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Senator and linguist who defended the Romanian language dies

Senator and linguist who defended the Romanian language dies

Sen. George Pruteanu, who introduced a controversial law aimed at protecting the Romanian language from the overuse of foreign words, has died. He was 60.
Pruteanu, a linguist who styled himself as the defender of his native language, died of a heart attack in a Bucharest hospital on Thursday night, hospital officials said.
He was best known for a draft law he introduced in 1997 to protect the Romanian language from "the invasion of foreign words." It was fiercely debated and criticized, but eventually adopted in 2004 after its proposed penalties for transgressors were dropped.
The law was criticized by intellectuals, business people and pop singers, who argued that it restricted freedom of expression and effectively proposed setting up a "language police" reminiscent of the country's communist era.
Pruteanu defended the law by saying that many Romanians felt uneasy about the influx of foreign words, especially from English. He said commercial signs such as "shopping center" and "market," and TV ads using English words, had flooded the country, making Romanian obsolete.
The senator, who had his own daily TV show in the 1990s about the language, was respected for his command of Romanian and his delight in it. It came at a time when many public officials were being criticized for making basic grammar mistakes and having limited vocabularies.
On Friday, Romanian President Traian Basescu praised Pruteanu as "a linguist, a literary critic, publicist and politician ... a remarkable personality."
Literary critic Eugen Simion said the senator was "a man of extraordinary vitality ... with a special charm and a sharp and lively mind."
In 1996, he was elected to Parliament as a senator for the center-right National Peasants Party, which he left a few years later to join the leftist Social Democratic Party. In 2003, Pruteanu joined the nationalist Greater Romania Party.
Pruteanu was survived by his wife.


Updated : 2022-05-22 06:07 GMT+08:00