Salentino Dialect

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Dialects have always been an important part of the Italian linguistic repertoire and an effective means of communication among people of the same area. However, compared with two or three decades ago, the attitude of Italian people towards dialects is deeply changed. Thanks to the general social spread of education at school and Italian as the national language, nowadays dialects are not perceived anymore as the language of lower classes, or as symbol of ignorance and illiteracy which leads to disadvantage and social exclusion. Understanding and mastering a dialects is now an extra communicative source to be used and switched with Italian depending on the situation. Dialects are an enrichment, not an obstacle. In fact, as Arturo Benvenuto states: “Italy has been a unified country only in the last 150 years, and has always been a crossroads of peoples and different cultures. The history of this country has led to an extraordinary linguistic richness.” (, 2013) As an Italian native speaker, coming particularly from a sub-region of Apulia called Salento, I will focus my essay on the analysis of the dialect spoken in this area: the Salentino dialect. Firstly, I will provide some information about the history of Salento and its dialect. Secondly, I will consider some linguistic features regarding, amongst others, the difference with the other dialects spoken in Apulia and the lexicon deriving from ancient dominations. Finally, I will analyse the current situation of this dialect in what concerns the speakers, particularly children, and its artistic expression like literature, theatre and music. Salento has been inhabited since the Bronze Age by Indo-European populations, who arrived there through the Alps. A good p... ... middle of paper ... ... reforms to abolish feudalism and to distribute public lands in a better way. In 1861, Salento was finally annexed to the Reign of Italy, and in 1865 it obtained administrative authority with the creation of the Province of Lecce, which followed the borders of the ancient Terra d’Otranto. The first written traces of Salentino date back to the 11th century. They are about 154 glosses, written in Hebrew characters, found in a manuscript in Parma dated 1072, coming from a Talmud academy in Otranto. The Salentino used in these glosses is still a mixture of Latin and Vulgar Italian, with a lot of words from Greek. Some of them refer to plants (lenticla nigra: “black lentil”, cucuzza longa: “long courgette”, cucuzza rotunda: “round courgette”) others to farming (pulìgane: “they cut the protrusions from the trees”, sepàrane: “they pluck the dry leaves from the trees”).

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