Language and identity in post-Soviet Moldova

Matt H. Ciscel

Abstract



The multilingual Republic of Moldova emerged from the Soviet Union between 1989 and 1991 as an example of the linguistic complications that can result from imperial domination and the mobility associated with political change. The study draws on historical, survey, and ethnographic data to illustrate the complexity of the accessible language and social identities in the emergent country. Among the issues discussed are the status of Russian, the argument over the status of Moldovan as an independent language or a dialect of Romanian, and the role of English as an international language in Moldova's globalizing culture and economy. Trends in the survey data are both reinforced and challenged by the ethnographic data. In conclusion, I argue that the linguistic identity crisis in Moldova seems far from resolution, even though some reasons for hope can be identified.

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