Category Archives: Venetian

Linguistic/National Question

In what countries is the language spoken in the capital different from the language spoken by the majority of people in the rest of the country? As you can see, there is more than one country where this is the case.

Some cases from the past include

Austria-Hungary, where the capital Vienna spoke High German but most of the people spoke Czech, Slovak, Venetian, Slovenian, or Serbo-Croatian.

In Ireland, before English became popular in the early 1800’s, most people around the capital spoke English, while the majority of the population spoke Irish.

I found nine countries, two in Europe, two in Southeast Asia, two in South Asia, one in Oceania, one in the Caribbean, and one in Africa.

Hop to it!

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Check Out Siculo Gallo-Italic

These are fascinating Romance dialects spoken in Sicily. The are called the Gallo-Italic dialects of Sicily. Some of them are also found in other parts of Italy, mostly in the far south in Basilicata.

Gallo-Italic languages are spoken in far north of Italy and are so called because there is heavy French influence on these Italian varieties. They include Venetian, East and West Lombard, Piedmontese, Ligurian, Emilian and Romagnolo.

In the 1100’s and 1200’s, Sicily was ruled by Norman rulers from the north of France. They had conquered much of Italy, and were in control of parts of the north also. In order perhaps to consolidate their rule in Sicily, which they had just conquered, they sent some Norman soldiers to Sicily to help populate the region and set up Norman outposts there.

These were mostly soldiers from the southern Piedmont (Monferrate)  and Ligurian (Oltregiogo) regions of Italy and from the Provencal area in the south of France. There were also a few from the Lombard region and other parts of northern Italy. They went down there with their families and formed a number of settlements in Sicily and a few other places in Italy.

Over the next 800 years, their Gallo-Italic language came under heavy influence of varieties of Sicilian in Sicily, Basilicatan in Basilicata and other languages in other parts of Italy. Yet the heavy Gallo-Italic nature of their lects remains to this day and Sicilian speakers of surrounding villages find Gallo-Italic speakers impossible to understand.

The dialects have tended to die out somewhat in the past 100 years. Villagers were tired of speaking a language that could not be understood outside the village and increasingly shifted to the Sicilian language. A situation of bilingualism in Gallo-Italic and Sicilian developed. Over time, this became trilingualism as children learned Standard Italian in school. Gallo-Italic was used inside the village itself, and Sicilian was used for communication with outsiders.

Whether or not Gallo-Italic lects in different parts of Sicily can understand each other is not known, but they have all undergone independent paths of development over 800 years or so. The same is also an up in the air question about Basilicatan Gallo-Italic and Gallo-Italic settlements in other parts of the country. This is an interesting question in need of linguistic research.

In this 1 1/2 minute video, I am not sure if I understood a single word he said. The language he is speaking sounds like a mixture of Provencal Piedmontese with a heavy dose of Sicilian. Sicilian itself is so odd that a Sicilian speaker can barely be understood at all outside of Sicily. It has at least 250,000 words, 25% of which have no equivalent in Standard Italian. It underwent heavy French, Spanish and especially Greek and Arabic influences.

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How Learning One Language Well Helps You Learn Others

Repost from the old site.

In the comments, the ever-perceptive dano notes:

dano: The thing is, I’ve found that once you learn to speak a European language, and particularly a Latin-based one, you see similarities in many words across the board and a rough kind of pattern emerges, making it easier to learn more languages.

Dano is correct – once you learn one Romance language, you can learn others. Also, the better you know English, the more easily you can learn a Romance language because so many English words have Latin roots. I also have knowledge of Proto Indo-European, so I can see roots that go back even farther back than Latin.

It helps to learn Greek and Latin roots in English. That way you can pick up more English words that you don’t know just by figuring out roots. Also it helps a lot with Romance languages.

