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  1. Lace avilen ko radioIntroducing Radio Romani Mahala chat and its users Daniele Viktor Leggio

  2. About this presentation • Background information about Roma in Kosovo and in Mitrovica in particular • Presentation of Radio Romani Mahala • Brief outline of my research • Presentation of preliminary findings • Discussion of some ethical issues

  3. Roma in Kosovo: demographics • According to the 1981 census Roma accounted for 2.2% of Kosovo population • Actual figures were most likely higher, around 10% of the total population • Mostly sedentarised with the highest concentrations in the main towns of the region (Priština, Mitrovica, Gnjilane, Prizren, Peć, Uroševac) • Engaged in • traditional activities (musicians, craftsmen, peddlers) • working class jobs (workers, builders, cleaners, low-level employees) • few families run small businesses (restaurants, textile and household shops). (Pettan 2002; Lapov 2005)

  4. Roma in Kosovo: languages and identities • Groups defined themselves mainly according to religion and language • Religious affiliations • Muslims (Xoraxane) • Orthodox Christians (Dasikhane) • Catholics (Katolikurija) • Language affiliations • Arli: autochthonous, historically sedentary, speaking Balkan dialects • Gurbeti/Gabeli: historically semi-nomadic, speaking Vlax dialects, originating in the Walachia-Moldavia region • Aškali: Arli who had shifted to Albanian, they refused affiliation with Roma • Other groups, numerically less relevant, had shifted to Turkish or Serbo/Croatian

  5. Kosovo linguistic situation • Four main languages spoken in the area • Serbo/Croatian (Serbs, Croatians, Montenegrins, Muslimani and Roma) • Albanian (Albanians and Aškali) • Turkish (Turks and Roma) • Romani (Roma) • Widespread Serbo/Croatian -Albanian bilingualism • Multilingualism among Roma and Turkish • Turkish spoken mainly in urban areas. Competence in Turkish regarded as a sign of longer urbanization, both among Roma and non-Roma • Serbo/Croatian, Albanian and Turkish officially recognised. Instruction and media in all three languages • Romani not officially recognised but present in the media (radio and TV). Education in Romani not available (Pettan 2000)

  6. Mitrovica Roma • According to official figures was the second biggest Roma community in Kosovo (4299 people, Pettan 2002) • Almost entirely constituted by Xoraxane • Gurbeti/Gabeli main group, followed by Arli. Few of the latter had shifted to Albanian, although not claiming an Aškali identity (Lapov 2005) • They mainly lived in the Romani mahala (Gypsy district) on the bank of the river Ibar

  7. The diaspora • Late 1970’s - early 1990’s • Economic crisis in former Yugoslavia: extended families migrate to Western Europe for periods of six months up to two years • Having earned enough they return to Mitrovica • 1990’s • Ethnic conflict in former Yugoslavia: the number of out-migrant increases • Returns to Mitrovica decrease • Family members still in Mitrovica try to join those abroad • 1999 onwards • NATO bombings on Serbian positions destroy the Romani Mahala • The entire community leaves Mitrovica and joins those abroad (Italy, France, Belgium, Luxemburg, Germany) • Movements between these countries continue as families try to reunite

  8. Linguistic consequences of diaspora • Younger generations in Arli families shifting from Balkan dialects or Albanian to the Vlax dialect of the majority (Lapov 2005, Leggio 2009) • Generational change in contact languages • Prior to 1970’s: Serbo/Croatian, Albanian. Elderly people Turkish as well • 1970’s to 1990’s: Serbo/Croatian, Albanian, Italian, French, German. Often not achieving good competence in any of them • After 1999: Italian, French and German depending on the country of settlement • Generational change in instruction and literacy • Prior to 1970’s: generally attend school until mandatory age (14). Literacy in Serbo/Croatian and Albanian • 1970’s to 1990’s: irregular school attendance in different countries. Generally basic literacy in a range of languages • After 1999: attending school and acquiring literacy on the language of the country of settlement

  9. Mitrovica Romani on internet • In 2004 a group of young musician settled in France establishes a web radio named Radio Romani Mahala • The radio also host a real time chat, a simplified version of instant relay chat rooms • Younger members of the community with access to internet regularly “meet” at Romani Mahala

  10. My PhD research • In depth analysis of the spelling • Relation with previously developed spellings • Variation among users • Acceptance/refusal of variation • Implications for current theories on language codification/standardisation • Usage of emoticons, acronyms and other features of CMC • Language and identity issue • How spelling and chosen variety relates to/flags group identity? • Attitudes towards outsiders (both Roma and non-Roma) • What role chatting on Radio Romani Mahala plays in establishing/maintaining a diasporic identity

  11. Writing Romani • State backed periodicals in USSR (1930’s); literary editions and Bible translations (post WWII); activist newsletters (1970’s-80’s) • Intensification of Romani publications during the 1990’s • Codification mainly pursued for emblematic purposes, but communicative functions started to emerge • Decentralised codification process. Diverse yet compatible spellings emerged, based on the immediate spoken variety • Problematic sounds • Aspirated consonants /kh, čh, ph, th/ • Palatals /č, dž, ž, š/ • In some dialects palatalised consonants /d’, g’, l’/ and schwa • Overall preference for spellings based on the Roman alphabet for Slavic languages and the academic transcription. Thus • using the same characters shown above • j to mark palatalisation • e or nothing for schwa • When Slavic characters are not available usage of English-like spelling (i.e.: ch, sh,) (Matras 1999)

