Κυριακή 27 Οκτωβρίου 2013

The relationship of Aromanians with their national language (the Greek one)

(Speech by emeritus Professor of Linguistics in Aristotelis University of Salonica, Antonis Bousboukis, in the 4th Conference of the World Vlach Amphictyony).

I would like to thank ‘World Vlach Amphictyony’, because they gave me the chance to be among my Aromanian patriots of Albania and meet them in person. While being now in Korca, I feel the touch of the cultural aura (breeze) of glorious Moscopole. The unparalleled worthiness of its people raised them in such a level that the attributed title, ‘ATHENS OF OTTOMAN PERIOD’ for it, is considered right. Aromanians, especially those of Albania, live in places of the Balkans, where for the first time Romans set foot. ‘Latinophony’ starts from this place and during this period.
Aromanians’ and Romanians’ mother (native) language comes from southern Italy. This is the recent view of those who study Romance languages. On the other hand, Romance dialects, that were spoken in Dalmatia and Panonia in the past, came from Northern Italy. On both sides of Adriatic (Bari and Brindisi from Italy side, Apollonia, Vlora and Durres from the other one) there were the first and main ports that facilitated communication between Italy and the Balkans.
From Via Egnatia, where Greeks, Illyrians, Romans, soldiers and traders circulated, the early Romance dialect of Aromanians began to be formed. Based on Via Egnatia, latinophony spread throughout Balkan inland and beyond the Danube River too, where Rome was expanded after 300 years.
Aromanians, alive survival of Greek-Roman world, marched throughout their history, paraphrasing in some way the words of Emperor Hadrian, who confessed that: "I think in Greek and I command in Latin ". I use the word ‘paraphrase’, because they applied communication habits to speak latin-based language in their family environment, Greek language in public events of life and they used Greek in writing.
Since this happened during the period of the Ottoman rule, as we know from oral tradition, foreign travellers and Kasomoulis, it could probably be true in any of the previous periods, as the Greek language has never ceased to be present in the wider area as spoken language and the language of the upper class. Besides, Priskus (Byzantine historian) informs us that the prisoners from Balkan regions in Attila’s court (5th century) spoke both Greek and Latin, while Eseling notes that Latin had conquered wider folk strata.
The mixed culture of Byzantium (Roman, Greek, Christian and Oriental), in the first centuries, from 320 AD up to 620 AD, had Latin as the official communication language. Latin language was used by imperial court, civil servants, administration, justice, army etc. Latin was Constantine’s (the Great) mother tongue and the language of Greek people, who served Roman Empire, as the well known information by Ioannis Lydos clears up, a historian who lived during Emperor Justinian times (6th century). There was University with Greek language and Latin language in Constantinopole, while everyday contact and friction of Greek with Latin looked like for a moment that Buzantium would be enlatinized linguistically.

