Institut für Kulturanalyse
Istria is a multiethnic and multilingual border region located in the northwest of Croatia. In the course of its history, Istria has been part of different political entities, notably, in just the last one hundred years or so, of as many as four different states – Austria-Hungary, Italy, Yugoslavia, and Croatia. Related to this history, this multiethnic and multilingual region has undergone many demographic shifts. Also, it is strongly regionalist, with “Istrianness” being a widely supported identity among its inhabitants (cf. Banovac 2004; Sujolđić 2008; Balinger 2012; Valenta and Gregurović 2015; Stjepanović 2018; among others). After the discussion of the Istrian sociolinguistic situation, including its linguistic diversity, the talk will concentrate on two lesser-known severely endangered Romance languages spoken there and on my own documentation and preservation work in the communities speaking them.
Following an introduction to the sociolinguistic situation in Istria, the talk will focus on language endangerment and shift in Istria and on two severely endangered Romance language—Istro-Romanian and Istriot. I will first discuss their current social and linguistic status, then talk about the community-centered and collaborative language documentation and preservation projects and activities carried out in the two endangered linguistic communities.
The work on Istro-Romanian took place over more than ten years, in Croatia and, to a smaller degree, in the United States. Parallel to this work, a number of community-based and community-oriented activities were conducted (e.g. creation of the language website [http://www.vlaski-zejanski.com], yearly language and culture festivals, language playrooms for children, publication of learning materials, etc.). The work on Istriot started at the invitation of community members and focused on organizing and conducting four summer schools in language documentation for community members (which included data collection) and on project consultation.
Zvjezdana Vrzic, Ph.D. (University of Rijeka & New York University)
Janine Schemmer (janine [dot] schemmer [at] aau [dot] at)