Learning some similar languages

Tiffany   Tuesday, November 30, 2004, 01:18 GMT
It's true about the dialect thing. I just came back from Italy. My fiance's grandparents spoke a dialect from Lucca and his parents a dialect from Carrara (both these places are in Tuscany). However today's generation (his parents generation and his generation) are all able to speak standard Italian thanks for the introduction of government-owned Italian television channels.

Standard Italian is based solely on Florentine Italian - the Italian spoken by Dante and those of such times. I can actually read Dante's Inferno in it's original version even though it was written centuries ago.

As for Sicilian - My fiance thinks Sicilian is unintelligible to standard italian - they even have different words for common things. I hear they use passato remoto a lot more than is acceptable in standard Italian, but I am not one to talk, since I've never been to Sicily!

Here's an example of the Carrarino dialect (that his parents speak) -
Cosa vuoi? (standard Italian) = Costa'vo? (Carrarino)

This means "What do you want?", by the way.

Joe, what would it look like in Sicilian?
nic   Tuesday, November 30, 2004, 10:42 GMT

people from Toscanny usually invaded mediterranean isles in the past, cordican is an italian dialect form Toscanny.
nic   Tuesday, November 30, 2004, 10:43 GMT

form = from
Joe   Wednesday, December 01, 2004, 02:04 GMT

I wish I could answer your question! But I'm only of part Sicilian descent, I don't speak Sicilian, or Italian at the moment for that matter. But I'm working on it.

However I do have some examples I can give you of the Sicilian language that I have from this Italian-American magazine I've been getting from the OSIA (Order Sons of Italy) for free ever since I applied for an Italian-American scholarship. I did win the state scholarship for the state of Florida by the way. :-D Anyway, that's irrelevant.

These are some Sicilian quotes and proverbs. Look at the structure:

Ci lavau la facci a lu porcu
(He washed the pigs face; meaning our equivalent of someone who wastes effort on a useless task)
Si liccanu la sarda
(He licks the sardine: said of someone extremely frugal)

Here is a line from the Sicilian poet Ignaziu Buttitta:

"Un populu diventa poviru e servu quannu ci arobbanu a lingua addutata di patri: è persu pi sempri"

Translated: "A people become poor and enslaved when you rob them of the tounge handed down by their forefathers: they are lost forever"

Anyway, besides interesting reading and thoughts, looking at the individual words, the first thing that comes to mind is a hint of, I don't know, Greek and Romanian. I think all the U's remind me of Romanian. lol Anyway, it's clear to see that Sicilian is quite a different breed from standard Italian. Given the English translation, I'm sure someone here who speaks Italian could translate it into what it would be like in Italian.

The article said that Sicilian has a vocabulary of about 250,000 words, more than half of which are derived from Latin, followed by Greek and Spanish. Additionally, the language has influences from Arabic, French, German, and Catalan. This is easy to understand, since Sicily over the centuries was controlled first by the ancient Freeks, then the Romans. After the Romans in 535 AD came the Saracens, Normans, Swabians (from Germany), Angevins, and then the Spanish until 1860 when Giuseppe Garibaldi united Italy.

It's amazing how one island and people can have such a diverse background and history.
Tiffany   Wednesday, December 01, 2004, 03:08 GMT
Oh wow. I think it's really interesting too.

I'll translate one of proverbs into standard Italian to show you how different it is, yet see some of the similarities.

"Ci lavau la facci a lu porcu" - Sicilian

"Lavava la faccia al maiale" -Standard Italian

(they do have "la porca" which menas pig, but kind of in a insulting way.)

I love languages :)
Bob   Wednesday, December 01, 2004, 06:38 GMT
Corsican also uses a lot of u's:

A cavaddu dunatu, un fidià denti (Don't look a gift horse in the mouth)

A chì fussi induvinu, un saria mai mischinu (He who tells the truth will never be unhappy)

A chi para fritu, para caldu (He who protects himself from cold also wards off heat)

A quandu Pasqua, à quandu tasca (The feast is followed by scarcity)

A volpi perdi u pelu ma micca u viziu (The fox can lose his fur but not his cunning)
Brennus   Wednesday, December 01, 2004, 06:58 GMT

Dear Tiffany,

I acknowledge your correction of the Italian word for street - strata should be strada - I'm glad that you and Joe have taken the time to study some of your ancestral languages. Sardinian is different enough from Italian to qualify as a separate language. Sicilian is harder to tell. It may still be just a dialect . The differences between Sicilian and standard Italian are comparable to those between Irish Gaelic and Scotts Gaelic. Just as Scottish is an older, more archaic form of Irish Gaelic so Sicilian is an older more archaic form of Italian still preserving Vulgar Latin -u as in U lupu "The wolf" but Standard Italian il lupo. This sound is also preserved in Portuguese O lobo (pronounced Oo loh-boo) and Romanian lupul (loop-ool) both meaning "The wolf". Sicily, Portugal and Romania were all on the fringes of the Latin speaking realm in the Roman Empire so they tended to preserve older Latin pronunciations.

