Regional Italian

Regional Italian (Italian: italiano regionale) is any regional[note 1] variety of the Italian language. Such regional varieties and standard Italian exist along a sociolect continuum, and are not to be confused with the local indigenous languages of Italy[note 2] that predate the national tongue or any regional variety thereof. The various forms of Regional Italian have phonological, morphological, syntactic, prosodic and lexical features which originate from the underlying substrate of the original language.

The various Tuscan, Corsican and Central Italian dialects are, to some extent, the closest ones to Standard Italian in terms of linguistic features, since the latter is based on a somewhat polished form of Florentine.

Regional Italian and the languages of Italy

The difference between Regional Italian and the actual languages of Italy, often imprecisely referred to as dialects, is exemplified by the following: in Venetian, the language spoken in Veneto, "we are arriving" would be translated into sémo drio rivàr, which is quite distinct from the Standard Italian stiamo arrivando. In the regional Italian of Veneto, the same expression would be stémo rivando or siamo dietro ad arrivare. The same relationship holds throughout the rest of Italy: the local dialect of standard Italian is usually influenced by the underlying regional language, which can be very different from Italian with regard to phonology, morphology, syntax, and vocabulary. Anyone who knows Standard Italian well can usually understand Regional Italian, while not managing to grasp the regional languages.

Origin

Many contemporary Italian regions already had different substrata before the conquest of Italy and the islands by the ancient Romans: Northern Italy had a Ligurian, a Venetic, and a Celtic substratum in the areas once known as Gallia Cisalpina "Gallia on this side of the Alps"; Central Italy had an Etruscan substratum; Southern Italy and Sicily had an Italic and Greek substratum; and finally, Sardinia had an indigenous (Nuragic) and Punic substratum. These languages in their respective territories contributed in creolising Latin, the official language of the Roman Empire.

Even though the Sicilian School, using the Sicilian language, had been prominent earlier, by the 14th century the Tuscan dialect of Florence had gained prestige once Dante Alighieri, Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch) and Giovanni Boccaccio all wrote major works in it: the Divina Commedia, the Canzoniere and the Decameron. Italian, defined as such, began to spread and be used as a literary and prestigious means of expression across the whole peninsula, Sicily and Corsica in the late Middle Ages; on the other hand, it would be introduced to Sardinia by a specific order only in the second half of the 18th century (1760), when the island's ownership passed over to the House of Savoy. It was up to Pietro Bembo, a Venetian, to identify Florentine as the language for the peninsula in the Prose nelle quali si ragiona della volgar lingua (1525), in which he set up Petrarch as the perfect model. Italian, however, was a literary language and so was a written rather than spoken language, except in Tuscany and Corsica.

The popular diffusion of a unified Italian language was the main goal of Alessandro Manzoni, who advocated for a single national language mainly derived from Florence's vernacular, with Lombard and Venetian inputs. Having lived in Paris for many years, Manzoni had noticed that French (defined as the capital's dialect) was a very lively language, spoken by ordinary people in the city's streets. On the other hand, the only Italian city where even the commoners spoke something similar to literary Italian was Florence, so he thought that Italians should choose Florentine as the basis for the national language.

The Italian Peninsula's history of fragmentation and colonization by foreign powers (especially France, Spain and Austria-Hungary) between the fall of the Western Roman Empire and its unification in 1861 played a considerable role in further jeopardizing the linguistic situation. When the unification process took place, the newly founded country used Italian mainly as a literary language. Many Romance and non-Romance regional languages were spoken throughout the Italian Peninsula and the islands, each with their own local dialects. Following Italian unification Massimo Taparelli, marquis d'Azeglio, one of Cavour's ministers, is said to have stated that while Italy had been created, there still was to create Italians (that is, a common national identity).

Italian as a spoken language was born in two "linguistic labs"[1] consisting of the metropolitan areas in Milan and Rome, which functioned as magnets for internal migration. Immigrants were only left with the national language as a lingua franca to communicate with both the locals and other immigrants. After unification, Italian started to be taught at primary schools and its use by ordinary people increased considerably, along with mass literacy. The regional dialects of Italian, as a product of standard Italian clashing with the regional languages, were also born.

