Molise Slavonic language

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Molise Slavic

Spoken in

Italy ( Australia , Germany , Switzerland and other emigration countries)
speaker 2500 (Italy), approx. 5000 (world)

Molise Slavonic or Molise Croatian , a South Slavic language, is spoken in three localities in Molise, Italy, in the province of Campobasso, as well as by emigrants from these localities living in Australia in the Perth region and Argentina .

Language names

The names for this micro-language vary, depending on whether membership of Croatian or Serbo-Croatian is postulated or whether Moliseslavic is understood as an independent language.

In the German specialist literature, Milan Rešetar introduced the designation Moliseslawisch or Moliseslavisch (also in Russian молизско-славянский язык ).

  • In English-language literature, the terms Molise Croatian and Molise Slavic are used.
  • In Italian-language literature, the term Croato molisano is used next to Slavo molisano .
  • In the Croatian- speaking literature, the term Moliški hrvatski dijalekt is used.

The speakers themselves use the name naš jezik "our language" or the adverb na-našu "in our way" as a self-name for the language .


The following hypotheses exist about the origin of the Molises Slavs:

  • 500 years ago their ancestors immigrated from the basin of the Neretva river , which is partly in southern Croatia , partly in southwest Herzegovina , into the Molise, possibly speaking a štokavian - ikavian dialect ( što “was”, dvi “two” opposite dvije in Croatian standard).
  • from the areas around Zadar (Aranza);
  • from the štokavisch- Morlak part of southern Istria (Badurina);
  • from the hinterland of Zadar and Šibenik (Hraste);
  • from the Zabiokovlje area (the hinterland of the Biokovo mountain ) in southern Croatia, between the towns of Imotski , Zagvozd and Makarska (The theory is based on the čakavic and štokavian-čakavian properties in Molislav, which also exist in Zabiokovlje.) (Muljačić).

Molise Slavonic has Čakavian - Štokavian - Ikawian dialectal peculiarities that can be found in southern Croatian dialects (e.g. a syllable l> a in je nosija “have worn” compared to the Croatian standard nosio je ).

The complete absence of Turzisms with Ottoman expansion as the term ante quem speaks for the assumed emigration time . The lack of the genitive -plural ending -ā, which does not occur before the 16./17. Century in Croatia; see. REŠETAR (1997: 31f.).

Language area

The language is traditionally spoken in a very small area, today only in three villages: Acquaviva Collecroce ( Kruč in Molise Slavonic ), San Felice del Molise ( Filič , also Štifilić in standard Croatian ) and Montemitro ( Mundimitar ). The self-designation for one's own village is "naš grad" ('our place'). The municipal areas border each other and are about 30 km from the Adriatic Sea in the hilly hinterland. The speakers are called Moliseslawen ( moliseslaw . Zlav , outdated also Škavun ) or Molisecroats .


Molise Slavonic distinguishes between a closed and an open e and o . For phonologically exact reproduction, the open e or o are written with a grave accent , compare the following minimal pairs: bòb 'round person' vs. bob 'broad bean' and čèla 'genital organ' vs. čela 'bee'.


As a result of the close contact with Italian, see below, the vocative and locative were lost in the declension. They have been replaced by the nominative or the accusative (some deviations in the phraseology). The other cases including instrumental were retained regardless of the Italian influence.

The aorist has been completely replaced by the perfect .

A fully grammatical indefinite article has developed, the absence of which before the noun is interpreted as a definitive article .

The Komparation is analogous to Italian analytically by Veča 'more'.

The derivative Slavic aspect opposition has been preserved, but is subordinate to the Romance opposition "Imperfect: Perfect".

As in Italian, the (unreal) conditional can be expressed using the indicative imperfect tense.

As in Italian, only the genera masculine and feminine exist in the noun , while the neuter has disappeared. As in Italian dialects, pronouns and substantiated adjectives have retained a neuter.

Language contact with Italian

Molise Slavonic is today in a total language contact situation, i. H. all speakers also have at least one variant of Italian . The Croatian basis in the grammar of the dialect is still clearly recognizable, but contact language interferences show up on all levels. Two main periods of Romansh influence can be distinguished: the former exclusive contact with the Italian-Molisan dialect and - for a little over a hundred years - contact with the standard Italian language.

