Minoritized Italian languages

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Re: Random language thread 2

Postby linguoboy » 2014-04-04, 16:27

mōdgethanc wrote:I'm kind of glad I live in a country where there aren't 50 billion regional languages to argue over. Instead, we just argue over two!

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Re: Random language thread 2

Postby mōdgethanc » 2014-04-04, 16:52

linguoboy wrote:"Go fuck yourselves, First Nations!"
You say that like it's something new.

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Re: Random language thread 2

Postby Saim » 2014-04-04, 17:12

mōdgethanc wrote:I'm kind of glad I live in a country where there aren't 50 billion regional languages to argue over. Instead, we just argue over two!


Besides Michif and the languages of the First Nations, you could have had Scottish Gaelic (Nova Scotia), Irish (Newfoundland) or the languages of the western block settelements (most notably Ukrainian) to argue about, but you did a pretty good job at eliminating those.

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Re: Random language thread 2

Postby Saim » 2014-04-04, 17:24

I think, besides, that we should really move to the Italian board to continue the discussion (and maybe move our messages there too).

See you there.


I've also sent a request to the moderators to get the thread split. Let's see if anything comes of it.

Itikar wrote:Absolutely not.


Thats what I mean by stepping out of a framework that only contemplates subordination to Italian. Being natively bilingual in a "regional" language and a "national" language is not healthy, because it leads to the death of the "regional" language in all cases we've known. Find me a counter-example and I'll change my mind.

Moreover I have come to the conclusion that quite a lot of people, including young monolinguals, speak Italian badly because they do not know their ancestral vernacular well enough!!!


What do you understand "speak Italian well" to mean? I don't mean "speak 100% normative Italian" when I say "speak Italian as a native". The fact that there are regional varieties of Italian is irrelevant to this question, because certainly they speak that variety as a native.

It shares several similarities with Romanesco. Some consider these vernaculars and ciociaro to be authentic non-tuscanised Romanesco.
Regardless I think they should have more visibility and be more protected. At present Central Italian varieties are simply overlooked, due to their proximity to literary Italian. In truth, however, also in the middle of the country there is a dramatic loss of language diversity under way and many, even in Italy, do not even realise this is happening.


I agree and it's heartening to hear this kind of attitude. Keep it up.

IpseDixit

Re: Random language thread 2

Postby IpseDixit » 2014-04-04, 18:05

Saim wrote:Thats what I mean by stepping out of a framework that only contemplates subordination to Italian. Being natively bilingual in a "regional" language and a "national" language is not healthy, because it leads to the death of the "regional" language in all cases we've known. Find me a counter-example and I'll change my mind.


Well, Saim if that's true I guess that, very unfortunately, all regional languages are going to die out, because I don't think nobody (except for few oddballs maybe) would be willing to give up Italian just to speak a regional language, which would be also fragmented in several dialects btw.

Find me a counter-example and I'll change my mind.


Ladin and Romansh have been subordinated to Italian, Venetian and German for the last 5 centuries at least.

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Re: Random language thread 2

Postby linguoboy » 2014-04-04, 19:57

IpseDixit wrote:
Find me a counter-example and I'll change my mind.
Ladin and Romansh have been subordinated to Italian, Venetian and German for the last 5 centuries at least.

I'm not sure you really understand what's being asked for. Here's the part you left off (with added emphasis):
Saim wrote:Being natively bilingual in a "regional" language and a "national" language is not healthy, because it leads to the death of the "regional" language in all cases we've known.

Were the majority of Ladin and Romansh speakers "natively bilingual" in both these varieties and the national prestige variety for that entire time? Or was it rather a situation where, until relatively recently, most speakers were natively monolingual and the prestige language was learned by a minority as an L2 later in life (in the way that, for instance, contemporary Scandinavians learn English)? From what I understand of those societies, it's the latter, but maybe you can demonstrate otherwise.
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Re: Random language thread 2

Postby IpseDixit » 2014-04-04, 20:04

linguoboy wrote:Were the majority of Ladin and Romansh speakers "natively bilingual" in both these varieties and the national prestige variety for that entire time? Or was it rather a situation where, until relatively recently, most speakers were natively monolingual and the prestige language was learned by a minority as an L2 later in life (in the way that, for instance, contemporary Scandinavians learn English)? From what I understand of those societies, it's the latter, but maybe you can demonstrate otherwise.


