How close is the Roman dialect of Italy to Latin

bubbyx

Member
Vietnamese
As I explained before, mainly because there was not - during all of the Middle Ages -a comparable literature or cultural tradition in Rome with respect to Florence.
Anyhow, nowadays the Florentine dialect has partly deviated from its original form and pronunciation, so that in Florence today you can find the Italian language (standard) and the Florentine dialect (similar to Italian, but not identical - especially in pronunciation: e.g. initial c pronounced h in certain conditions....).
And for the 'defense' of the Roman speech, I would like to add that there is a sort of proverb defining which is the very best Italian pronunciation, which sounds ''lingua toscana in bocca romana'' (Tuscan language as spoken by a Roman mouth).

Does this mean Italians look up to the Roman pronunciation? Would you say Roman accent is considered attractive/desirable? Also do Italians think of modern Romans as descendents of ancient Romans?
 
  • berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Does this mean Italians look up to the Roman pronunciation? Would you say Roman accent is considered attractive/desirable? Also do Italians think of modern Romans as descendents of ancient Romans?
    I think you have a slightly distorted view who the "ancient Romans" were. Already during the existence of the Roman Empire, since the end of the period we today call the Principate in the early 3rd century, the identity of being "Roman" wasn’t attached to the city any more. The imperial court was first in Milan and later the Eastern court in Constantinople and the Western court in Ravenna and the Senate, who stayed in Rome, was effectively reduced in power it a kind of city council. In the last period of the empire, the city had little more importance than being the seat of the Papacy.

    The Italian identity of being the decedents of the ancient Romans never had too much to do with the city itself.
     

    bearded

    Senior Member
    Does this mean Italians look up to the Roman pronunciation? Would you say Roman accent is considered attractive/desirable? Also do Italians think of modern Romans as descendents of ancient Romans?
    I would say that there is nowadays an Italian standard pronunciation valid for all of Italy, and Roman accent is close to it but not identical. No regional accent in Italy corresponds to the standard accent at 100%, but the Roman accent is very clear and - together with Florentine accent and the accent of other regions in Central Italy (Umbria...) - it belongs to the local speeches that are nearest to the standard language. In addition, many TV programmes are produced in Rome, so the Roman accent is well-known all over Italy due to TV movies... The situation of the language in Italy is complicated, as in all regions you have to distinguish between accent and dialect. Italians speaking the language with their own regional accent will be understood everywhere, if on the contrary someone speaks a dialect, he will not be understood by all Italians.
    As for the Romans, ancient Romans conquered a big empire, and soldiers and administrators settled down everywhere in it, consequently a bit of Roman blood is present in almost all of Europe and Northern Africa and other places... And so much mingling with original Italian populations (Etruscans, Gauls, Osci, Volsci, Samnites, Sabini) and so many invasions and foreign dominations (Langobards, Franks, Normans, later Spaniards, Frenchmen) have taken place in Italy over the centuries, that no Italians - not even Romans - can affirm to be the only authentical descendants of ancient Romans.
     
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    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I think the former is the case: adopted as standard because it is/was so easily understood, as well as for literary-prestige reasons as I wrote before. The Florentine dialect had been well and easily understood long before it was adopted as standard register. An example: comedies by the well-known playwright Goldoni were written in Venetian dialect - which in the 18th century still was the official language and the standard register in the Republic of Venice. But some characters in those comedies came to Venice from other parts of Italy, and when they spoke the Florentine dialect, inhabitants of Venice could understand them without problems. Florentine already had an immense cultural prestige and was well understood, but was not yet the standard register in Italy.
    I am still sceptical. In the 18th century, the Toscan based language of Dante and Boccacio had long been established as the literary prestige dialect even if it wasn't official language yet in Venice and many other Italian states. You would still assume familiarity with that language by educated people who attended performances of his theatre and opera works.

