A soun incàra vîv - Emilian lessons v2

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A soun incàra vîv - Emilian lessons v2

Post by Alessio » 01 Sep 2019 09:20

Well, it's been a while! My original Emilian lessons thread dates back to 2014 and hasn't been updated much since. In fact, it has lost all but its last page and I have no idea why...
As we say in Italy, not everything that's bad happens to hurt you, and on this spirit I decided that the lessons had to be rewritten, especially now that I have a better knowledge of both the language and linguistics in general.
This time I want to give them a proper introduction, so have fun!

Except where otherwise noted, the information I'm going to give in this course comes from personal experience and anecdotal evidence. If you feel that some of it is not accurate, you are welcome to try to correct it by either replying to the thread or sending me a private message. The reason for this limitation is that it's incredibly hard to find resources on any regional language of Italy besides the ones that are still thriving, e.g. Neapolitan and Sicilian. Emilian is not, unfortunately, one of them.

According to Wikipedia and to everyday experience, a great deal of Italians are native bilingual speakers of Italian and one or more regional languages.
These languages, which usually lack any written tradition, served as an L1 for centuries before Alessandro Manzoni, inspired by the school of Florence and its famous members among which Dante Alighieri, Francesco Petrarca and Giovanni Boccaccio, wrote The Bethroted (I promessi sposi in Italian), whose final version dated 1842 laid the foundations of the modern Italian language. Italy then united in 1861 and Italian became the official language of the Kingdom.
De facto, regional languages were still used predominantly for at least another 80-90 years, to the point that most people born in 1950 and before, while considering Italian their mother tongue, are still much more fluent in their regional languages. This year should be adjusted depending on the different regions of Italy; in certain zones of the South, for example, children typically pick up regional languages first and learn Italian second. In the region around Venice, called the Veneto, and in Central Italy, regional languages are very well understood and to some extent spoken by young people, although they might be considered an L2 for them. In most other places around Northern Italy, including the Emilia-Romagna region, regional languages are dying. Children are taught only Italian and frequently fail at understanding anything else. Generations up to the 70s can still speak their regional language, but don't use it as much as their parents would, for example. In general, the tendency is to let the languages die off.
To understand why, we need to talk about something no linguist would really ever want to talk about.

The quotes around this word are necessary, because when an Italian starts talking about "dialects", you might get the wrong idea.
In linguistics, a dialect is a variety of a language which, while being mutually intelligible with other dialects, shows some differences, for example in pronunciation. In Italian, "dialect" is the term we use in place of "regional language".
Wikipedia's got you covered here (second bullet point).
The problem is that people tend to perceive Italian regional languages as a rude, illiterate, even wrong dialects of Italian. This is the main reason why they are dying off: people don't feel comfortable speaking them to strangers, because it would make them seem either uncapable of speaking their homeland's official language, or even impolite, as if they were trying to make fun of the listener.
Because of this, most regional languages are not official in the region(s) where they're spoken, and unfortunately my own regional language does indeed not benefit from this status; still, some dialects - this is how we will be referring to regional languages throughout this course, for consistency with what the Italians do - ARE official in some regions; for example in the Friuli region, including the provinces of Udine and Pordenone, Friulan (natively Furlan) is co-official alongside Italian and most signs, especially those indicating directions or city limits, are written in both languages.
It is very important though to realize that in regions where this does not happen people do NOT perceive dialects as a separate language. After the Unesco used the term "language" in one of its papers to refer to Neapolitan, people all throughout Italy have started thinking that Neapolitan is an actual separate language, while all other regional languages are not. Some will make an exception for Sardinian, which is co-official on the island of Sardinia. Nobody will ever tell you that Emilian is a separate language from Italian, unless in a sort of "well you could almost say that..." fashion.

Emilian is actually a group of dialects of the Emiliano-Romagnolo language, encompassing the whole region of Emilia-Romagna, the state of San Marino and some zones of Lombardy, Liguria and Marche. Emilian dialects tend to differ from Romagnolo dialects much more than they differ from other Emilian dialects, which is the reason why I chose to call Emilian a language by itself.
Emiliano-Romagnolo is spoken by about 1,300,000 people, and is the first or sole language of about 450,000 (source: Wikipedia, data gathered in 2006). Emilian is spoken west of the Sillaro stream, and Romagnolo east of it.

Unlike - or at least way more than - more widespread dialects such as Neapolitan or Sicilian, Emilian suffers the lack of a koiné, i.e. a standardized variety. (Actual) dialects of Emilian show a high degree of variation among them, especially when it comes to phonetics.
This is why I had to pick a variety of Emilian, and I picked the one that I speak. I was born in the city of Vignola, and have been living in a nearby countryside village ever since, thus Vignolese is the variety I speak and understand best.
Don't worry, though: which variety you learn doesn't really matter - people will understand you nonetheless. Still, should I know that some varieties pronounce something differently, or use another word, I will bring it up; otherwise just keep in mind that I'm using the Vignolese variety.
Vignolese is a sub-dialect of the Modenese dialect of the Emilian language, which has to some extent being influenced by the neighboring Bolognese dialects. Most people who speak it will refer to it as dialàt mudněṡ, whereas a more correct term would be dialàt vgnulěṡ, since many varieties spoken within the province of Modena are significantly different (e.g. Mirandolese, Finalese and Montanaro). The area of influence of Vignolese starts from the city of Vignola (25,000 inhabitants according to the 2011 census) and spreads around the nearby hills, reaching a total population of about 70,000. Not all of these speak Emilian at all - I think it would be accurate to consider that roughly 40% of them do (either as a first or second language), giving us about 28,000 speakers of this particular variety of the language.
I'm proud to be one of them and I hope I can give you as much information as possible on this beautiful yet dying language.

If I got you interested, stay tuned for what is coming in the next few days and weeks! I might publish lesson 1 (phonetics) later today if I have time, so... a-s sintàm!
:ita: :eng: [:D] | :fra: :esp: :rus: [:)] | :con: Hecathver, Hajás, Hedetsūrk, Darezh...

Tin't inameint ca tót a sàm stê żōv'n e un po' cajoun, mo s't'armâgn cajoun an vōl ménga dîr t'armâgn anc żōven...

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Re: A soun incàra vîv - Emilian lessons v2

Post by kanejam » 18 Sep 2019 23:48

Following! I remember (and have completely forgotten) the first set of these lessons [:)]

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Re: A soun incàra vîv - Emilian lessons v2

Post by Dormouse559 » 19 Sep 2019 00:06

Alessio wrote:
01 Sep 2019 09:20
Well, it's been a while! My original Emilian lessons thread dates back to 2014 and hasn't been updated much since. In fact, it has lost all but its last page and I have no idea why...

But yay! I'm glad you're restarting this. Can't get enough of regional Romance languages.

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