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Lace avilen ko radio I ntroducing Radio Romani Mahala chat and its users Daniele Viktor Leggio About this presentation Background information about Roma in Kosovo and in Mitrovica in particular Presentation of Radio Romani Mahala Brief outline of my research

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about this presentation
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
roma in kosovo demographics
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)

roma in kosovo languages and identities
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
kosovo linguistic situation
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)

mitrovica roma
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
the diaspora
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
linguistic consequences of diaspora
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
mitrovica romani on internet
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
my phd research
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
writing romani
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)

radio romani mahala spelling
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’
spelling variation
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’!

cmc features
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)
language choice
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!

exchanges on radio romani mahala
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
  • 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
research plan
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
ethical issues
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

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