24.02.2020 | You say Moldovan, I say Romanian..

Not long ago, while visiting my parents in Chisinau, I searched my mother’s bookshelves for a Jack London novel that I wanted to show my wife, a Russian native speaker. The book was in Cyrillic, a relic of pre-independence Moldova, then part of the Soviet Union. I eventually found it and handed it to my wife, who looked puzzled. No wonder. The text was written in Moldovans’ native language.

I had succumbed to a moment of linguistic blindness. It was pardonable lapse. Growing up in Chisinau in the late 1980s, we wrote our mother tongue – which some today call Moldovan and others Romanian – in Cyrillic.  The name distinction is a sensitive issue. Not so much for millennials like me, but for older generations – who experienced the Soviet Union, witnessed its break-up and the birth of an independent Moldova – what you call the language says a lot about your political leanings and identity.

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