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Thread: The Italian Language

  1. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sile View Post
    watch your step................you will be banned for saying this, not from me..............but others here
    No one is ever banned here for stating their opinions in a civilized and fact based manner. Insult filled, vulgarity laden, racist riddled rants, or deliberate distortions of data are not permitted, and that is something upon which all the moderators are agreed, as they were in this specific case .

    As to your implication about the substance of the post, which has to do with the "dialects" spoken in Italy, everybody knows that most Italians didn't speak standard Italian at the time of unification. Likewise, most French people didn't speak standard French in the mid-1800s either, and the Germans didn't all speak one standard German when they were unified in the late 1800s either. Is this supposed to be news?

    Who cares? Be grateful that Italy, unlike France, accommodates so many "languages" and "dialects".

    @Oriental, That's very tolerant of you, but as a matter of principle we can't allow that kind of thing.


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    1 members found this post helpful.
    I enjoy reading your posts. You are tenacious, intelligent and very informative. Thank you.

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    Is Romanian intelligible with Italian?

  4. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by spoon View Post
    Is Romanian intelligible with Italian?
    None of the Romance languages are perfectly intelligible from my experience as a lay person. For me, Spanish is the most intelligible from an "audible" point of view. I found written French much easier than spoken French. I looked it up once, and Italian and French share the most vocabulary, but French pronunciation is more different.

    As for Romanian, I spent some weeks in Romania on business, and even in that short time I started to understand quite a bit of it. I would think it would be relatively easy for an Italian to learn Romanian and vice versa. Certainly, all the Romanian immigrants in Italy seem to have picked it up quickly, even if the pronunciation is off.

    One of our linguists will hopefully chime in.

    I just looked for a graphic of the relationships which I've used before, and this one showed up, which I'd never seen before. It measure lexical distance. As you can see, there is less of a relationship to Romanian than to French and Spanish.

    Interestingly, it bears out my experience with Catalan. It was even easier for me than Spanish, in some ways. Also interesting is the closeness to Galician. That one I don't understand.


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    More like Occitan is closer to Italian that proper l'oil northern french ( which is the french national language ) is.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occitan_language
    có che un pòpoło no 'l defende pi ła só łéngua el xe prónto par èser s'ciavo

    when a people no longer dares to defend its language it is ripe for slavery.

  6. #81
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    Please check the legend of the graphic. The langue d'oc is not spoken by more than 30 million people; it's barely spoken by anyone at all. As far as the graphic is concerned, FRE=FRENCH.

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    Just reading through this thread.

    Firstly, as a few have already stated, the idea that Sicilian has zero intelligibility with Italian is just too absurd for words.

    On the pom/mela discussion, I can recall the existence of a map which divided Italy into zones which used a pom variant, and zones which used mela. Naturally, the more gallic North used pom variants, the centre (Tuscany, Lazio, and maybe Campania) used mela variants, and then in Sicily, and the extreme south of Calabria and Apulia had pom variants again (in Sicilian, it's pumu).

    How has it turned out that way? I don't really know. There are plenty of gallic influences in Sicilian (Norman French and Provencal), and of course there was significant immigration from Northern Italy during the reign of Roger I, such that five or six Sicilian townships continue to speak a form of Gallic-Italic to the present day, and this also had an influence on Sicilian, but I don't know the answer.
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    what was the original Sicilian language, greek or greek and something else?

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    Quote Originally Posted by DuPidh View Post
    what was the original Sicilian language, greek or greek and something else?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sicilian_language

  10. #85
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    I'm one of those people who agrees that to say there is zero intelligibility between Sicilian and standard Italian, or Neapolitan and standard Italian, for that matter, is ludicrous.

    That said, there's a reason that the movie "Camorra" was released in Italy with standard Italian subtitles. I personally remember watching "The Godfather" with my husband and him asking me what the young Don was saying, and I only got about half or less of it. I needed those English subtitles.

    It's an issue for certain people even trying to navigate northern Italian dialects.

    As an example, here is a weather forecast in Zenese. I would think most of it is intelligible.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCllanEYT4U

    How much of this is intelligible without the translation, however? (Click on cc for subtitles in Italian and English)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBevfffdqVA



    That said, more than one aficionado, like me, of English police procedurals, has expressed the opinion that it would be really nice to have English subtitles for the ones that are "regional" in nature.