    I agree, though, that from a phonological perspective, this language has many advantages, an evenly spaced set of 7 vowels and no diphthongs and well distinguished consonants. Still, I think familiarity is more important for easy understanding. Take, e.g., the urban Swiss German dialects as they are spoken in Zürich or Basel that are not so laden with very local dialect expressions as rural dialects; Germans unfamiliar with Swiss German hardly understand a single sentence; it is even difficult to recognize as a German dialect at all. After exposure to it for several weeks, just for a listening and not actively learning it, you wonder why you ever had difficulties understanding it.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    Hmmm tien, vien, haz, diz rather resemble their portugues counter parts tem, vem, faz, diz. Was there no "Restoration" movement in Portugal?
    Final -n(e)/-n(o) had a particular evolution in Portuguese due to nasalization: Pan(e) > pão, san(o) > são (written with til or m), so it's hard to reinstate Latin final vowels when so much has been changed. It's like the initial f- which had become h- in Spanish, you can succeed in imposing the Latin origins in learned words like fondo/hondo, forma/horma but such common words like hacer and hablar were lost cases. Other than that you are right there are many -er verbs in Portuguese that lack the final vowel that is now always present in Spanish: quer (quiere) comes to mind as well. Besides these examples in nasalization and certain -er verbs I tend to think Portuguese as conservative. In many other cases the -e is present in writing though mute, like the -dade endings and other -er verbs like escreve, come or a pronoun like ele. Rather than reinstating, I think they weren't ever lost. Spanish went through a stage when they were taken off, then put back on.

    I agree, though, that from a phonological perspective, this language has many advantages, an evenly spaced set of 7 vowels and no diphthongs and well distinguished consonants..
    Standard Tuscan does have diphthongs. Think of buono, and pietra. Many regional dialects lack them though.
     
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    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    In many other cases the -e is present in writing though mute, like the -dade endings and other -er verbs like escreve, come or a pronoun like ele.

    But in Brazil it is pronounced. Portuguese orthography is made for both variants. I think that, if Portuguese weren't spoken in Brazil, probably Portuguese orthography would have been similar to Spanish orthography.

    Standard Tuscan does have diphthongs. Think of buono, and pietra. Many regional dialects lack them though.

    It depends. Modern Tuscan had diphthongs but contemporary Tuscan (dialect) has monophthongs.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    But in Brazil it is pronounced. Portuguese orthography is made for both variants. I think that, if Portuguese weren't spoken in Brazil, probably Portuguese orthography would have been similar to Spanish orthography.
    I doubt Brazilian pronunciation was taken into account in spelling until very recent times. That was determined in Coimbra and Lisbon.
    It depends. Modern Tuscan had diphthongs but contemporary Tuscan (dialect) has monophthongs.
    Can you give me an example of how these diphthongs have become monophthongs?
    Berndf said:
    Buono = /ˈbwɔno/
    Yes, diphthongs always have a [w] or [j] element to them. Triphthongs have both.
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
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    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    Not at all. Buono contains no more a diphthong than "warm".

    Italian has both rising and falling diphthongs. When i or u precede another vowel they are pronounced together with the first element reduced to [j] or [w] and rising into the following vowel. See this article.
    I dittonghi ascendenti possibili sono:

    /ja/ come in piano
    /je/ come in ateniese
    /jɛ/ come in biella
    /jo/ come in fiore
    /jɔ/ come in piove
    /ju/ come in più
    /wa/ come in guado
    /we/ come in quello
    /wɛ/ come in guerra
    /wi/ come in suino
    /wo/ come in liquore
    /wɔ/ come in nuoto

    Contrary to Romance languages English only has falling diphthongs, not rising ones. W and y are full consonants when preceding a vowel sound: yellow, wallow and semi-vowels in a falling diphthong afterwords: boy or bow.
     

    Angelo di fuoco

    Senior Member
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    I think all depends on pronunciation. If these "e" are pronounced, then the "restoration" can work but if they are not pronounced this restoration simply makes written language different from the spoken language.

    In Spanish, the restoration worked not only for vowels, but also for consonants: "respeto" - "respecto". In this case, the restoration in writing was followed by restoration in speech.

    In Portuguese those "e" are not pronounced, neither in Brazil nor in Portugal, and final "e" in other words can be elided in Portugal but is clearly pronounced (with an ) in Brazil (which is the country having more population). So we have "verdade" in Portuguese but "verdad" in Spanish.


    I think the real reason is that the d, the way it is spoken in Portugal, was hard to maintain without a subsequent "auxiliar" vowel, and, apparently, devoicing like in Catalan (compare verdade, verdad, veritat) was not an option.
    The "elided" final e in Portuguese, as I hear it, is a schwa.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    and they introduced a lot of irregularities, like "hecho"/"perfecto" :)

    (I don't know if the "cto"/"cho" was a regular process and if "perfecto" is a learned word. Do you know something more about it?).

    Yes, the [k] was vocalized in [j] which combined with the [t], palatalized and made [ʧ]. That's normal in Castilian. the -ect words are cultismos introduced after the Renaissance. A similar process happened in French but there was no palatalization, maybe because the [t] had been muted by then.

    There are certainly irregularities. It's be quite hard to impose facer > facto on the masses, but they're certainly not going to make *porhecho.

