Management of Language Boundaries: Autoethnography by a Documentary Film about an Arvanitika Language Community in Greece.

Author: Elena Botsi (Greek Open University – Sciences of Education, Greece)
Speaker: Elena Botsi
Topic: Language Documentation
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL COMELA 2021 General Session


Arvanitika is a threatened language that is spoken in very few areas of Greece. Greece’s Arvanitika-speaking communities scattered in suburban areas, mainly in southern mainland and island Greece, were founded in the Late Middle Ages during the Byzantine and Frankish conquest of Ottoman rule in the Southern Balkans and was merged in the new Greek nation by virtue of the Greek Orthodox faith and the struggle for liberation toward the Turks. Arvanitika is a branch of the South Albanian Tosk dialect characterized by a phenomenon of pidginization from Greek of various historical periods. During the period of language isolation, the language contact with the official Albanian language was followed by the early 1990s after the massive Albanian migration to Greece. The era of Albanian immigration finds the Arvanitic language, a low-status language, in a phase of linguistic change and transition from bilingual (Arvanitika-Greek) to monolingual (Greek) situation mainly by the younger generations, also the Arvanitika communities in a phase of urbanization of rural populations. The need to delineate the Arvanitika language over the official Albanian language and the negotiation of their ethnic identity leads the Arvanitika-speakers to the symbolic affirmation of the differentiation between the two languages. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in language recording and salvage, especially at the folklore level with the revival of traditions. The present paper is an approach of linguistic autoethnography who focus on the participation of the referent person in a documentary film about an Arvanitika village, in which she plays a dual role, that of the researcher and of the indigenous community representative, in attempting to negotiate the narration between science and popular perceptions in dialogue with domestic linguistic ideologies.


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Keywords: Arvanitika, Albanian, Greece, Autoethnography, language ideology, language obsolescence