But, finally, Latin language gives way to the Greek one. However, Byzantine people, as Roman citizens, considered and characterized Latin as ‘ancestral’ (πατρώα) language and called themselves Romans. Historian Ioannis Romanidis (university teacher) leaned on this historical basis and wrote that both medieval and modern Greek people have got ‘Roman ‘father’ and Greek ‘mother’.
So while Greek language prevails in the center of the Empire (Constantinople or New Rome), Latin and Greek continued to be spoken at the same time in the districts of the Balkans, mainly in its western part. And this is because it has been noticed that what is lost in the Centre is often kept in the Region.
Later, however, after the Ottoman rule, Greek language starts to lose a large number of speakers, mostly in Asia Minor. The Era of Greek Enlightenment starts three centuries (18th and 19th century) after the Ottoman rule. At that time, the bourgeoisie of Aromanians play a leading role in the fermentation of ideas and language. It is then that the mountainous places (where they lived), their traditional occupations, always in combination with their restless and ingenious spirit and their frequent contact with the Center of Europe, allowed them to make villages, towns and cities well known as standards of progress and culture.
The language question, purist (καθαρεύσα) or demotic (δημοτική) concerned both Greek-speaking and Aromanian-speaking scholars. They (Aromanians) also participated in the linguistic dispute between the purists and demoticists. A third trend is ‘via media’, led by Adamantios Korais. Aromanians (historian Konstantinos Koumas and brothers Darvaris - Dimitrios and Nikolaos from Klisoura) belong to this (via media) compromise. Moisiodax Josephus from Moscopole, who lived in Bucharest as monk and principal is fan of this line before Korais. In his work titled ‘Theory of Geography’ defends simple Greek (language) because he believes that the ordinary people must be educated. His language, however, influenced by the scholar one, looks like Korais’s language which will follow.
On the other hand, Josephus’s rival is the well educated Eugenios Voulgaris from Corcu, probably man of aromanian origin and especially from town Kalarites from where (large silversmiths) Búlgari family comes. Neophytos Doukas, great Teacher of the nation, (aromanian too) is also conservative and he preached the doctrine of "gradually towards the ancient Greek language".
This dispute of the language (‘purist’ versus ‘demotic’) is not the only matter that concerned the educated people of that time. Α sufficient number of them, mostly Aromanians, realized very early the need of the spread of the Greek language to foreign speaking Greeks (Ρωμιοί), who lived within modern Hellenism. Anastasios Kavaliotis from Moscopole is the first one who meets the needs of the times. He edits trilingual dictionary, around 1770, in which next to every word of Modern Greek he lists the corresponding word in ‘Arvanitika’ and ‘Aromanian’ (languages). It is the first method of learning Greek, written with the care of an Aromanian. In 1802, Daniel, teacher of a school from Moscopole, completes Kavaliotis’s dictionary and he edits four language dictionary, where he adds Bulgarian language. The objectives of publishing of these dictionaries are obvious. The author of four language dictionary invites the orthodox people, who are foreign language speakers, to become speakers of the Greek language.
Rigas Ferreos - Velestinlis stands out among educated Aromanians. He translates a textbook of physics from French and German to simple and understandable Greek language. In his Constitution (Syntagma), article 53, provides necessary teaching of popular Greek language (vernacular) in schools and its use in redacting laws and decrees.
Apart from scholars (Aromanians) and their beliefs on the language problem, we have the anonymous poets and lyricists of Modern Greek language, the creators of folk (traditional) songs, too.
Greek and Aromanian-speaking poets of folk songs wrote their masterpieces in vivid language and especially in its common form. They remained, however, unknown, as well as the anonymous silver artisans in the Aromanian Centers of goldsmith's art (Kalarites, Metsovo, Nimfeo etc.).
Maybe it sounds strange and challenging, but it is well established that Aromanians’ memory and mouth (speech) stayed respectively the largest maintenance and propagation records of Greek folk (traditional) song. Their occupation (especially those of mule drivers and shepherds) ask for the companionship of a song. The movement of entire mass of people and cattle from mountain to plain and vice versa, the continuous trips of mule drivers, merchants and craftsmen to both various centers of Greek area and region give them the chance to listen, learn and sing Greek folk songs. They don’t only sing, but they also create Greek songs. And as they didn’t have any Modern Greek idiom as native (mother) language, ‘they speak Greek so clearly that someone even from Athens would envy them’ (comment from Victor Berard, who met and heard in person Aromanians from Durres and N. Macedonia).
They are sensual, restless and tireless. The Aromanians’ feasts (panigiria) are the greatest ones, even today. Their massive, folk-religious, ancient, circle dances with no musical instruments require many songs (mostly narrative and epic), a great number of them are in Greek language.
Aromanians sang, in their own language too, mostly social, erotic and satirical songs. They used Greek language for historical and heroic chants. In Samarina - for example - we have one of the best Greek variations of the song Digenes Akritas’ song.
George Kaftantzis released folk songs from Serres prefecture in 1978. In this collection there is contribution from numerous native Greek people and Sarakatsani, but the collection of Greek songs from a single Vlach village, Hionohori elevates its participation in the proportion of 35% (from total 661 collected songs, 228 come from this village).
Besides, nowadays who could dispute Aromanians’ contribution in popular (λαϊκό) Greek song (top in music and lyrics Vasilis Tsitsanis, Kaldaras, Virvos etc)? As far the famous poets concerned, we will mention only Zalokostas and Kristallis. Both George Zalokostas and Kostas Kristallis come from Sirrako of Epirus.