    What is the difference between the "w" in "what" and the "w" in "uovo"?

    Anyway, contemporary Florentine has "bono" (instead of "buono").

    The difference that creates foreign pronunciation. An Englishman might well say "volyo un wovo", an italian "Uat do you uanta?" Trivial for some, of great importance to others.

    I didn't know the monophthong had become so widespread. Do they say omo too?
     
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    bloop123

    Member
    English-Australia
    Italian has both rising and falling diphthongs. When i or u precede another vowel they are pronounced together with the first element reduced to [j] or [w] and rising into the following vowel. See this article.

    Contrary to Romance languages English only has falling diphthongs, not rising ones. W and y are full consonants when preceding a vowel sound: yellow, wallow and semi-vowels in a falling diphthong afterwords: boy or bow.

    What about the oi in noi and au in causa? They sound alot like dipthongs to me.
     

    Youngfun

    Senior Member
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    The Roman dialect has a Southern Italian substratum (pre-16th century Romanesque was very similar to Neapolitan), but heavily influenced by Florentine (huge immigration from Florence after the city's population reduced drastically because of leprosy).
    Therefore, it's not closer to Latin than any other Southern or Central Italian dialect.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Italian has both rising and falling diphthongs. When i or u precede another vowel they are pronounced together with the first element reduced to [j] or [w] and rising into the following vowel. See this article.
    I don't agree with this analysis (semi vowel + vowel = diphthong rather then approximant + vowel) and I don't think I am alone with this. But it doesn't matter; I forgot about falling diphthongs as in noi or vorrei. So, forget what I said about Italian not having diphthongs.
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    The difference that creates foreign pronunciation. An Englishman might well say "volyo un wovo", an italian "Uat do you uanta?" Trivial for some, of great importance to others.

    I didn't know the monophthong had become so widespread. Do they say omo too?
    Are these differences actually discernible in fast speech?
     

    isocore

    New Member
    italian
    amazing im enjoying loads reading these! I'm from Rome and i'll add my two cents: in contemporary roman dialect we use the word "Mo" to say "Now" ( in italian being "Ora" or "Adesso") , straight from latin Mox. Also "Sorcio" for rat, from Suricum, italian "Topo". there's defo more of these i can't think of right now!
     

    Angelo di fuoco

    Senior Member
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    Wasn't sorcio a somewhat rare synonym for topo in Italian, too?
    And if I'm not mistaken, sorcio is not a rat, but a mouse in standard Italian. Is that the case in Romanesco?
    The etymology for sorcio is not suricum because (frumentum) suricum gives sorgo (a crop) in modern Italian. The etymology of sorcio is sorex, soricis, according to Treccani.
     

    Dymn

    Senior Member
    The -e was very actively restored to verb forms during the renaissance. The reinstating was successful with verbs and also pronouns, but less so with nouns, especially after -r and -d.
    So, is the e in tiene, quiere, dice, hace, or in nouns whose final cluster wouldn't be allowed in Modern Spanish (parte, gente, ...), the result of a conscious effort to approach Latin? :confused:

    In Galician-Portuguese and Astur-Leonese the first group (verbs) have indeed lost their e, but not nouns like parte or gente.
     

    Angelo di fuoco

    Senior Member
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    The e in quiere: compare doquier or qualquier (qualquiera when it comes before the noun it (un-)defines) with modern quiere, as well as dizque with modern dice que, and you have the answer at least for those words.

    For what I know, word-final consonant clusters aren't allowed in Galician-Portuguese either, so it's still parte (as a verb form).
     

    Olaszinhok

    Senior Member
    Standard Italian
    Phonology and grammar (as well as 98% of vocabulary) are equal to those of the other dialects spoken south of the La Spezia-Rimini line.
    Not at all. The Florentine/Tuscan "dialect" is much more conservative than other Central and Southern Italian"dialects", both phonologically and morphologically. Consider the usage of the subjunctive mood and the extensive use of the perfect (passato remoto). In other areas of Central Italy, the latter is no longer used in casual speech and the present of the subjunctive mood does not even exist in most dialects. Tuscan also boasts other interesting grammar aspects: the use of codesto (Spanish ese, ése), costì (Spanish ahí) and so forth.

    Wasn't sorcio a somewhat rare synonym for topo in Italian, too?
    Yes, it is. It is normally used in my area, too. It actually means mouse, not rat.
     
