How did this come to be in Italian?

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How did this come to be in Italian?

Postby Silent_Shadow100 » 2013-03-10, 22:31

Why does Italian put the definite article before possessive phrases?
Example:
Il mio cibo = [the?] my food.

How did Italian acquire this, and why is it the only Romance language (to my knowledge) to do this?
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Re: How did this come to be in Italian?

Postby MillMaths » 2013-03-10, 23:07

It's not the only Romance language that does it. Portuguese does it as well.

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Re: How did this come to be in Italian?

Postby Lazar Taxon » 2013-03-10, 23:24

Portuguese usage seems to be messier, though - I can never figure out when I'm supposed to say "o meu X" or "meu X". At least Italian seems pretty consistent, using the article with all possessives except for family.
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Re: How did this come to be in Italian?

Postby linguoboy » 2013-03-11, 4:25

Nehushtan wrote:It's not the only Romance language that does it. Portuguese does it as well.

And Catalan. Not sure what you find in Rumansh.
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Re: How did this come to be in Italian?

Postby marcof » 2013-03-11, 9:41

Romanian too. Only, in Romanian the definite article is enclitic.

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Re: How did this come to be in Italian?

Postby Itikar » 2013-03-11, 15:00

Also Old Spanish had such a feature.
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Re: How did this come to be in Italian?

Postby linguoboy » 2013-03-11, 15:10

So I guess the question should really be: Why did this feature develop in Vulgar Latin? I assume it was linked to the development of a definite article and the impetus to distinguish "a horse of mine" from "my horse" (i.e. "the horse that is mine").
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Re: How did this come to be in Italian?

Postby Massimiliano B » 2013-03-11, 22:19

Indeed. In Italian you can distinguish between "il mio libro" (my specified book) and "un mio libro" (my unspecified book). The reason why you use the article - either definite or indefinite - is the same reason why you use an article without a possessive adjective. "Il libro" ("the book") becomes "il mio libro" (*the my book) with the possessive adjective if that particular book is mine, while "un libro" ("a book") becomes "un mio libro" (*a my book) if an unspecified book is mine.

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Re: How did this come to be in Italian?

Postby MillMaths » 2013-03-11, 22:34

Norwegian has this feature too. For example, “my house” can be mitt hus or huset mitt in Norwegian. (As in Romanian, the definite article in Norwegian is enclitic.)

So this feature is also found in non-Romance languages.

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Re: How did this come to be in Italian?

Postby OldBoring » 2013-03-13, 0:09

I hate English for not allowing the structure "*a my ...".
The periphrasis "a friend of mine" looks so weird to me. There is also "one of my friends", but I would translate that as "uno dei miei amici".

What about "un amico di un mio amico"? Somebody told me you have to say "a friend of one of mine.

I'm not sure about Portuguese. To me it seems that "meu amigo" and "o meu amigo" are interchangeable. :?
The particularity about Portuguese is that you have to say "um amigo meu".
Then I thought: I'd better translate in my mind from Romanesco (we say *un amico mio) than from Standard Italian (un mio amico)
Last edited by OldBoring on 2013-03-13, 5:51, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How did this come to be in Italian?

Postby linguoboy » 2013-03-13, 2:42

Youngfun wrote:What about "un amico di un mio amico"?

We just say "a friend of a friend" (or "foaf" for short). "Of mine" is implied.
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Re: How did this come to be in Italian?

Postby Massimiliano B » 2013-03-13, 22:49

Youngfun wrote:I
The particularity about Portuguese is that you have to say "um amigo meu".
Then I thought: I'd better translate in my mind from Romanesco (we say *un amico mio) than from Standard Italian (un mio amico)


"Un amico mio" and "l'amico mio" is also Standard Italian.

In Italian you can put the possessive adjectives after nouns, if you want:

"questa è la mia penna" / "Questa è la penna mia"

Both the sentences mean "This is my pen".

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Re: How did this come to be in Italian?

Postby OldBoring » 2013-03-13, 23:30

Massimiliano B wrote:"Un amico mio" and "l'amico mio" is also Standard Italian.

I don't know, Massimiliano. Since these are the forms used in the vernacular in Rome, in school we are taught to avoid them, and we are corrected when we say them.

About "questa è la penna mia" there is more emphasy on "mia", as if you're saying "this is my pen (not your pen)".

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Re: How did this come to be in Italian?

Postby Meneghis » 2013-03-15, 17:02

I agree with Youngfun. The forms "la casa mia" o "l'indirizzo tuo" are widely considered colloquialisms, at least in the standard Italian I was taught at school.
Corrections are welcome

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Re: How did this come to be in Italian?