The various regional languages would be retained by the population as their normal means of expression until the 1950s, when breakthroughs in literacy and the advent of TV broadcasting made Italian become more and more widespread, usually in its regional varieties.

Current usage

Italy

The solution to the so-called language question, which concerned Manzoni, came to the nation as a whole in the second half of the 20th century by television, as its widespread adoption as a popular household appliance in Italy was the main factor in helping all Italians learn the common national language regardless of class or education level.

At roughly the same time, many southerners moved to the north to find jobs. The powerful trade unions successfully campaigned against the use of dialects to maintain unity among the workers. The use of Standard Italian helped the southerners, whose "dialects" were not mutually intelligible with those of northerners, assimilate. The large number of mixed marriages, especially in large industrial cities such as Milan and Turin, resulted in a generation that could speak only Standard Italian and usually only partly understand their parents' "dialects".

Diaspora

Primarily within North American Italian diaspora communities, Italian dialects that have nearly died out in Italy have been preserved in several major cities across Australia, Canada and the United States. That is due, in large part, to older-generation immigrants, often with low levels of education, having left Italy during or before World War II and maintaining little contact with either Italy or Standard Italian. A significant number of endangered dialects have survived, passed on from one generation to another to varying degrees. They have kept innumerable archaisms as well as adopted linguistic features and lexical borrowings from American English, Canadian English, Canadian French, and Latin American Spanish, respective to the milieu of the individual community in question.

To a much smaller degree, a similar situation occurred in Middle Eastern-Italian communities, namely those of Egypt and Lebanon, as well as South American-Italian diasporas in Argentina and Brazil. Italian diasporas within Europe tend to maintain much stronger ties with Italy and also have easier access to Italian television, which almost exclusively broadcasts in the standard language.

La spezia-rimini line
Rimini-La Spezia line

Characteristics of regional Italian

Establishing precise boundaries is very difficult in linguistics, and this operation at the limit can be accomplished for individual phenomena (such as the realization of a sound), but not for all of them: it is necessary to proceed in part by abstractions. In general, an isogloss is an imaginary line that marks the boundary of a linguistic phenomenon. The line traditionally referred to as La Spezia-Rimini (though it is currently moving to the Massa-Senigallia line) is an important isogloss for Southern Europe, which delimits a continuum of languages and dialects characterized by similar phenomena that differ from others for these same phenomena.

This imaginary line is used here to define not only a boundary between dialect groups, but also between Northern regional Italian on the one hand and Central and Southern regional Italian on the other. Other well-defined areas are the Tuscan, the extreme Southern Italian (comprising the peninsular part of Calabria, Salento and Sicily), and finally the Sardinian ones.

Based on borders like La Spezia-Rimini, here are the most well-identified groups of regional Italian.

Northern Italy

Northern regional Italian is characterized by a different distribution of the open and closed e and o ([e, ɛ, o, ɔ]) compared to the Florentine model, particularly evident in Milan, where the open e is pronounced at the end of the word (perché [perˈkɛ]) or in the word body in closed syllable (i.e. followed by consonant: stesso [ˈstɛsːo]) and the closed e in word body in open syllable (i.e. not followed by consonant: bene [ˈbeːne]). Except for the extreme Ligurian Levante, in Liguria, and especially in the capital, there is the opposite phenomenon: there is a tendency to close all the e even where the Italian standard does not envisage it. In Genoa for example the names Mattèo, Irène, Emanuèle and the name of the city itself are pronounced with the closed e; Moreover, there is no difference in the pronunciation of the word pesca either to mean "peach" (standard [ˈpɛska]) and "fishing" (standard [ˈpeska]).

