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Romanian vs. Moldovan?

I was wondering what the main differences were between Romanian spoken by people from Romania vs. people from Moldova. I once met some Romanians who said that they loved listening to Moldovans talk because it sounded "beautiful" and "soft." But I've also heard of Moldovans being teased for speaking Romanian with a "Russian accent."


Any thoughts?



Hi Lena,


It was my understanding that Moldovan was a dialect of Romanian, so I'm just asking about the dialectical differences :)


Is this person from Moldova looking for an English-speaker?

I will answer you in Romanian. :) Nu am stat niciodata sa analizez cele doua dialecte, care apartin aceleiasi limbi. Cred ca cea mai evidenta diferenta este accentul, pe care nu cred ca l-as putea imita vreodata. Eu personal ii admir pe moldoveni pentru faptul ca inca vorbesc limba romana si nu au renuntat la ea, in fovoarea rusei. Cat despre accentul lor, mie mi se pare amuzant, dar dragalas. Cred ca diferente de gramatica nu exista, dar ei vorbesc mai autentic, amintesc de o Romanie traditionara. Ei folosesc inca cuvinte pe care abia cativa oameni de la tara le mai folosesc.  :)

Mersi pentru răspunsul în limba română, Mihaela, este util! M-am gândit că mai evidenta diferența este accentul, dar încă nu știu cum sune.. I will look around Youtube :) 

Te poti uita aici la un scurt video. :) Este un moldovean tare hazliu care a venit la "Romanii au talent" :

în opinia mea, accentul și intonația sunt ruși!

It's a controversy as to which name of the language is older, Romanian or Moldovan. Simply because 'Roman' language is not the same as 'Romanian', although some historians like to play with words. Basically there were two countries, named Moldova and Wallachia and they spoke slightly different dialects of the same language. In some parts of those countries there were various influences from languages such as Hungarian and Polish. The only significant difference between modern Moldovan and Romanian that I know of was the verb 'sunt'/'sint', but today 'sunt' is considered the correct form, probably because it is closer to the Latin 'sum'. I don't think there is such thing as 'Russian accent' in Moldovan language. Quite on the contrary. During Soviet times many Moldovans spoke Russian with a strong Moldovan accent which is generally softer than that of Romania. I believe that the differences date back to Moldova/Wallachia times, not Soviet/Russian times.


Mai întâi felicitări pentru că vorbești atât de bine românește! :)


Then in order to answer to your question, both "languages" come from the same, which is Romanian. And Romanian developed from the mixture between Vulgar Latin (spoken by the Romans back in the first centuries A.D.) and the local language which is called dacă in Romanian. The local people were conquered by the Romans in 106, as other regions of Europe were at that time, when the Roman Empire was expanding. In France, for example the local people were les bretons. On this territory, Dacia, they were called daci. So Romanian is a mixture of Latin and limba dacă.

Then during migratory period, a lot of people/nations passed by Romania's territory (which was bigger then than the actual one - it included today's Republic of Moldova, some parts from Ukraine in the north, some in the south which belongs to Bulgaria and also some from Serbian territory). This is all politics, regarding splitting territory and it's all related in history books :)) But I want to get back to the language story.

So the migratory people passed and we had influences from other languages like Slavic, Hungarian, Turkish, etc. Later on, influences came from French, German, Italian, English, and others.

If you like, imagine a cake with 3 layers: the bottom one is the old dacă, the middle one is Latin and the top one is Slavic. Slavic because that's the main influence in my language and also represents the main difference between Romanian and other Romance languages.

In the old big Romanian territory we had 3 main regions: Valachia in the south until Black Sea, Moldova (which included both Moldova region from Romania today+Republic of Moldova) and Transylvania which was included at some point for lots of years in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.


Today, the language spoken in (the actual) Romania is the same in all these regions. The only difference is in the accent. And yes, linguistically we differentiate the dialects spoken in these regions. As others told you, and Mihaela too, the Moldovan accent makes the language sounds softer. In the Republic, this accent is a bit stronger due to more Russian exposure. As you said, their accent and intonation are more like the Russian, this is the way it sound/appears, which is normal.
But the language is the same: if 2 people from Romania and Moldova met and talk to each other, they can understand one another well enough. I had 2 colleagues in college who came from Moldova to study languages here, and we had no problem understanding each other, nor they had trouble in their exams. And I liked them and admired them a lot.

Of course there are vocabulary differences between them, which again is normal: in Romania too we have regional differences in words (lots of other countries have them).
Due to sensitive political reasons, the language spoken in Moldova was officialy called Moldovan. I don't want to discuss this here, bcs is of no interest to me to offend anyone, nor to go that path.:)
This is why that person told Lena "there is no moldovan language just romanian."

We find a similar "dialectal" difference in English for example: English spoken in UK, US, Ireland, Scotland, Australia and NZ. We can't say it's not English, it's just english with a different accent and some difference in vocabulary. Another example would be French: spoken in France, Belgium, Canada, Switzerland, and various countries that form what is called la Francofonie.


I know this was a bit long, but I wanted to present it not only for you, but also for the others who are interested in Romanian and who have the same question like you. :)

Thank you for the very detailed response, Iannamin. It is fascinating to analyze languages in ways that reveal the myriad historical and geopolitical factors leading up to their modern forms. Since my background is in Soviet/Post-Soviet studies, I am naturally particularly interested in the effects of the Russians' "colonization" of Moldova, although I realize that certain linguistic features of the Moldovan dialect must predate their arrival... ( I just don't know which, yet! ;) )

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