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

Author Information

Elena Botsi,
Hellenic Open University, Greece

DOI: 10.47298/comela22.3-2
The GLOCAL Proceedings:  The GLOCAL Conference in the Mediterranean and Europe 2022

Abstract

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. These were founded in the Late Middle Ages during the Byzantine and Frankish conquest of Ottoman rule in the Southern Balkans, and merged with 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, language contact with the official Albanian language was followed by massive Albanian migration to Greece in the early 1990s. The era of Albanian immigration finds the Arvanitika language, a low-status language, in a phase of linguistic change and transition from bilingual (Arvanitika-Greek) to the monolingual (Greek) situation mainly by the younger generations, where the Arvanitika communities remain in a phase of urbanization. The need to delineate the Arvanitika language from the official Albanian language and the negotiation of their ethnic identity leads the Arvanitika-speakers to a symbolic affirmation of difference 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 a linguistic autoethnography that focuses 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 as well as of the indigenous community member, in attempting to negotiate between science and domestic linguistic ideologies.


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


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Documentary: https: /  / www.youtube.com / watch?v=ieGbIPNyrF0. Accessed March 2, 2022.



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