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    I take on very lately - I red a lot of funny arguments -
    1) vocabulary is important but very two different words for the same thing can be found in a language area under a patchwork form and not under a clear cutt off distribution: it 's true for every large area language - it proves the 2 words were previously known everywhere and choices have been made, but a lot of speakers can understand the 2 words (I know a bit about dialectology, said spite my great modesty!)-
    2) for consonants Romanian is close enough to Italian (and written latin) as a whole - the DI >> DZI >> ZI evolution recalls me the Canadian and Poitevin ancient pronunciation of T and D before I (/ts/, /dz/). the big question concerning Romanian is the huge amount of Slavic words - To answer to somes I would say the numerous French words in Romanian don't put it closer to Latin because the French words have been adopted under their oral/phonetic form, not the written form which is conservative in French as Angela pointed out - the only thing is that this French loans can have reduced the Slavic % in vocabulary -
    Spite difficult I think there is some inter-understanding between litterary Italian speakers and South Italian dialects speakers (but here my experience is scarce and the feeling of persons can change from individual to individual even of the same region when they evaluate other dialects)
    Syntaxis evolves and substrata or superstrata had played a role more than a time; so the postponed article is not a very valuable argument; I recall Scandinavian modern languages (I don't know for norse) have postponed article and I never heard some specialist denying the linguistic community between Nordic Germanic languages and Continental Germanic ones. As a whole the great majority of the today I-E European languages have underwent great syntaxis/grammar changes for internal + external reasons, if we compare ancient grammar to modern grammar and I don't think they have no link between them!

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    1 members found this post helpful.
    Going back to the mutual intelligibility of Sicilian and Italian, we need to differentiate between the Sicilian my grand parents spoke and that which modern Sicilians might speak (in ever diminishing circumstances).

    In my grand-parents' era, pre-fascism, teachers in Sicilian primary schools were allowed to conduct their lessons in Sicilian, so the whole population continued to use Sicilian as their primary language.

    This practice was outlawed during the fascist period, and gradually, a stigma gets attached to speaking Sicilian, and work opportunities are enhanced via better education, etc, and we reach a point where Sicilian is only something to be used amongst family and very close friends, but even then, the watering-down process has well and truly begun, so that we are no longer hearing the Sicilian of my grand-parents era, we are hearing Italianised Sicilian or Sicilianised Italian (the kind which you'll occasionally read in Andrea Camelleri's novels).

    Here are some examples from an excellent introductory grammar written by Bonner, in which he laments the italianisation of modern Sicilian, to the point where he genuinely questions whether it's worthwhile bothering with this form of Sicilian (may as well just speak Italian):

    1. Whereas an "r" used to be used instead of an "l" before many consonants, the trend is to replace the "r" with an "l" as would be the case in Italian: so quarchi becomes qualchi.
    2. Whereas the Sicilian construction "mm" was often used in instances where in Italian you would find "nv", the modern trend is to use the Italian construction, so cumminciri become cunvinciri.
    3. A string of Sicilian words have changed so that they more closely resemble the Italian equivalent (in both spoken and written Sicilian), e.g.:
    abbitutini has become abitudini
    accuminzari
    has become cuminciari
    the construction of aviri a + inf (to denote an obligation, similar to the English construction) has become duviri (an example where both the vocab and grammar has changed completely)
    carziri has become carciri
    chiazza has become piazza
    distrudiri has become distruggiri
    disiari has become disiddiari
    mmitari has become invitari
    nnucenti has become innocenti
    raggia has become rabbia
    sonnu has become sognu
    vrancu or jancu has become biancu

    Many argue that this is just a normal development, but I would argue that the degree of change in the course of around 50 years (during the lifetime of my parents) is anything but normal.

    Clearly, Italian and this other thing, which is nothing more than a Sicilian variant of Italian, are mutually comprehensible.

    However, I would still say that correct Sicilian and Italian still shares a degree of comprehensibility, although clearly it would be far more difficult for an Italian speaker, perhaps only marginally more comprehensible than, say, Spanish.

    Anyway, it's all academic, Sicilian doesn't really exist any more.

  13. #88
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    Quote Originally Posted by DuPidh View Post
    what was the original Sicilian language, greek or greek and something else?
    It's a good question, which can have a simple answer, or a more complicated answer, depending on the granularity you are seeking, and/or what exactly you are viewing as Year 0.