No, I cannot demonstrate anything unluckily.

I just assumed that with such marginal(ized) languages, you had to have another mother tongue too, but things were quite different in the past and those places were quite isolated...

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Re: Random language thread 2

Postby linguoboy » 2014-04-04, 20:18

IpseDixit wrote:I just assumed that with such marginal(ized) languages, you had to have another mother tongue too, but things were quite different in the past and those places were quite isolated...

In fact, it's because they were so isolated that their native varieties persisted.

It's worth remembering how relatively recent universal education is, even in the heart of Europe. Even as late as WWI, there were still problems in the French army with recruits who lacked adequate command of Standard French.
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Re: Minorized Italian languages

Postby OldBoring » 2014-04-05, 4:52

I think Italian became a widespread spoken language only in the 1950's thanks to the TV.

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Re: Random language thread 2

Postby Saim » 2014-04-05, 8:58

IpseDixit wrote: very unfortunately, all regional languages are going to die out,


That's been my point from the very beginning. This is what I mean by a large proportion of Italians supporting minoritised languages with some words ("unfortunately they're dying") but not accepting any change to the status quo that would ensure their survival.

because I don't think nobody (except for few oddballs maybe) would be willing to give up Italian just to speak a regional language, which would be also fragmented in several dialects btw.


"Just" to speak a regional language, as if speaking a regional language were insufficient. "Fragmented in several dialects", as if regional variation is unique to minoritised languages in Italy. :roll:

Ladin and Romansh have been subordinated to Italian, Venetian and German for the last 5 centuries at least.


Not in the sense I was talking about - every Ladin today has to know Italian to a high degree of fluency, and has to use it in all or most spheres of life, and in some spheres the presence of Ladin is null (diglossia). If that had happened five centuries ago, Ladin would've already joined Dalmatian ages ago.

IpseDixit wrote:I just assumed that with such marginal(ized) languages, you had to have another mother tongue too, but things were quite different in the past and those places were quite isolated...


No, it is impossible for an entire society to have two mother tongues. Social bilingualism is a symptom of language shift, not a stable state.

IpseDixit

Re: Random language thread 2

Postby IpseDixit » 2014-04-05, 10:11

That's been my point from the very beginning. This is what I mean by a large proportion of Italians supporting minoritised languages with some words ("unfortunately they're dying") but not accepting any change to the status quo that would ensure their survival.


If that's the Italian people's decision, who are you to tell us that we have to change?

"Just" to speak a regional language, as if speaking a regional language were insufficient.


The point is that it would not be a convenient thing to speak your regional language only. Why would one want to speak a language in which they could be able to communicate only within the borders of their region at best, and within their city borders or those of their valley at wost? Who would be happy about that situation except for few people on a language forum?

I'm sorry to bring you back to reality but real life doesn't revolve around linguistic diversity.

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Re: Random language thread 2

Postby Saim » 2014-04-05, 10:53

IpseDixit wrote:If that's the Italian people's decision, who are you to tell us that we have to change?


I'm saying if you want to preserve your linguistic diversity, you have to change. If you want to eliminate it all and become totally homogenous, keep it up, you're doing great.

Furthermore, I don't think it's true that I have absolutely no stake in this. I speak Catalan in my daily life (it's by far the language I most often speak), and it will stand a much better chance of survival in a more multilingual Europe. Furthermore South Asian countries have taken places like Italy, France and Britain as their model and have started to enforce homogenisation, putting the language of my father's family at threat. If the West itself abandoned that model it would be far easier to convince South Asians that it's totally demented and thus ensure Punjabi's survival.

Saving minority languages isn't about saving a particular code, it's about protecting an entire language ecology. It's quite like endangered animals - you can't just save a species in a zoo, you also need to restore its habitat.

The point is that it would not be a convenient thing to speak your regional language only.


See, not speaking Italian does not necessarily mean monolingualism. You need to imagine a kind of multilingualism that isn't conditioned by the dominant language. Given that many of the languages of Italy are closely related, it's not particularly difficult to make sure everyone has exposure to neighbouring varieties - in this case an individual with knowledge of a particular Lombard variety wouldn't have trouble communicating throughout the Po Valley because if you speak one kind of Gallo-Italic it wouldn't be difficult to get at least passive fluency in the other ones. Look at the Czechs and Slovaks, the Portuguese vis a vis Spanish, the speakers of the various Arabic varieties, the Scandinavians - speaking a given"language" doesn't mean you can't communicate with people of other "languages" as long as their similar and you've had exposure to them. The individual "Romance languages" don't even really exist, in reality we have a much more complex dialect continuum.

