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HUI216 (Spring 2008)1 HUI216 Italian Civilization Andrea Fedi.

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Presentation on theme: "HUI216 (Spring 2008)1 HUI216 Italian Civilization Andrea Fedi."— Presentation transcript:

1 HUI216 (Spring 2008)1 HUI216 Italian Civilization Andrea Fedi

2 HUI National identity and the issue of language

3 HUI Standard Italian: its components  Italy's national language is called by linguists Standard or Neo-Standard Italian  Standard Italian is in many ways a new and artificial language, based on  the literary Tuscan language of the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance (made famous by Boccaccio, Petrarch, Bembo): syntax and lexicon  the dialect used by the educated middle-class in a small area of northern Tuscany (Florence, Prato, Pistoia), at the time of the unification of Italy (1820s-1880s): the lexicon, some syntax, the pronunciation  words and expressions used in other parts of Tuscany, in other parts of Italy, and found in the "national Tuscan"

4 HUI Tuscan, Florentine and Italian literature  Mainstream literature in Italy, starting from the end of the Middle Ages, held Tuscan in high regard  literary Tuscan was a language very close to the Florentine dialect, but more generic, occupying a middle ground among various Tuscan dialects  Often, in the past, even authors from Venice, Milan or Naples would choose Tuscan as the language of their literary creations, even though they spoke Venetian, Lombard or Neapolitan at home or in public  Italian literature therefore had reached a certain degree of unity long before the Italian Kingdom was created

5 HUI Literary Tuscan and Italian culture/society  This Italian literary language, however, could not be easily adopted by all Italians, because  it had been for centuries the sole domain of an elite of intellectuals and writers  it had become extremely rich and varied, but also difficult to use for anybody who did not have a university degree, or the equivalent education  it was mostly a written language  it was rarely spoken  secondary schools, colleges, literary circles  public ceremonies, formal parties, political meetings

6 HUI The state of the national language in the early 19th century, as indicated by ManzoniManzoni Somebody comes over, and introduces a person from Piedmont, or Venice, or Bologna, or Naples, or Genoa; and, as required by good manners, we stop speaking Milanese, and we speak Italian Now tell me please if the conversation will go on as smoothly as before...; tell me if we won't instead have to use now a generic and not a precise word, whereas before we would have had at our disposal the proper, specific term; we will now have to seek the help of a circumlocution, and introduce a description, whereas before we did not have to do anything other than call things by their name

7 HUI The state of the national language in the upper society of Milan (early 19th century) we will now have to guess, whereas before we were sure of every word we had to use, in fact we did not even think about it: it just came to us; now we will be driven by desperation to use the occasional Milanese word, justified by adding: "as we use to say here..." This can be defined communication as much as we can call 'clothing' what is full of patches, holes and tears; again I ask you if this is the reciprocal understanding that exists among individuals that possess a common language

8 HUI Neolatin vernaculars in Italy  There wasn't a proper national language in Italy...  before Latin was introduced in all of Italy by the Roman government, more than 2000 years ago  after Latin ceased to be the only language of the central government and of the local administrations (with the collapse of the Roman empire, in 476 CE)  Various vernaculars or dialects, very different from each other, have developed in time from Latin and from other Indo-European languages (Greek, Umbrian, Ligurian, Sican, etc.), spoken locally before and after the Romans

9 HUI Neolatin vernaculars in Italy  Italy's dialects are not simply varieties of the same national language, because the official national language (standard Italian) was established only during the 19th century  Most dialects in Italy can be more properly classified as separate Neolatin or Romance languages, each with a separate phonetic system, a different syntax and lexicon, an original literary tradition, etc.  The traditional use of the term dialects can be deceiving: see the Web site Dialettando, esp. the dictionaryDialettando

10 HUI Examples of dialects in today's Italy  Internet is a friendly, relatively inexpensive medium for the preservation of local cultures and languages  Many are the sites whose mission is the preservation of the collective memories and traditions of small groups or local communities  Many are the sites in which an Italian dialect is used, instead of the standard national language  I have collected a few interesting links  I'll be the first to admit that often I can only understand a few words, in those sites  however, I think that even just seeing so much diversity with your own eyes, brings you to a higher level of understanding of this topic

11 HUI Examples of dialects in present-day Italy  While the following links are all working, more than a few of the sub-links inside those pages can be very slow or even dead Click here to see texts written in a dialect of Lombardyhere Click here to read poems written in the dialect of Ferrara (still in the North)here Click here for an introductory course of Neapolitan dialect, in Englishhere A site in the dialect of Bologna, with.mp3 files of songs in that dialectthe dialect of Bologna European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages or EBLUL, a EU-sponsored agency created to support linguistic diversityEuropean Bureau for Lesser Used Languages