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    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    So, is the e in tiene, quiere, dice, hace, or in nouns whose final cluster wouldn't be allowed in Modern Spanish (parte, gente, ...), the result of a conscious effort to approach Latin? :confused:

    In Galician-Portuguese and Astur-Leonese the first group (verbs) have indeed lost their e, but not nouns like parte or gente.
    According to what I learned, yes. All of those -e had disappeared and you can see it in some pre-Renaissance literature, even in object pronouns like -le. They were then reinstated.
    The word that I'm not to sure about is "conscious". Personally I think it happened naturally with people imbued with Latin (maybe Italian too). For sure, I've read that some writers believed Spanish to be ugly, lost and vulgar and needing to be elevated, refined or corrected.

    I'm wondering if parte and gente might be cultismos. For instance, I think gentem should have been yen(t)(e).

    and the present of the subjuctive mood does not even exist in most dialects.
    Really? What would you all use instead of it?
     
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    Sardokan1.0

    Senior Member
    Sardu / Italianu
    amazing im enjoying loads reading these! I'm from Rome and i'll add my two cents: in contemporary roman dialect we use the word "Mo" to say "Now" ( in italian being "Ora" or "Adesso") , straight from latin Mox. Also "Sorcio" for rat, from Suricum, italian "Topo". there's defo more of these i can't think of right now!

    Many of these features can be found also in other Romance languages.

    • Sardinian (Logudorese,Nuorese) : como (now - probably from "com+mox" = with now)
    • Sardinian (Campidanese) : immòi (now - in + mox?)
    • Friulan : acumò (now - ab + cum + mox?)
    • Romanian : acum (now)

    • Sardinian (Logudorese,Nuorese) : sòriche, sòrighe (Latin "soricem" accusative of sorex-soricis)
    • Romanian : şoarece
     

    Angelo di fuoco

    Senior Member
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    Not at all. The Florentine/Tuscan "dialect" is much more conservative than other Central and Southern Italian"dialects", both phonologically and morphologically. Consider the usage of the subjunctive mood and the extensive use of the perfect (passato remoto). In other areas of Central Italy, the latter is no longer used in casual speech and the present of the subjunctive mood does not even exist in most dialects. Tuscan also boasts other interesting grammar aspects: the use of codesto (Spanish ese, ése), costì (Spanish ahí) and so forth.

    Since I live in Northern Germany, I don't have that much to do with native speakers of Italian, but I've got the feeling that the passato remoto is quite actively used by educated speakers even from areas like Treviso. Friends from Naples (very educated) used it very actively in spontaneous speech.
    I'm not so sure about how far the Central Italian area without active use of the passato remoto extends. Is it only Rome or is this area bigger?

    Yes, it is. It is normally used in my area, too. It actually means mouse, not rat.
    I remembered it because Umberto Eco discusses the meanings of topo-sorcio-rat-souris in his book on translation ("Dire quasi la stessa cosa: Esperienze di traduzione").
     

    bearded

    Senior Member
    I've got the feeling that the passato remoto is quite actively used by educated speakers even from areas...
    Hello Feuerengel
    In my view it's just a legend that passato remoto is so seldom used in Italian. In order to narrate events that took place in a 'remote' past, that tense is normally used by educated people all over Italy.
    E.g. Quando avevo tre mesi, mia madre si ammalò e non poté più allattarmi (when I was 3 months old, my mother fell ill and could not breastfeed me any more) : it's a fully normal sentence in Italian.
    The difference (from the standard) is that in some regions, like Tuscany and Sicily, 'passato remoto' is used also for recent events.
    E.g. Dianzi il bambino andò a scuola (in Tuscany: a short time ago, the child went to school). Normally: poco fa il bambino è andato a scuola.
    Che facesti? (In Sicily: what did you do?): Normally: che (cosa) hai fatto?.
     

    Olaszinhok

    Senior Member
    Standard Italian
    I'm not so sure about how far the Central Italian area without active use of the passato remoto extends. Is it only Rome or is this area bigger?
    Friends from Naples (very educated) used it very actively in spontaneous speech.
    In my previous post, I was referring to spoken Italian and everybody knows (at least the ones who like reading statistics and articles about this important subject) that in Northern Italian the passato remoto is no longer used in casual speech, there are some rare exceptions like the city of Bolonia and other small areas. It's still used extensively in Tuscany and in many southern regions: Campania, Apulia, Abruzzo, Southern Marche and even in Rome. Regards formal Italian, particularly in writing, it is obviously a different story.
    As an example, in Northern Marche and Umbria, the Passato remoto is no longer used in casual speech, excactly like in the North of Italy. However, there may be a difference in the use of this verb tense between more educated people or older people and new generations.

    Regarding Naples and all the Campania Region, I can say that the usage of passato remoto is widespread everywhere, regardless of educated or not educated people.