A characteristic of the North in opposition to the South is the almost always voiced ([z]) consonant in intervocalic position, whereas in the south it is always voiceless: [ˈkɔːza] vs. [ˈkɔːsa]. Also in opposition to the south, the north is characterized by the reduction of phonosyntactic doubling at the beginning of the word (after vowels) and the almost total abandonment of the preterite tense in verb forms as it is not present in the majority of Gallo-italic languages (they are replaced by the present perfect).

Widespread use of determiners before feminine names (la Giulia) is also noted in almost all the north while the determiner coupled with male names (il Carlo) is typical of the Po Valley.

In the northern vocabulary words like anguria (also common in Sardinia and Sicily), which means "watermelon", instead of cocomero, bologna for mortadella (but not everywhere), piuttosto che ("rather than") in the sense of "or" and not "instead", etc. are in use. The last, in particular, is a custom that has begun to spread also in other areas of Italy, stirring up linguistic concern,[2] as it is used with a semantic sense in contrast to that of standard Italian.

Tuscany

In Tuscany and especially in Florence, the Tuscan gorgia is very well known. That is, the lenition of the occlusive consonants in the post-vocalic position, including at the beginning of the word if the previous word ends up by vowel: la casa "the house" [la ˈhaːsa], even to its total disappearance. Also phonological in nature are forms without the diphthong uo of Standard Italian (ova, scola, bona, foco instead of uova, scuola, buona, fuoco), while in the syntax a tripartite system of demonstrative adjectives is in use: questo ("this") to indicate something close to the speaker (first person), codesto (lost in other varieties) for something close to the contact person (second person), or quello "that" for something far from both (third person). A Tuscan stereotype is use of forms resembling the impersonal for the first person plural: (noi) si va instead of noi andiamo ("we are going"), past tense (noi) si è andati, and use of te rather than tu as second person singular subject pronoun: Te che fai stasera? rather than Tu che fai stasera? ("What are you doing tonight?"). Also typical of several areas including Tuscany is the use of the article before a female given name (la Elena, la Giulia); such use passed from Tuscany to other regions when used before the surname of well-known people, particularly of the past (il Manzoni). In the vocabulary there is the use of spenge instead of spegne ("extinguishes") or words like balocco instead of giocattolo ("toy"), busse instead of percosse or botte ("beatings"), rena instead of sabbia ("sand"), cencio instead of panno ("cloth").

The Tuscan historical dialects (including Corsican) belong to the same linguistic system as Italian, with few substantial morphological, syntactic or lexical differences compared to the standard language. As a result, unlike further from Tuscany in Italy, there are no major obstacles to mutual intelligibility of the local Romance languages and Regional Italian.

Central and Southern Italy

Central and Southern regional Italian is characterized by the usage of the affricate consonants in place of fricatives after nasal consonants (insomma [inˈtsomːa] instead of [inˈsomːa]), and by the doubling of the g's and b's (abile [ˈabːi.le] instead of [ˈaːbi.le], regina [reˈdːʒiːna] instead of [reˈdʒiːna]). A popular trait in the everyday southern speech is the usage of the apocope of the final syllable of the words, (ma' for mamma "mom", professo' for professore "professor", compa' for compare "buddy, homie" etc.).

In continental Southern Italy there is a different distribution of closed and open vowels (The pronounce "giòrno" with an open o is very widespread in Campania for example), while in Calabria, Salento and Sicily closed vowels are completely missing and speakers just pronounce open vowels ([ɛ, ɔ]), while in the other regions the discrepancies with the pronunciation Standards are minor (albeit relevant) and non-homogeneous; on the Adriatic side is more evident, as in certain areas of central-east Abruzzo (Chieti-Sulmona), largely in central-northern Apulia (Foggia-Bari-Taranto), and in eastern Basilicata (Matera) where it is present The so-called "syllabic isocronism": free syllable vowels are all pronounced closed and those in close syllables all open (see the well-known example un póco di pòllo instead of un pòco di póllo "a bit of chicken"); Even in the Teramo area (northern Abruzzo), and up to Pescara, the vowels are pronounced with a single open sound (for example dove volete andare stasera? [ˈdɔːvɛ vɔˈlɛːtɛ anˈdaːrɛ staˈsɛːra], Thus showing an inexplicable coincidence with the phonetic outcomes of Sicily and Calabria, although there is no direct link with them. As already mentioned here, the intervocalic s is always voiced, and the use of the preterite is also frequent instead of the use of the present perfect. In continental southern Italy, from Rome down to Calabria, possessive pronouns often are placed after the noun: for example il libro mio instead of il mio libro ("my book").

