Small local press as a dynamic tool for maintaining linguistic diversity: The newspaper Mondo Albanese and the endangered Arbëresh vs. new media

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Abstract

This study analyzes the manifold role played by a small local newspaper in maintaining linguistic and cultural diversity in a small community, and, more generally, the potential of small local newspapers for linguistic mobilization of communities with endangered languages. Mondo Albanese, the Arbëresh newspaper of Piana degli Albanesi, a community of 7000 people most of whom still speak some form of endangered Arbëresh, was successful during the 80's in many ways: it was the first public medium to point out the problems of Arbëresh in its endangered state; the first to informally start a successful process of "language planning" without institutional support or academic platform, and to use a "repaired" written version of Arbëresh in its own articles; the first to reach the grassroots, and involve different strata of the population in meta-linguistic discussions; the first to form a group of young language activists with the enthusiasm to take on the question of revitalization. Mondo Albanese had a special role in the promotion of diversity and of "difference" as an asset. Mondo Albanese is no longer published today; hence, its mobilizing power for the community is absent. An effort to create an online version of the newspaper a few years ago failed. Although attempts to deal with the decay of Arbëresh continue at different institutional levels, today the direction of work has moved towards the community elite rather than the grassroots. Less is done on language use at home, in the streets and other community spaces of linguistic practice. But it is there where languages live and where diversity is maintained. On the other hand, among communities and researchers, there is a great deal of attention today on electronic media as instruments for linguistic maintenance. This study argues that although electronic media have great potential and have actually helped in maintenance efforts like linguistic documentation, connection among speakers and communities and dissemination of knowledge, their use for natural language practice is yet to come. In such conditions, media that can reach the grassroots and can affect natural communication in the endangered language, whether electronic or print, should be welcomed as an important factor for the maintenance of linguistic diversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-51
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Community Diversity
Volume12
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

Keywords

  • Arbëresh
  • Linguistic diversity
  • Linguistic endangerment
  • Media
  • Print vs. electronics
  • Small local press

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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