Italian Language is a Powerfully
On the Re Unification
of Italy, "Now that Italy was established, Italians had to be created".
Regionalism was rampant, and dialects reigned supreme, and it was not until
National TV became engrained did Italian (Tuscan-Dante) become more
unified, but there are still serious Regionalism, and Italy only becomes
REALLY Unified during The World Soccer Cup , and the Olympics.
"Italian is a Powerfully
Aggregating Factor": Dardano
Esteemed linguist says dialects
can be a dividing factor among people
Tandem; By Letizia Tesi ; March 6,
Fatta l?Italia, si dovevano fare gli
italiani (Now that Italy was established, Italians had to be created).
And once the national conscience was instilled, during the long post-unification
period, the linguistic one should have been as well. One hundred and fifty
years after Unification, it?s now a given fact, recognized by all linguists,
although at times our linguistic identity totters behind banners of localism
and political exploitation. According to Maurizio Dardano ? one of the
top Italian linguistics and a language history professor at Sapienza (university
in Rome) ? however, we can rest assured.
?Notwithstanding appearances, I believe
that the language is a powerfully aggregating factor,? says the linguist.
?Even if at times there are reactions on behalf of dialectics or localisms,
everyone recognizes the use of Italian which as over the past few decades
become a adaptable, modern tool, similar to other languages of Western
Europe, very different than the literary Italian of a century ago.?
Does political exploitation of dialects
?Yes, there has been in these past
few years. As has happened in the past, dialect becomes an instrument of
contention that serves to put one community or region at odds with another.
At the base of all this politicization of these dialects is, however, a
substantial ignorance of linguistic facts. For example, there are persons
who claim to write in the vocabulary of the Lombard language, pretending
to ignore that in Lombardy there is no one dialect, but that there are
several, and they?re also very different from one another.?
So you?re against teaching dialect
?Abosulutely yes, because dialect
must be safeguarded through other hubs. There?s no time in school to deal
with such a complex issue, and anyways I ask myself who there is able to
provide adequate instruction in dialect. An intolerable localism would
be created: the teacher of Lombard (dialect) would have to be a Lombard
just like the one teaching Campania dialect would have to be born in Campania.
There are other things to be done in school: there?s the science culture,
for example, for which Italy has remained behind with respect to the West
and it?s a situation that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.?
Do you feel the Gelmini reform will
?The Gelmini reform has put a bit
order in the universities. It cleared the bush that had become too thick
in recent years. As far as high school, we?ll see.?
In short, it?s a useful reform?
?All in all, yes. Of course there
are things that need to be dealt with further and corrected, but compared
to the previous situation, I can?t but give a moderately positive assessment.
Nothing had been done for many years and now attempts are being made to
establish a bit of order. The main problem remains, however, the lack of
funding that in the Post-War period has been earmarked for education.?
Let?s stay with that idea regarding
funding for culture. Last year there was an erosion in funding destined
for the promotion of Italian abroad.
?Yes and they should have saved on
many other budget items. Mostly, we have a political class of completely
unruly administrators, and that?s where we should be making the first cost
cutting. For example, with the establishing of the Regions (level of government),
it was said that the Provinces would be abolished, but instead that didn?t
happen they?re centres of political power. But that?s just one example
of missing out on thrift in areas where it could have been done ? among
other things to the advantage of the functioning of the State machine.?
What do you think of the idea of creating
a language museum?
?It?s an optimal idea. One could
even consider an itinerant museum that travels to places where there are
Italian communities. It shouldn?t be, though, a static museum, but a dynamic
one that avails itself of the most modern means of communication In other
words, a museum that?s not too museum-like and that is suitable for the
Professor, what condition is Italian
?I?m at the mid-way point between
those who say it?s doing very well and those who say it?s in bad shape.
The Italian language today is spoken by all Italians ?
that wasn?t the case 60 or 70 years
ago, before the last world war. As with all growing phenomena, there are
also negative aspects. In this case, a certain literature weakness is revealed,
which occurs especially in school, and a certain exuberance of useless
Anglicisms that are heard in the spoken language, read in newspapers, and
which we could easily do without, also because Anglicism in Italy is only
the result of laziness. In school ? having become more common, there?s
an increase in the typical phenomena: defective phrasing, shaky syntax,
and unclear lexicon in the written word.?
What is the most widespread mistake
that ?offends? your ear as language expert?
?The main defect in the language
of the youth is inadequacy: not knowing how to choose the wording and expressions
that should be used in a certain context. For example, during an exam a
student told me: ?La ragazza di Dante si chiamava Beatrice? (?Dante?s girlfriend
was called Beatrice?). That?s ridiculous. Another student wrote that Cervantes,
during a certain period of his life, was without ?grana? (?scratch?), meaning
money. Those are things that make one laugh. The youth make these mistakes
because they were educated by TV, by Big Brother, so they don?t have a
lexicon that is flexible and suitable for various situations. And one can
talk of consecutio temporum (an Italian grammar rule inherited from Latin),
of pleonastic pronouns (redundancy), and of this famous subjunctive that
Maybe we don?t read enough today?
?That?s for sure. Thirty-nine percent
of the Italian population does not read books ? that is, they stay away
from print and their cultivation comes only through TV or other media of
this type. And it?s a very huge defect. Even if one reads more with respect
to the past, there?s always a huge disconnect: there?s the preference of
watching the newscast and not to read the dailies.?
Do you think it was the language of
TV or of politicians to influence the spoken language?
?It?s difficult to generalize. There
are better-written dailies and others that are less satisfying. The in-depth
articles are usually written by those who know how to hold a pen, while
in the current events, linguistic improvisations often reign supreme. There
are certain characteristics in our press that differentiate us from other
countries of the Western world: excessively loud headlines, excessive use
of spoken expressions. Maybe that also occurs in the Anglo-Saxon world,
but I don?t think to the extent it manifests itself in Italy. Another long-standing
defect is the excessive commentary on news. Ours is a strongly ideological
press and at times it?s the descriptive technique itself that?s defective.?
Can a standard be identified?
?I?ll answer with another question:
What books would you suggest as required reading in school? At one time,
there were the classics, from Manzoni to Verga to Pirandello. There are
some very popular writers today, but who cannot be suggested to youth due
to their idiosyncracies. I?ll give you an example: Can you imagine an essay
written in Sciascia?s manner? That?s highly improbable because despite
being a great writer, he is not a viable example of day-to-day writing.
There are other writers that are models of language, such as Calvino. My
advice would be to carefully read certain editorials of the well-written
dailies that offer a usable model of Italian. To answer your question:
a norm, yes, it exists, but it?s a silent norm, one that no longer responds,
as it did 50 or 60 years ago, to scholastic models imposed from high up.?
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