Let’s try a little experiment. I know English very well, including many obscure terms, and I am familiar with many Latin roots. I know Spanish pretty well. I know a tiny bit of French and know a few words in Indo-European. With that knowledge, let us see how far that will get me in Venetian, a language I had never heard of before, and Italian, a language I have never been able to make heads or tails of.

Comparison of Venetian and Italian with English, Spanish, French and Indo-European

Venetian grasa, Spanish “grasa”, English “gross” fat, corpulent

Venetian can, Indo-European “kuon”, French “chien”, English “canine”, “hound”, dog

Venetian çena, Spanish “cena”, dinner

Venetian scóła, Spanish “escuela”, English “school”

Venetian bała, Spanish “bala”, English “ball”

Venetian pena, English “pen”

Venetian bìsi, English “peas”

Venetian diałeto, Spanish “dialecto “, English “dialect”

Venetian sgnape, English “schnapps”

Venetian scóndar, Spanish “esconder”, English, “abscond”, to hide, to depart rapidly to avoid persecution

Venetian baxar, Spanish “besar”, English “buss”, to kiss, kiss

Venetian dormir, Spanish “dormir”, English “dormitory”, to sleep

Venetian pàre, Spanish “padre”, English “patrilineal”, father, in the father’s family line

Venetian parlar, French “parler”, English “parlance”, to speak, way of speaking

Venetian scusàr, Spanish “excusar”, English “to excuse”, to forgive

Venetian aver, Spanish “haber”, English “to have,” to possess

Venetian essar, Spanish “estar”, to be, English “essence,” essential quality of a thing

Venetian sentir, Spanish “sentir”, English, “sentiments”, to feel, feelings

Venetian venir, Spanish “venir”, to come

Venetian cantar, Spanish “cantar”, English “cantata”, to sing, song, “canto,” a type of lyric poetry,

Venetian vaca, Spanish “vaca”, cow

Venetian vardar, Spanish “guardar”, English “to guard”, to look, to guard

Venetian sghiràt, English “squirrel”

Venetian récia, Spanish “orecha,” English “ear”

Venetian plàstega, Spanish “plastica”, English “plastic”

Italian forchetta, English “fork”

Italian ratto, Spanish “raton”, English “rat”

Italian pipistrello, English “pipistrelle”, bat, a type of bat

Italian asino, English “ass”, donkey

Venetian mustaci, English “mustache”

Italian io, Spanish “yo”, English “I”

Venetian mare, Spanish “madre”, mother, English “matriarchal”, rule by women

Italian uscita, English, “exit”

Venetian fiól, English “filial”, son, relating to a son or daughter

Italian quando, Spanish “cuando”, when

Venetian cascàr, English “cascade”, to fall, waterfall

Venetian trón, English “throne,” chair, king’s chair

Venetian bèver, Spanish “beber”, English “to imbibe”, to drink

Venetian trincàr, English “to drink”

Venetian òcio, Spanish “ojo”, English “ocular”, eye, of the eye

Venetian morsegàr, English “morsel”, to bite, a bite

Venetian nome, Spanish “nombre”, English “name”

Venetian solo, Spanish “solo”, English “solo”, only, alone

Venetian grande, Spanish “grande”, English “grand” big, great

Italian piccante, Spanish “picante”, English “piquant”, spicy hot

Venetian cale, Spanish “calle,” street

Venetian łéngua, Spanish “lengua”, English “language”

Venetian senpre, Spanish “siempre”, always

Venetian mar, Spanish “mar”, English “maritime”, sea, of the sea

Venetian nostre, Spanish “nuestro”, our

Venetian vite, Spanish “vida”, English, “vital”, life, living

Venetian virtuosi, Spanish “virtuoso”, English “virtuous”

Venetian serae, Spanish “seria”, would be

Venetian spirito, Spanish “espiritu”, English “spirit”, ghost, spirit

Venetian segura, Spanish “seguro”, English “secure”, safety, safe

Venetian robar, Spanish “robar”, English “to rob”, to loot, to steal

Venetian mal, Spanish “mal”, English “malevolent”, bad, evil-minded

As we can see, there is a huge amount of similarity between Venetian, an obscure language I had never heard of, and Spanish and English. Even the frightening Italian has quite a few Spanish and English cognates. Learning one foreign language, or even learning your own language very well, really does help you to learn even more languages so much more easily. Go ahead and give it a shot!

