— Honoring Fan Noli’s Communications Dynamic on the 50th Year of His Repose /
By Neka Doko/
Metropolitain “Fan Noli” Library/ Archive & Cultural Center/
Multilingual and Cross Cultural Communication Research/
There are many people there in France and here in America I can’t thank enough for contributing directly or indirectly during these years to my studies and research on multilingual and cross-cultural communication.
J’aimerais exprimer ma reconnaissance à l’équipe du Departement Sciences du language à l’Université Paul Valéry, Montpellier et du Laboratoire DIPRALANG (E.A. 739). Cela fait 20 ans depuis mon premier stage de formation en FLE comme professeur de Français, aucours du quel j’avais découvert la sociolinguistique et opté à poursuivre un an après, le DEA de recherches en Sciences du language.
I owe a special debt and gratitude to Saint George Cathedral community and to chancellor Very Rev. Fr Arthur Liolin, who have given me, since 2004, the opportunity to work at Fan Noli Library and Archive. His steadfast support, encouragement and insights during these years on Fan Noli archival work, assistance and research, when meaning a lot, this article wouldn’t have been possible without.
I also wish to deeply thank our Fan Noli Memorial Symposium people and special guests on November 22, 2015. Among others the New York speakers and guests, representatives of “Vatra” and “Dielli” for their participation and great tribute to Fan Noli. I especially thank here the editor of Dielli, Mr. Greca who has been nothing but an understanding and patient friend and collaborator for the very beginning of this project.
Why did I Choose Dielli to Submit My First Article About Fan Noli?
It has been more than a century since the Rev. Fan S. Noli collaborated with the Albanian national society “Besa-Besen” (Pledged Word on Loyalty), and gave birth to the newspaper, Dielli, on February 15, 1909, in Boston. Noli himself served as its first editor. However, as he was heavily involved in church affairs, the members of “Besa-Besen” decided in a special meeting held on March 14, 1909, to invite Faik Konitza, to be the editor. Konitza arrived in Boston on October 9, 1909, and the first issue ofDielli under his editorship was released on October 22.
For me, submitting this article to Dielli in the last days of the 50th anniversary of Bishop Noli’s repose, and one month after Saint George Cathedral’s remembrance liturgy and memorial symposium in his honor, feels like a welcome-home sign and symbol from and on behalf of the “Biblioteka Noliane” at the Cathedral, which I am honored to represent as its librarian and archivist.
Why Did I Choose This Topic?
Cross-cultural communication has been my interdisciplinary field of study and research since 1999, after completing the post-graduate program in Cultural Differences Research in Other Languages and Cultures the Sorbonne University in Paris . After arriving in Boston, I completed a series of graduate intercultural communication courses, and more recently, a teaching program in American English. My present and future research remains focused on multilingual variations in the context of cross-cultural communication. Moreover, as I have been working at the Fan Noli Library and Archive for several years, in cataloguing the collection of papers, I had the chance to virtually “meet” Fan Noli and unearth his legacy through an immense inheritance of books, documents, periodicals, and more recently, digitized documents, most of which were written by Noli, in whose honor the library was established, but also by other scholars. The majority of his personal documents were written in many languages and were also immersed in multiple cultures. Thus, after a thorough review of the documents, I came to realize that Fan Noli’s case reflected a unique sociolinguistic and intercultural communication dynamic. Noli’s of languages appears to have emerged through variations in many switching codes (Ferguson, 86) and shifts produced by transitional inter- and cross-lingual uses, which makes him a differential multilingual interlocutor, at home, school, and work, being concomitantly exposed to a permanent cross-cultural and communication environment.
While in the process of unearthing these documents, I had the desire to shed more light on Fan Noli as an exceptional interlocutor and communicator who faced many difficult situations with his own people, which was the second motivation for my undertaking of this case study. Over all, I found nothing but inspiration from the deeds, writings, and the great messages that emerged from his legacy. The admiration that I felt toward his tremendously productive mind, the excitement at the unknown being the best to come as I continued to sift through the documents, along with the keenness of my research on Fan Noli’s cross-cultural dimension seemed a mere icebreaking attempt to start this work.
Last, but not least, when working on his memorial Symposium, which was bilingual in order to accommodate the literacy needs of the Albanian newcomers as well as those who speak American English and their well-respected achievements over the generations,sincethe Symposium was mainly hosted by the American-Albanian parishioners of the St. George community, I was thinking of having a broad multilingual tribute toward him, that Fan Noli himself would have deserved the most.
And then I thought, with relief, that I owe the founder of our community in the commemoration of the 50th year of his repose, this first article, as a tribute to his versatility with other languages and cultures of tremendous uses, and for ultimately reaching his goal of attaining Albania’s national Independence and the freedom to worship, working towards the extended expressions of human potential and fulfillment.
