Can people from Sicily speak standard Italian?
About 60% of Italians use Italian dialects or foreign languages, which are spoken by only about 15% of the population. Although many Italians speak dialect in their home regions, most strive to speak high-level Italian when traveling or with foreigners.
In reality, however, the most widely spoken language in Italy is sign language (without which many Italians would not be able to express themselves). Here the hands are mostly used, whereby the whole body, even the face, is actually used.
The mother tongue of around 2.5 million people or 5% of the population is languages such as French, German or Slovenian. In addition, there are some linguistic minorities in Italy who have been granted autonomous rights in the respective regions and whose languages have the same status as Italian. This applies, for example, to the languages French (Valle d’Aosta), German (Alto Adige) and Slovenian (Friuli-Venezia Giulia), which are all official languages in the respective regions and are taught there in the state schools.
French-Provencal or Arpitano-French dialects are spoken in the Valle d’Aosta. Provencal or Occitan dialects are spoken in certain villages in Piedmont and in the northern part of Val Argentina (IM). Most of the German-speaking minorities (around 300,000 people speak Bavarian-Austrian) live mainly in the province of Bolzano while the Slovenian dialect is mainly in the Val di Resia (UD), in the Torre and Natisone valleys, Val Canale, in the eastern part in the province of Gorizia and in most of the province of Trieste (approx. 50,000 in total). The Serbian-Croatian dialect can be found mainly in the province of Molise. Croatian, the language that very few people speak in Italy (around 2000), is still used today in the province of Campobasso, which is also in Molise.
Albanian-speaking settlements are mainly in Sicily and Calabria. A few are also in Molise, Abruzzo, Campania, Apulia and Basilicata. Some people with this dialect are descended from the Albanian mercenaries from the 15th century and speak an Albanian dialect called Arberian. In the city of Alghero in the north-west of Sardinia, some population groups speak Catalan, which has its origins in the island conquest by the Crown of Aragon in 1354. Greek dialects are spoken in some areas of Calabria and Puglia. There are also gypsies who speak Sinti in northern and Roman dialect in central and southern Italy.
The most common Italian dialects are Sardinian (approx. 1,350,000), Friulian (approx. 700,000) and Ladin (approx. 40,000). Sardinian is spoken in Sardinia and is almost a language of its own that is very similar to Catalan and can be traced back to the former Spanish rule. The various forms of the individual dialects can be of different strengths. This is easy to recognize, for example, from the dialects Ligurian (mixture of Italian, Catalan and French), Neapolitan and Sicilian.
Italian is a Romance language with a nice sound. This is relatively easy to learn, especially if you already know French or Spanish (or Latin) - and have a lot of hands! Latin is still mainly used as the language of liturgy in the Catholic Church and is taught in schools from sixth grade onwards (with the exception of technical schools).
Today's Italian is practically a descendant of “vulgarly” spoken Latin and was standardized in the late Middle Ages (14th century) by the literary triumvirate of Boccaccio, Dante and Petrarch. These three wrote mainly in the dialect of Florence, which later became the basis of today's modern Italian language ( italiano standard) has been. This Italian is also taught in schools and used in the media, although it is also often mixed with dialects. Standard Italian was not spread across the country until after the unification of Italy around 1860. That is why even today many people do not identify with the standard language, but rather with the respective dialect of their region.
Those interested in the Italian language can find out more on the Italian foreign language website www.italianlang.org and on http://italian.about.com.
By Just Landed
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