Language Rights, Linguistic Sustainability and Arbanasi Language

Arbanasi, April 16, 2017 | © Courtesy of Michał Huniewicz/Flickr.
Arbanasi, April 16, 2017 | © Courtesy of Michał Huniewicz/Flickr.

On June 1, 2017, Klara Bilić Meštrić and Lucija Šimičić have published an article entitled “Language Orientations and the Sustainability of Arbanasi Language in Croatia – A Case of Linguistic Injustice” in Open Linguistics.

A Blog Post by Pablo Markin.


In their paper,1 Bilić Meštrić and Šimičić have addressed the topic of language sustainability by concentrating on language rights in relation to the Arbanasi community descending from 18th century Catholic albanophones in the Zadar region of Croatia, which deals with a significant loss of its language. These researchers, thus, analyze “how speakers and community members themselves perceive marginalisation processes, especially concerning linguistic (in)justice that stems from the policies that hinder sustainability of Arbanasi language use” (145). Moreover, this paper aims to present the “effects of discourses that construct a minority and an endangered language as a problem, a right, a resource (Ruíz 1984) and finally as responsibility (Mehmedbegović 2011)” (146).

As these researchers note, “[w]hile speaking Arbanasi used to be an important identity marker in the past, its role has almost completely faded out due to marginalising processes that took place during the 20th century” (147). Bilić Meštrić and Šimičić have used critical ethnographic research methods, in order to find that “[i]n the specific social setting of the Zadar Arbanasi the interviewees are generally less prone to the idea of language institutionalization. At the same time, many of them question their own role or that of their families in the language management process. This particularly concerns the senior speakers who are also taking necessary measures in language revitalization” (153).

According to these authors, “language-as-problem used to be a dominant approach that led to the language loss in the community” (153). Bilić Meštrić and Šimičić, therefore, propose that the “policies that are supportive of language sustainability, the desire to identify, use, and transmit a language intergenerationally, can be achieved only by endorsing language planning initiatives that are more than just tolerant of diversity but are explicitly aimed at creating the niches where the need and advantage for use of that particular language would be discernible to the speakers themselves” (154).

By Pablo Markin


Featured Image Credits: Arbanasi, April 16, 2017 | © Courtesy of Michał Huniewicz/Flickr.

Cite this article as: Pablo Markin, "Language Rights, Linguistic Sustainability and Arbanasi Language," in De Gruyter Open, 27/04/2019, https://dgo.hypotheses.org/421.

  1. Meštrić, Klara Bilić, and Lucija Šimičić. “Language Orientations and the Sustainability of Arbanasi Language in Croatia–A Case of Linguistic Injustice.” Open Linguistics 3.1 (2017): 145-156. []

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