    In my #78 I was speaking about the usage of the present of the subjunctive mood in most Central and Southern dialects (languages). In standard Italian, based upon the Florentine dialect, the present of the subjunctive must be used throughout the Peninsula. :)
     
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    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I was speaking about the usage of the present of the subjunctive mood in most Central and Southern dialects (languages).
    So in these dialects/languages the present subjunctive is never used?! :eek: Can you give some examples?

    Voglio che Guiseppe mi aiuta? :eek:
    Penso fa freddo lì? :eek:
    È importante che facemo la scelta subito? :eek:
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Oops, I made up “facemo.” :oops: That should be “facciamo,” but that makes it a bad example because the subjunctive is the same form!
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    ... The city was devastated, abandoned and cleansed many times and the 'patrician' classes left for safe havens long before the alleged 'Germanic Invasions'. ...
    "Alleged invasions"? Do you know some secret alternative history of the Italian peninsula?
     

    guihenning

    Senior Member
    Português do Brasil
    Hmmm tien, vien, haz, diz rather resemble their portugues counter parts tem, vem, faz, diz. Was there no "Restoration" movement in Portugal?
    I'm coming too late for this, but until recently "fazer", "dizer" and "querer" were conjugated as "faze", "dize" and "quere" - these are still fully accepted imperatives these days, though rare or perceived as dialectal or old fashioned. There are some online conjugators that will show these forms side by side with "faz", "diz" and "quer". These forms with final <e> are also (still?) present in some parts of southern Brazil. For "vir", someone already explained correctly above about the nasals. "querer" is the most conservative of the group, so much that it's accepted to say (ele) "quere-o" along with (ele) "qué-lo", just because the conjugation was once like that and it seems it was the latest of these aforementioned verbs to lose its final vowel. The loss is too recent to be revived by some lunatics in the 17th century :D
     

    Angelo di fuoco

    Senior Member
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    Hello Feuerengel
    In my view it's just a legend that passato remoto is so seldom used in Italian. In order to narrate events that took place in a 'remote' past, that tense is normally used by educated people all over Italy.
    E.g. Quando avevo tre mesi, mia madre si ammalò e non poté più allattarmi (when I was 3 months old, my mother fell ill and could not breastfeed me any more) : it's a fully normal sentence in Italian.
    The difference (from the standard) is that in some regions, like Tuscany and Sicily, 'passato remoto' is used also for recent events.
    E.g. Dianzi il bambino andò a scuola (in Tuscany: a short time ago, the child went to school). Normally: poco fa il bambino è andato a scuola.
    Che facesti? (In Sicily: what did you do?): Normally: che (cosa) hai fatto?.

    Sorry, I didn't come here for quite some time.
    I know about the legend that passato remoto is so seldom used in Italian. Unfortunately, this legend is being spread among foreign learners, especially in folk high schools.
    Since university, I have met Italians from the most different regions. Since there aren't that many Italians around, I pay close attention to the way they speak. So yes, I know it is used. The first instance was that I consistently used passato remoto when I was making a sum-up of a documentary film on a historical subject. A fellow student had something like a cultural shock, while our Italian teacher, a native speaker from Apulia, afterwards said she didn't notice it and thought that I was using historical present tense.
    However, what I wanted to stress was not the fact that passato remoto is used as such, but that it is used, as a wrote, by educated speakers from areas in Northern Italy that you usually wouldn't suspect of having passato remoto in their casual speech. I mentioned Treviso not without intention.

    In my previous post, I was referring to spoken Italian and everybody knows (at least the ones who like reading statistics and articles about this important subject) that in Northern Italian the passato remoto is no longer used in casual speech, there are some rare exceptions like the city of Bolonia and other small areas. It's still used extensively in Tuscany and in many southern regions: Campania, Apulia, Abruzzo, Southern Marche and even in Rome.

    From Sicilian exchange students I heard that they avoid in speech. The explanation is that, while in Sicilian it is generalised, in Sicilian Italian they fear they might overuse it, so that at least some Sicilians don't used it in context where it is required in Standard Italian.
    Regards formal Italian, particularly in writing, it is obviously a different story.
    Apparently some Northern Italian writers think it is OK not to use passato remoto in narrative.
    Yes. When I was reading a book by Susanna Tamaro, I had difficulties understanding because she didn't distinguish between passato remoto and passato prossimo: everything was just the latter. However, she has at least some pretense to write literature with some ambition, while Fabio Volo doesn't have it.

