View Full Version : Italian Dialects

03-04-11, 21:25
Here I've found a funny tv commercial for the 150 years of italian unity.
The people communicate with eachother only in their dialects, and they don't understand the others. it explains that tv played an important role to unify the italian language and to divulgate it throught the country.

For those who can understand them here it is:

03-04-11, 23:34
I think its the same in a lot of countries. Here in Denmark all dialects are dying out well they are pretty much dead. It’s both media and the school system that does it.

Another key part is the national movement that happened around 1800 in most countries. In this they needed to strip away regional identities and make a new unified national identity.

The blue print for this has been more or les the same in all countries, just at different times.

Interesting thing is the Balkan former Yugoslav countries… there when Yugoslavia was formed after wwII a unified language started forming. Now there is a move to make each dialect more unique and different from the others.

The problem with the national identity movement in Denmark is that it has absolutely killed folklore and culture. It has worked to well here.

Compared to Balkan were there is a rich folklore and culture I also have the impression that Italy is the same with all regions are unique. Maybe in 50 years it will be like in Denmark.

03-04-11, 23:40
indeed, dialects are found in all the languages, and their surviving depend on the time the national language was born.
i bet danish national language is a bit more ancient than italian

03-04-11, 23:45
There is as in english the Quens Danish... but no one talks like that...

Every one talk in Copenhagen Dialect this days media... even the prince that will be king talk it. So copenhagen Dialect has won here.

04-04-11, 08:28
ALL Italian "dialects" or vernaculars are just local descendants of Vulgar Latin not merely Standard Italian spoken badly.

Before Italian Unification, Italy was split into a number of states and everybody in each state from prince to pauper spoke in the local vernacular.

Mzungu mchagga
04-04-11, 11:24
Now this thread is really interesting!

When I take Germany as a comparison again, there I three major regions to observe in which the preservation of dialects developed differently.

In Southern Germany (e.g. Bavaria, Swabia, Franken etc) as well as in Austria and Switzerland, dialects are spoken very frequently and proudly in every day life. Even among politicians and in media hints can't be overheard. This is also the part in which tradition and folklore in general has a high status and is preserved on a high level.

In North Western Germany (e.g. Lower Saxony, Hamburg, Schleswig etc) it is similiar to Denmark. Dialects have got nearly extinct in every day usage, as well as many other aspects of folklore. It is only used occasionaly for fun or for studies. But especially young people are not able to speak the old dialects anymore, and only stick to standard German.

In East Germany (the part which was formerly GDR, e.g. Saxony, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg), dialects have been more preserved. Although the regime took a lot of effort to equalize the people in it's country, this didn't apply for dialects, as politicians and news speakers continued to speak in their dialects.

Today you can easily distinguish between a citizen (with higher education!) from West and East Berlin, as the East Berlin person is much more likely to speak with his Berlin accent, while the West Berlin person uses standard German. This pattern provides a lot of mockery among both groups.

I think it has a lot to do with local governments, how they treat dialects, whether they taken with pride, or seen as a backward "hillbilly" feature.

05-04-11, 00:49
Many interesting points, Mzungu...:smile:

I never knew about the differences between the different Germanic regions in terms of dialect retention. Is there a reason for the difference other than local politics? Did or does social class play a part?

Politics certainly played a part in the case of standard Italian. It was Mussolini (one of the very few good things he ever did, in my opinion) who mandated the teaching of standard Italian in all Italian classrooms.

Now, and for perhaps the last twenty years in some places, regional politics is once again a major factor. Towns in my own area have started mandating that an hour a day during the school day be spent in dialect instruction. Ironic, I think; the mandate sort of indicates to me that it was weakening.

For decades after the 30's, speaking in dialect was rather looked down upon, at least for the educated classes, at least in our area. It seemed to me that only the older people spoke it habitually, i.e. the nonni. Now, there's a revival. One good thing about that is that we have a strong area history of poetry written in out dialect. At least this ensures that the poetry will still be read.

Mzungu mchagga
05-04-11, 12:33
Mmh, that is a good question, I don't know!
Of course it has something to do with social class. People with lower education are much more likely to speak with dialect than those of higher education. But still there are regions in which even people with higher education are proud of their cultural heritage and speak with their local dialects, while in other regions dialects are regarded as backwarded and frowned upon.
But what excactly gives the ignition to both sides I can't answer. Regions with people who speak with their dialects with pride also have local media and politicians who speak in these dialects. But if media influences the people, or people the media, is similiar to the question of what has been first, the hen or the egg?

09-04-11, 16:59
I've lately been thinking about that whole issue of the media and language, and, in particular, dialects.

I watch Italian television even when I'm in the United States, and I've noticed a real change in language in some of the programming. (Believe me, I do know that most of it is awful, and I'm very selective in what I watch!)

For a long time, a sort of "news-reader's" Italian seemed to dominate. The closest I can come to explaining it is that old phrase, la lingua toscana in bocca romana, or the Tuscan language in a Roman mouth (with a slightly Roman, to my ear, sweeter accent that I very much like). It sometimes led to the anachronism of Sicilians speaking Tuscan, but at least everyone could understand it.

Television therefore, could be said to have created a standard "accent" as well as language.

Lately, particularly on some regionally set sitcoms, or detective stories (like the Commissario Montalbano series set in Sicily), at least the accents are authentic, and you can hear some dialect words as well.

So, television, which once standardized Italian even as to accent, is now moving in the opposite direction.

Is that happening in other countries? Is the language on television uniform? Is there a preferred accent?