Imagine a Piedmontese whose native language is exclusively Piedmontese. In school and in the media he was exposed to other varieties of Piedmontese and indeed Gallo-Italic and doesn't have many problems communicating throughout the north of the peninsula. He has conversational (let's say B1 or B2) Italian but feels more comfortable in Piedmontese, although when he goes to Tuscany, Lazio or Calabria he mixes his dialect with Italian and can manage to communicate just fine. If he moved to one of those territories, he would pick up the local variety after a couple of months (as would be the case for other Romance-speaking territories).

Then imagine another Piedmontse who only speaks Italian, with maybe a couple words of English, Spanish and/or French but without anything nearing a comfortable conversational level.

Which of these hypothetical individuals has more linguistic skill, which is more exposed to a variety of cultural richness? Which situation is more desirable? The former individual does not exist, I'll readily admit it - but had the different varieties of northern Italy hadn't been eliminated he could've.

Why would one want to speak a language in which they could be able to communicate only within the borders of their region at best, and within their city borders or those of their valley at wost? Who would be happy about that situation except for few people on a language forum?


I have a Catalan friend who communicated in Catalan with a Lombard woman and who spoke Lombard back to him. I went to Porto last weekend, having watched a bit of Portuguese TV for a couple of weeks and leafing through a phrasebook I could already communicate in Portuguese/portunhol without resorting to English or "pure" Spanish. Moroccans and Tunisians readily speak to each other in Arabic even though their varieties are radically different. I had no problem understanding people in Skopje even though they theoretically speak a different "language". Sorry if I find it difficult to believe a Milanese and a Ticinese couldn't communicate without resorting to Florentine patois.


I'm sorry to bring you back to reality but real life doesn't revolve around linguistic diversity.


That's fine if you consider it unimportant, but then don't pretend you think it's a "shame" that these languages are dying out. Their death is preventable, you just don't want to take any of the steps necessary to prevent it. That's totally your decision, but keep in mind what the consequences are.

IpseDixit

Re: Random language thread 2

Postby IpseDixit » 2014-04-05, 12:12

Saim wrote:Furthermore, I don't think it's true that I have absolutely no stake in this. I speak Catalan in my daily life (it's by far the language I most often speak), and it will stand a much better chance of survival in a more multilingual Europe.


Quite selfish, isn't it?

See, not speaking Italian does not necessarily mean monolingualism. You need to imagine a kind of multilingualism ...


It seems to me that all of your discourse is about casual communication. Furthermore your little story seems a bit too optimistic IMO... and:

Imagine a Piedmontese whose native language is exclusively Piedmontese. In school and in the media he was exposed to other varieties of Piedmontese and indeed Gallo-Italic and doesn't have many problems communicating throughout the north of the peninsula. He has conversational (let's say B1 or B2) Italian but feels more comfortable in Piedmontese, although when he goes to Tuscany, Lazio or Calabria he mixes his dialect with Italian and can manage to communicate just fine. If he moved to one of those territories, he would pick up the local variety after a couple of months (as would be the case for other Romance-speaking territories).

Then imagine another Piedmontse who only speaks Italian, with maybe a couple words of English, Spanish and/or French but without anything nearing a comfortable conversational level.

Which of these hypothetical individuals has more linguistic skill, which is more exposed to a variety of cultural richness? Which situation is more desirable? The former individual does not exist, I'll readily admit it - but had the different varieties of northern Italy hadn't been eliminated he could've.


False dichotomy.

I have a Catalan friend who communicated in Catalan with a Lombard woman and who spoke Lombard back to him. I went to Porto last weekend, having watched a bit of Portuguese TV for a couple of weeks and leafing through a phrasebook I could already communicate in Portuguese/portunhol without resorting to English or "pure" Spanish. Moroccans and Tunisians readily speak to each other in Arabic even though their varieties are radically different. I had no problem understanding people in Skopje even though they theoretically speak a different "language".


What kind of communication is that anyway? It will never be comparable to people communicating in their mother tongue or in a language that they speak very very fluently. And morever, to me they all seem, yet again, example of casual and probably very superficial talks.