The total number of inhabitants of these villages is now less than 2,500, with only a part having a command of Molise Slavonic. In the second largest town, San Felice in particular , it has completely disappeared from the public sector as a result of heavy Italian immigration, and only a few families still use it as a domestic language. In the other two places, Moliseslav is still a living language. It is actively used by up to 60% of the population, the passive knowledge is at 80%, but there is a strong distinction between generations, whereby children and young people only use Molislav in public to a limited extent. Usually, Moliseslav is only used orally. Written evidence, usually small collections of poems like that of GLIOSCA (2004), is very rare. The only umbrella language for this minority language is Italian (foreign roof). The next genetically related language, Croatian , does not play a role in everyday communication.

Dialect differences

Despite a number of common developments, the dialect differences are considerable, especially in lexicon and phonology. For example, the phonological rule that final unstressed short vowels should be pronounced as [a] (Molise Slavonic Akanje ) applies only to Acquaviva and San Felice, while Montemitro has stayed with [o]. On the other hand, in Acquaviva and Montemitro, the final short * –i has completely disappeared, while in San Felice cases of final [i] still occur. In the morphological area, for example, Montemitro shows secondary imperfectives with the suffix -lja- that are missing in Acquaviva, such as riviljat vs. rivivat 'arrive'. At conspicuous similarities that distinguish the MSL from today Serbo-Croatian area, the productivity is a perfective imperfect to name, about dojahu 'I used to come', the use of the indicative imperfect as Irrealis similar to the Italian ( si nosahu = se Portavo 'when I would have carried '), the existence of an indefinite article and an opposition between 2 modal futures (with WOLLEN or HAVEN formed) etc.

Current situation

For a general characterization of the current situation of Molislav cf. BREU (1990), for a description of important language contact phenomena in Molise Slavonic grammar, cf. BREU (1998). In BREU / PICCOLI (2000), completed in December 1999, an appendix to the dictionary, which can be seen as the basis for an initial standardization, contains a phonological description and a short grammar of the Acquaviva dialect. A dictionary (PICCOLI / SAMMARTINO 2000) and a grammar (Sammartino 2004) are now also available for the dialect of Montemitro. The classic description of the situation and the language of the Slavs in Molise at the beginning of the 20th century comes from REŠETAR (1911/1997).

In view of its independent development, which took place for centuries without any connection with Croatian, Molise Slavonic can be understood as an autonomous language system. This also takes into account the fact that this minority language is in many ways much closer to the dominant Romance idioms than to its “genetic” relatives, such as standard Croatian.

Language example: The Molise Slavonic Our Father in the variety of Acquaviva Collecroce

Molise Slavic For comparison: Croatian German
Tata naš , ka jesi na nebu, Oče naš , koji jesi na nebesima, Our father (who are you) in heaven,
da bi bija sfe sfeti jima tvoj, sveti se Ime Tvoje, Blessed be your name,
da bi doša tvoj kraljar, dođi kraljevstvo Tvoje, Your kingdom come
da bi sa čila ono ka hoš ti, budi volja Tvoja, Your will will happen,
na nebu a zgora sfita. kako na Nebu, tako i na Zemlji. as in heaven, so on earth.
Daj nami naš kruh saki dan Kruh naš svagdanji daj nam danas, Our daily bread Give us today
a jam nami naše duge, i otpusti nam duge naše, and forgive us our debts
kaka mi hi jamivama drugimi. kako i mi otpuštamo dužnicima našim. as we also forgive our debtors.
A nomo nasa čit past na tendacijunu, i ne uvedi nas u napast, And lead us not into temptation,
ma zdriš nasa do zlo. nego izbavi nas od zla. but deliver us from evil.


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  • Badurina, Teodoro (1950), Rotas Opera Tenet Arepo Sator (Roma, 1950)
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  • Rešetar, M .: The Serbo-Croatian Colonies of Southern Italy. Vienna 1911. (= Writings of the Balkan Commission, Linguistic Department / Imperial Academy of Sciences; Vol. 9: 1, South Slavic Dialect Studies; No. 5); updated and with bibliography in the Italian version Le colonie serbocroate nell'Italia Meridionale. Campobasso 1997. Download
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Web links

Individual evidence