The Days of Vlaški and Žejanski Language 2009 – Zilele de Vlåška ši Žejånska Limba 2009


An international conference devoted to the study of the Vlaški and Žejanski (also, Istro-Romanian) language, The Days of the Vlaški and Žejanski Language 2009 - Zilele de Vlåška ši Žejånska limba 2009, took place in Croatia, in the villages of Žejane and Šušnjevica, from July 10th to July 12th, 2009. This event was organized by the association Tragovi and the Ethnographic Museum of Istria, as part of the Preservation of the Vlaški and Žejanski Language Project, with financial support from the Region of Istria, the Ministry of Culture of Croatia, the Municipality of Matulji, and the Municipality of Kršan. The academic sessions were accompanied by cultural programs organized by members of the local communities.

Ms. Zvjezdana Vrzić, Coordinator of the Preservation of the Vlaški and Žejanski Language Project, opened the event on July 10th in the former school in Žejane. Ms. Lidija Nikočević, Director of the Ethnographic Museum of Istria; Ms. Eni Šebalj, vice-president of the Municipality of Matulji; Mr. Vilim Sanković, representative of the Žejane Town Council; and Ms. Ana Legac, an educator born in Žejane, also welcomed the attendees.

On the first day of the conference, Ms. Vrzić presented Limba de saka zi - Svakodnevni jezik, a language program on audio CD, published as part of the Project with the goal of documenting and preserving the Vlaški and Žejanski language. The program features several hundred everyday expressions recorded in this endangered language and their translation into standard Croatian. A booklet with all the recorded words and expressions accompanies the CD. Ms. Vrzić also presented an upcoming web project, devoted to the Vlaški and Žejanski language and community. Robert Doričić, contributor to the project, read a personal essay describing his relationship to the Žejanski language, which he had acquired as a second language from his grandparents in Žejane. The first day of the conference ended with the keynote address, entitled "Some Facts About Istro-Romanian," given by Professor August Kovačec, member of the Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences and a prominent expert on Istro-Romanian, as the Vlaški/Žejanski language is known in linguistics.

The second day of the conference also took place in Žejane and featured presentations by linguists Vasile Frăţilă and Richard Sârbu and ethnologist Elena Potoroaca from Romania, linguist Petar Atanasov and ethnologist Kleanti Anovska from Macedonia, and linguist Goran Filipi from Croatia. The second day ended with a rich cultural program, entitled "Zažukåm ši zakântåm ân Žejân - Zatancajmo i zakantajmo va Žejanah" [Let's dance and sing in Žejane], organized by the folklore societies "Žejanski zvončari" (The Žejanan Bellringers) from Žejane and "Učka" from Matulji. Performers included the singing group "Žejanski kntaduri" from Žejane; folklore groups "Naša djeca" from Matulji, "Barban" from Barban and "Učka" from Matulji; young poetry readers from Šušnjevica; and Antonio Krištofić, a young singer from Rukavac. This program was presented to a large and enthusiastic audience, many of whom visited from the southern villages in Istria, where the language is called Vlaški by its speakers.

On July 12, the last day of the conference, the event moved to Šušnjevica, into the newly restored premises of the Šušnjevica Town Council. The large audience was greeted by Ms. Vrzić and Ms. Nikočević, as well as Mr. Mladen Dušman and Mr. Vladimir Torbica on behalf of the Region of Istria and Mr. Klaudijo Lazarić on behalf of the Municipality of Kršan. Mr. Drago Taletović, vice-president of the Šušnjevica Town Council and Mr. Josip Glavina, a resident of Šušnjevica, greeted the audience on behalf of the villagers in Croatian and Vlaški. Many immigrants from the villages with their family members, visiting the area over their summer vacation, were also part of the large audience. The event continued the with another presentation of the audio program Limba de saka zi - Svakodnevni jezik and the future website. This was followed by presentations in linguistics, given by Ms. Zvjezdana Vrzić and Mr. Petru Neiescu, and talks on ethnology, given by Ms. Lidija Nikočević and Ms. Irena Kolbas. The event was concluded on the square in front of the village church with a cultural program organized by local community members. Among the performers were the folklore group "Zlatela" from Kršan, young poetry readers from Šušnjevica and "Žejanskih kntaduri" from Žejane.