Just Interesting ......
I recently found this video on Youtube, I obviously cant verify its validity but I feel sure its on point to some degree. While not been particularly educational it does highlight the many forms of Italian we may encounter. If someone could comment as to its accuracy that would be great. Enjoy....
Yes, it's pretty accurate: he mispronounced a couple of words himself, but the later examples all had native speakers. Just keep in mind that the actual granularity of languages is much finer than those maps would suggest, and for instance in Rome itself people speak a Tuscan dialect now: proper Romanesco started dying out around the Renaissance and went extinct shortly after WW2. Near my hometown there are 5 barely mutually intelligible languages in a range of just 20km.
Also, he chose some rather plain sentences: some of those languages have some pretty strange features, like the postponed clitic possessives in Neapolitan: "pat'm" means "my father", "pat't" is "your father" (spelling varies though). I'm not sure if it's a feature of Neapolitan proper, but some of its dialects have a "reverse vocative", e.g. my grandma called me as "a nnonna" (using her relation to me rather than mine).
An interesting reply, thanks for making it. I have a few friends in Napoli who speak no English at all ( other than “ok” ) If they speak standard Italian I can figure out what they are saying, but when they speak to each other,... Hmm, not a clue ! In the north of the UK, we tend to cut words short, just like in Napoli, so maybe for me it isnt such a challenge to learn Neapolitian as its a familiar concept. Here’s wishing.
On the first video, seeing how it went with Irish I'm not sure if teaching it in school would be a solution: many claim that's precisely what killed Irish. The truth is that there's no economic value attached to the language (both Irish and Neapolitan), so native speakers can't survive with that alone without also narrowing their social circle, and giving up most job opportunities.
I subscribe to F.Formica's comment.
Among the minor corrections and remarks I would make to the video, the most important one is that what are called "languages" are officially considered as "dialect groups", each of which can include up to 20 individual dialects (as I wrote several times, e.g. https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/29804214), on the grounds of four distinct sociolinguistic issues. Standard Italian is but an artificial language that was 'created' in the second half of the 1500s by scholars in order to allow mutual comprehension among the many linguistic regions. The idiom spoken in Tuscany by the cultural élite was used as a main template (this was still different from the dialect, spoken by the folk), in some cases adopting the Roman pronunciation instead of the Tuscan one, and adding some minor elements from other dialects.
The different spellings mentioned in the video depend on the fact that no dialect has a fixed set of spelling rules; the way a dialect is spelt merely aims at letting the reader understand how a spoken word should sound, by using the same spelling rules as in standard Italian (this is one clear difference between a dialect and an official language, which always has its own spelling rules). So, for instance, you can find the Neapolitan word pat't spelt as patete, patet', patətə (using a scwha), and so on. As long as the reader pronounces the word correctly, the spelling does its job.
With regard to the Romanesco dialect, it is true that it has changed in time more than other dialects have (for historical reasons), that it is no longer used for standard communication, and that it has been washed down with Italian and with juvenile slang (especially among younger people), but it is not extinct. In informal contexts it is still commonly spoken, and it is understood by a very large majority of locals. The latest dictionary was published in 1994, and Mmseiple has recently brought to my attention a 2011 translation in Romanesco of "The Little Prince". According to whom I am speaking with, I may use a milder variety rather than a broader one, otherwise I might not be understood (a younger speaker, in turn, may use a few slang words alien to my own vocabulary). However, Romanesco is considered the second closest dialect to standard Italian after the group of Tuscan ones (e.g. Florentine), and therefore much more intelligible by any non-local than a Friulian dialect, or a Sardinian one, or a Lombardic one, etc. If it were not so, some milestones in Italian filmmaking from the late 1940s (e.g. "Bicycle Thieves") to the 1960s (several ones directed by Pasolini) would be understood with great difficulty outside Rome.
Regarding the "proper" Romanesco being extinct, what I meant was an analysis that I heard several times, that the current dialect of Rome has almost no features of central Italian left, and for this reason at least some linguists prefer to call it "neo-romanesco" or "romano" and place it outside the Central Italian group and in the Tuscan family. How widely accepted this idea is in linguistics I'm not sure, but this quote places it even earlier: "Sul volgere del secolo XVI il vecchio romanesco può considerarsi estinto essendo subentrata in sua vece, anche nella parlata del popolo, una forma di toscano che dell'antica matrice linguistica conserva soltanto tracce più o meno marcate." (Mirella Pasquarelli Clivio, La formazione storica del perfetto forte nell'Italia meridionale, 1994, via google books). My memories were that the changes started around that time, due to the rise of a Florentine élite both in the ranks of the Church and in the bourgeoisie (e.g. bankers, artisans, merchants, doctors), but the process was gradual with some pockets (like the Jewish ghetto and i Castelli) resisting the Tuscanisation well into the 20th Century, and none surviving beyond the 50s. But I'm afraid I haven't read much literature on the topic.
The change from what M. Pasquarelli Clivio calls "vecchio romanesco" (known as "romanesco di prima fase", which shared some features with Neapolitan), into its more Tuscan-wise version ("romanesco di seconda fase") took place over about 150 years, starting from the second half of the 1400s. The popes hired artists and craftsmen mainly from Tuscany, who settled in Rome, giving birth to a large community, so numerous that the local language was gradually affected.
By the late 1500s the old Romanesco variety was not yet extinct. In a 1589 play called Stravaganze d'amore a peevish old servant still speaks this idiom; this means that some elderly natives still spoke the old variety, and that the public who attended the play could still understand it, but likely found it 'funny' (the old servant is a comic personage).
From the early 1600s, instead, all texts in dialect were written in the more Tuscan-wise variety. This variety kept evolving over the centuries, as a result of the influence of the many immigrants from the Papal State (mainly from the present Umbria and Marche regions) who kept settling in Rome.
When the city became the capital of the united Italian kingdom (1870), the rise of the new bourgeois class caused a further 'smoothening' of the spoken dialect (e.g. Pascarella's poems). This same variety remained almost unchanged over the 20th century, and was used by several authors up to the late 1970s (e.g. Bartolomeo Rossetti and Aldo Fabrizi); it is basically the same one spoken today, though now rarely in its broadest form (the mildest form is sometimes called "romanesco contemporaneo").
Instead, the peculiar dialect variety that was once spoken by the Jewish community in Rome (giudaico-romanesco), which had preserved a few archaic elements since the mid 1500s, is no longer spoken today. But a playwright called Alberto Pavoncello still writes and stages plays in this dialect, in the attempt of preserving it.
As a classification, modern Romanesco is indeed closer to the Tuscan group than many other dialects included in the median group; however, also Viterbese and Perugino share with Tuscan some features that Rome's dialect lacks.
I enjoy reading these little history lessons. Thanks Civis and Formica. Rome is a beautiful place, with many of the treasures and arts buried underground, off limts to the public. Like the Nymphaeum