Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Importance of Dialect in Cultural Identity

Part 1
Bon dì! Good day!

When I first moved to the Veneto, I quickly found myself not understanding a lot of conversation and communication during transactions in shops and restaurants because I didn't know any dialect. This initially happened in the city of Venice, which has a deep-rooted tradition and has maintained its local language. Venetian dialect is similar to Italian in ways but also profoundly different.

Examples of similarities:
Italian: Tu sei You are; Lei ha She has
Venetian Dialect: Ti xe (the "x" is pronounced like an English "z"); Ea ga

Examples of profound differences:
English: Money
Italian: Soldi
Venetian Dialect: Schei

After several months and with no help at all by my Venetian companions, I slowly and almost miraculously started to understand things and could even chime in, but always expressing myself in Italian, rather than trying to construct dialect forms properly.
Eventually I started to appreciate this local way of talking, especially for its expressions and certain vocabulary. Some makes special reference to the water, all around Venice, or another example recalls the city's Napoleanic domination during the 18th century.

ex) un franco referred to 1000 lire or now, 1 Euro--the monetary term referring to France and the "franc"

By learning dialect, I grasped more about the people and curried their favor, compared to other foreigners who do not stay around long enough to ever really understand these nuances.

(Part 1 of ongoing subject.)


  1. Good Morning! I happened across this blog, it's nice, but I have to correct you, I'm sorry. "Un franco" is not related to the Napoleonic Dominion. It's related to a coin in which the Emperor of Austria-Hungary Franz Joseph was portrayed.

  2. Brando, thank you for this information.