    As an example, in Northern Marche and Umbria, the Passato remoto is no longer used in casual speech, excactly like in the North of Italy. However, there may be a difference in the use of this verb tense between more educated people or older people and new generations.
    Thanks for that information.

    Regarding Naples and all the Campania Region, I can say that the usage of passato remoto is widespread everywhere, regardless of educated or not educated people.

    My sample of Napoletan and Campanian acquaintances is just too small.

    In my #78 I was speaking about the usage of the present of the subjunctive mood in most Central and Southern dialects (languages). In standard Italian, based upon the Florentine dialect, the present of the subjunctive must be used throughout the Peninsula. :)
    Apparently, in Rome the absence of subjunctive in Romanesco is penetrating at least colloquial Italian.
     

    Olaszinhok

    Senior Member
    Standard Italian
    However, what I wanted to stress was not the fact that passato remoto is used as such, but that it is used, as a wrote, by educated speakers from areas in Northern Italy that you usually wouldn't suspect of having passato remoto in their casual speech. I mentioned Treviso not without intention.
    Not only is passato remoto used in many regions and registers of Italian but I would say that it is also alive and kicking. Even little children, living in areas where this verb tense is no longer used in speech, normally learn to tell fairy tales with Passato remoto, text-books are full of these verb forms from elementary to secondary school. As a result, it is undoubtedly something that belongs to the average Italian's upbringing. As I wrote many times in this forum, the passato romoto is normally used in newspapers and magazines , Tv news and programmes. In many regions is normally used in speech, like in Tuscany and this is quite importat to me, if we take into account that Italian is based upon the Florentine.
    You mentioned Susanna Tamaro, I have only read one of her books and I can recall some forms of Passato Remoto, not many to be honest, but the other day, I was just listening to an interview of hers on the telly and she did use the passato remoto quite often, by narrating some episodes of her life.
    The usage of Passato remoto in Italian may well be misleading, since it is not like in Spanish where it is very consistent, nor in French where it is no longer used in speech throughout the country. Not to mention Romanian, in which it is extremerly rare nowadays, apart from some sporadic dialectal usages.

    Apparently, in Rome the absence of subjunctive in Romanesco is penetrating at least colloquial Italian.
    You are probably referring to Colloquial Italian spoken in Rome? Aren't you? The subjunctive is a "cult object" in Italian, like the orthographe in French. You could have a look at the tons of questions about this verb mood in the Italian only forum. Italians are almost obsessed with it. Sometimes, they even use it when they should resort to the indicative. It is normally used in colloquial Italian in many areas of the country, so I'd say that it is alive and kicking. Concerning the usage of the subjunctive mood in Italian, I'd say that there is a sort of stigma, if you happen to use it wrongly you may be seen as an uneducated and ignorant person.
     
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    bearded

    Senior Member
    You are probably referring to Colloquial Italian spoken in Rome? Aren't you?
    Olaszinhok, do you regard sentences like
    non voglio che vai via
    preferisco che chiudi la porta

    (very often heard in TV programmes, especially in dialogues among young people)
    as (influenced by) colloquial Italian spoken in Rome?
    I think such phrases are unfortunately quite common nowadays in all Italian regions - of course used by not too 'erudite' people.
     

    Olaszinhok

    Senior Member
    Standard Italian
    Olaszinhok, do you regard sentences like
    non voglio che vai via
    preferisco che chiudi la porta
    Hello Young Bearded :p
    You have rightly chosen a couple of sentences with the second person singular, in which the indicative mood seems to erode the subjunctive more substantially in very informal and sub-standard Italian. However, just imagine someone writing those sentences, say, in the Italian forum or saying them during a school test. Wouldn't they sound inaccurate and incorrect? How would you consider such expressions? In my opinion, at the end of day, the subjunctive mood is well preserved in contemporary spoken Italian, particularly if compared to other languages such as French or German, let alone English.
    I am not sure, but I guess that the subjunctive is still used in the above sentences in Tuscany, even in very informal contexts.
     
