Chapter 7 Nation-State Ideology and Identity and Language Rights of Linguistic Minorities: Prospects for the Vlashki/Zheyanski-Speaking Communities

In: The Romance-Speaking Balkans
Zvjezdana Vrzić
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This paper examines the disparity between the conceptions of identity embraced by the linguistic minority speaking Vlashki/Zheyanski or Istro-Romanian, residing in Istria, Croatia, and those held or promoted by the concerned nation-states, Romania and Croatia. While the linguistic minority, well integrated into the local Istrian Croatian society, embraces complex and multilayered identities, where local ethnic and regional identities are complementary to a non-primordial national identity, both states are proponents of a nationalist ideology, where a distinct community language is understood as a sign of a distinct national identity. Romanian Law No. 299/2007 is discussed to illustrate the attitude of the Romanian state. By this law, communities speaking Vlashki/Zheyanski, like other minorities speaking languages related to Romanian, are identified as ‘Romanians everywhere,’ regardless of their self-identification. The Croatian state’s attitude is exemplified by the extent of the state’s legal protection for the Vlashki/Zheyanski language established on the basis of the European Charter of Regional and Minority Languages. The current Croatian position is that this protection must remain limited due to the fact that the Vlashki/Zheyanski-speaking linguistic minority does not have a status of an officially recognized national minority. It is concluded that the two states disregard the minoritized group’s self-identification and language rights and, due to their primordialist attitudes toward identity, curtail the possibility of a more sustainable protection of the group’s endangered language.

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