  12. Radio Romani Mahala spelling • Aspirated consonants not marked (probably due to increasing lack of salience in speech Lapov 2005, Leggio 2009) • kanika /khanika/ ‘nobody.OBL’ • cere /čhere/ ‘at.home’ ~ cere /čere/ ‘you(SG) do’ • pral /phral/ ‘brother’ ~ pal /pal/ ‘above’ • Palatals • /č/ spelled as c irrespectively of following vowel, i.e.: lace /lače/ ‘to her’.Both French/Italian influence and Serbo/Croatian usage on CMC and text messages • /dž/ spelled as g irrespectively of following vowel, i.e.: gogaver /godžaver/ ‘smart’. French/Italian influence • /ž/ spelled as z, i.e.: zensko /žensko/ ‘female’. Serbo/Croatian usage on CMC and text messages • /š/ spelled as s, i.e.: sai /šaj/ ‘possible’. Serbo/Croatian usage on CMC and text messages • Palatalised consonant not marked. More rarely followed by j, i.e.: dive ~ djive /d’ive/ ‘day’ • Schwa not represent or represented as e i.e.: brs ~ bers /bǝrš/ ‘year’

  13. Spelling variation • Quite consistent among all users • Occasional occurrences of sh and ch for /š/ and /č/ • Occasionally w for /v/ (German), ci for /č/ (Italian) • Occasional usage of c for /š/ and /dž/ • Variation between d and g for /d’/ • Variation between i and j for /j/ • Generally tolerated, however some users correct others MevlanBoss: djjjjjjjj caj 1 giliiiiiiiii - dj, please a song! TheBossAndBest: caj na caj saj - ‘caj’? Not ‘caj’, it’s ‘saj’ *-.ROMANI-MAHALA.-*: NA MUKLAN TE PENAV TUCE BAHTLO CO BINADO GIVE Guest832 – You haven’t let me wish you happy birthday, Guest 832! $(StudioBenny)$: SENAD DIVE NA GIVE – Senad! ‘Dive’ not ‘give’!

  14. CMC features • No usage of emoticons • No usage of punctuation • Capitalisation not considered speaking loud • Written out laugh and emphatic repetition of letters, i.e.: jasaaaaa ‘c’monnnnn’ • Acronyms only appearing when using contact languages • zdr ‘hello!’ for Serbo/Croatian ‘zdravo’ • ki6 ‘who are you?’ for Italian ‘chi sei?’ • msn ‘messenger address’ (internet slang)

  15. Language choice • Consistent usage of Mitrovica Romani • Few occurrences of other languages • Tolerance for exchanges in other languages depends on • the DJ broadcasting at a given moment • how “crowded” the chat is TheBossAndBest: Gakxxii, jeu peu te pose une kestion frero Gakxxii, can I ask you a question, brother? Romani-Mahala: ici don le radio on parle tous romane merci Here on the radio we all speak Romani, thanks!

  16. Exchanges on Radio Romani Mahala • Jokes • News exchanges • Gossiping • Recurring “shoutings” (jasa, opsa)to cheer users joining the chat or the broadcasting of popular songs • Attempts at identifying off-line acquaintances through questions about • Origin • Place of residence • Age • Family relationships • Exchanges of instant messaging addresses (consistent usage of Windows Live Messenger) to carry out private conversations • Rough language and aggression sanctioned. The DJ’s act as moderators and can ban users

  17. Summary • Web page structured as a memorial of the lost homeland • Constant research for off-line acquaintances • Consistent choice for Mitrovica Romani • This suggests participation on Radio Romani Mahala chat is crucial in maintaining the group cohesion and identity • Consistent spelling but variation generally tolerated • Differences with Romani spellings on printed sources and asynchronous web content mostly due to the nature of the medium • This suggests • awareness of other attempts at writing Romani • new technologies foster a bottom-up approach to language codification • language codification may effectively be pursued outside the nation-state • Apparent lack of awareness of net-iquette • No usage of emoticons • This suggests users scarcely interact with non-Roma on internet

  18. Research plan • Look for other instances of written Romani on • YouTube comments on videos • On-line TV channels • Personal pages on Windows Live • Conduct participant observation to • Understand the group dynamics • Recruit interviewees • Interviews, to be conducted on line, will focus on • Awareness of other cases of Romani codification • Participation on non markedly Roma chat-rooms and networks • Perceived relation between writing Romani, on-line socialising and the group identity

  19. Ethical issues • For cultural reasons Roma are generally unwilling to sign forms • Even if accepting to sign, potential informant rarely have access to printing and scanning facilities • School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures ethical guidelines • do not allow for participation on chat-rooms • do not require a signed consent form for interviews • School of Social Sciences ethical guidelines • allow for participation on chat-rooms • mandatory require a signed consent form for interviews

  20. Bibliography DANET, B. & HERRING, S.C. (2007) The Multilingual Internet. Language, culture and communication online, Oxford: Oxford University Press LAPOV, Z.(2004) Vaćaré Romané? Diversità a confronto: percorsi delle identità Rom, Milano, Franco Angeli LEGGIO, D.V. (2009) The dialect of the Mitrovica Roma, MA Dissertation, University of Manchester MATRAS, Y. (1999) Writing Romani: the pragmatics of codification in a stateless language. Applied Linguistics, 20/4: 481-502 PETTAN, S. (2000) Gypsies, music and politcs in the Balkans: a case study from Kosovo. IN BAUMAN, M. P. (Ed.) Music, Language and Literature of the Roma and Sinti, Berlin, VWB: Verlag für Wissenschaft und Bildung. PETTAN, S. (2002) Roma muzsikusok Koszovóban: kölcsönhatás és kreativitás / Rom Musicians in Kosovo: interaction and creativity, Budapest, Magyar Tudományos Akadémia Zenetudományi Intézet / Institute for Musicology of the Hungarian Academy for Sciences