    Firstly, there were three identifiable peoples occupying Sicily before the arrival of the Greeks (the ones we know of), all or some of which may or may not have been indo-european, all or some of which may or may not have been Italic people, all or some of which may or may not have arrived from the Near East, either via the North of Italy, or having crossed the Adriatic from Illyria, or directly from the Aegean, etc, etc

    The Sicels occupied East Sicily, and they appear to have arrived after the Sicani, who end up occupying central Sicily. Various ancient writers do not distinguish between the two groups. Ultimately, the arrival of the Greeks push the Sicels further inward, either displacing the Sicani, or absorbing them, and ultimately, the Sicels themselves get absorbed into the Greek populations. Discussion of the origin of these three groups deserves a thread in its own right. The third group were the Elymians who occupied the far Western corner.

    So from the 7th century BC, the Greeks start colonising Sicily, first in the East, and then gradually along the Northern coast and the Southern coast. Carthaginian settlements remain in far Western Sicily right up to the time of the Punic Wars.

    So, at the time of Sicily becoming a colony of Rome, Greek is the dominant language on the island, and remains the dominant language throughout the Roman period.

    While Latin is introduced to Sicily, we're mainly talking about elites, landowners and soldiers, the population continues to be Greek speaking (as was the case in far far Southern Italy).

    Here we come to one of the great unanswered linguistic questions: did parts of Sicily remain latin speaking after the fall of the Roman empire? We don't know for sure, plenty of crackpot theories out there, but in one sense, it probably doesn't need to be answered...

    Goths/Vandals rule Sicily for a century or so, and then Sicily is incorporated into the Byzantine Empire, and is officially Greek speaking again (even if it was always Greek speaking).

    For between 200 to 250 years, Sicily comes under Muslim rule, and Arabic is introduced to the island (and lots of words of Arabic origin are found in Sicilian). Here we reach one of those points where we lack some clarity. We know most of Eastern Sicily remained Greek-speaking and Orthodox Christian, but we're unclear on the extent to which this permeated the whole island. We do know many mosques were built, especially in Western Sicily.

    The Normans commence the conquest of the island in 1060, and it took them 30 years to conquer the island from the Saracens.

    As at 1090, we know much of the population was still Greek-speaking, and we know there were Arabic-speaking communities, and we know that a large contingent of latin speakers had been introduced - once again, it's the exact degree we don't know.

    Further complications:
    1. We talk of Norman rule, but these were elites, the actual number of Normans probably could be counted in the hundreds. Also, the Normans had already been in Southern Italy for a generation, so we are talking of some Normans from Hauteville, plus Italo-Normans from the peninsular, plus various allies and mercenaries (Lombards already settled in Southern Italy, and various Southern Italians, both Greek and Latin speaking).
    2. Between 1090 and 1100 large scale migrations occur from Northern Italy to fill much of the interior which has now been vacated following the long conquest of Italy.
    3. A large group of mercenaries are brought in from Provence, introducing a large vocabulary from Provence into Sicilian.
    4. The last Norman king dies childless, and a daughter born posthumously to Roger II is married off to Henry of Hohenstaufen, bringing German rule to Sicily (and the introduction of some vocabulary of German origin).
    5. Following the Sicilian Vespers in 1282, the Sicilian crown comes under Aragon, and a cadet branch of the family rules Sicily for 100 years or so, bringing a significant Catalan vocabulary to Sicilian.

    My personal theory? At the time of the Norman conquest, very little Latin was spoken anywhere in Sicily. The Norman forces were supplemented by mercenaries from Campagnia, and the vulgar Latin introduced to Sicily at the time of the conquest was from this region, laced with a large vocabulary from the extant Greek and Arabic-speaking population, plus Gallic influences from Norman French, Provencal and Northern Italy (and later Catalan and Spanish).

    By around 1300, Sicilian is spoken throughout the island, and the other languages appear to have died out (although there remained Greek speaking populations in far Southern Italy, a few small ones remain to the present day).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joey D View Post
    Just reading through this thread.

    Firstly, as a few have already stated, the idea that Sicilian has zero intelligibility with Italian is just too absurd for words.
    It's very difficult for a northern Italian and equally for a central Italian (Tuscan, Umbrian...) to understand the Sicilian, Calabrian, Neapolitan.