In the beginning of Greek Revolution (in 1821), Zalokostas quits his studies and comes back home. He lives all stages and adventures of the revolutionary fights. Because of this, he could give remarkable heroic poems, if he was not affected by the scholar language of the Athenian School. Small poems such as ‘the north wind that freezes the little lambs’, ‘Ι loved a shepherdess’ which is still sung today, were written in the language of the folk (traditional) songs and these are the poems that keep his memory as a poet.
The same happened with Nikolaos Kasomoulis, an Aromanian agonist of 1921 from Pissoderi of Florina: If he wrote his ‘Military Memorabilia’ in popular language, we would have a linguistic monument of his time, possibly equivalent to Makriyannis’ one.
Krystallis (aromanian origin) accepts the beneficial effect of both folk songs and Valaoritis’ rough language. So, he inspires for some time the hope that he will eventually be the expected reformer of Modern Greek language. But the thread of his life was cut before his spiritual and physical maturity.
And, since we speak about the contribution of Aromanians to the Greek song in general, I will refer to a leading figure of instrumental folk music, Nikos Karakostas from the village Krania of Aspropotamos. His clarinet expressed in a unique way the unspeakable and unexpressed feelings of Modern Greek soul. He distinguished, among the songs he played, the ‘Arvantovlahikos’ melody: A ‘sygathistos’, slow and majestic melody, following the Doric style of those who (Aromanians from Fracery and Kolonia of Albania) dance it. According to Kasomoulis, while Aromanians of Pindus were bilingual, Arvanito-Aromanians were trilingual (Aromanian in their families, Albanian or Greek in the market). I mention Theodoros (of Geneos) Kolokotronis’ information that Arvanito-Aromanian women in Roumeli (Central Greece) composed (matching Greek and Aromanian languages) heroic songs, which all people of that time knew and sang.
As for the anonymous lay (folk) Aromanians in the past, we could distinguish two main categories of speakers:
In the first category there were those who lived in villages of Western Macedonia, Eastern Epirus and Thessaly (Aspropotamos, Aheloos). These were mainly farmers and bilingual, as they were half of the year in plain, along with their fellow villagers (professionals), they came in contact and interchange with the indigenous Greek speaking population and they (naturally) spoke Greek.
The second category is that of the speakers who were small farmers and breeders and lived permanently in villages, like those in mountainous Kalambaka. Here, we have bilingual men and monolingual women.
A third category consisted of urban villages, mainly in Northern Macedonia, where Aromanians (being in Slavic-speaking surrounding), spoke Aromanian, Greek and Slavic (men) and only Aromanian (women). In villages, however, where there were schools, the language of men and women was Greek purist (καθαρεύουσα).
To end this chapter (relationship of Aromanians with their national Greek language), we can not forget that, in the beginning of our free national life, the sensational speech in the Greek Parliament of an Aromanian politician from Sirraco, Prime Minister, Ioannis Kolettis. As far as the content and language of that speech Tertsetis described it as a unique literary monument of a man of Revolution, inheritance and mortgage for future generations, while Plapoutas evaluated Kolettis as an orator similar to ancient Demosthenes.
I will give now only a small sample of Aromanians’ mother tongue in Modern Greek idioms. Until now, Greeks linguists believe is that Aromanian (language) lent to Modern Greek idioms words only from the field of cattle breeding. However, when I worked at Athens Academy as a researcher dialectologist, I spotted Aromanian loan words from other notional fields, not only in Epirus, Macedonia and Thessaly, but till the Peloponnese.
So, in Ithaca island, for example, the word ‘παδούρι/padouri/’ means ‘forest’, like the Aromanian păduri: ‘Γίνανε οι bαρbαροσυκές είναι παδούρι πα στο φράχτη” people say in Ithaca, In village Koukouli of Epirus ‘λούτος/loutos/’ means ‘clay’, while ‘λουτιάζου/loutiazou’ in village Sparto of Akarnania means metaphorically ‘my mind blurs’, ‘lutu’ and ‘alutu’ in Aromanian is the ‘clay’.
In village Sparto again ‘τζακουτιασμένος/tzakoutiasmenos/’ is the ‘unwell, the slightly ill’, ‘dzăcútu’ in Aromanian is the ‘sickly’, a word that goes back to the Latin ‘jaceo’ which means ‘I lie, I am underfoot’.
In village Geraki of Laconia the words ‘κρούσκος/krouskos=relation by marriage’ and ‘τάτας/tatas=father’ correspond to Aromanian ‘cúscru’ and ‘táta’. ‘Γκάλμπινος/galmpinos/ in Greek idioms of the Peloponnese and Epirus means 'blond’, ‘pale yellow’, ‘sallow’, ‘gook’, while ‘galbinu’ is the ‘yellow’ in Aromanian..
And while (in their native language) Aromanians had songs, legends, nice fairy tales and their language itself goes back to the second ancient ‘wise’ language, Latin, their fate set to be born and reach manhood under the shadow of the classical civilization of the Acropolis. And, as the light, the ‘shadow’ of the Acropolis, shades and enlightens spiritually all humanity, the foreign language speaking children of Greece, Aromanians, Arvanites and Slavic-speaking people are also proud to belong and the glamour of this cultural glory and eternal beauty.
I close my lines with the confession of the Roman Hadrian, for his love for the Greek language: “I loved’, he says, ‘this language because of its robust plasticity and its rich vocabulary. Because every word of its vocabulary certifies its direct and differential contact with truth, and also because whatever good has been expressed by mankind, has mostly been said in this language [...].
The same is with our personal choices: from cynicism to idealism, from Pyrronos’ skepticism to Pythagoras’ sacred dreams our negation or our affirmation have been done before. Our pervertions and our virtues have Greek standards”. (M. Yourcenar, Hadrian’s Memoirs of, Athens 1976, p. 30).
And as philellene Hadrian made ancient Athens brilliant with fine marble works, the same, we, latin-speaking Greeks-Aromanians, decorated (Athens) with what most beautiful and elaborate adorns Athens today, such as the most beautiful neoclassical building in the world, Academy of Athens, the building of Top Technological Institute, Technical (Metsovian) University, the marble Panathenaic Stadium and so on.

Anthonis Bousboukis, Professor of Linguistics

Note: We use the English term ‘Aromanians’ for Vlachs. The Vlachs in Greece are self-determined as ‘Armani’.
[Translation in English by Ioannis Tsiamitros]

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