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    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    Hello Young Bearded :p
    You have rightly chosen a couple of sentences with the second person singular, in which the indicative mood seems to erode the subjunctive more substantially in very informal and sub-standard Italian. However, just imagine someone writing those sentences, say, in the Italian forum or saying them during a school test. Wouldn't they sound inaccurate and incorrect? How would you consider such expressions? In my opinion, at the end of day, the subjunctive mood is well preserved in contemporary spoken Italian, particularly if compared to other languages such as French or German, let alone English.
    I am not sure, but I guess that the subjunctive is still used in the above sentences in Tuscany, even in very informal contexts.
    Paraphrasing... Do you mean it sounds weird to (a few) (some) (many) Italians to have 2nd person subjunctive forms ending in -a, and they naturally want to have an -i there?
    Present subjunctive is kind of a bizarre tense because of all three singular forms having the same endings. I have even had natives tell me subject pronouns are needed with subjunctive: For example, me not using the subject pronouns and it not being clear whom I'm talking about.
     

    bearded

    Senior Member
    Hello Olaszinhok dear (you know, I am young at heart) :p
    in the Italian forum or saying them during a school test. Wouldn't they sound inaccurate and incorrect?
    Sure they would. My point was that unfortunately many Italians do not speak an 'accurate and correct' language, particularly as concerns subjunctive… Don't forget that students or foreros are (should be!) 'literate' and would never make those mistakes, which I think are widespread among 'commoners'.
    But you are of course right in saying that correctly-spoken and written Italian has preserved the subjunctive mood much better than other European languages (in German, however, it is extensively used in indirect speech).
     
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    Olaszinhok

    Senior Member
    Standard Italian
    Do you mean it sounds weird to (a few) (some) (many) Italians to have 2nd person subjunctive forms ending in -a, and they naturally want to have an -i there?
    I don't actually know whether that's one of the reasons to explain the phenomenon. However, it is advisable to use the subject pronoun with the second person singular in the subjunctive.
    È meglio che tu vada…
    This is not unique to Italian, though. Also in Spanish there are some confusing verbal forms: yo/ él trabajaba; trabajase/trabajara, pueda ect. Not to mention Brazilian Portuguese in which many verb endings have merged in casual speech.
     

    bearded

    Senior Member
    I have even had natives tell me subject pronouns are needed with subjunctive: For example, me not using the subject pronouns and it not being clear whom I'm talking about.
    If we hear che vada (without 'tu') we instinctively think of the 3rd person (he/she), unless there is an unmistakable context. That's why 'tu' normally has to be expressed for the 2nd person.
     

    Angelo di fuoco

    Senior Member
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    Not only is passato remoto used in many regions and registers of Italian but I would say that it is also alive and kicking. Even little children, living in areas where this verb tense is no longer used in speech, normally learn to tell fairy tales with Passato remoto, text-books are full of these verb forms from elementary to secondary school. As a result, it is undoubtedly something that belongs to the average Italian's upbringing. As I wrote many times in this forum, the passato romoto is normally used in newspapers and magazines , Tv news and programmes. In many regions is normally used in speech, like in Tuscany and this is quite importat to me, if we take into account that Italian is based upon the Florentine.
    You mentioned Susanna Tamaro, I have only read one of her books and I can recall some forms of Passato Remoto, not many to be honest, but the other day, I was just listening to an interview of hers on the telly and she did use the passato remoto quite often, by narrating some episodes of her life.
    The usage of Passato remoto in Italian may well be misleading, since it is not like in Spanish where it is very consistent, nor in French where it is no longer used in speech throughout the country. Not to mention Romanian, in which it is extremerly rare nowadays, apart from some sporadic dialectal usages.
    The stereotypical representation of the passato remoto outside Italy is - I repeat it - that it is only a literary form, just like in French, where they, too, use it only in fairy tales now and maybe in historical texts (and in films when speaking about historical events). In written French, you may even encounter the passé simple it in a review of a theatrical performance or sports match, which is a no-go in Italian (the perceived proximity prevails in modern Italian, unlike hundred years ago where it was still perfectly normal, while in French it is the narrative aspect that prevails in this case).
    Of course I know this representation to be a misrepresentation, since I have enough contact with Italians from different regions who do use it.
    I remember reading a book of Tamaro's containing three stories (unfortunately, I cannot find it now, so I cannot tell you the title) without even one form of passato remoto. So this probably was a very conscious decision.
    Yes, I know the usage of passato remote may be misleading. Though in Spanish there are, too, regional differences (Americans use it more than Spaniards, and some Madrileños reportedly use pretérito perfecto in some cases when Standard Spanish requires indefinido, as in sentences beginning with "ayer"). The correct use of passato remoto is more difficult than remembering the many irregular forms, since it implies having to make a conscious choice very often and the Northern Italian use has somewhat permeated the general use (i. e. "ieri sono andato" vs. "ieri andai", which should be the norm, just like in Spanish).
    When I came to university I used it way too much, like it would have been used in the 19th century. The Italian teacher had to teach me the difference between librettese ottocentesco and italiano contemporaneo. A Facebook friend, a girl from Bologna, once commented that I used the passato remoto consistently in the way it should be used in modern Italian, unlike her who somewhat overused the passato prossimo.