Infant and Young Fan Noli: A Unique Case of Sociolinguistic and Cross-Cultural Study
Noli’s family was originally from Qyteza e Katundit, from which many villagers immigrated to the United States at the end of 19.th century. Instead, his family opted to stay in their Mediterranean roots, and left Albania for a more open Southeastern European country, in search of freedom of worship and a better life for their children. They settled in the European Turkey region of Edina, in a village known as the Albanian colony of Ibrik Tepe, where Fan Noli was born. Coincidentally, his hometown was situated at the crossroads of civilization, where there had been battles for centuries among the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman empires. Although in perpetual war, the three main empires, with their heroes and declines, and three different cultures and languages, Latin, Greek, and Turkish, along with Albanian, would have echoed in influencing the genotypic and phenotypic development of the infant Noli, as the first environment that he was exposed to and within which he communicated.
Between Interlingual and Diglossia Variations
Fan S. Noli was born and raised in the late 1800s in the Eastern Turkish region of Edina near Andrianople. The very curious infant Noli would have had early exposure to the liturgical Greek, the official language used in the Albanian churches of Ibrik Tepe, where his father, Stylian George Noli, was a cantor at the Albanian church in the village of Kuteza in Ibrik Tepe in Eastern Thrace. However, for the Noli’s grandmother, parents, and siblings, as well as for the other villagers of the Albanian colony, the Tosk dialect of the standard Albanian was the main spoken language at home.
“Children learn the low variety as a native language; in diglossic cultures, it is the
language of home, the family, the streets and marketplaces, friendship, and solidarity. By contrast, the high variety is spoken by few or none as a first language. It must be taught in school. The high variety is used for public speaking, formal lectures and higher education…sermons, liturgies, and writing” (Robert Lane Greene, 2011).
Meanwhile that in both Noli’s and the other nearby villagers at home, the diglossic uses of languages seemed to be more situational than optional as a daily basis of communication, a bilingual official profile would have overlapped with a diglossic high position of two main languages, of Turkish and the Orthodox Greek of liturgy, “When in a classic diglossic situation, two varieties of a language, exist alongside
each other in a single society. Each variety has its own fixed functions–one a ‘high,’
prestigious variety, and one a ‘low,’ or colloquial, one. “ (Ibid. Greene, 2011)
To the Albanian villagers living in this society, it seems they had to recognize that in addition to the variety of the Albanian Tosk at home, a semi-diglossic situation of other languages, where the variety of the liturgical Greek had to coexist with the administrative Turkish used everyday communication. This complex sociolinguistic configuration occurred to be due to a coexisting power of the Orthodox Church with the administration, while being a member of the Ottoman ruling system at the time.
For the infant Noli, the Albanian dialect, mainly spoken in the house as a “low dialectal language,” side by side with the Greek used in the in church, which was viewed as the “high language” of the context, it seemed that the classic diglossic situation may have been ruled by new variations and status. Instead, through some new interlingual daily exchanges in Greek at home with his grandmother, Sumba, and his father, the church cantor, all would have taken or given chance to some switching codes (Ferguson, 1986) with the spoken dialect of Albanian words when interacting either with parents or siblings.
Noli Student, a Multilingual Interlocutor
For the young Fan Noli, the early exposure to at least three languages of the region that varied constantly from a classic, or semi-diglossia, to a triglossia situation has been positively taken in and later on, turned into a natural asset. And his sharp and swift personality of lingual and cultural adaptation was born and shaped there. After his primary and middle home school education, Noli had to learn from the trilingual- interlingual teachers how to become a good listener and speaker in any multilingual situation, while first respecting the “switching-code” style of the spoken Albanian with Greek psalms’ paternal influence. In addition, he had chosen Turkish written alphabet and grammar in school.
When he finished his studies at the Greek Gymnasium, besides the classical languages of Greek and Latin, French, Turkish and Arabic were smoothly added to Noli’s previous repertoire of languages. How many times would our youthful Noli better test his other self in some complicated acquainted multilingual tasks, before some unpleasant incident happened, due to some intersocial and cultural clashes with his classmates? Thinking in Albanian, writing formal papers in Turkish, and completing a student like Noli would further have enjoyed the switching lingual phonemes, while again interpreting at the same time from the languages of Homer or Racine. As asubstitute actor, he performed a few of the most classical world drama and tragedy in modern languages, which he learned in high school. As he will remember years later, that wasn’t really an easy task for him to accomplish, through prompting, learning by heart and playing at a young age, but was surely an excellent mental and intellectual aerobic exercise. Playing a part in one of Shakespeare’s plays in classical Greek was simply his first love with the English Emperor of drama.
Then, the Nolian sense of humor came out and went along with the whole experience. As Fan Noli would have described his passion for it, “I was asked whether or not, I could take the place of the star and play Hamlet. I jumped at the offer before they could change their minds. After all, I knew the part better than any star I had ever prompted.” (“Shakespeare and I”, 1964, p. 3)
(to be continued)