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

From:Vima Kadphises <vima_kadphises@...>
Date:Wednesday, June 28, 2000, 23:16
Mangiat <mangiat@...> wrote:
"Wow, you stayed here an year and you learned to speak one of those our helly
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'noš/ - 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
am too, had one foot in the grave, much like the 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

"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!).

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