Changes in Aromanian language use and the Aromanian ethnolinguistic group’s reaction to decline

(1) Horace Mann School, Bronx, New York, United States of America, (2) Ovidius University of Constanta, Constanta, Romania
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Aromanians, an ethnolinguistic group scattered across the Balkans, feature a unique language and culture that are known for their irreplaceable contributions to the globe’s cultural and linguistic diversity. Unfortunately, the group’s language and culture are rapidly trending towards extinction. Therefore, we quantified the relationship between age and Aromanian language usage, as well as attitudes regarding a program to preserve Aromanian identity. Based on survey data from 100 self-identifying Aromanians in Romanian Dobrogea, we constructed scores reflecting respondents’ use of the Aromanian language (usage score) and priority assigned to conserving a given aspect of ethnolinguistic identity (priority score). We hypothesized that Aromanian usage would decrease as age decreases and that Aromanians would overwhelmingly favor a preservation program prioritizing language conservation. The data supports both hypotheses. Use of Aromanian is lower for younger respondents; simultaneously, respondents overwhelmingly supported Aromanian-led interventions to preserve the Aromanian language, with traditions, religious customs, and social networks less of a priority. This study provides valuable direction for those seeking to preserve Aromanian identity, as the data indicates Aromanian language use in Romanian Dobrogea is rapidly declining, suggesting preservation programs should be launched now, while groups who consistently use the Aromanian language still exist. Further research is needed on education’s role in conditioning Aromanian language loss.

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