On March 16, the Library of Congress’ Global Legal Monitor published a report on Moldova changing its official state language from Moldovan to Romanian. Prior to reading the report, I knew nothing about the Moldovan language. I knew that Romanian is a romance language, but that was (and is) about the extent of my knowledge of Romanian. Starting from zero, I found the following note in the report about the relationship between Moldovan and Romanian to be interesting:

The Moldovan and Romanian languages are identical linguistically and semantically, with the only difference being the use of Cyrillic script in Moldovan.

Global Legal Monitor

The Global Legal Monitor report cited to two sources for his assertion. The first leads to the Encyclopedia Britannica’s entry for Moldova. I quote from the pertinent section about the Moldovan language:

Moldovan is designated as the country’s official language in the constitution. During the Russian imperial and Soviet periods, the Moldavian language (as it was then called) was written in the Cyrillic alphabet. Soviet scholars, mainly for political reasons, insisted that this language was an independent Romance language that was distinct from Daco-Romanian (see Romanian). In fact, Daco-Romanian and Moldovan are virtually identical, and differences between the two are confined to phonetics and vocabulary. In 1989 the script of the Moldovan language was changed to the Latin alphabet; thereupon began a heated debate over whether the language should be called Romanian or Moldovan. By the middle of the first decade of the 21st century, there was general agreement from both sides that Moldovan and Romanian were in fact the same language.

Encyclopedia Britannica

Our second source is the Austrian Academy of Sciences Vanishing Languages and Cultural Heritage page for Moldovan Romanian:

In Moldova, the term Moldovan (or Moldavian in Sovjet times) can also be used as synonymous with Romanian language. There is no particular linguistic break at the Prut River, the border between Romania and Moldova, the two countries share the same literary standard. In Moldova, until 1918, varieties of the Romanian Cyrillic alphabet were used. Today, the standard alphabet is equivalent to the Romanian alphabet, based on the Latin alphabet.


Thus, according to the report and the supporting sources, it appears that the major practical significance in Moldova making Romanian its official state language concerns the fact that Moldovan is written in Cyrillic while Romanian uses the Latin alphabet. I recommend consulting the original articles I linked to in the post if you are interested in learning more.