Another characteristic of regional Italian varieties in central and southern Italy is deaffrication of /tʃ/ between vowels, both word-internally and across word boundaries. In almost all peninsular Italy from Tuscany to Sicily luce is pronounced [ˈluːʃe] rather than [ˈluːtʃe], la cena is pronounced [la ˈʃeːna] instead of [la ˈtʃeːna] as it is pronounced in northern Italy and in standard Italian.

Sardinia

Based on the significant linguistic distance between the Sardinian language (and any other traditionally spoken by the islanders) and Italian, the Sardinian-influenced Italian emerging from the contact between such languages is to be considered a group of its own and its features can not be directly ascribed to either the Northern or the Southern Italian varieties.[3] It is to be pointed out that, while the Sardinian phonetics and the introduction of Sardinian words in a full Italian conversation are prevalent, especially if they are Italianised in the process (e.g. tzurpu "blind", scimpru "dumb" and babbu "father" becoming ciurpo, scimpro and babbo respectively), the regional Sardinian variety of Italian embracing the most diverging syntactic and morphological changes is placed on the low end of the diastratic spectrum, and its usage (while relatively common among the less educated) is not positively valued by both the bilingual Sardinian speakers, who regard it as neither Sardinian nor Italian and nickname it italianu porcheddìnu ("piggy Italian", standing for "broken Italian"), and the Italian monolinguals from Sardinia and the other parts of the country.

Sardinianised Italian is marked by the prevalence, even in the common speech, of the verb's inversion, following rules of Sardinian (and Latin as well) but not Italian, which uses a subject-verb-object structure. The (often auxiliary) verb usually ends up at the end of the sentence, especially in exclamatory and interrogative sentences (e.g. Uscendo stai?, literally "Going out are you?", from the Sardinian Essinde ses?, instead of Stai uscendo?; Studiando stavo! "Been studying have I!", from Istudiende fia!, instead of Stavo studiando!; Legna vi serve? "In need of some wood are you?" from Linna bos serbit?, instead of Avete bisogno di un po' di legna?). It is also common for the interrogative sentences to use a pleonastic tutto "all", from the Sardinian totu, like in Cosa tutto hai visto? "What all have you seen?" from Ite totu as bidu? compared with the standard Italian Cosa hai visto?. The present continuous makes use of the verb essere "to be" like in English rather than stare (e.g. Sempre andando e venendo è! "Always walking up and down she/he is!" from Semper/Sempri andande e beninde est! compared with the standard Italian Sta sempre andando e venendo!): that is because the present continuous built with verb stare does not, in such regional variety, express the idea of an action ongoing at a certain point, but rather something that will take place in the very near future, almost on the point of happening (e.g. Sto andando a scuola with the meaning of "I'm about to go to school" rather than "Right now as we speak, I'm going to school"). It is also common to use antiphrastic formulas which are alien to Italian,[4] by means of the particle già (Sard. jai / giai) which is similar to the German use of ja... schon especially for ironic purposes, in order to convey sardonic remarks (e.g. Già sei tutto studiato, tu! "You're so well educated!" from Jai ses totu istudiatu, tue! which roughly stands for "You are so ignorant and full of yourself!", or Già è poco bello! "He/It is not so beautiful!" from Jai est pacu bellu! meaning actually "He/It is so beautiful!"). One also needs to take into consideration the presence of a number of other Sardinian-specific idiomatic phrases being literally translated into Italian (like Cosa sembra? "What does it look like?" from Ite paret? meaning "How do you do?" compared to the standard Italian Come stai?, Mi dice sempre cosa! "She/He's always scolding me!" from the Sardinian Semper cosa mi narat! compared to the standard Italian Mi rimprovera sempre!, or again Non fa! "No chance!" from Non fachet! / Non fait! compared to standard Italian Non si può!), that would make little sense to an Italian speaker from another region.

