Italian and dialects, a “happy bilingualism” threatened by “italiesco”

We don’t say “soszial”, but “social”. It’s not “syndicat”, but “union”!

I grumble in front of my television while listening to politicians or news presenters speaking not in Romanesco (dialect of the region of Rome) nor in any other dialect – all of which have the dignity of regional languages ​​– but in something else. A kind of tired Italian, spoken by Romans who no longer want to pronounce it as it should be.

We Italians would have at our disposal, if we felt like it, two languages, the dialect and Italian. A local language and another national. Very different from each other, and complementary. For generations, the dialect has been the mother tongue for many, the little music that rocked childhood, that of the playground, the sweet voice that welcomed all or almost all of us into the world. Italian, conversely, is the language of school, of work, of books, of the Constitution, in other words the language of adults. Italian is learned, unlike the dialect, which is assimilated, from early childhood, by osmosis or almost.

A generation or two ago, with the exception of those who were lucky enough to hear their first words in a cultured family (this is not the majority), we came into the world in the first language, the dialect. Only then did we arrive at the second, the national language. So there was a starting point and a finishing line. It was a path which passed mainly through school, work (except perhaps if one worked in a shop or in the street) and through the new social relations that it presupposed, and finally thanks to culture, which , as modest as it is, refers to the same common language, Italian. The dialect then declined, particularly in urban areas and among new generations, but it is still widely spoken and retains a strong power to contaminate the national language.

A piano sonata played on bagpipes

Although I am not a linguist, I have spent most of my life writing, speaking and listening to people speak. And my feeling, which I express here in the (slight) hope of being contradicted, is that this initial bilingualism, which was happy, threatens to be overwhelmed by an approximate hybrid language, more expeditious, more uneducated and much less full of promise. We could call it “italiesco”: it is no longer Romanesco (nor Venetian, Sicilian or Ligurian…) but it is far from being Italian. It’s a bit like listening to a piano sonata played on bagpipes: despite all the good will of the musician, we will criticize him or, worse, we will make fun of him if, with his biniou, he pretends to interpret Schubert for us.

What has made the situation much worse is a recent, unfortunate and yet significant hazard: the accession to power of Giorgia Meloni and her friends, whose common point is a stubborn regional accent. It would be picturesque if the collective idiom in question had not become the language of power. Because “Italiasco” has become the language of the president of the Council of Ministers of the Republic. This is food for thought.

The “italiesco” spoken in Rome therefore invades the entire public soundscape. But we also hear everywhere, and even in Parliament, from the Venetians, the Piedmontese, the Ligurians, the Sicilians and the Lombards, who are tired of complying with the Italian pronunciation – in their eyes as hostile as the Italian must have been. to be Latin for the tribes conquered by Rome – and who therefore speak their “ita

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