Istro-Romanian language

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Istro-Romanian is an Eastern Romance language that is still spoken today in a few villages and hamlets in the peninsula of Istria, on the northern part of the Adriatic Sea, in what is now Croatia as well as in other countries around the world where the Istro-Romanian people settled after the two world wars, most notably in Italy, the U.S.A. Canada, Argentina, Australia, Sweden, Germany, and other countries. Before the 20th century, it was spoken in a substantially broader part of northeastern Istria surrounding the Ćićarija mountain range (ancient Mons Carusadius) all the way up to Trieste. Its remaining speakers call themselves Vlahi (a name given to them by Slavs), as well as Rumunski, Rumeni, Rumeri, Rumunji, as well as Ćići and Ćiribiri (this last being a nickname that was previously used disparagingly to identify the Istro-Romanian language, not its speakers).

The Istro-Romanians today are labeled today into two groups: the Ćići around Žejane (denoting the people on the north side of Mt. Učka) and the Vlahi around Šušnjevica (denoting the people on the south side of Mt. Učka (Monte Maggiore). However, despite distinctions and interjection of words from other languages which varies from village to village, their language is otherwise linguistically identical.

The number of Istro-Romanian speakers is very loosely estimated to be less than 500, the "smallest ethnic group in Europe" and listed among languages that are "seriously endangered" in the UNESCO Red Book of Endangered Languages. Due to its very small number of speakers living in about eight minor hamlets and two considerable villages, notably Žejane and Šušnjevica, there is no public education or news media in their native Istro-Romanian language. There are also several hundred native speakers who live not only in Queens, New York as mistakenly believed by newcomers to the study of the language "[1]", but throughout the five boroughs of New York City, upstate New York and the neighboring states of New Jersey and Connecticut, and there are still native speakers in California. There are also native speakers of Istro-Romanian in Italy, Canada, Argentina, Sweden, and Australia.

Since 2010, the Croatian constitution recognizes Romanians ("Rumunji") as one of 22 national minorities"[2]". However, there have been many significant challenges facing Istro-Romanians in preserving their language, culture and ethnic identity including emigration from communism and migration to nearby cities and towns after World War II when the Paris Peace Treaty with Italy that was signed on February 10, 1947 took Istria away from Italy (which had previously gained Istria after World War I) and awarded it to Yugoslavia, the parent country of present-day Croatia and Slovenia, who split Istria in two parts amongst themselves, while Italy retained the small portion near Trieste.


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