12 HUI Body language in Italian society Different rituals When does yes mean yes? Are you screaming at me? Even hand gestures change from region to region. Body language as a whole changes too for example, some Italians are more inclined to touch the other person's hand, forearm or shoulder during a conversation some may be more liberal than others with hugs and kisses (kissing and hugging friends and relatives more than once, or for a longer period of time, and in more social occasions) Did former Prime Minister Andreotti kiss Riina?Andreotti kiss Riina

13 HUI Body language: personal space The individual's perception of his/her personal space can also be different Italians tend to feel comfortable even in tight quarters with strangers when encountering somebody in the narrow aisle of a supermarket, they will rarely use the Italian equivalent of "excuse me" (permesso), if there is enough space to pass without coming in contact with the other person if you want to learn more, I suggest that you read this article entitled "Non-Verbal Communication across Cultures" by Max S. Kirch (The Modern Language Journal, Vol. 63, No. 8., Dec. 1979), available in JSTOR

14 HUI From Andrea de Jorio's La mimica degli antichi investigata nel gestire napoletano (Naples, 1832)Andrea de Jorio La mimica degli antichi investigata nel gestire napoletano

15 HUI Excerpts from "Gesture in Italian Speech" by Laura Raffa The notion that Italians 'speak with their hands' is only partially correct hand gestures complement, do not always replace the spoken word Some hand movements are global gestures, others are region-specific The handshake of the Anglo-Saxon world has been introduced into Italian society for the purpose of business negotiations and deals, and has since extended to less formal occasions Yet, generally the Italians are not as formal as their English counterparts and are accustomed to greeting each other with two kisses on both cheeks

16 HUI "Gesture in Italian Speech" by Laura Raffa The act of placing the fingers of your two hands together and shaking your hands slightly up and down is a gesture that shows disapproval It is usually used towards younger children when they have disobeyed their elders Young adults, in a satiric look at their parents' and grand-parents' generation also mimic it Other examples of Italian gestures do not require a lot of discussion because of their global nature. Such is the act of passing the middle and index finger across the thumb, with its universal meaning of the expensive nature of a particular article or event Similarly, lightly tapping the forehead with the back of the hand symbolizes that the other person is crazy or has made a remark that is not credible

17 HUI Italian gestures: pictures, a book A long series of global and Italian gestures, explained in Italian and English, accompanied by pictures, and organized by theme b/gesti/00Gesti.htmhttp://www.ccsf.edu/Departments/Language_La b/gesti/00Gesti.htm This site was created by Giorgio Spanò, City College of San Francisco See also Andrea de Jorio, Gesture in Naples and Gesture in Classical Antiquity [1832] (transl. Adam Kendon; Indiana UP, 2000)Gesture in Naples and Gesture in Classical Antiquity

18 HUI Bilingualism and diglossia (H/L: high prestige/low prestige) in Italydiglossia  Most Italians, until the 1960s, were bilingual  They spoke a local/regional dialect as their primary language at home or with their friends (L)  They learned standard Italian at school (or through printed materials, theater, radio, cinema, tv), and used it in public places or in the presence of somebody from a different region (H)  Compulsory education and television have tamed this special brand of bilingualism  while most elderly are still able to speak their dialect, many younger Italians can only understand it and use it sparingly, often interspersing a few words from the dialect in their conversations, conducted mostly in standard Italian

19 HUI Bilingualism in the emigrant Italian communities: the case of Argentina  Legend has (I have often heard this anecdote, but I never found any serious evidence) that when Argentineans had to choose their official national language, they considered Italian as an option, since Italians were (and still are) one of the largest immigrant communities in that country  They soon realized that Italians coming from different regions were speaking different dialects, and sometimes resorted to Castilian (the official language of Spain) to communicate with each other!  keep in mind that most immigrants from the 19th and early 20th century had received little or no schooling in their home country  As they say, if this anecdote is not true it is well found!

20 HUI Foreign languages spoken in Italy (from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world- factbook/geos/it.html and factbook/geos/it.html German dialects parts of the Trentino-Alto Adige region are predominantly German speaking; small minority in Valle d'Aosta French dialects French-speaking minority in the Valle d'Aosta region Slovene Slovene-speaking minority in the Trieste-Gorizia area (Boris Pahor)Boris Pahor Romani Greek Albanian Catalan

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