may know this language rather poorly, for example being unable to communicate in writing or even to be able to have a more sophisticated oral conversation.


  1. ^ (Romanian)Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Moldova
  2. ^ Article 13, line 1 - of Constitution of Republic of Moldova
  3. ^ Moldovan court rules official language is 'Romanian,' replacing Soviet-flavored 'Moldovan' at
  4. ^ "Marian Lupu: Româna și moldoveneasca sunt aceeași limbă". Realitatea .NET. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  5. ^ The law regarding approval of the National Political Conception of the Republic of Moldova stipulates that "The conception is rooted in the historically established truth and confirmed by the common literary treasure: Moldovan nation and Romanian nation use a common literary form "which is based on the live spring of the popular talk from Moldova" - a reality which impregnates the national Moldovan language with a specific peculiar pronunciation, a certain well known and appreciated charm. Having the common origin; common basic lexical vocabulary, the national Moldovan language and national Romanian language keep each their lingvonim/glotonim as the identification sign of each nation: Moldovan and Romanian."
  6. ^ a b (Romanian) "Concepţia politicii naţionale a Republicii Moldova" Moldovan Parliament: Limba rusă care, în conformitate cu legislaţia în vigoare, are statutul de limbă de comunicare interetnică se aplică şi ea în diverse domenii ale vieţii statului şi societăţii. Pentru Moldova este characteristic bilingvismul moldo-rus. În actualele condiţii, este necesar să se creeze posibilităţi reale pentru ca bilingvismul ruso-moldovenesc să devină realitate.
  7. ^ (Romanian)

See also

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