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201 Corso Giorgio Kastriota

Arbëreshë language

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Technical sheet prepared by: Region of Sicily - Department of cultural heritage and Sicilian identity - CRicd: Regional center for inventory, cataloging and documentation and Sicilian regional film library

N. Prog.
Arbëreshë language
REIS - Book of Expressive Practices and Oral Repertoires
Approval date
Expressive practice
Piana degli Albanesi
Local denomination
Gluha arbëreshe (Albanian language)
Chronological News
The Arbëreshë, that is the Albanians of Italy also called Italo-Albanians, are the Albanian ethnolinguistic minority historically settled in southern and insular Italy.
Coming from Albania and from the numerous Albanian communities of Morea, they settled in Italy between the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries, following the death of the Albanian national hero Giorgio Castriota Scanderbeg and the progressive conquest of Albania and all the territories of Byzantine Empire by the Ottoman Turks. Their culture is determined by characteristic elements, which are found in the language, religion, customs, traditions, uses, iconographic art, gastronomy, still jealously preserved today, with the awareness of belonging to a specific ethnic group. .
After more than five centuries in the diaspora, most of the fifty Italo-Albanian communities still preserve the Byzantine rite. They belong to two eparchies: that of Lungro for the Albanians of mainland Italy and that of Piana degli Albanesi for the Albanians of insular Italy. The eparchy sisters, together with the Esarchico Monastery of Grottaferrata managed by Italian-Albanian monks, form the Italian-Albanian Church, the most important reality for maintaining the religious, ethnic, linguistic, cultural and identity connotations of the Albanian minority in Italy.
The Arbëreshë speak the Albanian language (gluha arbëreshe) pre-Ottoman, in the Tuscan variant (Toske) spoken in southern Albania. The Albanian language in Italy is protected by law 482/1999.
It is estimated that the Albanians of Italy are about 100.000 and constitute one of the oldest and most consistent among the ethno-linguistic minorities in Italy.
The Albanian communities of Italy are distributed in Abruzzo, Molise, Campania, Basilicata, Puglia, Calabria and Sicily and are recognized by the maintenance of the language. They have dual nomenclature: in Italian and in Albanian (in the variant Arbëresh). The Sicilian community is located in the Province of Palermo at Contessa Entellina (Kundisa), Piana degli Albanesi (Hora and Arbëreshëvet) and Santa Cristina Gela (Sëndahstina). In Mezzojuso and Palazzo Adriano, despite having kept the Byzantine rite, they lost the Albanian language, preserving their identity only in the religious aspect and in the historical memory.
Arbëreshe community of Piana degli Albanesi
The most evident trace of the strong ethnic identity of Piana degli Albanesi is the language arbereshe. This language, even with its phonetic and morphosyntactic peculiarities, belongs, like other spoken ones arberesheof southern Italy, to the dialect group rough widespread in southern Albania, mixed with phonetic features with Greek and protected as an ethnolinguistic minority language. However, the language arbereshe it is seriously threatened by a constant process of assimilation and by a progressive passage to the Italian-Albanian diglossia, with the Albanian in a basically subordinate position. The strong homologation pressures exerted by the dominant cultures with the new technological communication systems constitute a further risk for the survival of the cultural and linguistic peculiarities of the Albanian communities of Italy.
The language spoken by the Arbereshe è arbërisht, ancient variety of tosco (Toske), southern dialect of Albanian. That arbereshe belongs to the group of minorities of ancient settlement that have little territorial contiguity with the stock of origin; it is, in fact, a true linguistic island of ancient tradition, which has handed down, through the centuries, and orally, the linguistic, cultural and religious heritage. Today, although the standard contemporary language of Albania is almost exclusively based on the southern dialect, the Tuscan dialect (due to the action of the dictator Enver Hoxha, a native of Gjirokastra), thearbërisht it is not immediately understandable for an Albanian native speaker of Albania, due to the different accents and inflections, but in any case there is a fair mutual intelligibility.
One of the peculiar characteristics of the language arbëresh it is the lack of words for the denomination of abstract concepts, replaced over the centuries by periphrases or borrowings from the Italian language, and to a lesser extent, by Greekisms and exoticisms in general. You talk to her Arbëreshwhile maintaining common features in their phonetic, morphosyntactic and lexical structure, they record consistent variations from country to country.
Since 1999, the Arbëreshë language has been fully recognized by the Italian State as an "ethnic and linguistic minority language" in the context of local administrations and compulsory schools (see sheet 19).
Compare cards:
Cefalia, Anna and Isidoro Passante. 2010. The sea and the diaspora of the Albanians of Sicily, in Argonauti. Sea and migrants. School-museum project. Palermo. Sicilian Region, Department of Cultural Heritage and Sicilian Identity, Department of Cultural Heritage and Sicilian Identity.
Di Marco, Pietro and Alessandro Musco. (edited by). 2005. Aspects of Byzantine and Albanian culture in Sicily, Palermo: Workshop of Medieval Studies.
Gerbino, Gaetano. 2007. Fjalori arberisht-italisht i Hores se Arbereshevet: arberesh-Italian dictionary of the language of Piana degli Albanesi, Palermo: Luxograph.
Guzzetta, Antonino. 1978. The speech of Piana degli Albanesi. Palermo: University of Palermo, Institute of Albanian language and literature.
Li Cauli, Giuseppina and Leda Melluso. 2015. Albanian stories of Sicily: conversation with an arbëreshe. Palermo: European Polygraphic Institute.
Schirò, Giuseppe. 1998. Notes on the origin and foundation of the Albanian colonies in Sicily. Catanzaro: Rubbettino.
2003. Arbereshe: history, places and symbols of the Eparchia di Piana degli Albanesi. Sicilian Region, Department of Environmental Cultural Heritage and Lifelong Education (1 CD-ROM).
2002 Gli Arbëreshë of Sicily. Brinjat Project the Municipalities of Contessa Entellina, Mezzojuso, Palazzo Adriano, Piana degli Albanesi, Santa Cristina Gela. Palermo: Regional Province, Chair of Albanian Language and Literature, Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Studies (1 CD-ROM).
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Chiara Dell'Utri
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