The Vlaški/Žejanski language (also known as Istro-Romanian) is an Eastern Romance language originally spoken by the nomadic Vlachs who moved into the Istrian peninsula of Croatia in the 16th century (Vrzić and Singler, 2016). The terms Vlaški and Žejanski are demonyms used by the speakers based on the village from which they come. There are distinct dialectal differences between villages because speakers have had little contact throughout history (Vrzić and Singler, 2016). The language has been noticeably influenced by Croatian, and a lesser extent, Italian and German. Ethnologue classifies the status of Istro-Romanian as 7, shifting — a classification which seems appropriate given the results of a sociolinguistic survey carried out by Vrzić and Singler (2016). In fact, the situation may be dire enough to describe the language as severely endangered.


In 2014, I joined Professor Zvjezdana Vrzić's NSF-funded project,  Documentation of the Vlashki/Zheyanski Language ('RUO') as a research assistant. My primary responsibilities have been managing and editing the Fieldworks Language Explorer (FLEx) database associated with this project. We are currently writing a paper about technical issues we have encountered over the course of our work. Vlaški/Žejanski presents a number of complex paradigms across different lexical domains, so much time has been dedicated to figuring out the best possible compromise to fit the structure of the language into the FLEx framework.

Professor Vrzić, herself of Vlaški lineage, has created a number of print and audio materials with the community to encourage the revitalization of their language, including recording CDs of songs, and the creation of children's books. Links to some of her admirable work are available below.