For instance if my ex and I hadn't had a common language, our relationship could've not worked out. Me speaking Florentine and him replying in Modenese could've not really worked for a serious and in-depth relationship.

Sorry if I find it difficult to believe a Milanese and a Ticinese couldn't communicate without resorting to Florentine patois.


What about a Catanese and a Milanese? Or even worse, what if the language is not even Romance like Arabesh, Griko or Mòcheno?

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Re: Minorized Italian languages

Postby Itikar » 2014-04-05, 15:18

The few vernacular monoglots remaining till some years back were socially discriminated people. Not just because vernaculars were stigmatised, but because they virtually had serious problem in accessing education, finding a job in another part of the country or simply seeking for treatment in a hospital 40 km away.

So for sure there were Ladin and Parmesan monoglots back then, but don't expect that they dwelled in universities. I firmly believe that if someone wants to speak their vernacular instead of Standard Italian they should have all possibilities to do so, but I sincerely doubt that so many nowadays would feel satisfied being just a peasant, a factory worker or a housewife and not having the possibility to go living some villages away without feeling socially isolated.


Moreover I don't see why Italian is antagonised to the vernaculars so strongly, since until the coming of TV, as remembered by hāozigǎnr, it peacefully coexisted with them, no matter how hard fascists and nationalists had tried to eradicate them.
When vernaculars will be gone, stay assured that Italian too will soon be doomed.
In fact I'm convinced that who now drops their vernacular would do the same with Italian in favour of English, French or German, if they had the choice.
As we speak important Italian universities are acting to offer courses only in English.
Same story, just on a larger scale. Imagine how could be the scenario 60-70 years from now.

For many centuries Italian has had a symbiotic relationship with the vernaculars, as a tree took lymph from its roots. They had different spaces and they are still clumsy when used outside of the respective domains. I don't understand why this must be incompatible with social and economic equality.

Moreover I have come to the conclusion that quite a lot of people, including young monolinguals, speak Italian badly because they do not know their ancestral vernacular well enough!!!

What do you understand "speak Italian well" to mean? I don't mean "speak 100% normative Italian" when I say "speak Italian as a native". The fact that there are regional varieties of Italian is irrelevant to this question, because certainly they speak that variety as a native.

I referred to errors which are unacceptable even in a regional version of Italian and which are due to language substrate, made up in this case by the vernaculars, even if the speaker who makes the mistakes is not able to speak the vernacular.
For instance where I live in the Emilian vernacular Italian gli/le and ci (corresponding to Catalan li/els and hi/ens respectively), are translated by the clitic agh.
This causes several uneducated people to say things like "ci do un pasticca?" instead of "gli/le do una pasticca?".
I'm confident that if they had been taught at school their vernacular and where it differs from Italian they would likely not do this error and maybe they would be able also to say something in their vernacular.

In general I think that teaching the vernacular of the respective town or village in primary and junior high schools would have quite a positive impact on the status of the languages. Especially if the teaching were accompanied by informing the community of what they risk in losing their language. Many Italian are strongly attached to their town and they live pretty sadly the loss of the vernaculars. I know many people in my area who feel bad for the lack of support for them in education and I am confident that if they had even a minimal support they would be very glad to use their vernaculars.
Anyway expecting any effective action from present Italian politicians on the issue qualifies as science-fiction in my book. :( :lol:
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Re: Random language thread 2

Postby Itikar » 2014-04-05, 15:30

Saim wrote:See, not speaking Italian does not necessarily mean monolingualism. You need to imagine a kind of multilingualism that isn't conditioned by the dominant language. Given that many of the languages of Italy are closely related, it's not particularly difficult to make sure everyone has exposure to neighbouring varieties - in this case an individual with knowledge of a particular Lombard variety wouldn't have trouble communicating throughout the Po Valley because if you speak one kind of Gallo-Italic it wouldn't be difficult to get at least passive fluency in the other ones.