    Quote Originally Posted by spoon View Post
    Is Romanian intelligible with Italian?
    Not really.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pax Augusta View Post
    It's very difficult for a northern Italian and equally for a central Italian (Tuscan, Umbrian...) to understand the Sicilian, Calabrian, Neapolitan.



    Not really.
    Yes, difficulty is one thing, I don't disagree, especially if we are talking about an authentic Sicilian rather than the modern Italianised version.

    But the original statement was "zero intelligibility", which is absurd.

    Also, Neapolitan is even closer to Tuscan Italian than Sicilian, and therefore there is a higher degree if intelligibility between Italian and Neapolitan (unsurprisingly, given their respective geographical positions on the peninsular).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joey D View Post
    Yes, difficulty is one thing, I don't disagree, especially if we are talking about an authentic Sicilian rather than the modern Italianised version.

    But the original statement was "zero intelligibility", which is absurd.
    Zero intelligibility is obviously exaggerated.

    Quote Originally Posted by Joey D View Post
    Also, Neapolitan is even closer to Tuscan Italian than Sicilian, and therefore there is a higher degree if intelligibility between Italian and Neapolitan (unsurprisingly, given their respective geographical positions on the peninsular).
    Intelligibility is one thing, but if a Neapolitan speaks in authentic Neapolitan a Tuscan won't understand. The tv series Gomorra where the actors speak often in an Italianized Neapolitan has been aired on Italian tv with Italian subtitles.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joey D View Post
    It's a good question, which can have a simple answer, or a more complicated answer, depending on the granularity you are seeking, and/or what exactly you are viewing as Year 0.

    Firstly, there were three identifiable peoples occupying Sicily before the arrival of the Greeks (the ones we know of), all or some of which may or may not have been indo-european, all or some of which may or may not have been Italic people, all or some of which may or may not have arrived from the Near East, either via the North of Italy, or having crossed the Adriatic from Illyria, or directly from the Aegean, etc, etc

    The Sicels occupied East Sicily, and they appear to have arrived after the Sicani, who end up occupying central Sicily. Various ancient writers do not distinguish between the two groups. Ultimately, the arrival of the Greeks push the Sicels further inward, either displacing the Sicani, or absorbing them, and ultimately, the Sicels themselves get absorbed into the Greek populations. Discussion of the origin of these three groups deserves a thread in its own right. The third group were the Elymians who occupied the far Western corner.

    So from the 7th century BC, the Greeks start colonising Sicily, first in the East, and then gradually along the Northern coast and the Southern coast. Carthaginian settlements remain in far Western Sicily right up to the time of the Punic Wars.

    So, at the time of Sicily becoming a colony of Rome, Greek is the dominant language on the island, and remains the dominant language throughout the Roman period.

    While Latin is introduced to Sicily, we're mainly talking about elites, landowners and soldiers, the population continues to be Greek speaking (as was the case in far far Southern Italy).

    Here we come to one of the great unanswered linguistic questions: did parts of Sicily remain latin speaking after the fall of the Roman empire? We don't know for sure, plenty of crackpot theories out there, but in one sense, it probably doesn't need to be answered...

    Goths/Vandals rule Sicily for a century or so, and then Sicily is incorporated into the Byzantine Empire, and is officially Greek speaking again (even if it was always Greek speaking).

    For between 200 to 250 years, Sicily comes under Muslim rule, and Arabic is introduced to the island (and lots of words of Arabic origin are found in Sicilian). Here we reach one of those points where we lack some clarity. We know most of Eastern Sicily remained Greek-speaking and Orthodox Christian, but we're unclear on the extent to which this permeated the whole island. We do know many mosques were built, especially in Western Sicily.

    The Normans commence the conquest of the island in 1060, and it took them 30 years to conquer the island from the Saracens.

    As at 1090, we know much of the population was still Greek-speaking, and we know there were Arabic-speaking communities, and we know that a large contingent of latin speakers had been introduced - once again, it's the exact degree we don't know.

