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Thread: Sicilian: History, Etymology, Idiomatic Expressions, related discussions

  1. #26
    Regular Member Joey D's Avatar
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    On another thread I just made a reference to the present perfect, generally made with the verb to have and the past participle, but in some Romance and Germanic languages, there are certain instances where the verb to be is used. In the case of Italian, this will be for the present perfect of the verb to be (sono stato), for verbs connoting movement (sono andato) and for reflexive verbs (mi sono lavato).

    Sicilian varies in a number of ways to what happens in Italian.

    1. First of all, as in Spanish, the verb to have is used invariably in the present perfect;
    but
    2. The present perfect is used very, very rarely. So rarely, I would struggle to give you an example of cases where it can be used without it sounding odd to my ear.

    So ci sono andato is nearly always rendered in Sicilian using the Past Absolute tense, e.g. jii (first person past tense of jiri).

    Mi sono lavato is nearly always mi lavai in Sicilian. Note that the latter form is also the past absolute in Italian, the identical word, but it's the usage which is different.

    If you are talking about yesterday or last week, you would nearly always use the present perfect in Italian.

    But if you were recounting, say, a story from your childhood, some 20 years ago, then you might use lavai.

    In Sicilian, you would just use lavai in both circumstances.

    I understand, there is a wider Southern tendency to favour the simple past tense over the compound past tense. That certainly gels for Sicilian (and Southern Calabrian). I'd be interested in hearing from anyone about Italian usage in places like Campania and Apulia and whether in using Italian day-to-day, is there a preference for using the past absolute over the present perfect, moreso than you would hear in the Central-North.
    Misseri e sceccu cu tuttâ tistera
    comu vi l’haju a diri, a vastunati
    ca mancu haju Sali di salera!

  2. #27
    Regular Member Joey D's Avatar
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    1 members found this post helpful.
    Got this off the it wiki, it's a break down of all the entries in Giarrizzo's Dizionario Etimologico Siciliano.

    While this appears to suggest that about half of the entries have a derivation that is not Latin, it's worth noting that:
    - words which are obviously from Latin are not included
    - there are so many instances where it's difficult to distinguish words which come directly from Latin, or via any of Norman French; Lombard, Catalan, Spanish and even Greek in some instances.

    Similarly, Catalan will often be under-represented because it's difficult to know whether the source was it, or Spanish or even Provencal.

    Giarrizzo.GIF

    ps sorry, I didn't know how to make the image appear larger

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    Sicilian: History, Etymology, Idiomatic Expressions, related discussions

    Quote Originally Posted by Joey D View Post
    On another thread I just made a reference to the present perfect, generally made with the verb to have and the past participle, but in some Romance and Germanic languages, there are certain instances where the verb to be is used. In the case of Italian, this will be for the present perfect of the verb to be (sono stato), for verbs connoting movement (sono andato) and for reflexive verbs (mi sono lavato).

    Sicilian varies in a number of ways to what happens in Italian.

    1. First of all, as in Spanish, the verb to have is used invariably in the present perfect;
    but
    2. The present perfect is used very, very rarely. So rarely, I would struggle to give you an example of cases where it can be used without it sounding odd to my ear.

    So ci sono andato is nearly always rendered in Sicilian using the Past Absolute tense, e.g. jii (first person past tense of jiri).

    Mi sono lavato is nearly always mi lavai in Sicilian. Note that the latter form is also the past absolute in Italian, the identical word, but it's the usage which is different.

    If you are talking about yesterday or last week, you would nearly always use the present perfect in Italian.

    But if you were recounting, say, a story from your childhood, some 20 years ago, then you might use lavai.

    In Sicilian, you would just use lavai in both circumstances.

    I understand, there is a wider Southern tendency to favour the simple past tense over the compound past tense. That certainly gels for Sicilian (and Southern Calabrian). I'd be interested in hearing from anyone about Italian usage in places like Campania and Apulia and whether in using Italian day-to-day, is there a preference for using the past absolute over the present perfect, moreso than you would hear in the Central-North.
    In the South Apulia definitely we say: Mi sono lavato. Maggiu Lavatu.
    Ieu maggiu Lavatu, Tie ta lavatu, Iggru/a sa Lavatu/a, Nui nnimu Lavati, Ui biti Lavati, Iggri/e sanu Lavati/e

  4. #29
    Regular Member Joey D's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing, that's surprising to me because I had imagined it was a Southern thing (favouring the simple past tense construction), but I had no real basis for knowing one way or the other.