As mentioned earlier, a significant number of Sardinian and other local loanwords (be they Italianised or not) are also present in such regional dialect of Italian (e.g. scacciacqua from the Sardinian parabba / paracua "raincoat", continente "Mainland" and continentale "Mainlander" with reference to the rest of the country and its people as well,[5] etc.).

Some words may even reflect ignorance of the original language on the speaker's part when referring to a singular noun in Italian with Sardinian plurals, due to a lack of understanding of how singular and plurals nouns are formed in Sardinian: common mistakes are "una seadas", "un tenores", etc.

Finally, for what regards phonetics, the regional Italian spoken in Sardinia follows the same five-vowel system of the Sardinian language without length differentiation, rather than the standard Italian seven-vowel system. Metaphony has also been observed: any tonic e and o ([e, o]) have a closed sound whenever they are followed by a closed vowel (i, u), and they have it open if they are followed by an open one (a, e, o). Hypercorrection is also common when applying the Italian rule of syntactic gemination; intervocalic t, p, v, c are usually elongated. Intervocalic /s/ voicing is the same of Northern Italy, that is [z].

Notes

  1. ^ Regional in the broad sense of the word; not to be confused with the Italian endonym regione for Italy's administrative units
  2. ^ Notwithstanding their linguistic status, most of the actual languages of Italy (with particular reference to the non-recognised ones) are called "dialects" (dialetti) by the general population.

References

  1. ^ Tullio De Mauro, Storia linguistica dell'Italia unita, Bari, Laterza, 1963.
  2. ^ Uso di piuttosto che con valore disgiuntivo, Accademia della Crusca
  3. ^ L'italiano nelle regioni, Treccani
  4. ^ Retorica e italiano regionale: il caso dell'antifrasi nell'italiano regionale sardo, Cristina Lavinio, in Cortelazzo & Mioni 1990
  5. ^ Antonietta Dettori, 2007, Tra identità e alterità. “Continente” e “continentale” in Sardegna, in Dialetto, memoria & fantasia, Atti del Convegno (Sappada / Plodn, 28 giugno - 2 luglio 2006), a cura di G. Marcato, Padova, Unipress, pp. 393-403.

Bibliography

  • Avolio, Francesco: Lingue e dialetti d'Italia, Rome: Carocci, 2009.
  • Berruto, Gaetano: Sociolinguistica dell'italiano contemporaneo, Rome: Carocci, 2012.
  • Bruni, Francesco: L'italiano nelle regioni, Turin: UTET, 1992.
  • Canepari. Luciano. 1983. Italiano standard a pronunce regionali. Padova: CLEUP.
  • Cardinaletti, Anna and Nicola Munaro, eds.: Italiano, italiani regionali e dialetti, Milan: Franco Angeli, 2009.
  • Comrie, Bernard, Matthews, Stephen and Polinsky, Maria: The Atlas of Languages: The Origin and Development of Languages Throughout the World. Rev. ed., New York 2003.
  • Cortelazzo, Manlio and Carla Marcato, Dizionario etimologico dei dialetti italiani, Turin: UTET libreria, 2005, ISBN 88-7750-039-5.
  • Devoto, Giacomo and Gabriella Giacomelli: I dialetti delle regioni d'Italia, Florence: Sansoni Editore, 1971 (3rd edition, Tascabili Bompiani, 2002).
  • Grassi, Corrado, Alberto A. Sobrero and Tullio Telmon: Fondamenti di dialettologia italiana, Bari: Laterza, 2012.
  • Grimes, Barbara F. (ed.): Ethnologue: Languages of the World. Vol. 1, 2000.
  • Hall, Robert A. Jr.: External History of the Romance Languages, New York: Elsevier, 1974.
  • Haller, Hermann W.: The Hidden Italy: A Bilingual Edition of Italian Dialect Poetry, Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1986.
  • Loporcaro, Michele: Profilo linguistico dei dialetti italiani, Bari: Laterza, 2009.
  • Maiden, Martin and Parry, Mair, eds.: The Dialects of Italy, London: Routledge, 1997.
  • Maiden, Martin: A Linguistic History of Italian, London: Longman, 1995.
  • Marcato, Carla: Dialetto, dialetti e italiano, Bologna: il Mulino, 2002.
  • Rognoni, Andrea: Grammatica dei dialetti della Lombardia, Oscar Mondadori, 2005.
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Dialect