    Further complications:
    1. We talk of Norman rule, but these were elites, the actual number of Normans probably could be counted in the hundreds. Also, the Normans had already been in Southern Italy for a generation, so we are talking of some Normans from Hauteville, plus Italo-Normans from the peninsular, plus various allies and mercenaries (Lombards already settled in Southern Italy, and various Southern Italians, both Greek and Latin speaking).
    2. Between 1090 and 1100 large scale migrations occur from Northern Italy to fill much of the interior which has now been vacated following the long conquest of Italy.
    3. A large group of mercenaries are brought in from Provence, introducing a large vocabulary from Provence into Sicilian.
    4. The last Norman king dies childless, and a daughter born posthumously to Roger II is married off to Henry of Hohenstaufen, bringing German rule to Sicily (and the introduction of some vocabulary of German origin).
    5. Following the Sicilian Vespers in 1282, the Sicilian crown comes under Aragon, and a cadet branch of the family rules Sicily for 100 years or so, bringing a significant Catalan vocabulary to Sicilian.

    My personal theory? At the time of the Norman conquest, very little Latin was spoken anywhere in Sicily. The Norman forces were supplemented by mercenaries from Campagnia, and the vulgar Latin introduced to Sicily at the time of the conquest was from this region, laced with a large vocabulary from the extant Greek and Arabic-speaking population, plus Gallic influences from Norman French, Provencal and Northern Italy (and later Catalan and Spanish).

    By around 1300, Sicilian is spoken throughout the island, and the other languages appear to have died out (although there remained Greek speaking populations in far Southern Italy, a few small ones remain to the present day).
    Yes and no, in late antiquity the original language (Siculo/Elimo and Sicano) were present together with the Greek, even in the two small Phoenician cities (Panormo and Lilibeo) the population was mostly Greek-speaking. Apuleio called Sicilians trilinguals so Greek, Latin and Siculo/Elimo because of Latin language was introduced in Augustus times who introduced in Sicily eight colonies of Roman soldiers and mercenaries from Rome and Latium.

    image share

    Than the Barbarian invasion of Goths was small and probably left very few words (abbanniari derives from Gothic word bandjan or strunzu from strunz), when Bellisario reconquered Italy for Eastern Roman Empire and their Renovatio Imperii the bilingual Greek and Latin suriveved with predominance of Greek, where the Siculo/Elimo was absorbed into the Latin language since they were both derived from original Latino-Falisco. Then muslims arrived but they do not conquered Sicily immediately since they invaded here in 827 d.C but the end of conquest ended in 965 d.C. and in 1038 Maniace conquered the whole Eastern side of Sicily, nowadays less than 5% of words have Arab origins but they are mostly agricultural words and loan. Then the Normans arrived there was an important migration from mainland Italy and to less extent from France (especially Provence) and even a small number of Norman-British and Flemish and when the Greeks survived (actual Sicilian language has around 15% words derived from ancient and medieval Greek) the few Arabic-speaking migrated to al-Andalus, Ifriqiya and the last remnants were deported to Lucera, in fact in the Federico II times the Sicilian language was an unitary language for the Italian states. Then of course Spaniards plays a role in the lessical composition of Sicilian, especially Castillian and to minor extent the Catalan (but not the Aragonese). The Sicilian language is classified as Extreme Southern Italian language together with Calabrese and Salentino, see the map and mind you that: The far southern Italian group overlap perfectly with the last East Roman Empire themes in Italy, this is in my opinion the evidence that the Greek suriveved for a long time.

    url immagine

    image hosting

    Also, Neapolitan is even closer to Tuscan Italian than Sicilian
    Not at all, many words and phonetic of Sicilian and Neapolitan groups are very similar, but Neapolitan has the schwa particular phoneme, these languages are both part of the Italo-Romance group and of the Southern Italian sub-group who is divided into Intermediate Southern Italian and Far Southern Italian.
    Sicilians and mainlander Southern Italian phenotype galleries.

    http://italicroots.lefora.com/topic/1111/Re-Groups-of-Sicilians
    http://italicroots.lefora.com/topic/375/Southern-italians-how-we-really-look

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    1 members found this post helpful.
    Another thing, the Southern Italian macro-group (Intermediate and Extreme) overlap perfectly with the territories of the kingdom of Sicily, except from Malta who speak a Semitic language (I guess because of many Maltese converted to Islam on the opposite of most of Sicilians who remained Christians and even Pagans) but still strongly influenced by Sicilian.

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    As I said, there remains a question of degree.