    Just to tease that out a bit, Italian will use the verb to be for any compound tense using reflexive verbs, but in Sicilian we always use the verb to have whenever we use a compound tense (rare as it is). Is that same with Sth Apulian? so Ieu maggiu lavatu is the equivalent of m'aggiu, which would be the equivalent of Sicilian m'aiu (or m'haiu), although around Noto, I think they would say something like m'agghiu (just going off memory there).

    Around Noto, they have a few interesting variants. Another one is that the hard "c" as in "chiavi" becomes a soft "c" like "ciavi".

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    1 members found this post helpful.

    Sicilian: History, Etymology, Idiomatic Expressions, related discussions

    Generally in S. Puglia we tend to mix up To Be and To Have. (Verbi Ausiliari)
    Example:
    Ieu m'aggiu lavatu - io mi HO lavato (To Have), but Tie ta lavatu - Tu ti SEI lavato (To Be).
    When they speak in Italian is obvious, sometimes Mistakenly they say: Io ho andato, instead of Io sono andato.
    Chiavi = Chiai (Kiai)
    Stronc C.
    Ho perso le Chiavi - Aggiu persu le Chiai, K sound.
    But" "che" stai dicendo? is "ce" sta dici? Soft C.

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    This is more gesture related, and maybe Italians on here can verify, but I've heard that Sicilians do that same upward head nod that Greeks do when they mean "No." At least the Greeks where I'm from (southern) do this. I've never been to other parts of Greece. I'm sure somebody on here knows what I'm talking about though LOL

    My father has been to Sicily many times, and he said he noticed other similar gestures too.

  7. #32
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    Has anyone ever heard of the Kademia du Krivu? http://linguasiciliana.com/kademia-du-krivu/

    I stumbled across it the other day. It appears to be yet another attempt to standardise the orthography of Sicilian, I'm not really sure how far it ever got (if it got anywhere at all).

    As you can see from its name, some of their proposals are at the extreme end of unusual (although it has to be said, if you go back far enough in Sicilian history, you will see the use of K and X, as they argue in support of their orthography).

    For those accustomed to using a more italianised form of writing Sicilian, as I am, there are other oddities which make it difficult to pick up quickly, such as some consonants which are presumed to have an "i" come afterwards as a default, but which can make the spelling of some common words look unusual. Also, I'm not used to the use of "J" to being a soft "g" (as in English) rather than the sound more typical of Dutch and German (as in English "Y").

    Here are some examples of written Sicilian they provide:

    Pirsuna ka nun suda e nun fa ventu

    Sulu munnu ku munnu nun s’inkontranu mai

    U poviru dici: ma k’eni

    Ku centu lebbri asikuta manku unu ni pigha

    Ogni mpidimentu eni juvamentu

    Sparagna a farina kuannu a kaxa eni china

    Chu skuru di menzanotti nun po fari e tannu eni tempu di cirkari lumi

    Looking through these a second time, it just occurred to me what some of these words are meant to be. "Chu" must be "Cchiù" meaning "more" as in Italian più, or in the context of this proverb, it's saying it can't get any darker than midnight.

    I was also trying to work out why "china" was spelt with a ch, it seemed to be breaking the rules of their orthography, and then it occured to me, this is an instance where the "ch" is intended to carry an additional sound, along the lines of chiina, or chjina, and that's why ch is used instead of just K.

  8. #33
    Regular Member Joey D's Avatar
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    Andrea Camilleri is a very popular crime writer, as we all know, who hails from Sicily. He is known to add the odd sprinkling of Sicilian into his writing, but I do stress, it is just an odd sprinkling. He writes so that his primary readership (Italians) can understand his writing, and adds the occasional Sicilianism to add a touch of authenticity, to help plonk the reader into something which sounds that little bit more realistic.

