https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dcarl1

A translation question, and a cultural one

I am reading a great little book at the moment called “Andare per la Sicilia dei Greci” by Franco la Cecla. It’s part history, part guide book and a lot of musing on the legacy of the Greeks on the island of Sicily. Its not difficult reading for the most part, although knowing a bit of Greco-Roman history helps.

So, This is the bit that I am questioning:

“Dicono che il modo di parlare qui a est risente ancora della maniera di pronunciare le gutturali, di addolcire le g o di indurirle. Nel romanzo Le parole sono pietre Carlo Levi racconta che dietro l’uso locale smodato di relative, al quale, della quale, di cui, per cui, c’è la sintassi greca, il suo inanellare le frasi concatenandole come se dovessero dimostrare sempre qualcosa.”

So - all that is pretty straightforward except “dietro l’uso locale smodato di relative, al quale, della quale, di cui, per cui, c’è la sintassi greca. Does that mean “behind the local usage excessively full of relative terms such as [...], there is the syntax of the Greeks”?

And if so, the more interesting question to me is: does this phrasing (della quale, per cui, etc) sound odd and non-native? It seems to me the kind of referential speech a new learner might use. But is it notable in any way? Do Sicilians use different syntax in addition to different vocabulary (the Arabic influence)?

Hoping to be enlightened from our native Italian friends.

March 27, 2018

9 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Angliano

Your interpretation of the sentence is correct. As you know, there are differences in the way people speak in the various parts of Italy - tenses is an obvious one, as are local pronunciations, mistakes that creep in from the local dialect, and so on. I've never noticed and didn't even know about this particular case in Sicily (I live in the north) but don't find it hard to believe. Italians generally tend to string together many relative clauses, sometimes even to the point of forgetting the main verb - rarely, but I have seen (rather than heard) it.

Depending on what your native language is, the answer to your second question, if you're thinking about your own use of relatives, is almost certainly no - you'll never be able to compete with an Italian who puts his or her mind to it. An English-speaker would often split an Italian sentence into two, three, or four sentences when writing, but I've been up to at least eight, and I can assure you the English sentences weren't particularly short. If you are thinking about the Sicilians, then again it's no - you'll know they're Sicilian long before you get to the relative clauses and no one would consider them non-native :-).

March 27, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dcarl1

Thank you! This is fascinating to me.

March 27, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CivisRomanus

So - all that is pretty straightforward except “dietro l’uso locale smodato di relative, al quale, della quale, di cui, per cui, c’è la sintassi greca. Does that mean “behind the local usage excessively full of relative terms such as [...], there is the syntax of the Greeks”?

"behind the local usage excessively full of relative clauses..."

"Clauses" (proposizioni) is very often unspoken, so subordinate, soggettive, oggettive, relative, causali, finali, condizionali,... etc. always act as nominalized adjectives referring to the word proposizioni.

The Greek language (particularly classic Greek) is actually known for having rather long compound words (agglutination) and for making often use of relative clauses, which tend to lengthen the sentence. Relative clauses are often used in Italian, as well. However, the average length of sentences in the written language is slightly longer than the spoken ones, because in conversation complex sentences are often broken down into shorter ones.
What Carlo Levi means is that in the east of the region, also in the spoken language subordinate clauses (relative ones, as well as others) are often linked one to the other, almost as if always trying to reach some logical conclusion.

Do Sicilians use different syntax in addition to different vocabulary (the Arabic influence)?

Broad dialect speakers use only the auxiliary avere (aviri ), so the compound tenses of any verb are formed with the same auxiliary.
There is no future tense, being either the present tense used for this purpose, or a periphrastic construction, which is similar to the English "going to..." rather than "shall/will".
(Reference: https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lingua_siciliana#Verbi)

Another distinctive syntax feature I can think of, speaking of Sicilian, is that in order to emphasize the subject or the object of the sentence, the verb is spoken at the end:

Chi accattasti airi? - Un libbru accattavu. = What did you buy yesterday? - I bought a book.

(Reference: http://www.academia.edu/15301499/Analisi_delle_strutture_marcate_in_siciliano)

This construction is not completely alien to central and southern speakers, but outside Sicily it is used rather seldom, only for a very strong emphatization. Instead, in Sicily it is much more common, at the point that those who try to imitate this idiom usually exaggerate the S-O-V construction, being one of its most well-known traits.

Native speakers could likely indicate more differences.

March 27, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/f.formica
Mod
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a periphrastic construction, which is similar to the English "going to..."

Lately I've been noticing the same in some Northern dialects (mostly Lombardy) with things like "gli argomenti di cui andiamo a parlare", which to me, having lived in Lazio and Tuscany, made little sense; but I do feel like I might have heard Clerici say something like "la ricetta che andiamo a preparare" back when I still watched TV. On the other hand I don't remember my only Sicilian colleague bringing this feature into his Italian, although there are dialects of Sicilian too. I wonder how many regional languages have this feature; this paper mentions " il futuro prospettivo vado a fare come uno dei tratti sintattici accolti nella lingua del Settecento per influsso del modello francese che fu bandito successivamente dal purismo ottocentesco." but it doesn't try to analyse the modern dialects.

March 27, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CivisRomanus

Interesting!
There is a recent article (2016) by the Accademia about this topic (http://www.accademiadellacrusca.it/it/lingua-italiana/consulenza-linguistica/domande-risposte/andiamo-servire-risposta), which explains how the use of andiamo a + infinitive has become common in TV programmes both due to the influence of other languages that feature similar constructions (namely, English, French, Spanish), and because it is perceived as 'more trendy' than the straightforward syntax, more or less in the same way as the expression piuttosto che is now very often (and wrongly) used in place of o / oppure.

March 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/f.formica
Mod
  • 2142

"Italiano gastronomico" >.> I'm going to hate this new trend. That was a very interesting read though, thanks!

March 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dcarl1

Thanks to both of you. I find this very interesting, as this phrasing is one of the things I see new learners of Italian doing that I have always understood as a mistake.

April 1, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andresb_UY

I have no idea about greek language, but for italians, all that at the south of Rome "Non é Italia, é Africa" (detto per un italiano dalla Puglia) l´infuenza e molto diversa, no solo dall africa e non ha mai smesso di essere influenzata.

March 27, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dcarl1

Thanks to all who have responded. I had an absolutely hellish week at work, so have not been around much to respond to your your engaging and informative posts. I plan on catching up with real life (and Duolingo) this weekend!

April 1, 2018
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