Friday, November 6, 2009

Name Games

Two of the sorest points that exist between Romania and Moldova relate to the name of the country and the name of the language.

Romanian nationalists have a point when they claim that the former Moldovan Soviet Republic should not be called the "Republic of Moldova".  After all, there is a significant part of Romania known as "Moldova" which is not part of the Republic.  Furthermore, this Romanian region was the heart of the old principality of Moldova, and the area now known as the Republic of Moldova was essentially a colonial frontier of the principality.  In rights, the newly independent country should probably have been named the "Republic of Basarabia".

On the other hand, Moldova's communists have a point in preferring to name the common language "Moldovan" when used on the territory of the Republic.  After all, the language was being used hundreds of years before Romania came into being, and even hundreds of years before the formation of a Romanian identity.  Furthermore, the territory of the republic of Moldova was only part of Romania for around 25 years, whereas it was part of the Moldovan prinicpality for several hundred.

As you can see from the above, there are strong (but different) arguments for naming the country "Basarabia" and the language "Moldovan".  In both cases however we need to appeal to pragmatism.  The world already knows the country as "Moldova" and the language as "Romanian", and the sooner that both countries make their peace with these names, the easier it will be for everyone.  For example, the people of Moldova will wake up to find that they already speak an official language of the European Union, while use of the moniker "Moldova" by Romania will blunt some of the attacks of the communists relating to 'iredentism'.  Some of the stupid hurdles to cooperation between Romania and Moldova would dissolve overnight.

So here's my request:  for pragmatic (rather than historic) reasons, the old soviet republic should be known as "Moldova", while the language should be known as "Romanian".  Such a compromise would work to the benefit of both nations.


  1. Completely agree - three cheers for pragmatism! Especially since in day-to-day life people can (and will) call things whatever they want, whatever the "official" names are.

  2. good point! where did u get the inspiration for this subject?