Well, not quite, unfortunately.
A speaker of Western Mantuan understands the neighbouring Cremonese Lombard and urban Mantuan relatively well, but Bergamasque and any other Eastern Lombard language is totally incomprehensible in its spoken form.
As for other Emilian languages they are a bit easier, but even with varieties that lie just on the other bank of the Po river mutual comprehension is only about 30% in normal conversation.
Last edited by Itikar on 2014-04-05, 16:01, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Minorized Italian languages

Postby Itikar » 2014-04-05, 15:45

Saim wrote:Imagine a Piedmontese whose native language is exclusively Piedmontese. In school and in the media he was exposed to other varieties of Piedmontese and indeed Gallo-Italic and doesn't have many problems communicating throughout the north of the peninsula. He has conversational (let's say B1 or B2) Italian but feels more comfortable in Piedmontese, although when he goes to Tuscany, Lazio or Calabria he mixes his dialect with Italian and can manage to communicate just fine. If he moved to one of those territories, he would pick up the local variety after a couple of months (as would be the case for other Romance-speaking territories).

If someone from the North mixes his vernacular with Italian the result would not be granted to be so comprehensible.
My great-grandmother came from a valley just a few kilometres North of the La Spezia-Rimini line, she married a man who lived slightly South and then they moved to a town just 20 km South.
The result was that my great-grandmother wasn't able to communicate with anyone outside of her own family for her entire life. One day she went out looking for her daughter and everybody she spoke to understood she was looking for an apple. Even her own family took many years to understand something of what she said and she died having never been able to actually speak to her grandchildren.
Oh, and on top of that she lived all this during WWII, with bombings, rationalised food, fascists, partisans and German occupation forces around and taking things from her own house.
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Re: Random language thread 2

Postby Itikar » 2014-04-05, 15:59

IpseDixit wrote:
Sorry if I find it difficult to believe a Milanese and a Ticinese couldn't communicate without resorting to Florentine patois.

What about a Catanese and a Milanese? Or even worse, what if the language is not even Romance like Arabesh, Griko or Mòcheno?

To be honest I think that people from Western Lombardy do speak with people from Ticino in Lombard vernacular outside of the most formal contexts.
There is also immigration to be taken into account anyway, since both Milan and Ticino received a lot of immigration from Southern Italy. So if a guy from there has got Southern roots he is not so likely to know Milanese or Ticinese and then he shall resort to Italian.
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Re: Random language thread 2

Postby IpseDixit » 2014-04-05, 16:29

Itikar wrote:
Saim wrote:See, not speaking Italian does not necessarily mean monolingualism. You need to imagine a kind of multilingualism that isn't conditioned by the dominant language. Given that many of the languages of Italy are closely related, it's not particularly difficult to make sure everyone has exposure to neighbouring varieties - in this case an individual with knowledge of a particular Lombard variety wouldn't have trouble communicating throughout the Po Valley because if you speak one kind of Gallo-Italic it wouldn't be difficult to get at least passive fluency in the other ones.

Well, not quite, unfortunately.
A speaker of Western Mantuan understands the neighbouring Cremonese Lombard and urban Mantuan relatively well, but Bergamasque and any other Eastern Lombard language is totally incomprehensible in its spoken form.
As for other Emilian languages they are a bit easier, but even with varieties that lie just on the other bank of the Po river mutual comprehension is only about 30% in normal conversation.


Yeah, I was exactly speaking about this when I said that Saim's example was a bit too optimistic...

IpseDixit

Re: Minoritized Italian languages

Postby IpseDixit » 2014-04-07, 15:49

Saim, I wanted to clear up one thing and add another point:

- when I said "it's a political move", I actually meant to say "it's a political move aimed at something different from the preservation of linguistic diversity, for example aimed at independence like in the case of the Basques and the Catalans."

- And coming back to the "everybody speaking natively only their regional language" thing, I think you're ignoring the fact that, if we rule out our little community of people who learn languages just for fun, most people usually learn languages because they have to or at least because they have concrete reasons. Most people would rather avoid the hassle of learning a foreign language if they could, no matter how close and similar the language in question is to their mother tongue. That's another reason why your idea of such a multilingual Italy is utterly unrealistic IMO.

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Re: Minoritized Italian languages

Postby Saim » 2014-04-26, 23:10

Hey guys. I haven't had time to respond to this thread in depth, but better late than never.

IpseDixit wrote:
Saim wrote:Furthermore, I don't think it's true that I have absolutely no stake in this. I speak Catalan in my daily life (it's by far the language I most often speak), and it will stand a much better chance of survival in a more multilingual Europe.


Quite selfish, isn't it?


There were two other paragraphs in my justification of my personal connection to the issue.

