Monday, November 22, 2010

Definitions of dialect

a) Definition: Means or mode of expressing thoughts; language; tongue; form of speech.

b) Definition: The form of speech of a limited region or people, as distinguished from either forms nearly related to it; a variety or subdivision of a language; speech characterized by local peculiarities or specific circumstances.

Yesterday I talked about accents, today I thought I’d share some typical Ticinese expressions with you. I added a link to my Lugano links that has an exhaustive list of sayings. Admittedly I don’t know any of them after having lived in Lugano for 4 years.

Surrounded by locals I have noticed that most of them speak the local dialect…and I mean local: the Luganese dialect is not the same as the Levantina or the Mendrisotto one which are 2 areas 15 km up respectively down the road. All the locals understand these dialects and some of them fall into it when in conversation others don't. What struck me is that none of the mothers and fathers speaks dialect to their children. As a parent wouldn’t it come naturally to speak your native language to your child, even if it is a dialect?
Upon inquiring, the answers I received were that it is not “fit” to speak dialect and that the parents would prefer their children speak Italian. Through the lines I perceived a class issue that nobody really wants to talk about. However, kids around here might or might not understand the local dialect but I have never heard a child speak Ticinese at school, not during break time nor in deep conversation with their peers.
A pity, really. I am a strong believer in teaching your kids their heritage and nurturing these roots. It is astonishing that the Swiss German consistently speak in their local dialect to each other and with their children whereas in Ticino this does not seem to be the case.

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