The Sicilian language (Sicilianu or Siculu), also known as Calabro-Sicilian, is a Romance language spoken in Sicily and the south of the Italic peninsula. Sicilian has the olderst literary tradition of the Italic languages.
Sicilian & Italian... are they two different languages?
I have been asked this question many times by my foreign colleagues and friends. My short answer is: Yes, it is a different language. If you are not bored yet and you want to learn a little more, then, you can keep reading my entry. Although Sicilian is classified in Italy as an Italian dialect, it can be considered as a seperate Romance language strongly influenced by Vulgar Latin, Modern Italian, French, Catalan, Catellano, Arabic and Greek language- There are many documents that prove that Sicilian developed before than Standard Italian. The grammar structure is also different and there are many words that a non-sicilian wouldn’t understand without a translation. Sicilian is mostly an oral language, which makes it difficult sometimes to transliterate correctly. It is being passed from family to family and not taught at school. Even if it may not sound very elegant sometimes, I think that it is a beautiful mysterious language full of meanings and emtotions hard to translate in Italian or another language without losing their intensity. In fact, in social situations, Sicilians use Sicilian when they’re very angry, frustrated, happy since in Italian some words wouldn’t have the same effect, especially some funny joke. I hope this post entry clears some of your doubts out.
Natives of Sicily speak Sicilian, an ancient Romance language that is a separate language from Italian. About 30% of Sicilian vocabulary originates from Arabic. Even though Italian is the national language, Sicilian is still very alive in Sicily. People may say “Comu ti senti?” (How are you feeling?) - in Italian it’s “Come stai?” (How are you?). Sicilian is also spoken in southern and central Calabria (where it’s called Southern Calabro), in parts of Apulia, the Salento (known as Salentino), and Campania, on the Italian peninsula (where it’s called Cilentano). Ethnologue describes Sicilian as being “distinct enough from Standard Italian to be considered a separate language”. Some assert that Sicilian represents the oldest Romance language derived from Vulgar Latin, but this is not a widely held view amongst linguists, and is strongly criticized by some. Sicilian is currently spoken by the majority of the inhabitants of Sicily and by Sicilian emigrant populations around the world. The latter are found in the countries which attracted large numbers of Sicilian immigrants during the course of the past century, especially the USA, Canada, Australia, and Argentina. In the past 2 or 3 decades, large numbers of Sicilians were also attracted to the industrial zones of northern Italy and the rest of the European Union, especially Germany.
Sicilian verbs are divided into two patterns of conjugation, following their infinitive* form:
-iri or ìri*
1) Infinitive: Manciari [‘man.’ʧa.ɾɪ] (To eat)
2) Infinitive: Gràpiri
[’ɡɾa.pɪ.ɾɪ] (To open)
How to conjugate regular Sicilian Verbs?
Sicilian verbs are conjugated based on the ending of the infinitive form (àri or iri). The endings of regular verbs don’t change.
1) Manciari (”Manci” is the stem of the verb, “-Ari” is the ending).
Iu manci-u: I eat U
Tu manc-i: You eat I
Iddu manci-a: He eats A
Idda manci-a: She eats A
Vossia manci-a: You (formal) eat A
Nuautri manci-amu: We eat AMU
Vuautri manci-ati: You (plural) eat ATI
Iddi manci-anu(manciunu): They eat ANU
2) Gràpiri (”Gràp” is the stem, “-iri” is the ending)
*The infinitive form is the “to” form, as in to eat, to open, to understand.
*Verbs ending in “iri” can have two possible pronunciations depending on the position of the accent in the syllable. For example Capìri [ka.’pi.ri ] (To understand), and Càpiri [’Ka.pi.ri] (to get in there, to fit), are written the same, but the pronunciation of the verbs and the position of the accents are different.
The word “Levant” refers to a geographic region in English. But in its native tongue the translation isn’t as simple. “When you say ‘levante’ in Italian, you could be talking about the wind or the eastern seaboard of the country, or the rising sun (sol levante) … or me!”