Regardless, my point still stands - I'm not a localist, I'm an altermondialiste. I don't particularly care for national boundaries, we're all in this together.

IpseDixit wrote:What kind of communication is that anyway? It will never be comparable to people communicating in their mother tongue or in a language that they speak very very fluently. And morever, to me they all seem, yet again, example of casual and probably very superficial talks.

For instance if my ex and I hadn't had a common language, our relationship could've not worked out. Me speaking Florentine and him replying in Modenese could've not really worked for a serious and in-depth relationship.


First, there is the issue of "casual" communication. My question is this: what is wrong with casual communication? What is wrong with the fact that the average Swiss, Indian or Belgian is not capable of communicating with every single other citizen in a language both parties have native fluency in? To me the idea that every single individual that happens to share a citizenship must always have the capacity to communicate with every other citizen in a language they're all fluent in is the same as generalising that to the entire world - people have different mother tongues, that's a fact of life. Given that an entire population can't have two mother tongues, we have to accept some difficulty in communication at some point, otherwise all the world's language communities would just merge into one.

And yes, when you have contact between related languages it does start with casual and superficial communication. But it gets much better with minimal exposure - if Latin people in general were raised with a multimedia offering that wasn't just "national" (in Spain, for example, there is very little access to Portuguese television - is this normal or desirable?) they would find it much easier to navegate through the entire dialect continuum. With some instruction in the neighbouring varieties as part of the mother tongue class in school this multilingualism would become even more real. This is quite clear when we look at some real-world examples: Portuguese understand more Spanish than Spaniards do Portuguese - why? Is Portuguese just more difficult? No, it's just that there are less Portuguese so they are invariably more likely to be exposed to Spanish than the other way around.

Regarding you and your ex: there are many couples who have different mother tongues yet still have a common language. The problem with you and your ex is not that you had a common language, but that you shared a mother tongue despite coming from different language areas. I think you'll agree when I say that being in a relationship with someone of a different ethnolinguistic background isn't really a problem, and can even be enriching - in theory you could date a Russian who speaks perfect Italian, but that doesn't mean all Russophones should have to be natively bilingual in Italian. I'm not sure if I'm making my point clear.

The same issue follows on in the discussion with Itikar;

Itikar wrote:
Saim wrote:See, not speaking Italian does not necessarily mean monolingualism. You need to imagine a kind of multilingualism that isn't conditioned by the dominant language. Given that many of the languages of Italy are closely related, it's not particularly difficult to make sure everyone has exposure to neighbouring varieties - in this case an individual with knowledge of a particular Lombard variety wouldn't have trouble communicating throughout the Po Valley because if you speak one kind of Gallo-Italic it wouldn't be difficult to get at least passive fluency in the other ones.

Well, not quite, unfortunately.
A speaker of Western Mantuan understands the neighbouring Cremonese Lombard and urban Mantuan relatively well, but Bergamasque and any other Eastern Lombard language is totally incomprehensible in its spoken form.
As for other Emilian languages they are a bit easier, but even with varieties that lie just on the other bank of the Po river mutual comprehension is only about 30% in normal conversation.


I suggest you look back at the bolded sections and reinterpret what I was saying. The same goes for the two paragraphs on vernacular monolinguals - nowhere have I been support any kind of monolingualism.

Itikar wrote:Moreover I don't see why Italian is antagonised to the vernaculars so strongly, since until the coming of TV, as remembered by hāozigǎnr, it peacefully coexisted with them, no matter how hard fascists and nationalists had tried to eradicate them.

When vernaculars will be gone, stay assured that Italian too will soon be doomed.
In fact I'm convinced that who now drops their vernacular would do the same with Italian in favour of English, French or German, if they had the choice.
As we speak important Italian universities are acting to offer courses only in English.
Same story, just on a larger scale. Imagine how could be the scenario 60-70 years from now.

For many centuries Italian has had a symbiotic relationship with the vernaculars, as a tree took lymph from its roots. They had different spaces and they are still clumsy when used outside of the respective domains. I don't understand why this must be incompatible with social and economic equality.


Italian peacefully coexisted with the other languages of Italy because it was unknown by most of the population and for those who did know it was a foreign language. If you want to go back to the "peaceful coexistence" that was around before the two world wars that means you have to accept a radical drop in the general population's oral competence in Italian.

