Saving ‘our way’: How young Italians are preserving their rare dialect

Sep 14, 2023 362

Tucked deep within the mountainous landscape near the Adriatic Coast in southern Italy, a language and a culture dating back 500 years are at risk of disappearing. Roughly 1,000 people in the towns of Montemitro, San Felice, and Acquaviva Collecroce speak Slavomolisano – or na-našo (pronounced “na-nasho”) as it is known in the language – a blend of ancient Croatian and the local Italian dialect of the Molise region.

Created from the blend of Italian culture and the language spoken by 15th-century Croatian refugees, na-našo, meaning “our way,” and its associated traditions have been passed down for generations. But as the towns’ populations have dwindled over the years and Italian has overtaken na-našo as their primary language, that heritage has looked near its end.

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