Il plurilinguismo nell’area balcanica

Emanuele Banfi (Academia Europaea)


All the modern Balkan literary languages have manifested a powerful trend toward establishing popular languages as their basis. They are the main products of that wave of nationalism in the 19th century which brought most of the Balkan peoples to national indipendence. However, not all of them were confronted with the same difficulties in their linguistic struggle. Some of the Balkan nations had come under the Byzantine influence; they accepted religious Orthodoxy and cultivated their own church language. Others had fallen in the Roman sphere of influence and adhered to the Catholic church, whose language was Latin. The Albanians, on the other hand, had become preponderantly Muslim, after the Ottoman conquest, and Albanian was banned as a written language. Among the Greeks, the linguistic question – especially the introduction of the written popular language – was raised by patriots interested in the education of the people, but it became acute in the two decades preceding the revolution of 1821 when western Enlightenment and the ideas of the French Revolution influenced many Greek intellectuals who lived abroad. The history of the Balkans and their languages seems to be marked by two principal forces: i) a strong ‘continuity’, due to the fact that the peninsula has been always a region rich in multilingual dynamics; ii) a series of ‘caesuras’ of this ‘continuity’ that created considerable changes of the linguistic configuration of the peninsula.

DOI: 10.4424/lam72018-2


Plurilingualism; Multilingualism; Balkan; Serbo-Croatian; Albanian; Greek

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