    This will occasionally involve a Sicilian word put into a normal Italian sentence, where the reader is likely to understand the meaning from the context.

    Take this example from La forma dell'acqua: Sta tanticchia meglio, la febbre gli sta calando.

    The word tanticchia is 100% Sicilian and I'm not even sure if there is any Italian word which is similar to it. It says that someone is now feeling a bit better. In Italian, you'd probably say something like: Sta un po' meglio.

    Given it says that the fever has gone down, your average Italian reader is likely to be able to guess what tanticchia means in the context of the full sentence.

    Importantly, the remainder of the sentence is Italian, it's just one Sicilian word which has been put in place of the Italian term. If we were to say the whole sentence in Sicilian, it would look something like this:

    Sta tanticchia megghiu, 'a frevi cci sta calannu.

    An Italian might still be able to work out what that meant in the context of the whole story, but the readability diminishes, it's too big a distraction for the reader trying to enjoy the story. Camilleri manages to add a touch of realism by just dropping in one obvious Sicilian word which doesn't slow the reader down too much (although most will have to pause a tiny bit).

    At least that was a real Sicilian word, properly spelt, grammatically correct in terms of where it was placed in the sentence. Many times, Camilleri uses other techniques where he is not actually using real Sicilian words, he's using a semblance of a Sicilian word. It might be an Italian word but he has given it a Sicilian ending, or it's a Sicilian word which has been Italianised to the extent that it looks like its Italian equivalent (but the reader will see that it's not quite correct Italian). Once again, a similar thing is happening, Camilleri is injecting a tiny bit of exoticism without risking that the reader will lose the flow of the story.

    Some examples follow from the same book.

    <<Che c'e? Che minchia vuoi? Che ti piglia?>>

    Che c'è would probably come across sufficiently lowbrow (more commonly an Italian would use the fuller Che cosa c'è) and is a bit reminiscent of a Sicilian asking: Chi cc'è?

    minchia is a typical Southern swear word that is probably known to most Italians.

    Now piglia is an interesting one. The verb pigliare is an Italian word, but I'm not sure how common it is used in Italy in place of prendere, I would guess that it's a bit archaic.

    The Sicilian for prendere is pigghiari. Now while in some parts of Sicily one might hear pigliari instead of pigghiari, I would say that Camilleri opts for pigliare because it's going to appear slightly unusual to the average Italian reader, making them feel as if they are immersed in a Sicilian dialogue, but one which they have some chance of following without too much difficulty.

    One last example

    <<Allura?>>
    <<Allura nenti.>>

    In this example, the three words of this small exchange are all Sicilian words, but which are very similar to what the Italian would be, so the Italian reader would notice it was a bit different, but would understand the exchange immediately. The Italian would have been:

    Allora?
    Allora niente.

    Actually, here's one last example:

    Viene qua, garruso.
    ...omu di delinquenza
    Si, c'inzirtasti.
    Difficile che mi sbaglio cu tia.


    garruso - I don't recognise this as an Italian word, so I am guessing that it's meant to be the Sicilian word: carusu, which means "boy", so Montalbano is ordering one of his policeman to come over, as in: get over here kiddo. But would an Italian understand garruso, and why has Camilleri tried to Italianise a Sicilian word? This is something he does often, with the result being a word that is neither Sicilian or Italian.

    omu - Sicilian word for man, Italian = uomo. This one word is placed in the middle of a few lines of speech, just the one word in what is otherwise all Italian.

    c'inzirtasti - Another interesting example. The Sicilian verb nzirtari means to guess, Italian = indovinare. Also, Camilleri is using the past absolute tense, which would rarely be used in Italian in this context, so it's a double whammy of exoticism. But would an Italian guess what c'inzirtasti means so readily? Also, Camilleri has Italianised it slightly, in Sicilian, it would look more like cci nzirtasti.

    cu tia - in Italian, it would be con te. In context, an Italian would pick that up quite readily. Once again, a small injection of some Sicilianism into an otherwise Italian sentence, for that sense of immediacy.

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