The term dialect (from Latin dialectus, dialectos, from the Ancient Greek word διάλεκτος, diálektos, "discourse", from διά, diá, "through" and λέγω, légō, "I speak") is used in two distinct ways to refer to two different types of linguistic phenomena:

One usage refers to a variety of a language that is a characteristic of a particular group of the language's speakers. Under this definition, the dialects or varieties of a particular language are closely related and, despite their differences, are most often largely mutually intelligible, especially if close to one another on the dialect continuum. The term is applied most often to regional speech patterns, but a dialect may also be defined by other factors, such as social class or ethnicity. A dialect that is associated with a particular social class can be termed a sociolect, a dialect that is associated with a particular ethnic group can be termed an ethnolect, and a geographical/regional dialect may be termed a regiolect (alternative terms include 'regionalect', 'geolect', and 'topolect'). According to this definition, any variety of a given language constitutes "a dialect", including any standard varieties. In this case, the distinction between the "standard language" (i.e. the "standard" dialect of a particular language) and the "nonstandard" dialects of the same language is often arbitrary and based on social, political, cultural, or historical considerations. In a similar way, the definitions of the terms "language" and "dialect" may overlap and are often subject to debate, with the differentiation between the two classifications often grounded in arbitrary and/or sociopolitical motives.

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Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy

Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic

Italian language, a Romance language

Regional Italian, regional variants of the Italian language

Languages of Italy, languages and dialects spoken in Italy

Italian culture, cultural features of Italy

Italian cuisine, traditional foods

Folklore of Italy, the folklore and urban legends of Italy

Mythology of Italy, traditional religion

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Prominent American chefs and cooks working in the Italian-American tradition include Giada De Laurentiis, Mario Batali, Michael Chiarello, Frank Pellegrino, Rocco DiSpirito, Tom Colicchio, and Lidia Bastianich.

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Italian dialects

Italian dialects may refer to:

Regional Italian, the modern regional varieties of the Italian language, arisen from Standard Italian as influenced by the regional languages or dialects

Italo-Dalmatian languages, specifically:

Tuscan language

Central Italian

Neapolitan language

Sicilian language (Siculo-Calabrese and Salentino)

Gallo-Italic languages, specifically:

Piedmontese language

Ligurian (Romance language)

Lombard language

Emilian-Romagnol language

Gallo-Italic of Sicily

Gallo-Italic of Basilicata

Venetian language (classification uncertain)

