Sunday, 12 February 2012

Dialecto Italiano

Many years ago we were in Venice at a wonderful restaurant in a small hotel near the Accademia.
The restaurant is located in the garden of the hotel with wonderful old wisteria and old vines making a roof over our heads. At a table near by a couple was being entertained by the lady owner of this small hotel. She was a native of Venice and had spent all her life in the city. The gentleman was doing much of the talking and it was a very general conversation on Venice, suddenly his female companion chirps up, she wanted to know if their host spoke Italian or dialecto, the hostess was a little surprised by the question because the implication was that she was not educated and spoke only Venetian dialect and not Italian. We thought this was a very rude question, but as we learned years later, dialecto is spoken in Italy by many Italians and they will often know the typical dialect of their region and speak the common language Italian. The two are very different, one of the difficulties of Italian unification 150 years ago was to get everyone to speak Italian and abandon their dialect. How can you unite a country if no one understands what the other fellow is saying. Per example in Canada many Canadians of Italian origin speak dialect and not Italian, this is why often they are shy to speak with me so as not to give away the fact that their Italian is not perfect.

The hotel owner in Venice did answer the question of her guest, she told her that in Venice with other Venetians since it is their common language and same for the Veneto, but with Italians from other parts of Italy then its Italian which is in fact the dialect of Tuscany which was adopted as the common language. In Rome, there is Romanesco, in all more than 30 dialects exist and are used in the different regions of Italy. This is not so strange, until unification in 1860 most of Italy was a cluster of little principalities and Duchys and some under the Papal State.    

So when you visit Italy and you hear people speaking but you do not recognize what they are saying it is because they speak dialect. 

No comments:

Post a Comment