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A Look At the Venetian and Friulian Languages

Repost from the old site.

Here we will compare Friulian and Venetian with Italian. The Friulian language is spoken in northeastern Italy. Among Friulian speakers, the language is affectionately known as Marilenghe and is best known from the Udine, the main town of the Friulian zone. It has 794,000 speakers and is in pretty good shape.

There is a close relationship with Ladin and Romansch. Most speakers also speak Standard Italian. In regions of Slovenia bordering Friuli, almost everyone speaks Friulian as a second or third language. Friulian is closer to French than to Italian. Friulian language edition of Wikipedia.

Friulian was in decline from the mid-60’s until the end of the 90’s when an entire generation was not taught to children. This generation now has a receptive but not a productive competence in the language. It has lost 18% of its speakers since 1989, and since 1981, there has been a 20% decline in people speaking it to the children. Nevertheless, there has been something of a comeback since it was protected by law in the late 90’s. There is one FM station that broadcasts only in Friulian and another station that broadcasts partly. There is only 15 minutes a week on TV in Friulian. There is one monthly magazine. All of these initiatives are private.

This is in contrast to Switzerland, where minority languages are promoted. Since Mussolini, Italy has had a policy to get rid of minority languages in favor of Italian. Only 20 schools have started teaching Friulian, and Italian is used as the vernacular. In Udine, about 40% of street signs are bilingual Friulian and Italian.

This paper analyzes the legal status of Friulian and feels that it is lacking, although a landmark law was passed in Italy in 1999. This law was very controversial, and public opinion in Italy continues to be that regional languages should all give way to Italian.

Venetian is said to be a dialect of the Italian language, but it is actually a completely separate language related more to French than Italian. It is spoken mostly in northeastern Italy in Venice, Trieste and other areas by 2,280,387 people, but the number may actually be up to 3 million. Venetian Wikipedia is here. There is television, radio and magazines in Venetian.

Venetian still lacks a unified orthography, so people just write it however they pronounce their local dialect. That Venetian is closer to French, Catalan, Portuguese and Spanish than to Italian seems outrageous to many people, but apparently it is based on structural similarities. Much of the Italian similarity is probably due to borrowing.

The Venetian cause has been taken up by Northern Italian separatists and has unfortunately become associated with fascist movements. This is ironic since Mussolini tried to stamp out Venetian. Various idiotic ethnic nationalist myths have arisen – that Northern Italians are Celtic (more White) and that Venetian is some kind of Celtic language.

There was a Celtic language spoken in the area some 1,800 years ago, but it has not left much trace on the languages of today. North Italians are not Celtic and Venetian has no relation to Celtic. Venetian is close to the northern Italian languages Piedmontese, Ligurian, Western Lombard , Eastern Lombard and Emiliano-Romagnolo.

The debate over regional languages being “dialects of Italian” was cemented by Mussolini’s fascism, which tried to wipe out all regional languages. This feeling is still widespread in Italy today. However, speakers of regional languages refer to such a mindset as “that of the Roman Empire” and those who promote it as fascists.

My English translation is a free literary translation and is not literal or word for word at all. It translates the text into the best possible literary English.

Central (Udine) Friulian

Copiis

Il puar biāt al ą copiāt il Siōr
par dīj: “O soi come tč”:
ma il Siōr nol ą copiāt.

Magari chel biāt j ą vuadagnāt,
ma i fīs, daspņ, cetant ąno pajāt
no savint jéssi sé?

Il lōr destin al č, savéso quāl?

Copie de brute copie origjnāl!

