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"Zejane language" is one of the languages that was put on the list of UNESCO project of preservation of the dying languages in the World

The People of Zejane in a World Auditorium

Last fall the Discovery Channel team from London made a promotional film in Zejane about the Istria-Romanian language
[see note]

© Novi list
21 March 2004

Some sources claim that in the World today people speak about six thousand languages. However, world linguistic diversity is becoming more endangered each day where every two week one of these languages or dialects disappears from the face of the earth. The preservation of these endangered languages is the goal of the world organization UNESCO, and therefore they try to document the most endangered languages of the World by making of short documentary films, which will be presented on the world famous Discovery Channel through out the year. The material that is presented on this channel reaches millions of audience, which is very important especially when some of these global organizations are focused on preserving the heritage, in this case languages of small relatively unknown hidden places and their population. One of these places is Zejane who's inhabitants, which is known to the inhabitants of these territories, are speaking a special language or dialect which they call simply "zejanski", however, "officially" we are talking about Istro-Romanian language. This language was the reason that the Discovery Channel team came here through their Zejane connection – Igor Doricic, a member of the folklore society "Zejanski zvoncary" (The bell ringers of Zejane) and the leaders of the singing group "Zejanski Kantaduri" (Zejane's singers) with whom we talked about this "working visit".

The American connection

What are we talking about and how did this cooperation started?

The whole story started at the end of August last year with a call by Denis Sankovic [see note], who lives in the USA, but he is a native of Zejane and somebody who loves Istria and this territory, its people and their customs. He was contacted by Siobhan Lowrey, a producer at Discovery Channel Europe regarding the project they were working on. The word is about the UNESCO project dealing with preservation of dying languages in the World in which framework the Discovery Cannel team for several years now documents three such languages. This year among one hundred candidate languages the Zejane language entered the top three which will be documented and aired by the Discovery Channel this year.

The Zejane connection with the London team, in America is the "American Zejane man" Denis Sankovic and here?

The producer had simply entered the internet search machine looking for Zejane discovering a few files from Denis enabling he to contact him. We had decided to form a six-member team of journalists, cameramen and reporters, which came to Zejane last September.

Besides "Discovery people" did the Zejane heritage became interesting to some other paper publishers?

Besides the Discovery team after two days came around seven-eight reporters and cameramen among them well noted journalistic teams from Romanian and Polish magazines. Being with them I found a very important fact that the kids in Rumania are learning in school that "over there" in Central Europe exist pople who speak Rumanian, similarly to the Croatian people in Gradisce who also today speak Croatian language. It was interesting that this Rumanian guest, even though the Zejane language is over 500 years old and had absorbed chakavian, Italian and Croatian expressions, was able to almost completely understand our Mauro who spoke to him in Zejane language.

– Everything in two minutes Result of the four days of filming?

In the few days of filming it was filmed about four hours of total material, which also surprised the people of the Discovery Channel. There was surprisingly a lot of material to film, as they said, because beside documenting the language they also recorded and filmed the local singing group, bugarenje, cindra, therefore much more than what they intended, which will based on their enthusiasm hopefully leave room for a project on this theme. The result of their visit is very short it lasts only a bit more than two minutes and it is a promotional film which shows: Mauro Doricic, president of the folklore group "Zejanski zvoncari" who speaks in Zejane language about the folklore, customs and life in general of the people in Zejane and local villages. Everything what followed by the beautifully dreased Zejanes, bell ringers … they even filmed the way people plowed their fields, tilling with plow which was pulled by horses. All together, as far as I could see, everything came out very well , very Worldly. This short film has already been shown on the Discovery Channel program and that four, five, six and even seven and more times a day.

(Translated by Pino Golja)
© Copyright 2004

Editor's Note:

The "whole story started" not as described above by the interviewee but with an email on May 22, 2003 from Clare Burns of DISCOVERY channel to the, Marisa Ciceran replied with initial suggestions and names of people to contact in different countries. There were twelve exchanges between the two parties, and in the midst of this came another team-mate of, Denis Sankovic, whose father is originally from Zejane and who was the catalyst for the stated filmed results.

Ms. Burns promised both Ms. Ciceran and Mr. Sankovic a copy of the 2-minute film, but we never received it. Instead, it was later sent to a person who is not connected to our project and who had no input toward the making of the taped program.


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Created: Monday, February 06, 2004, Last Update: Wednesday, November 23, 2016
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