Moldovan Cyrillic alphabet

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Languages Moldovan/Romanian
Time period
ca. 1930–today
Parent systems
Sister systems
Romanian Cyrillic alphabet
"Welcome" (Bine ați venit!) sign in Moldovan Cyrillic, Tiraspol, Transnistria 2012

The Moldovan Cyrillic alphabet is a Cyrillic alphabet designed for the Moldovan language in the Soviet Union and was in official use from 1924 to 1932 and 1938 to 1989 (and still today in Transnistria). Its re-introduction was decided by the Central Executive Committee of the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic on May 19, 1938.


The Moldovan Cyrillic alphabet was introduced in the early 1920s, in the Soviet bid to standardise the orthography of Moldovan/Romanian in the Moldavian ASSR, at the same time furthering political objectives by marking a clear distinction from the "bourgeois" Latin-based Romanian orthography introduced in Romania in the 1860s. As was the case with other Cyrillic-based languages in the Soviet Union, such as Russian, Ukrainian or Belarusian, obsolete and redundant characters were dropped in an effort to simplify orthography and boost literacy, making it also different from the Romanian Cyrillic alphabet used from the Middle Ages until the second half of the 19th century in the Principalities of Vallachia and Moldavia.[1] Abandoned for a Latin-based alphabet during the Union-wide Latinisation campaign in 1932, it was reinstated as official in 1938, albeit using an orthography more similar to standard Russian. Following the Soviet occupation of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, it was established as the official alphabet of the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic until 1989, when a law returned to the standard Latin-based Romanian alphabet.

There were several requests to switch back to the Latin alphabet, which was seen "more suitable for the Romance core of the language," in the Moldovan MSSR. In 1965, the demands of the 3rd Congress of Writers of Soviet Moldavia were rejected by the leadership of the Communist Party, the replacement being deemed "contrary to the interests of the Moldavian people and not reflecting its aspirations and hopes".[2]

The Moldovan Cyrillic alphabet is still the official and the only accepted alphabet in Transnistria for this language.


All but one of the letters of this alphabet can be found in the modern Russian alphabet, the exception being the character zhe (ж) with breve: Ӂ ӂ (U+04C1, U+04C2).

The following chart shows the Moldovan Cyrillic alphabet compared with the Latin alphabet currently in use. IPA values are given for the post-1957 literary standard.

Cyrillic letter: Equates to Latin letter: Name As employed in this context: IPA
А а a а   /a/
Б б b бе   /b/
В в v ве   /v/
Г г g, gh ге gh used before i or e, elsewhere g /ɡ/
Д д d де   /d/
Е е e, ie е ie after a vowel or if it alternates with ia, elsewhere e /e/, /je/
Ж ж j же   /ʒ/
Ӂ ӂ g, ge, gi ӂе g before i and e, ge before a, gi elsewhere /dʒ/
З з z зе   /z/
И и i, ii[citation needed] и ii used at end of word, i elsewhere /i/
Й й i и скурт before and after vowels /j/
К к c, ch ка ch before i and e, c elsewhere /k/
Л л l ле   /l/
М м m ме   /m/
Н н n не   /n/
О о o о   /o/
П п p пе   /p/
Р р r ре   /r/
С с s се   /s/
Т т t те   /t/
У у u у   /u/
Ф ф f фе   /f/
Х х h ха   /h/
Ц ц ț це   /ts/
Ч ч c, ce, ci че c before i and e, ce before a, ci elsewhere /tʃ/
Ш ш ș ше   /ʃ/
Ы ы â, î ы â in middle of word, î at beginning and end of word /ɨ/
Ь ь i семнул моале At end of word (usually) /ʲ/ (i.e. palatalization of preceding consonant)
Э э ă э   /ə/
Ю ю iu ю   /ju/, /ʲu/
Я я ea, ia я ea after a consonant or е, ia elsewhere /ja/, /ʲa/

Example text[edit]

In Cyrillic script:

Привя ын заре кум пе мэрь
Рэсаре ши стрэлуче,
Пе мишкэтоареле кэрэрь
Корэбий негре дуче.

    In Latin script:

Privea în zare cum pe mări
Răsare și străluce,
Pe mișcătoarele cărări
Corăbii negre duce.

(from Mihai Eminescu, "Luceafărul")

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Denis Deletant, Slavonic letters in Moldova, Wallachia & Transylvania from the tenth to the seventeenth centuries, Ed. Enciclopedicӑ, Bucharest 1991
  2. ^ Michael Bruchis. The Language Policy of the CPSU and the Linguistic Situation in Soviet Moldavia, in Soviet Studies, Vol. 36, No. 1. (Jan., 1984), pp. 118-119.

External links[edit]