Eastern/Coastal (Triestino) Venetian

Copie

Il sempio il gą copią il Sior
par dir “Mi son come ti”
ma il Sior no’l gą copią.

Forsi quel sempio xč divegnudo sior,
ma i fioi, dopo, quanto i gą pagą par
non saver come xe stado?

Savč vł qual xč il loro destin?

copie dela bruta copia original!

Notes: Both Friulian and Venetian are structurally separate languages. It’s very difficult to write in Friulian, and very few people know how to do it properly. Venetian is easier to write, and more speakers are able to write it.

Friulian ā is a long a.

Venetian x is the same as English z

Venetian ł resembles the “lh” sound. This sound does not occur in English.

Standard Italian

Il poveretto voleva copiare il Signore
per dire: “Io sono come te’,
ma il Signore non ha copiato.

Forse quel poveretto ha guadagnato
ma i figli, dopo, quanto hanno pagato
non sapendo cosa ?

Sapete qual’č il loro destino?

Essere copia dell’originale brutta copia!

Notes: 

Poveretto: povero di mente: simpleminded fellow.
Signore: educated, gentleman.
Guadagnato: learned something, got wiser.
Pagato: to pay in a moral, education way, to “learn your lesson.”

English

The simple man tried to copy the gentleman
so he could say, “I’m just like you”,
but the gentleman could not be copied.

Now, maybe that simple man learned a thing or two,
but how much would his sons, later on, have
to pay for not knowing a thing?

The sons’ destiny?

To be a copy of the original rude copy.

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Virgilio Giotti, Triestine Venetian Poet

Repost from the old site.

Let’s take a look again at Triestine Venetian.

Virgilio Giotti was a famous poet who wrote in Triestine Venetian. He was born in 1885 in Trieste, a child of Riccardo Schonbeck and Emilia Ghiotto. He died in Trieste in 1957. He is considered to be the most important Triestine Venetian author. For this, he was honored in 1957 by the Accademia dei Lincei.

Highly-regarded critics such Mario Fubini, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Gianfranco Contini, Cesare Segre and Franco Brevini enthusiastically described Virgilio Giotti as one of the most important Italian writers in Italian “dialects” of the 1900’s.

From 1907 to 1919 he lived in Firenze. In 1912, he met Nina Schekotoff, a Russian from Moscow, the only woman he ever loved. In Tuscany, she bore him three children – Natalia, (Tanda), Paolo and Franco. Sons Paolo and Franco both died in Russia during World War 2.

Giotti first book was Piccolo Canzoniere in Dialetto Triestino, published in Florence in 1914.

He became famous in 1937, when the great critic Pietro Pancrazi, in a review in Corriere Della Sera pointed out the anti-dialectal character of Giotti: his poetry was described as écriture d’artiste (literary writing) or patois de l’ame (the language of love).

Pancrazi described Giotti as a poet who wrote mainly in dialect, but he differed from the usual poetry of Italian “dialects” that was often folkloric, standardized, generic, etc.

Giotti spoke Tuscan Italian as his principal language, and he considered Triestine Venetian as “the language of the poetry” only – that it only had a literary and cultural value, but was not useful beyond that.

Giotti’s Triestine Venetian lexicon was impoverished and full of simple words, with only a very sparse use of idioms. Giotti’s Trieste was far from the Trieste of Svevo, Saba and other writers: there’s no Port wine, no psychoanalysis and no Mitteleuropa.

Giotti’s world is one of sensations, little places, family and friends, the arcana of quotidian existence. He was a romantic poet of everyday life.

Let’s look at one of Giotti’s poems, With Bolàffio, in classic Triestine Venetian, then in modern Triestine Venetian, then in an Italian translation by Antonio Guerra (Italian language link) or Tonino Guerra (a famous Italian screenwriter), (Italian language link) and finally I will try to translate it into literary English.

If you think you can do a better job of translating this into nice poetic English, even a line or two, give it a shot. This translation stuff is kind of fun!

