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Title: Language decline and death in three Arbëresh communities in Italy : a sociolinguistic study
Author: Perta, Carmela
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2005
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This study explores the problems of language shift on the example of Arbëresh, spoken by groups of Albanians who have migrated to the South of Italy in different waves since the 15th century. Three Arbëresh speaking communities – Campomarino, Portocannone and Ururi – form the focus of the sociolinguistic study, aiming to give a picture of the vitality of Arbëresh. It was analysed from the perspective of the Arbëresh speakers’ competence and their attitudes towards Arbëresh. From the analysis of the quantitative and qualitative data collected, an overwhelming decline of Arbëresh can be observed. This decline has nearly reached its final stage in Campomarino; in the other two villages, a proficiency continuum emerges, where the relation between the Arbëresh speakers and their competence and use is determined by their age: competence and use increase together with the speakers’ age. Some elements of revitalization can be found in the linguistic minorities’ status under the recent Italian law 482/1999. According to the law, the language of the minority groups can be used in formal domains and in schools.  However, what creates a problem for the Arbëresh people is that it is standard Albanian which is to be introduced in their communities. The introduction of standard Albanian seems to endanger a very precarious balance among the Arbëresh people and the “new” Albanians immigrants, who are tainted with the stigma of crime throughout Italy. This situation has caused changes in the Arbëresh speakers’ attitudes towards the use of Arbëresh and standard Albanian. From the results of the sociolinguistic survey, it emerges that these changes in the speakers’ attitudes can be observed in Portocannone and Ururi too. Here the Arbëresh speech communities’ negative attitude towards both Albanian and Arbëresh interfere and prevent any form of protection based upon the law. In Campomarino, the stigma attached to Albanians has reinforced an already strong negative attitude towards the use of Arbëresh. The situation is so dramatic and irreparable that no form of maintenance would be likely to produce any “positive” shift.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available