Italian language

Italian (italiano [itaˈljaːno] (listen) or lingua italiana [ˈliŋɡwa itaˈljaːna]) is a Romance language of the Indo-European language family. Italian descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, and together with Sardinian, is by most measures the closest language to it of the Romance languages. Italian is an official language in Italy, Switzerland (where it is the first language in Canton Ticino and in the districts of Moesa and Bernina in Canton Graubünden), San Marino and Vatican City. It has an official minority status in western Istria (Croatia and Slovenia). It formerly had official status in Albania, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro (Kotor) and Greece (Ionian Islands and Dodecanese), and is generally understood in Corsica (also due to the similarities with the Corsican language) and Savoie. It also used to be an official language in the former Italian East Africa and Italian North Africa, where it still plays a significant role in various sectors. Italian is also spoken by large expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia. Italian is included under the languages covered by the European Charter for Regional or Minority languages in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Romania, although Italian is neither a co-official nor a regional or a traditional language in these countries, where Italians do not represent a historical minority. In the case of Romania, Italian is listed by the Government along 10 other languages which supposedly receive a "general protection", but not between those which should be granted an "advanced or enhanced" one. Many speakers of Italian are native bilinguals of both Italian (either in its standard form or regional dialects) and other regional languages.Italian is a major European language, being one of the official languages of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and one of the working languages of the Council of Europe. It is the fourth most widely spoken first language in the European Union with 69 million native speakers (13% of the EU population) and it is spoken as a second language by 16 million EU citizens (3%). Including Italian speakers in non-EU European countries (such as Switzerland and Albania) and on other continents, the total number of speakers is around 90 million. Italian is the main working language of the Holy See, serving as the lingua franca (common language) in the Roman Catholic hierarchy as well as the official language of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Italian is known as the language of music because of its use in musical terminology and opera. Its influence is also widespread in the arts and in the luxury goods market.

Italian was adopted by the state after the Unification of Italy, having previously been a literary language based on Tuscan as spoken mostly by the upper class of Florentine society. Its development was also influenced by other Italian languages and to some minor extent, by the Germanic languages of the post-Roman invaders. The incorporation into Italian of learned words from its own ancestor language, Latin, is another form of lexical borrowing through the influence of written language, scientific terminology and the liturgical language of the Church. Throughout the Middle Ages and into the early modern period, most literate Italians were also literate in Latin; and thus they easily adopted Latin words into their writing—and eventually speech—in Italian. Its vowels are the second-closest to Latin after Sardinian. As in most Romance languages, stress is distinctive but, unlike most other Romance languages, Italian retains Latin's contrast between short and long consonants. Almost all words and syllables finish with pure vowels, a factor that makes Italian words extremely easy to use in rhyming. Italian has a 7 vowel sound system ('e' and 'o' have mid-low and mid-high sounds); Classical Latin had 10, 5 with short and 5 with long sounds.

Italian poetry

Italian poetry is a category of Italian literature.

Languages of Italy

There are approximately thirty-four native living spoken languages and related dialects in Italy, most of which are indigenous evolutions of Vulgar Latin, and are therefore classified as Romance languages. Although they are sometimes referred to as regional languages, there is no uniformity within any Italian region, and speakers from one locale within a region are typically aware of the features distinguishing their local tongue from one of the other places nearby. The official and most widely spoken language across the country is Italian, a direct descendant of Tuscan.

Almost all the Romance languages native to Italy, with the notable exception of Italian, are often colloquially referred to as "dialects", although for some of them the term may coexist with other labels like "minority languages" or "vernaculars". However, the use of the term "dialect" to refer to the languages of Italy may erroneously imply that these native languages spoken in Italy are actual "dialects" of standard Italian in the prevailing linguistic sense of "varieties or variations of a language". This is not the case regarding the longstanding languages of Italy, as they are not varieties of standard Italian. Most of the local Romance languages of Italy predate Italian and evolved locally from Vulgar Latin, independently of what would become the standard national language, long before the fairly recent spread of Standard Italian throughout Italy. In fact, Italian itself can be thought of as either a continuation of, or a dialect heavily based on, Florentine Tuscan. The indigenous local Romance languages of Italy are therefore classified as separate languages that evolved from Latin mostly independently of Italian, rather than "dialects" or variations of it. Conversely, with the spread of Standard Italian throughout Italy in the 20th century, local varieties of Standard Italian have also developed throughout the peninsula, influenced to varying extents by the underlying local languages, most noticeably at the phonological level; though regional boundaries seldom correspond to isoglosses distinguishing these varieties, these variations on Standard Italian are commonly referred to as Regional Italian (italiano regionale).

