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  • 27

    “Which language do we speak?” Language ideology and planning among the Bayash Roma

    Advanced seminar arranged by the Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Södertörn University.

    Speaker: Annemarie Sorescu-Marinković, the Institute for Balkan Studies (Belgrade, Serbia).
    Chair: David Gaunt, Södertörn University.
    Discussant: Julieta Rotaru, Södertörn University.

    In the context of the pronounced segmentation of the Roma meta-group and even of the acute questioning of  the usefulness of this concept, we are witnessing the advent of a new branch of Romani studies, coined by some Bayash studies. If 20 years ago, the interest in the Bayash was still dormant, the last decade saw an explosion of scholarly work dedicated to this specific Roma group.

    The Bayash inhabit today most of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. A minimal definition of the group takes their mother tongue as the central element, which is coupled with their traditional vocation, woodwork, and the fact that the majority population considers them Roma. In short, this community is a typical example of the complex interplay between origin, mother tongue, ethnic identity, self-identification and external labeling.

    Although linguists agree that the Bayash speak several archaic varieties of Romanian, strongly influenced by the contact languages, this perspective might change depending on what one thinks language and anguageness is. Accordingly, while many Bayash assume they speak “broken” Romanian, some think their language is totally different from Romanian, while others believe it to be a specific dialect of Romanes.

    Taking as a starting point of my lecture one of the pivotal questions the Bayash ask me during my field trips, “Which language do we speak?”, I will look into the language ideology of different Bayash communities of Europe. Based on contemporary sources and on the findings of my fieldwork, I will show how initiatives and
    efforts to introduce the mother tongue of the Bayash in the educational system are preceded by a process of ideological clarification. One of the main points I will stress is that there is no transborder consensus on the issue of spoken language and I will examine this aspect in its specific correlation with the bottom-up language management and with language standardization practices present in a number of countries.

    Time and place

    When: 27/11/17 at 13:00-14:30

    What: Higher seminar

    Where: Room MA 796, CBEES, Södertörn University, Campus Flemingsberg

    Organiser: The Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Södertörn University

    Event language: English