Long path home of the Romanian language. IPN debate

Recently, the Constitutional Court adopted a decision confirming the correct name of the official language of the Republic of Moldova, which is “the Romanian language based on the Latin script”. It is an important document that allowed the Romanian language, figuratively speaking, “to get home” after 30 years of wandering under foreign names and faces such as the “Moldovan language”, “official language” or “our language”. Apparently, from a legal point of view, clarity and justice were ensured, but this does not mean that other divergences over the name of the language will no longer exist, either in society as a whole or within the political class. The components, reasons, effects of these divergences and also the possible solutions that can help reach a social and, perhaps, political consensus in this regard were among the issues discussed by the experts invited to IPN’s public debate “The long path home of the Romanian language”.

The permanent expert of IPN’s project Igor Boțan said that the language is a communication system made up of articulated sounds, specific to people, through which these express their thoughts, feelings and desires. The national language of a country is the language spoken by the majority of the people, but this does not necessarily have to be the official language, although this happens most of the times. A dialect is the form of a language spoken in a particular area, whose phonetic, lexical, grammatical characteristic features distinguish it from the common language of the whole people and from other local forms of the same language.

“The literary language is the well-ordered, normed and cultivated form of a national language. The literary language forms a super variant of the national language, characterized by a system of norms fixed in writing, which ensures certain unity and stability, as well as its cultivated character. The literary language has a wide scope of operation, encompassing cultural productions and manifestations in the broad sense of the word. The literary language is the language of scientific, philosophical, belletristic writings. It is the language of the press and political life, as well as the language used in different institutions: administration, school, theater, church, etc.,” explained the expert.

In the same connection, Igor Boțan referred to the remark of Antonio Gramsci, a well-known theorist of the so-called cultural Marxism: “Whoever speaks in a dialect or patois, not knowing a literary language, is, naturally, at a level of limited and provincial culture. A great culture can only be translated into another language of culture of a great culture, but not into a dialect or patois”.

Referring to the notions for the people, the expert said that it is a historical form of human community, superior to the tribe and prior to the nation, whose members live on the same territory, speak the same language and have the same cultural tradition. On the other hand, the nation is the human community characterized by unity of territory, consciousness of historical and cultural identity and, in general, unity of language and religion, usually within the same political-legal framework.

MP of the Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) Vasile Șoimaru, a signatory of the Declaration of Independence, said that the subject of language in society arose 35-37 years ago. After multiple “battles” in the Great National Assembly Square, with great difficulty, on August 31, 1989, the Law on the State Language and the Latin Alphabet was passed. Things didn’t stop there. Two years later, the Declaration of Independence was adopted, indicating the correct name of the language – the Romanian language. Later, in 1994, on June 27, the Constitution was adopted and serious debates were held in Parliament. However, the force that came up with another name of the language – the Moldovan language – won then.

“Things still continued. Three years ago, this young generation came and things were finally brought to an end. But those who for a lifetime speculated on what language they spoke woke up again. And if only they would speak it in the Moldovan form, as they call it, but they don’t speak it that way either, not even in Parliament. They always stop at this, at our correct ethnicity – that’s what they feared and, even though so many years have passed, they are still afraid,” said the MP.

“Now the Constitutional Court passed this ruling saying clearly to stop speculating so much on the Romanian language and the Moldovan language. Instead of stopping at social and economic issues, no, they take us back to the language issue. I don’t know how long this can last,” stated the PAS MP.

He made reference to several articles published decades ago, which note the correct name, the Latin alphabet. “And lo and behold, it has been going on and on. We defend the scientific argument, while they defend the lie. When are we going to get rid of this? I think never. They will die with this Stalinist argument, about the Moldovan language on this land. They write in Russian even in public spaces, in squares. It is a very bad example of mockery of the Romanian language and the Latin alphabet,” said Vasile Șoimaru.

Habilitated doctor of history Valentin Constantinov, senior scientific researcher at the Institute of History of the Moldova State University, said that the Republic of Moldova is the country where history and the historical discussion are always at the forefront.

“In medieval times, with the formation of independent Romanian states – in 1330 Wallachia and in 1365 Moldavia – these states, even if they remained vassals of the Kingdom of Hungary, they were independent. They defeated their overlord and even though they remained vassals, they were a kind of independent vassals. It was necessary to establish a princely chancellery for the government. The Middle Ages were the time of sacredness deriving from the biblical writings, where it is said that one cannot change the words spoken by the Savior. Greek, Latin and Hebrew are the first sacred languages. Two languages became stronger in the European space – Latin and Greek,” explained Valentin Constantinov.

According to him, this is the ideal aspect, but in the end the world is made up of people, who reach high executive positions. And where there are two people, there are usually three opinions. There was a disagreement between Constantinople, New Rome, and Old Rome. “In Old Rome, the language of worship, that of the Savior, was the sacred language. The Slavs agreed to be Christianized on condition that all the sacred books be translated into Slavonic. Thus, the language of worship, the Slavonic language, became the official language in the Romanian countries, given that we were under the extraordinary impact of Byzantine culture. But the majority population is Romanian, speaks the Romanian language. The Romanians have always called themselves Romanians, even if others called them Volokhs, Vlachs, etc.,” said the doctor of history.

“Why is the language Romanian? The language is Romanian and not Moldovan because Moldovan was spoken only in Moldavia, but the Romanian language is spoken also in Cluj, Bucharest, Timisoara and Maramures – territories that were not under the authority of the ruler of Moldavia. How did the term ‘Moldovan language’ become established? The country was called Moldova for 500 years – until 1859, when Alexandru Ioan Cuza was elected both in Iasi and Bucharest as the ruler of a new state, which the Romanians decided to call Romania. Being from Chisinau, if I meet tomorrow someone from Ilfov, Oltenia, Banat, Maramures, we will understand each other perfectly. And it’s probably hard to find a more unified language than Romanian. How was this unity secured? By the fact that the people circulated a lot,” said Valentin Constantinov.

The public debate entitled “The long path home of the Romanian language” was the 32nd installment of IPN’s project “Impact of the Past on Confidence and Peace Building Processes”, which is implemented with support from the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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