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International Journal of the Sociology of Language

Founded by Fishman, Joshua A.

Ed. by Garcia Otheguy, Ofelia

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The Albanian dialects of Southern Italy: a tenuous survival

1Università degli Studi ‘G. D'Annunzio’ Chieti-Pescara

Citation Information: International Journal of the Sociology of Language. Volume 2011, Issue 210, Pages 127–137, ISSN (Online) 1613-3668, ISSN (Print) 0165-2516, DOI: 10.1515/ijsl.2011.034, June 2011

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This study explores the problems of language shift via the example of Arbëresh, a language spoken by groups of Albanians who have migrated to the south of Italy in different waves since the 15th century. The aim of this article is to offer a picture of Arbëresh vitality from the perspective of the speakers' linguistic competence and language use, along with the attitudes towards the language. The focus will be on four Albanian enclaves which form a geographical continuum, a factor which bears on the vitality of the Albanian dialect. On the basis of the overall findings a clear hierarchy of Arbëresh vitality emerges: the four villages form an Arbëresh language-use continuum that improves as one moves from the coast towards inland locations. Moreover, a general negative attitude toward Arbëresh can be observed among the villages, even though at different levels, which was sharpened by the arrival of the “new Albanians” whose highly negative ethnolinguistic image throughout Italy has provoked a shift among Arbëresh speakers in favor of the Italian language.

Keywords:: Albanian; language minorities; vitality; maintenance; loss

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