    Greek was clearly the dominant language throughout Roman rule, what is unclear is the extent to which Latin was spoken beyond the ruling elites, landowners and soldiers.

    The other open question is whether Latin was spoken to any significant degree when the Normans first commenced their conquest circa 1060.

    Personally, I doubt it, because it was not large scale to begin with, and it's unlikely it would have survived the 600 years between the fall of the Roman empire and the Norman conquest.

    When the Normans arrive, they confront Greek and Arabic speaking people. It is the Normans who re-introduce Latin into Sicily (in the main, via the armies they have assembled from Campagnia, which had remained thoroughly latinised post-Roman rule).

    If any Latin had survived in Sicily in those intervening 600 years, it could only have been tiny, isolated communities, but no way could it have been the basis for the Sicilian Language. For starters, there's very little which can be traced directly to the Latin of the Roman era.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joey D View Post

    Many argue that this is just a normal development, but I would argue that the degree of change in the course of around 50 years (during the lifetime of my parents) is anything but normal.

    Clearly, Italian and this other thing, which is nothing more than a Sicilian variant of Italian, are mutually comprehensible.

    However, I would still say that correct Sicilian and Italian still shares a degree of comprehensibility, although clearly it would be far more difficult for an Italian speaker, perhaps only marginally more comprehensible than, say, Spanish.
    Thanks for interesting post; I red some things about Sicilian but my knowledge is still tiny;
    concerning "natural" or "normal" evolution, it's maybe normal for a social evolution but lingusitically it's absolutely abnormal: Sicilian had taken its proper way from Latin and could not converge again towards officla Italian in any natural way. No linguistic convergence here but progressive replacement under diverse pressures, I agree. We know regional forms in dominant standard are not dialects. It's true for others, as by instance genuine Galician and Galicianized "Castillan" today, or Gallo dialect and Western French of some past period.

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    Here I spoke for Sicilian, but it's the same for the most typical Southern Italian dialects which I suppose are not standard Italian dialects of South but dialects with their own development from Latin. In France where centralisation is a religion, many people believe Oil dialects are derived from modern standard French when in fact they are derived from old Romance. Naive?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joey D View Post
    As I said, there remains a question of degree.

    Greek was clearly the dominant language throughout Roman rule, what is unclear is the extent to which Latin was spoken beyond the ruling elites, landowners and soldiers.

    The other open question is whether Latin was spoken to any significant degree when the Normans first commenced their conquest circa 1060.

    Personally, I doubt it, because it was not large scale to begin with, and it's unlikely it would have survived the 600 years between the fall of the Roman empire and the Norman conquest.

    When the Normans arrive, they confront Greek and Arabic speaking people. It is the Normans who re-introduce Latin into Sicily (in the main, via the armies they have assembled from Campagnia, which had remained thoroughly latinised post-Roman rule).

    If any Latin had survived in Sicily in those intervening 600 years, it could only have been tiny, isolated communities, but no way could it have been the basis for the Sicilian Language. For starters, there's very little which can be traced directly to the Latin of the Roman era.
    This is a theory of Gerard Rohlfes but himself retract of his theory, there are no evidences that Latin was not spoken in medieval Sicily, meanwhile Arab yes?The same Maltese is a mix of Arab and Romance, probably in Palermo and some other islamized zones the language spoken was similar of modern Maltese but Romance survived otherwise why modern Sicilian has loads of words who are closer to Latin more than standard Italian?If Roman settlers were a minority Arabs and Berbers were much less, just a bunch of soldiers and oppressors expelled later by Normans and Federico II ;)
    Latin was instead spoken together with the Greek in Roman and Byzantine times, Tito Calpurnio Siculo used Latin and he was an important poet in Latin literature.
    This is an evidence that Latin was spoken even in rural areas:

    image share

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    and it's unlikely it would have survived the 600 years between the fall of the Roman empire and the Norman conquest.
    Judging by this statement Latin and Romance languages would disappear from all over the ex Western Roman Empire.

    PS: Byzantine empire was the Eastern Roman Empire and part of population spoken Latin too.

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    For starters, there's very little which can be traced directly to the Latin of the Roman era.
    What???according to the linguistic Giarrizzo 56% of modern Sicilian vocabulary derives directly from Latin!

    https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lingua...na#Vocabolario

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    1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Joey D View Post
    Going back to the mutual intelligibility of Sicilian and Italian, we need to differentiate between the Sicilian my grand parents spoke and that which modern Sicilians might speak (in ever diminishing circumstances).

