Master of Arts (MA)


Linguistics (Interdepartmental Program)

Document Type



Linguistic classification is a scientific methodology for categorizing the languages of the world. However, the tools and methods of linguistic classification have been used to various degrees by political entities to further nationalistic agendas. This thesis assesses the role of linguistic classification in nationality and politics, and addresses the disjunct between true linguistic classification, based on genealogical, areal, and typological features, and language designation, based on political and nationalistic motives. This thesis uses the Romanian language as a vehicle for illustrating both linguistic classification methods as well as how these methods have been manipulated for non-linguistic reasons both internally by Romanian nationalists and externally by the Soviet Union in Moldova. The Romanian language is analyzed in terms of three major classification methods: genealogical, areal, and typological. The thesis supports the idea that linguistic classification, a scientific practice, cannot be fully reconciled with language designation, a practice which essentially serves non-scientific purposes, namely to confirm or deny political and cultural relationships between different demographic groups. While some of the methods of linguistic classification are used in language designation, it must remain independent of real-world affairs in order to maintain its own principles.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Elizabeth Oliver

Included in

Linguistics Commons