A. Sujold×ić: Molise Croatian Idiom, Coll. Antropol. 28 Suppl. 1 (2004) 263-274




Fig. 2. Population movement in the three villages during the last 140 years.


Collecroce), Filic (San Felice Slavo), Mundimitar (Montemitro), Mafalda (Ripalta), Tavenna, Palata, Montelongo, Stijakov (San Giacomo degli Schiavoni), San Biase and Petacciato, the Slavic language was preserved only in the three villages. With the development of transportation and the modernisation of lifestyle, the assimilation of Slavs in southern Italy has increased, the process of cultural assimilation being aided by the fact that they do not refer to themselves by a specific ethnic name, and simply say that their an cestors came ╗z one bane moraź (from the other side of the sea). It should be mentioned, however, that in the Slavic settlements undergoing a process of Italianisation, there was also a process of Slavicisation of the Italian population. When an Italian woman married a Slavic man, she usually had to learn the Slavic language spoken in the house in which the children were raised2. As sociologically and ethnologically today this group does not differ significantly from the surrounding population, its active bilingualism remains the

main distinctive feature of their cultural identity.

Despite the fact that the Slavic language is still spoken in all three villages, the number of individuals and families speaking it has greatly decreased through economically motivated migrations to other regions of Italy and overseas countries. The statistical data show a clear depopulation trend of these villages over the last 140 years (Figure 2)3. Two major waves of migration affected them: the first occurred at the beginning of the 1900s and the second took place in the 1950s. The first wave was to the United States and South America while the second wave involved northern Europe and Western Australia where today Molisian Slavic is also spoken by a relatively large number of bilingual English-Molise Croatian speakers.


Language Type and Status


The linguistic research carried out by various authors throughout the last century shows that despite its truly unfavor-






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