18 Facts About Arberesh language


Arberesh language derives from a medieval variety of Tosk, which was spoken in southern Albania and from which the modern Tosk is derived.

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Arberesh language is spoken in Southern Italy in the regions of Abruzzi, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Molise, Apulia and Sicily.

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The varieties of Arberesh language are closely related to each other but are not always entirely mutually intelligible.

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Arberesh language retains many features of medieval Albanian from the time before the Ottoman invasion of Albania in the 15th century.

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Arberesh language most resembles the dialect of Albanian spoken in the south-central region of Albania, and that of Cam Albanians.

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Until the 1980s Arberesh was exclusively a spoken language, except for its written form used in the Italo-Albanian Byzantine Church, and Arbereshe people had no practical connection with the Standard Albanian language used in Albania, as they did not use this form in writing or in media.

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Many scholars have produced Arberesh language learning materials for communities, including those by Zef Skiro Di Maxho who has written two books, and, both used in schools in the village of Piana degli Albanesi, Sicily.

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In English, the term dialect generally refers to a form of a national language from which the variety is derived; thus it is certainly not the case that Arberesh derived from the national language of Albania, as that variety was standardised in the mid-twentieth century, and Arberesh evolved separately from other forms of Albanian since the 13th century when its first speakers emigrated to Morea from central Albania.

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Furthermore, the views of its speakers are an important criterion, and to date there have been several studies whereby Arberesh speakers define their language as a language -and not as a dialect- and have resisted moves to implement Standard Albanian language as a language of instruction in their communities.

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Varieties of Arberesh language largely correspond with the regions where they are spoken, while some settlements have distinctive features that result in greater or lesser degrees of mutual intelligibility.

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Siculo-Arberesh language variety is spoken exclusively in the Province of Palermo and in three villages: Piana degli Albanesi, Santa Cristina Gela and Contessa Entellina; while the varieties of Piana and Santa Cristina Gela are similar enough to be entirely mutually intelligible, the variety of Contessa Entellina is not entirely intelligible.

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Therefore a further dialect within Siculo-Arberesh language known as the Palermitan-Arberesh language variety can be identified, as well as a Cosenza variety, a Basilicata variety, and a Campania variety represented by the speech of one single settlement of Greci.

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Some features of Arberesh language distinguish it considerably from standard Albanian.

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In contrast with standard Albanian, Arberesh language has retained an archaic system of final devoicing of consonants.

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Stress in Arberesh language is usually on the penultimate syllable, as in Italian.

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Some Arberesh language words appear to be of Albanian Arvanitika which has influenced the current Greek areas since the Middle Ages.

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Alongside the Sicilian vocabulary element in Siculo-Arberesh, the language includes grammatical rules for the incorporation of Sicilian-derived verbs in Arberesh, which differs from the rules concerning Albanian lexical material.

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Arberesh language surnames are used amongst villagers but do not carry any legal weight; the Arberesh language surname is called an "ofiqe" in Arberisht.

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