Other Italian languages belong to other Indo-European branches, such as Cimbrian (Germanic), Arbëresh (Albanian), the Slavomolisano dialect of Serbo-Croatian (Slavic), and Griko (Hellenic). Other non-indigenous languages are spoken by a substantial percentage of the population due to immigration.

Lasagne

Lasagne (, also UK: , Italian: [laˈzaɲɲe]; singular lasagna) are a type of wide, flat pasta, possibly one of the oldest types of pasta. Lasagne, or the singular lasagna, commonly refers to a culinary dish made with stacked layers of pasta alternated with sauces and ingredients such as meats, vegetables and cheese, and sometimes topped with melted grated cheese. Typically, the cooked pasta is assembled with the other ingredients and then baked in an oven. The resulting lasagne casserole is cut into single-serving square portions.

Testaroli

Testaroli, sometimes referred to as testarolo, is a type of pasta or bread in Italian cuisine that is prepared using water, flour and salt, which is sliced into triangular shapes. A common dish in the Lunigiana region and historical territory of Italy, it is an ancient pasta originating from the Etruscan civilization of Italy. Testaroli has been described as "the earliest recorded pasta." It is also a native dish of the southern Liguria and northern Tuscany regions of Italy.

Testaroli is prepared from a batter that is cooked on a hot flat surface, after which it may be consumed. It is traditionally cooked on a testo, a flat terra cotta or cast iron cooking surface from which the food's name is derived. It is sometimes cooked further in boiling water and then served. Testaroli is sometimes referred to as a bread, similar to focaccia in composition, and is sometimes referred to as a crêpe. It may be dressed with pesto sauce or other ingredients such as olive oil, Pecorino cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and garlic. Falsi testaroli al ragu is a similar dish prepared using sliced pasta dough and a ragù sauce.

Trecento

The Trecento (, also US: , Italian: [treˈtʃɛnto]; short for milletrecento, "1300") refers to the 14th century in Italian cultural history.

Veniero's

Veniero's Pasticceria & Caffé is an Italian bakery that was established in 1894, and is located at 342 East 11th Street (between First Avenue and Second Avenue), in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City.Founded by Antonio Veniero of Sorrento, the bakery was opened as a pool emporium and caffé where Veniero served his baked products to customers. The demand for his pastries and cakes won him awards in Rome, Bologna and the New York World's Fair. The bakery has been continuously owned and operated by the Veniero family since its founding. In 1984 the family added an adjoining warm enclave, with a ceiling of stained-glass panels and the original pressed tin. Frank Zerilli changed the oven from coal to gas by the 1980s as well, and more recently Veniero's began selling carb-free cheesecakes and sugar-free cookies.Veniero's is famous for its traditional and regional Italian confections, including handmade Italian butter cookies, biscotti, cannoli, sfogliatelle, tiramisù, and its New York staple cheesecake.Veniero's was featured in the first New York City episode of Food Network's Road Tasted and has been featured on many other shows, including ABC's Good Morning America and Live with Regis and Kelly, and Steve Schirripa's Hungry on the cable channel Mag Rack. The bakery has also been the location for scenes on NBC's Law & Order. It was also featured on HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm season 8, episode 76, in a comedic plot where the main character uses the bakery's hard crust Italian bread as an improvised weapon.

In 2010, Veniero's was named the winner for the Best Desserts in New York City by AOL's City's Best website. Furthermore, some food tour companies visit Veniero's as part of their programs.

Ziti

Ziti is an extruded pasta. It is smaller than rigatoni, but larger than mezzani. Ziti may have smooth sides, but the addition of the word rigati (meaning "ridged") denotes lines or ridges on the pasta's outer surface. Ziti is similar to penne, but often has ends cut in a straight line versus diagonally. Penne are usually a little narrower and the ends are cut diagonally, suggesting a quill pen. Ziti are often stuffed and baked, where penne are sauced or used in pasta salads. Ziti in the US is most commonly associated with the Italian-American dish of baked ziti. Penne are sauced or used in pasta salads.

Ziti is the plural form of zito, Regional Italian for "bridegroom".

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