Regarding the threat of English, I couldn't agree more. It's good to hear from you because as far as I can tell there are few people in Europe that seem to recognise the threat that English poses.

I referred to errors which are unacceptable even in a regional version of Italian and which are due to language substrate, made up in this case by the vernaculars, even if the speaker who makes the mistakes is not able to speak the vernacular.
For instance where I live in the Emilian vernacular Italian gli/le and ci (corresponding to Catalan li/els and hi/ens respectively), are translated by the clitic agh.
This causes several uneducated people to say things like "ci do un pasticca?" instead of "gli/le do una pasticca?".
I'm confident that if they had been taught at school their vernacular and where it differs from Italian they would likely not do this error and maybe they would be able also to say something in their vernacular.


I wouldn't be so sure. In Barcelona, where Spanish as spoken by Spanish-speakers has little Catalan influence and is fairly close to the standard, Catalan-speakers have interferences from their mother tongue when they speak Spanish. They conflate traer (to take something to a given place) and llevar (to take something from a given place) because they map them to Catalan portar and dur which are near-perfect synonyms. They maintain /ʎ/ despite the fact that in the de facto standard of modern Spanish and virtually all native peninsular dialects yeísmo is the only real form. They use relative que at the beginning of interrogative sentences, as in Catalan ("que m'has trucat?" --> "¿que me has llamado?"). Even Spanish-speakers use the Catalan verbs caldre (hacer falta) and plegar (acabar con el trabajo) in their Spanish. And this is in a city where they're a minority surrounded by Spanish-speakers who speak Spanish with no Catalan substrate.

When languages enter into contact, there are always interferences. We just need to accept these interferences as part of linguistic diversity.

In general I think that teaching the vernacular of the respective town or village in primary and junior high schools would have quite a positive impact on the status of the languages. Especially if the teaching were accompanied by informing the community of what they risk in losing their language. Many Italian are strongly attached to their town and they live pretty sadly the loss of the vernaculars. I know many people in my area who feel bad for the lack of support for them in education and I am confident that if they had even a minimal support they would be very glad to use their vernaculars.


What do you think of using vernaculars as the medium of education - teaching in them rather than teaching them?

Anyway expecting any effective action from present Italian politicians on the issue qualifies as science-fiction in my book. :( :lol:


Politics is not just made up of politicians. We're all engaging in politics on a daily basis, and there are many things that you can do to help save your vernacular. As Gandhi (apparently) once said, be the change you want to see.

Itikar wrote:There is also immigration to be taken into account anyway, since both Milan and Ticino received a lot of immigration from Southern Italy. So if a guy from there has got Southern roots he is not so likely to know Milanese or Ticinese and then he shall resort to Italian.


This is because these languages, as minority languages, become progressively deterritorialised as they edge towards death. If Lombard was as normal in Milan and Ticino as Portuguese is in Lisbon (i.e. not endangered), Milanese and Ticinese people of Sicilian or Neapolitan descent would speak Lombard. That's why I'm talking about the vernaculars being dominant in their respective territories.


IpseDixit wrote:- And coming back to the "everybody speaking natively only their regional language" thing, I think you're ignoring the fact that, if we rule out our little community of people who learn languages just for fun, most people usually learn languages because they have to or at least because they have concrete reasons. Most people would rather avoid the hassle of learning a foreign language if they could, no matter how close and similar the language in question is to their mother tongue. That's another reason why your idea of such a multilingual Italy is utterly unrealistic IMO.


That's precisely why these languages need to be necessary in their own territories to avoid death.

IpseDixit wrote:Saim, I wanted to clear up one thing and add another point:

- when I said "it's a political move", I actually meant to say "it's a political move aimed at something different from the preservation of linguistic diversity, for example aimed at independence like in the case of the Basques and the Catalans."


There's certainly a correlation but I wouldn't be that quick to generalise. Yes, it's part of the crystallisation of the Basques and the Catalans as separate political communities, but that's because language is such an important part of identity. Nor is this just the case of minority peoples, let's be clear.

Keep in mind that historically the main tendency within Catalan nationalism was federalism, and in the Basque Country among Basque nationalists independentists are still a minority. It's only when they see that Catalonia and the Basque Country are incompatible with Spain that they demand independence.
Last edited by Saim on 2014-04-27, 17:02, edited 4 times in total.


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