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R: Bulgnais (was Re: Old Norse (was Re: New to the list))

From:Mangiat <mangiat@...>
Date:Thursday, June 29, 2000, 19:58
Carlo wrote:

"Wow, you stayed here an year and you learned to speak one of those our
difficult dialects? Really good! I don't like bulgnais, but I must admire
     I hope that I haven't misled you!  While I was in Bologna I did study
Bulgnais, but my command of the language is about as good as one would
expect from an American who studied in a European city for a year - maybe
less...  I know the key phrases and can read the dialect (I own a couple
books written in Bulgnais, including al vangeli secònd San Lócca [!]) but I
certainly couldn't hold my own in a conversation.  One of my professors
(Milanese, raised in Sicily) always used to say "Carlo, o nel sangue, o non
c'è;"  fortunately the standard dialect of Italian isn't as difficult as the
rest of them, or I don't know what I would have done! (As you know, exams at
the university level in Bologna are all oral and open to the public, and so
I was forced to defend myself, in Italian, through eight courses - before my
professor and fellow students, as well as anyone else who happened to wander
into the room that day).
     Like most cities in Northern Italy, Bologna is increasingly a
destination for immigrants, especially Chinese (the first time I entered a
Bolognese restaurant, "Perla d'Oriente," and was greeted in Italian by a
Chinese gentleman, I nearly fell flat on my face!).  There are smaller
numbers of Eastern Europeans and North Africans, and of course, meridionali.
This, combined with other social pressures, has spelled the end for the
dialect.  Very few speak it any more, and when they do, they will only use
it with their family and close friends.  This depressed me (I hate to see
languages "die") so I set about learning a little of the language by buying
a copy of Carlo Collodi's immortal classic translated in Bulgnais ("Pnôcc",
pronounced /p'nos/ - can anyone guess what this means?) suitable for
children learning the dialect.  I would also watch TV programming in
Bulgnais, late at night.  All of the actors were rather old and heavy-set,
and it seems that they, and their program too, had one foot in the grave,
much like the dialect.>>

The situation here's not much better. I leared my dialect (Cumasch
/ku'mask/) from the mouth of my grandma and from the books I have in my
library (my parents were both involved in an association, 'la famiglia
comasca', intended to preserv our dialect, so I have some good books to
study it). Nowadays young people don't use dialect anymore, and L1 speakers
are always fewer, unless completely absent. Last saturday I went for an MTB
trip in the country around the city, with my father, and we found a farm
where even a 20yrsold boy couldn't stand a dialog in Italian, but these
cases are very rare. In Switzerland and in the valleys the situation's
better: there you can find people with two degrees that *can't* speak
Italian and go on with dialect!!! As you, I don't like to see languages die,
and one of my projects is to put up on the www something about my dialect.

     As far as my personal feelings about Bulgnais, I have to agree, I don't
think it sounds very pleasant.  The people of Bologna seem to think that
their language sounds like French - to my ears, it has more of the sound of
Yiddish.  Now, don't get me wrong, ikh libe di mama-loshn, but Yiddish is
hardly everyone's choice for "the world's most beautiful language."
    How are your feelings about the standard dialect of Italian?  What are
the aspects that please you, as a native speaker, and what are the aspects
that you dislike?
Italian is quite a beautiful language, at least the standars language, based on the Tuscanian dialect. I simply love Tuscanian pronounciation, with all those frics, hhhaspirateds, and so on ( a famous exaple of their speech is this: 'voglio una CocaCola con la cannuccia' standard: /vOl_o una koka kola kon la kannuttSa/ Tusc./Oll_o una hoha hOla holla hannuSSa/) I absolutely dislike other central-southern dialects, only ItaloCeltic ones gain my taste. The standard dialect is very rich of expressions, and a thing I dislike are all those anglicisms of the modern speech. My father tries to replace every foreign word: for computer he uses elaboratore, but he hasn't a great success : ) << "I'd really like to enter a Departiment of Glottology or Linguistics, but what can you do today with a degree in those subjects? As I often say to my parents I'll get one of those degrees, in Philosophy or Linguistics, maybe Theology... to become an unemployed!" I don't know. I'm dealing with that now. Actually, my current goal is to become a house husband. As you can see, I have rather high aspirations. Too high, perhaps; a German colleague of mine has said in no uncertain terms that no one would ever marry me unless I had money (some of the other philologists refer to her as "Ilsa, She-Wolf of the S.S.," but I don't suppose anyone on this list would get the reference). There is always work in teaching languages. Many of the linguists that I know earn their living teaching ESL (English as a second language, aka EFL English as a foreign language). Most of them end up in East Asia, in some teaching capacity - but *I* wouldn't trust most of the linguists I know with impressionable youth (lock up your daughters!). -Chollie