A New York City linguist is giving hope to a dying language in Croatia.

Zvjezdana Vrzic is originally from Croatia, and grew up in a household with Vlashki roots. The historical homeland of the Vlashki language (also known as Istro-Romanian) is the Istrian Peninsula in Croatia’s north-west. The language has been dying out since World War II, when emigration made the population smaller.

Vrzic initiated a project to save the language after she became a professor at New York University and connected with the community of Vlashki speakers in the city.

“I want to create a digital archive — a regional digital archive — where all the materials available on the language, including those that I’m collecting myself, will be deposited,” Vrzic says. “[I want to create] an archive that will become available to the community members. And I’m kind of bringing a different angle to it by making it very technologically-inspired.” (Source: Radio Free Europe)

Crucially, Vrzic realises that to save the language, the community needs to work to revitalise it. And it seems Vrzic has had some success – in Croatia her team is working with locals to plan a Vlashki heritage centre and has already organised well-attended language workshops.

To listen a proverb spoken in Vlashki, as well as a folk song, click here.