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An (Un)Common Language

An (Un)Common Language
RFE/RL correspondent Valeria Vitu attempts to unravel the differences between Romanian and Moldovan at a Chisinau market.

What do you sell, "castravetsy" [cucumber in Romanian] or "pepeni" [melon in Romanian, cucumber in Moldovan]?
Fruit-seller: It depends how they ask. People from the countryside ask for "pepeni," but usually they ask for "castravetsy."

When you say "castravetsy," how do people react?
Fruit-seller: Those who don't know the word are surprised.

What do people usually call melons?
Fruit-seller: Castravetsy. In fact, "castravetsy" is correct.

But what do the Romanians call "pepeni?"
Fruit-seller: Watermelons.

And what do you have here?
Female fruit-seller: "Curecky" [cabbage], in Moldovan.

What language is "varza" [cabbage in Romanian]?
Female fruit-seller: I don't know, Romanian?

Is there a difference?
Female fruit-seller 2: Country folk call them "curecky," those who are more intelligent ask for "varza."

How about cucumbers?
Female fruit-seller 2: Some say "castravetsy," some say "pepeni."

What language is "pepeni?"
Woman: I can't say....

Is it Moldovan or Romanian?
Woman: In Romanian it is different, I have forgotten what they call "pepeni," I did! "Castravetsy" is used more than "pepeni."

If someone asks for "pepene verde" [watermelon in Romanian], what do they want?
Woman: I think it's probably a "harbuz" [watermelon in Moldovan].

"Bostanei," "bostani" [pumpkin], or what!?
Woman 2: Bostan, bostan... we have called it "tabac" in Moldovan since old times.

If I call it bostan, is it wrong?
Woman 2: No

In Romania, they call this a "dovlyac."
Female fruit-seller: "Dovlyac" [in Moldovan] is longer, it is fried in the stove. In Romanian we call them "dovlyac," while Moldovan is similar to Romanian. However, we are farmers and call them "bostanei."

Fruit-seller: Curecky is curecky, varza is varza. Some call it curecky, in Moldova. People in Romania speak differently.