You Say ‘Anguria,’ I Say ‘Cocomero’: Italy’s Many Dialects
I thought other Italian learners would be interested in this recent article in the New York Times:
You Say ‘Anguria,’ I Say ‘Cocomero’: Italy’s Many Dialects
“No other country has so many linguistic differences in such a limited space.
As mentioned in the article, most Italians started speaking a standard national language only as of the mid 1950s ~ early 1960s. The national TV broacasting company managed to accomplish a goal that schools had failed to achieve in about one century, that is since the unification of the country (1860). Such failure was especially due to the poor schooling rate; according to a 1951 survey, illiterate people in Italy still ranged from about 3% in the north to about 23% in the south, with a disheartening peak of 32% in Calabria region.
This explains why schools used to be very strict in teaching grammar, and expecting students to write and speak proper Italian. But this policy also triggered the concept that those who communicated in dialect were poorly cultured. Over most part of the 20th century, people who received an education up to high school or university no longer spoke in dialect, yet being able to understand the folk who still did. Most people lost interest in dialect literature, a rich heritage of poems, essays, plays, that some were no longer able to read, deemed by the cultural establishment as 'a lesser form of art', at the point that dialect authors almost fell into oblivion. Only a few decades ago, a revived interest for local realities, led linguists and scholars to amend their opinion about local dialects.
Today, a large majority of those who are said to speak in dialect actually use a mixture of the local idiom, standard Italian and juvenile slang, which does not fully correspond to the original language. However, also dialects change in time, as any national language does, so it is often difficult to tell whether a diversity is due to the aforesaid modern hybridization of dialects, or whether it can be considered a true evolution.
Moreover, most natives now speak properly standard Italian, tinged with a slight local inflection (i.e. a particular voice pitch, or a particular way of pronouncing certain vowels or groups of letters, etc.), and this includes choosing words such as anguria rather than cocomero or melone , which are deeply entrenched in the local community's vocabulary.
You are welcome.
It would be extremely difficult to assess how many dialects still exist, but the attached map (see below) gives a good idea of the complexity of their classification.
UNESCO lists 32 'endangered languages' in Italy, several of which are the result of the grouping of dialects from one same region, e.g. Lombard is listed as one 'language', but it comprises the dialects of Milan, Brescia, Bergamo, Cremona, and other cities, which are indeed rather different.
Some linguistic groups (or 'languages') run their own Wikipedia domains:
You shouldn't put inverted commas since they are real languages. Languages are cluster of dialects, that may differ from one to another, but esssentially the grammar and the structure is the same.
In Sicily we usually call that "melone", which in other parts of Italy (and in proper Italian) means melon, the yellow one, which in its turn in Sicily is usually called "melone giallo". It is definitely true that some fruits and vegetables have two or three names, according to the area of Italy you are in.
Even in Puglia they called it melone. But cocomero and anguria are both Italian terms, they are not regional
I agree with you, they are Italian terms; and in Puglia we usually use the the word "melone" for those yellow or orange inside, anguria or cocomero for those red inside. In addition, the food that have a very different range of names according to various geographical areas is fish and meat.
I was talking to an Italian friend who is from Florence and he told me that they use both "anguria" and "cocomero" but they say "cocomero" for a watermelon that has a completely green skin and "anguria" for a watermelon that has a stripped skin such as this: http://bit.ly/2dZtxJa
Cocomero (that is typical from Puglia) is all green (with no stripes) outside, but white inside. Not red. It's not only a summer fruit but a winter fruit. His taste resembles a cucumber (a bit sweeter). But of course we have many difference in naming from a region to another. What about this?: Watermelon; we call it "melone di acqua" (just like you English). Melon (the light yellow one with stripes) we call it "melone di pane". Google for "melone pugliese" (images) for more fun. ;-)
I followed your advice and I came across "il carosello pugliese" which if eaten immature resembles a cucumber and is eaten in salads and if left to ripe becomes a melon! I am afraid this is not helping our discussion. :-)
Seriously, I guess the problem is not only the number of dialects but also the numerous varieties of fruits and vegetables, you can find the most extraordinary things in Italy, there are even blue potatoes!
But it really has to do with our discussion, Giorgio; for example I didn't know what "caroselli" were. That's because we call them "casorielli" o "casuridd". Anyway, I think not only Italy, but all the world is fantastic, and globalization and standardization are making us accomplices in the destruction of the varieties of the species.
You are right, don't get me wrong I really love Italian variety and I find fascinating that a country is so diverse in culture, customs, dialects etc but is still united as a nation.
By the way, for the benefit of our non-native Italian readers I must say that "casorielli" and "casuridd" are not standard Italian words but dialect, I happen to know because an Italian friend told me.
P.S. Mi dicono che anche "carosello pugliese" è dialetto (Barese)
I've read somewhere that Denmark has the most dialects in porportion to the land. How cool is it to drive 100 km and hear a completely different sounding version of your language? :)