Before I start let me just finish yesterdays blog by saying that if you are interested in the area around Patras I found this blog really interesting. Barry has walked throughout the region and covers the walks in many of his blogs from last year just search through the archives.
And so to dialects. I touched on these yesterday by mentioning the towns near Otranto with a Greek dialect but that is just the tip of the iceberg. But it is important to understand that we are not talking regional accents here we are talking a completely different language. Let me give you just a few examples from the dialect that is spoken in Martina Franca and bear in mind that a person from Villa Castelli some 15 kms from Martina would not understand this dialect but talk their own.
The Italian for now is ora in dialect mu.
The Italian for tomorrow is domani in dialect crey
The Italian for wine is vino and in dialect merrr
Nothing is written down in dialect it is only spoken so you can’t learn it from a book. What it means is that though everyone will understand your Italian ( okay well not mine but everyone else) but when they talk between themselves or want to talk about you I’m afraid you won’t understand a word they are saying.
So how did this come about,? Well we need a quick crash course in Italian history so hang on to your seatbelts here we go. Italy became the Italy as we know it in 1861 only some 150 years ago. Before that it was a group of separate states . These had been invaded and settled at various times by Greeks, Arabs, Normans ( yes William the Conquerer was here) Catalans, Spanish, Albanians and Slavs. All left some of their language behind but the key seems to be that even in 1861 only 10% of the population actual spoke and wrote Italian and only some 20% in total were literate and therefore had some understanding of Italian as it was the medium for the written word. 80% of the population were illiterate and would have talked only in their local dialect and would have been unable to even recognize Italian. When Visconti Venosa visited Sicily in 1863 the locals didn’t understand a word he said in Italian and in fact they thought him to be speaking English and summoned an English resident. So I don’t feel too bad !! The other factor at work was of course the grinding poverty of the mass of the population and the total lack of mobility other than migration to another country. People from around one town lived or existed and died in that vicinity and the language they spoke was not influenced by any other competing language. Nor was it just language, prior to 1861 most towns had their own currency, their own weights and their own measures. Italy was in 1861 a land of division rather than unity and poor old Garibaldi and his crew faced an uphill struggle to change that. The imposition of the language of Tuscany wasn’t going to change it much either. Indeed in 2011 the 150 years celebrations of Independence past almost without real notice down here in the South.
Even in 1970’s local school teachers continued to find it easier to teach in dialect and today school children here in the South learn dialect at school from fellow pupils and from their home environment and use it mixed with Italian as a “cool” way of talking to each other. I tell you what it’s Impossible
Least you think I am some kind of walking history of Italy let me warmly recommend The Force Of Destiny by Christopher Duggan .
Whilst we shall have some bumps on the way summer seems to be arriving and today we got our summer logs delivered
I know more wood but this is for the outside oven
We use this a great deal in the summer mainly to keep the house cool but also because everything cooked on it has that great wood smoke flavour. What is left of the wood is used in the winter as a starter fuel for the log fire. So you can imaging what was on my worksheet for today. Yes wood stacking again. I’ve got a little list.
My most amazing experience of dialect in the UK was going up to visit who were to become my in laws in Easington Colliery County Durham where my wife’s father was the pit Doctor. Within minutes of my arrival I found myself at the Miners Social Club with my future father in law. I can honestly say that during that first two hours standing at the bar I understood not a single work except it seemed to always be my round when I asked him what was said. Try this