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



but, as shown by a sociolinguistic study carried out a few years ago in Acquaviva the majority of speakers (70%) nevertheless have positive or normal attitude toward the use of idiom, including also younger speakers.10 The language still has a relatively high prestige as a symbol of solidarity and collective identity. However, a more in depth study into the linguistic attitudes of this group would certainly be called for and would probably reveal pragmatic and economic issues as decisive in utility and frequency of use of Na-našo for communication.


Preservation Efforts and

Standardization Problems

What had a powerful impact on community efforts to revive the language was a national law (No. 482) for the protection and promotion of linguistic and cultural historic minorities that was passed in December 1999. Although the work of implementing this legislation into practical projects is still under way, some actions have been undertaken strengthening pos­itive attitudes toward language preserva­tion and stimulating general revitalization of traditional culture (like weaving). Croatian community leaders, and linguistically trained activists, took immediate advantage of the favorable national and international situation after the legisla­tion was passed and by establishing a documentation research center, and organizing Standard Croatian language courses. The initial steps have been also made toward the codification of the language by the publication of two dictionaries of the idioms spoken in Mundimitar and Kruč.

In any attempt to codify a language the problem of standardization arises as the result of any codification must be accepted by the group members, otherwise it will not be used by them. In an overview of the main scholarly positions on the relationship between endangered languages

and literacy, Grenoble And Whaley17 warn that although literacy is essential to nationalism and to language survival in the modern world, in some cases it facilitates language loss. They maintain that literacy has a strong effect at the macro-level, the larger and external context of linguistic endangerment, but that its effect on language vitality is primarily a result of micro-variables, which are specific characteristics of each community with an endangered language. Consequently, in interventions of revitalization any attempt to isolate the language, its uses and registers from its context and sociopolitical and economic factors is bound to be inadequate18,20.

Along with the institutional support provided by the Italian government and Croatian institutions based on bilateral agreements between the two states, the Slavic communities also received a new label for their language and a new ethnic identity - Croatian and there have been increasing tendencies to standardize the spoken idiom on the basis of Standard Croatian. It should be stressed, however, that although they regarded their different language as a source of prestige and self-appreciation, these communities have always considered themselves to be Italians who in addition have Slavic origins and at best accept to be called Italo-Slavi, while the term »Molise Croatian« emerged recently as a general term in scientific and popular literature to describe the Croatian-speaking population living in the Molise. As Giles and Johnson21 acknowledge ethnic group membership is not the only salient category in people's lives and may not be of explanatory value in ali social interactions. According to modern theories of identity as a dynamic social construct use of Croatian vernacular by the communities in question may qualify them in terms of linguistic categories as Croatians, but their collective identity has been formed on locally founded






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