Con Bolàffio
Virgilio Giotti

Classic Triestine Venetian

Mi e Bolàffio, de fazza
un de l’altro, col bianco tavoja

de la tovàia in mezo,
su i goti e el fiasco in fianco,
parlemo insieme.

Bolàffio de ‘na piazza
de Gorìzia el me conta,

ch’el voria piturarla:
‘na granda piazza sconta,

che nissun passa.

Do tre casete atorno
rosa, un fiatin de muro,
un pissador de fero
vècio stravècio, e el scuro
de do alboroni.

Xe squasi mezogiorno
E un omo, vignù fora
de là, se giusta pian
pian, e el se incanta sora
pensier. Bolàffio

in ‘sta su piazza bela,
noi, poeti e pitori,
stemo ben. La xe fata
pròpio pai nostri cuori,
caro Bolàffio.

In quel bel sol, in quela
pase, se ga incontrado
i nostri veci cuori;
là i se ga saludado
stassera alegri.

Con Bolàffio
Virgilio Giotti

Modern Triestine Venetian

Mi e Bolàffio, de muso
un co’ l’altro, col bianco tavoja

dela tovaia in mezo,
su i calici e il fiasco de fianco
parlemo insieme.

Bolaffio, de ‘na piazza
de Gorizia il me conta

ch’el voleria piturarla
‘na grande piazza sconta

che nessun passa

Do tre casete atorno
rosa, un fiatin de muro
un pisador de fero
vecio stravecio, e il scuro
de do alberoni

Xe quasi mezogiorno
E un omo, vignù fora
de là, se giusta pian
pian, e il se incanta sora
pensier. Bolàffio

in ‘sta sua piaza bela
noi, poeti e pìtori
stemo ben. La xe fata
proprio pei nostri cuori
caro Bolaffio

In quel bel sol, in quela
pase, se ga incontrado
i nostri veci cuori;
là i se ga saludado
stasera alegri

Con Bolàffio
Virgilio Giotti

Italian translation by Antonia Guerra

Io e Bolaffio, l’uno
di fronte all’altro, col bianco
della tovaglia in mezzo,
i bicchieri alzati e accanto il fiasco,
parliamo insieme.

Bolaffio mi racconta di una piazza
di Gorizia, che vorrebbe dipingerla:
una grande piazza nascosta,
dove nessuno passa.

Due tre casette intorno,
rosa, un poco di muro,
un pisciatoio di ferro,
vecchio stravecchio, e lo scuro
di due alberoni.

È quasi mezzogiorno.

E un uomo, venuto fuori di lì,
si mette a posto pian piano,
s’incanta sopra pensiero. Bolaffio,
in questa sua piazza bella,
noi, poeti e pittori, stiamo bene.

È fatta proprio per i nostri cuori,
caro Bolaffio.

In quel bel sole, in quella pace,
si sono incontrati i nostri vecchi cuori;
là si sono salutati stasera, allegri.

With Bolàffio
Virgilio Giotti

English translation by Robert Lindsay

Bolaffio and I, face
To face, sitting down
At a table dressed in white

In the middle
Picking up the wineglasses and a bottle nearby
Together we’re talking

Bolaffio is telling me
He would like to draw

A picture of a square in Gorizia
It’s a big hidden square

Nobody is walking through

2 or 3 small houses around
Rose-colored, a small wall
An iron pissoir*
Very old, and the dark shadows
From a couple of trees

It’s around noon
And a man came out
Of that pissoir
Slowly, he buttons up his pants
And he stops himself
No thoughts in his head
Bolaffio

In his nice square
We, painters and poets
We feel good here
It was created just for our hearts
Dear Bolaffio

In this nice sunshine, In this
Peace, our old hearts
Have met each other
And tonight
They’re enjoying each other

*pissing place= Vespasiano, where to piss

My friend Paolo describes Giotti’s language as the old “Modern” Triestine Venetian.

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