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A Protected Language With Only 250 People Who Can Speak It

© Glas Istre
Saturday 6 October 2007

In the explanation of the Ministry of culture, Istro-Romanian is the most endangered cultural treasure on the Istrian peninsula. A hundred Istro-Romanian speakers live in Zejane, about twenty in the villages around Krsan. The most numerous are in Nova Vas, Susnjevica and Jesenovik, in a smaller number in the villages of Letaj, Brdo, Kostrcani, Zankovci, Miheli, Drazina, Draga and Jelavici

The decision of the Ministry for Culture declares the Istro-Romanian speech as a non-material cultural asset.

PAZIN - With the resolution by the Ministry of Culture on September 27 of this year it was declared that the Istro-Romanian dialect is one of the most endangered cultural treasures on Istrian territory, and it will be listed as a protected cultural treasure of the Republic of Croatia.

Just recently, in Croatia the non-material cultural treasures have been recognized, identified and protected, and by this time the Ministry of Culture has evidenced seventeen of these cultural treasures. Istro-Romanian is not the first of the Istrian protected cultural treasure: The decree of July 12, 2007, protected: "Musical practice of violin and bass", "Rovinj's bitinada", "Two-voice of narrow intervals from Istria and Primorje" with four sub-categories (singing and music on tanko and debelo, taranjkanje, bugarenje, and discanto two-voice from Galizana and Vodnjan) then "Zvoncari" - a yearly event in Kastav, which will in their entirety be presented on Octobar 16th in Pula.

The department for non-material cultural treasures under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture is responsible for processing the applications for protection status of these non-material cultural treasures, whose member is also Lidia Nikocevic, the curator of the Pazin Ethnographic Museum of Istria. In this wave of registrations and protection of parts of Istrian traditional heritage started without the possibility that the entire complex musical system would be recognized, even internationally, which included protection of Istrian scale and "Istrian musical microcosm". The international protection did not succeed because the prerequisite is that it must be first protected on the national level, and the mentioned "microcosm", which consists of a number of distinct systems, was concluded that it would be more effective to protect one by one instead of all at once. Beside the musical heritage, there were other forms of cultural treasures where Istro-Romanian language was considered one of the most endangered cultural treasures on the Istrian territory, and this was emphasized in the explanation in the decree of the Ministry of Culture.

Today there are two types of Istro-Romanian speech, the northern in Zejane and the southern in a few villages around Krsan, with a total of 250 speakers, which counts also the people that moved to larger cities (towns). The most numerous are in Nova Vas, Susnjevica and Jesenovik, in a smaller number in the villages of Letaj, Brdo, Kostrcani, Zankovci, Miheli, Drazina, Draga and Jelavici, and according to the memories of the current speakers, Istro-Romanian used to also be spoken in villages Trkovci, Dolinscina, Perasi, Grobnik and Gradinje.

By proclaiming Istro-Romanian to be a protected endangered cultural treasure, the Ministry decreed to a degree of protection with which the "protectors of treasure" will agree to promote the importance and function of this treasure for society, including it into the planned programs, secure its existence through education, identification and documentation, scientific research, protection, promotion, increasing value, transfer the tradition to new generations through formal and informal education, revitalization of abandoned segments of the treasure, sensitizing the public and supporting protection to avoid the danger of its extinction, destruction or commercialization. One of the duties will be to generate a dictionary and vocabulary, and also the inclusion of Istro-Romanian speech, as a mother tongue, into the educational programs.

In the declaration of the Ministry of Culture it is not explained who the "protector of treasure" is, but we believe that these are the institutions that this document is addressed to: City of Rijeka, Opcina Krsan, Primorsko-goranska and Istrian regional governments, the Institute for Croatian Language and Department of Linguistics in Zagreb, the Conservation Department in Rijeka and Pula and the Organization for the Protection of Cultural Heritage.

Translated by Pino Golja
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Dr. Filipi: I welcome such a decision

We asked Dr. Filipi, head of humanities studies at the University Juraj Dobrila in Pula and distinguished expert on Istro-Romanian, to comment on the decision to place the Istro-Romanian language on the list of cultural treasures for the Republic of Croatia.

"I greet such a decision and hope that it will lead to future research and that will sensitize responsible organizations to provide financial support for such projects."



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Created: Saturday, October 06, 2007, Last Update: Tuesday, February 02, 2010
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