Postby Massimiliano B » 2013-03-15, 21:17

Youngfun wrote: About "questa è la penna mia" there is more emphasy on "mia", as if you're saying "this is my pen (not your pen)".


This form is correct! That's exactly what I said!

The postponed forms of the possessive adjectives are correct, in some cases. A book about the Italian grammar says that «In Italian the possessive adjective goes after the noun in the vocative form and when you want to express affection or emphasis: "Dio mio!" ( = Oh my God!), Signori miei! (I don't know how to say it in English. Maybe "My lords!" or "Gentlemen!"?); Padre mio!" ( = Oh my father!).

See here

http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/agg ... aliano%29/

Read chapter 4 (Posizione del possessivo) :):

Quote by "http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/aggettivi-e-pronomi-possessivi_%28Enciclopedia_dell%27Italiano%29/"]

4. Posizione del possessivo

Se si eccettua il caso di alcune formule cristallizzate, in cui l’aggettivo ha una posizione fissa alla sinistra (per es., di tua iniziativa, a vostro agio, a suo dire, a nostro giudizio, di mia mano, in loro potere) o alla destra del nome (per es., pace all’anima sua, è uno che sa il fatto suo, è colpa loro, bontà sua, in cuor mio, da par suo; esempi da Serianni 1988: 231), in italiano gli aggettivi possessivi possono generalmente apparire tanto alla sinistra quanto alla destra del nome, anche se con interpretazioni non del tutto equivalenti.

Più precisamente, la posizione non marcata (cioè quella ‘preferita’ e pertanto più frequente) degli aggettivi possessivi è alla sinistra del nome (e di eventuali altri aggettivi), come si può osservare in molti degli esempi già illustrati e anche in (30-32):

(30) il tuo telefono è occupato da un’ora

(31) i miei più cari amici sono in vacanza

(32) Marco abita con i suoi genitori

Tuttavia, in molti casi essi possono apparire anche dopo il nome, sebbene tale posizione sia stilisticamente marcata (cfr. Castellani Pollidori 1966: 33; Brunet 1980: 17). Illustriamo questo aspetto negli esempi seguenti:

(33) gli amici tuoi sono molto simpatici

(34) ho visto la macchina tua parcheggiata in divieto di sosta

(35) i pranzi dai parenti miei sono sempre molto noiosi

Come osservato in Serianni (1988: 231), la posposizione dell’aggettivo possessivo è normale, in ogni circostanza, nell’italiano regionale del Centro-Sud (a eccezione della Sicilia). Tuttavia, in italiano standard tale posizione è associata per lo più a un uso enfatico (spesso correlato a un’interpretazione contrastiva; ➔ focalizzazioni) del possessivo stesso: ad es., la posposizione di tuoi in (33) indica che il sintagma gli amici tuoi deve (o, almeno, può) essere interpretato in opposizione a «gli amici di qualcun altro»; analogamente, i parenti miei in (35) è da intendersi in contrasto con «i parenti di qualcun altro».

È inoltre importante notare che negli usi allocutivi, fin dall’epoca antica, il possessivo è sempre posposto (per es., figli miei!, amico mio!), e ciò può essere legato al fatto che in questi casi esso ha sempre un valore che si può ritenere enfatico (cfr. Serianni 1988: 231; ➔ allocutivi, pronomi; ➔ vocativo).



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Re: How did this come to be in Italian?

Postby modus.irrealis » 2013-03-18, 8:58

Latin of course didn't have a construction with the definite article + possessive pronoun, but what it did share with Italian (and also Greek e.g.) was that the possessive pronouns did not imply definiteness. For example from one of Cicero's letters, "M. Feridium, eq. R., amici mei filium, ... tibi commendo" = "I recommend to you M. Feridius, a Roman knight, the son of a friend of mine". So it may be a case of languages like French changing and reanalyzing the possessive pronoun as implying definiteness.

So in Italian I guess, as the articles developed, phrases where the possessor was a personal pronoun were not treated any differently from phrases where the possessor was a full noun, and in the latter French has "un ami de Cicero" vs. "l'ami de Cicero", which is like Italian but unlike English.

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Re: How did this come to be in Italian?

Postby Levike » 2013-04-27, 14:56

There are many Romance languages that do the same:

Romanian: AMICUL MEU where "l" is the definite article and we can not omit it

Portuguese: O MEU AMIGO but many people don't put the "a" or "o"

Spanish: EL AMIGO MIO is also correct but "mi amigo" is more used
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Re: How did this come to be in Italian?

Postby Fox Saint-Just » 2013-05-02, 7:55

To make it more complex: some nouns of relatives don't need the article before the possessive adjective. For example, we say "mio fratello" (my father) but not "il mio fratello".
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