    You are probably referring to Colloquial Italian spoken in Rome? Aren't you? The subjunctive is a "cult object" in Italian, like the orthographe in French. You could have a look at the tons of questions about this verb mood in the Italian only forum. Italians are almost obsessed with it. Sometimes, they even use it when they should resort to the indicative. It is normally used in colloquial Italian in many areas of the country, so I'd say that it is alive and kicking. Concerning the usage of the subjunctive mood in Italian, I'd say that there is a sort of stigma, if you happen to use it wrongly you may be seen as an uneducated and ignorant person.
    I am. I was asked to step in as interpreter for "Posta per te"on an occasion when they were filming in Germany and didn't know whether the person in question, a young man of 20, spoke Italian, since he had lived the whole of his life in Germany.
    Those TV people used definitely less subjunctive mood than I would have, e. g. after "basta che".
    Hello Young Bearded :p
    You have rightly chosen a couple of sentences with the second person singular, in which the indicative mood seems to erode the subjunctive more substantially in very informal and sub-standard Italian. However, just imagine someone writing those sentences, say, in the Italian forum or saying them during a school test. Wouldn't they sound inaccurate and incorrect? How would you consider such expressions? In my opinion, at the end of day, the subjunctive mood is well preserved in contemporary spoken Italian, particularly if compared to other languages such as French or German, let alone English.
    I am not sure, but I guess that the subjunctive is still used in the above sentences in Tuscany, even in very informal contexts.
    The subjonctif du présent is alive and kicking in French. The particularity of French is that present-tense subjunctive forms are morphologically undistinguishable for the -er conjungation (and ouvrir & couvrir with their derivates) except in the 1nd and 2nd persons in the plural. For the -re and -ir forms, the only undistinguishable form is the 3rd person plural except when the present subjunctive has a different stem (être: ils sont vs, qu'ils soient; faire: elles font vs. qu'elles fassent).
    As to imparfait du subjonctif, it never has been used in the protasis of conditional sentences in Modern French except in double protases like "si je venais chez toi et que tu me laisasses passer la nuit chez toi tu me ferais une faveur", which is also standard for the present tense like in "si je viens chez toi et que nous jouions au basket je serai bien content". Regarding German, see below.
    Hello Olaszinhok dear (you know, I am young at heart) :p
    Sure they would. My point was that unfortunately many Italians do not speak an 'accurate and correct' language, particularly as concerns subjunctive… Don't forget that students or foreros are (should be!) 'literate' and would never make those mistakes, which I think are widespread among 'commoners'.
    But you are of course right in saying that correctly-spoken and written Italian has preserved the subjunctive mood much better than other European languages (in German, however, it is extensively used in indirect speech).
    Exactly. This is why in German it is not called "Konjunktiv Präsens", but "Konjunktiv I" (formal name) and is nicknamed "Konjunktiv der indirekten Rede". In the plural forms Konjunktiv I forms are frequently substituted with Konjunktiv II, which is morphologically derived from the Präteritum forms, while Konjunktiv II and sometimes even Konjunktiv I are often substituted with the (not yet formally grammaticalised) Konjunktiv III (Konjunktiv II forms of "werden" - "würde", "würdest" etc. +infinitive). This is due to the fact that, except for "sein", the Konjunktiv I forms are identical for the 1st and 3rd person plural, while in the weak conjugation the Präteritum and Konjunktiv II form are morphologically indistinguishable. I also get the feeling that Konjunktiv I and II are not properly taught at school anymore.
    I don't actually know whether that's one of the reasons to explain the phenomenon. However, it is advisable to use the subject pronoun with the second person singular in the subjunctive.
    È meglio che tu vada…
    This is not unique to Italian, though. Also in Spanish there are some confusing verbal forms: yo/ él trabajaba; trabajase/trabajara, pueda ect. Not to mention Brazilian Portuguese in which many verb endings have merged in casual speech.
    Yes, but in Spanish the homonyms are limited to the 1st and 3rd person both for presente and imperfecto de subjuntivo, while in Italian the present subjunctive forms are morphologically identical for the three singular forms.
     

    Youngfun

    Senior Member
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    The problem with Italian is that we are taught in school that passato prossimo literally means "recent past" and passato remoto "far away past".
    This causes uncertainty because how do you define recent or far away?
    For me, yesterday is a recent period of time, so I use passato prossimo.
    Last year? Hmmm... depends on the mood of the moment.
    Talking about Ancient Romans? Passato remoto if I were to talk about history. But informally I could say "ecco il Colosseo. L'hanno costruito gli antichi Romani".
     
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