As for my national background it is mostly English, Scotch and Irish. (Even though whenever I go to Canada I am always a "Yankee"). My last name 'Costello' is Irish or Scott-Irish and has a variant on the Isle of Man spelled Kostellow. However, because it ends in a vowel many people think that it is Italian first and Spanish or Mexican second. But this can be misleading. Once, at work, I was speaking to a girl on the phone named Cheryl Minato. At first, I thought the last name was Italian. Then it dawned on me that it might be Japanese. When I finally met her I found out that she was Japanese-American.
Easterner   Thursday, December 02, 2004, 10:11 GMT
Brennus said: >>Sicily, Portugal and Romania were all on the fringes of the Latin speaking realm in the Roman Empire so they tended to preserve older Latin pronunciations.<<

Not just that, but Romanian has also preserved some Latin inflectional forms now completely lost from other Romance languages. "Man" is "om", "people" is "oamini", "people's" is "oaminilor" (placed as an adjective after the noun), cf. Latin "homo", "homines", "hominorum". And that postpositive article (as in "lup" -> "lupul") makes Romanian sound really peculiar! By the way, Romanian has actually lost the word-endings typical to Latin, at least for masculine nouns, cf. "tempus" -> "timp", "lupus" -> "lup", "homo" -> "om". Feminine noun endings have turned into a peculiar unrounded schwa-like sound represented in spelling with an "a&#711;".

Brennus, are you a linguist by the way? You seem to have a wide knowledge of many different languages. This is something typical to general or comparative linguists.
ramesh   Thursday, December 02, 2004, 11:19 GMT
This is ramesh from india.

I want a difference between the languages in britain with seperate . for in london they r speaking one and in scotland other what s those languages mean............
nic   Thursday, December 02, 2004, 12:36 GMT
I am french but i know well Scotland and its inhabitant, 1 difference is

Little (english) = Wee (scottish)

He is sweet little boy = he is a sweat wee boy
Tiffany   Thursday, December 02, 2004, 16:54 GMT
Easterner - funny you should mention "om" for man in Romanian. Man is "uomo" in Italian and its plural is "uomini" - quite different from the rest of Italian where you simply take of to -o or -a at the end of a sentence and replace it with -i or -e respectively. (For example, "donna" in Italian means "woman" and the plural is "donne", "gatto" pluralized its "gatti")

Brennus, As for Costello - I'm really glad to hear the history. I had a friend named Costello and because it is a common Italian ending I always thought she had an Italian ancestor far back. But now it dawns on me that she does look thoroughly Celtic, complete with reddish brown (auburn) curly hair and fair fair skin that freckles and burns!
Easterner   Thursday, December 02, 2004, 19:57 GMT

Pe strada sunt multi oamini.
Sulla strada ci sono molti uomini.

Which do you feel is closer to the original Latin? ;-)

By the way, what you say is true, "uomo" is maybe the only word that has preserved something from the original Latin declination. Romanian has more, e.g. timp -> timpuri (same as Latin tempus -> tempora), but the case is different for feminine nouns, e.g.: doamna -> doamne ("woman"). It is similar to Italian, but a little closer to Latin. As Brennus has pointed out, it is curious that features of Latin have been preserved more in remote, "peripheral" areas of the former Roman empire. By the way, I have to correct myself: "tempus" is a 3rd-declination neuter noun, not masculine.
Tiffany   Thursday, December 02, 2004, 21:15 GMT
I actually know nothing of Latin, but I'm guessing Romanian. I should ask my fiance. He actually studied it for a long time, though against his will, so I'm not sure how much he retains.

I know there are a few other masculine words that pluralize with -ini but I can't think of them right now.

Interesting, interesting.

I have heard people say that Italian is the closest living language to Latin. Maybe they don't take into account Romanian because it's a bastard mix of Latin and Slavic?

On a funny note, a few of my fiance's co-workers are Romanian. The first person in Romanian of 'to do' (facere? I know it's fare in Italian) is something that sounds like 'fac'. One of his Romanian co-workers was on the phone and talking rather loudly as the connection was bad and his sentences were peppered with 'fac'. The other half of the office thought he was swearing! You have to understand this man is very calm and levelheaded, so the whole office thought it was WW3!

Ok, maybe it was one of those "You had to be there" moments.
Joe   Thursday, December 02, 2004, 21:28 GMT
There was a girl in one of my classes this semester with the last name Kostellow. She's blonde and very fair skinned. Hearing the surname Costello I always would have thought it was Italian as well. That's extremely interesting to have learned!

Actually another I used to think was Italian when I was younger was Shapiro, but that's Jewish. The same with the name pastrami for the lunch meat. LOL
Costello   Friday, December 03, 2004, 02:20 GMT