    In my grand-parents' era, pre-fascism, teachers in Sicilian primary schools were allowed to conduct their lessons in Sicilian, so the whole population continued to use Sicilian as their primary language.

    This practice was outlawed during the fascist period, and gradually, a stigma gets attached to speaking Sicilian, and work opportunities are enhanced via better education, etc, and we reach a point where Sicilian is only something to be used amongst family and very close friends, but even then, the watering-down process has well and truly begun, so that we are no longer hearing the Sicilian of my grand-parents era, we are hearing Italianised Sicilian or Sicilianised Italian (the kind which you'll occasionally read in Andrea Camelleri's novels).

    Here are some examples from an excellent introductory grammar written by Bonner, in which he laments the italianisation of modern Sicilian, to the point where he genuinely questions whether it's worthwhile bothering with this form of Sicilian (may as well just speak Italian):

    1. Whereas an "r" used to be used instead of an "l" before many consonants, the trend is to replace the "r" with an "l" as would be the case in Italian: so quarchi becomes qualchi.
    2. Whereas the Sicilian construction "mm" was often used in instances where in Italian you would find "nv", the modern trend is to use the Italian construction, so cumminciri become cunvinciri.
    3. A string of Sicilian words have changed so that they more closely resemble the Italian equivalent (in both spoken and written Sicilian), e.g.:
    abbitutini has become abitudini
    accuminzari
    has become cuminciari
    the construction of aviri a + inf (to denote an obligation, similar to the English construction) has become duviri (an example where both the vocab and grammar has changed completely)
    carziri has become carciri
    chiazza has become piazza
    distrudiri has become distruggiri
    disiari has become disiddiari
    mmitari has become invitari
    nnucenti has become innocenti
    raggia has become rabbia
    sonnu has become sognu
    vrancu or jancu has become biancu

    Many argue that this is just a normal development, but I would argue that the degree of change in the course of around 50 years (during the lifetime of my parents) is anything but normal.

    Clearly, Italian and this other thing, which is nothing more than a Sicilian variant of Italian, are mutually comprehensible.

    However, I would still say that correct Sicilian and Italian still shares a degree of comprehensibility, although clearly it would be far more difficult for an Italian speaker, perhaps only marginally more comprehensible than, say, Spanish.

    Anyway, it's all academic, Sicilian doesn't really exist any more.
    This is exactly how it happened in my own area, but more rapidly and more thoroughly, to the extent that today young people can understand the "dialect" of their grandparents or great-grand-parents, but they virtually never speak it.

    The only place in Italy that really has clung to its regional language is the Veneto.

    So, all this hope that the "regional" languages will come back is a fantasy, in my opinion.

    My personal experience is precisely as you described. My father wanted me to speak the "purest" Italian possible, and so no one was allowed to speak to me in dialect. It was part of his world view concerning the need for Italy to unify, and there was also a "class" element to it. It got to the point that if my mother and her friends were speaking dialect they'd abruptly switch to Italian when I came into the room. It worked: I can imperfectly understand my local dialect but can't speak it at all. I'm even worse with the Pramzan of the other half of my family.

    It's also true, in my experience, that the more "Italianized" versions of the regional languages are easier for "Italian" speakers like me to understand. As an example, I'm a dedicated fan of the Montalbano series (I now own the full set of dvds.) When some characters slip into "Sicilian", I can understand almost all of it. The "older" Sicilian is much harder, but to say it's unintelligible is clearly absurd. It's not like trying to understand German or Russian for goodness' sakes. For whatever reason, I have more problems with "Camorra". It should be the other way around, as my grandmother in law was from Campania, from around Benevento, and I didn't find her all that difficult to understand once I got used to it. I emphasize once I got used to it. I found it pretty hard going in the beginning, and it wasn't just different vocabulary; it was the pronunciation too. I don't see any particular closeness to Tuscan. It's a southern Italian language.

    Oh, the experience of Sicilian Americans backs up what you're saying. I know a lot of the older ones, the 100% Sicilian ones, who go on a visit and think they'll find people speaking as their grandparents did. They don't, and wind up very disappointed. That language is, according to them, virtually gone.

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