The Moldavian dialect (subdialectul / graiul moldovean / moldovenesc) is one of several dialects of the Romanian language (Daco-Romanian). It is spoken across the approximate area of the historical region of Moldavia, now split between the Republic of Moldova, Romania, and Ukraine.

The delimitation of the Moldavian dialect, as with all other Romanian dialects, is made primarily by analyzing its phonetic features and only marginally by morphological, syntactical, and lexical characteristics.

The Moldavian dialect is the representative of the northern grouping of Romanian dialects and has influenced the Romanian spoken over large areas of Transylvania.

The Moldavian and the Wallachian dialects are the only two that have been consistently identified and recognized by linguists. They are clearly distinct in dialect classifications made by Heimann Tiktin, Mozes Gaster, Gustav Weigand, Sextil Pușcariu, Sever Pop, Emil Petrovici, Romulus Todoran, Ion Coteanu, Alexandru Philippide, Iorgu Iordan, Emanuel Vasiliu, and others, whereas the other dialects have been considerably more controversial and difficult to classify.

The Moldavian dialect is not synonymous with Moldovan language. The latter is another term for the Romanian language as used in the Republic of Moldova. The border between Romania and the Republic of Moldova does not correspond to any significant isoglosses to justify a dialectal division; phonetics and morphology (which normally define dialectal classifications) are nearly identical across the border, whereas lexical differences are minimal.[1]

Geographic distribution

Major varieties (graiuri) of the Romanian language

The Moldavian dialect is spoken in the northeastern part of Romania, the Republic of Moldova, and small areas of Ukraine. It is the only Romance variety spoken east of the Eastern Carpathians. In detail, its distribution area covers the following administrative or historical regions:

Transitional areas

Transitional varieties of the Moldavian dialect are found in areas of contact with the other dialects. As such, Moldavian features often occur outside the historical Moldavia: in northern Dobruja, in northeastern Muntenia, and in north-east Transylvania.

Sound inventory

Moldavian dialect consonant phonemes
Labial Alveolar Palato-
Palatal Velar Glottal
hard soft hard soft hard soft hard soft
Nasal m ⟨м⟩ ⟨-мь⟩ n ⟨н⟩ ⟨-нь⟩ ɲ ⟨н(и,е)
Plosive unvoiced p ⟨п⟩ ⟨-пь⟩ t ⟨т⟩ ⟨-ть⟩ c ⟨к(и,е) k ⟨к⟩ ⟨-кь⟩
voiced b ⟨б⟩ ⟨-бь⟩ d ⟨д⟩ ⟨-дь⟩ ɟ ⟨г(и,е) g ⟨г⟩ ⟨-гь⟩
Affricate unvoiced t͡s ⟨ц⟩ t͡sʲ ⟨-ць⟩ t͡ʃ ⟨ч⟩
voiced d͡z ⟨дз⟩ d͡ʒ ⟨ӂ⟩
Fricative voiced v ⟨в⟩ ⟨-вь⟩ z ⟨з⟩ ⟨-зь⟩ ʒ ⟨ж⟩ ʝ ⟨ж(и,е)
unvoiced f ⟨ф⟩ ⟨-фь⟩ s ⟨с⟩ ⟨-сь⟩ ʃ ⟨ш⟩ ç ⟨ш(и,е) h ⟨х⟩ ⟨-хь⟩
Approximant w ⟨ў,у⟩ r ⟨р⟩ ⟨-рь⟩ j ⟨й,и⟩
l ⟨л⟩ ⟨-ль⟩
Moldavian dialect monophthong phonemes
Front Central Back
Close i ⟨и⟩ ɨ ⟨ы,-э⟩ u ⟨у⟩
Mid e ⟨е⟩ ə ⟨э⟩ o ⟨о⟩
Open a ⟨а⟩

Plus diphthongs.


Phonetic features

The Moldavian dialect has the following phonetic particularities that contrast it with the other Romanian dialects:


Morphological features

Lexical particularities


Moldavian dialect: [jɛ aˈvɛ ˈdowɨ vaʃʲ ʃɨ sɨ ɲiˈraw ˈwaminij di ˈvaʃili jij kɨ dəˈdew 'un ʃjubəˈraʃ di ˈlapti ‖ ʃɨ aˈʃa di la o ˈvremi stɨrˈkisɨrɨ ˈvaʃili ‖ nu məj dəˈdew ˈlapti]

Standard Romanian: Ea avea două vaci și se mirau oamenii de vacile ei că dădeau un ciubăraș de lapte. Și așa de la o vreme stârpiseră vacile, nu mai dădeau lapte.

English translation: "She had two cows and people were amazed at her cows for giving a bucketful of milk. And so from a while the cows became dry, they stopped giving milk."


  1. ^ Vasile Pavel, Limba română – unitate în diversitate, Limba română, nr. 9–10, 2008 (in Romanian)
  2. ^ Tratat de dialectologie românească, Editura Științifică și Enciclopedică, Bucharest, 1984, p. 213 (in Romanian)
  3. ^ Atlasul lingvistic român, edited by Sextil Puscariu, Cluj, 1938 (part I1); Sibiu, Leipzig 1942 (part I2), Sibiu, Leipzig, 1940, (part II1), Sibiu, Leipzig 1942, (supplement to part II1) (in Romanian)
  4. ^ Matilda Caragiu-Marioțeanu, Compendiu de dialectologie română, Editura Științifică și Enciclopedică, 1975, p. 90 (in Romanian)


Further reading

See also