Showing posts from August, 2011

Language and nationality

I just finished reading the Lonely Planet guide to Eastern Europe.
This big book includes every European country that was in the former Soviet bloc. Since I live in Prague, I am very interested in this information--so far, Jarda and I have traveled mainly to Western Europe, and I'm fascinated to read about the countries to the east.

One fact that leaped out of the pages was the relationship between language and nationality. Sometimes nationality and language go hand-in-hand. French is spoken by the people of France, for example, and is the official language. This is simple and straightforward.

But when you move east, where people have moved and been moved from nation to nation for millennia, it's not so simple. For example, the people of Moldova speak Moldovan--why not? But according to the book, Moldovan is really just Romanian. Stalin made Moldovan a language when he created Moldavia as an autonomous Soviet republic. Giving the language a new name was a way to differentiate …