Tuscan dialect

Tuscan dialect

The Tuscan dialect (dialetto toscano) or the Tuscan language (lingua toscana) is an Italian dialect spoken in Tuscany, Italy. In many respects it wandered less than other Romance dialects from the Latin language and evolved linearly and homogeneously, without major influences from other foreign languages.

Italian is in practice a "literary version" of Tuscan. It became the language of culture for all the peoples of Italy, thanks to the prestige of the masterpieces of Dante Alighieri, Francesco Petrarca, Giovanni Boccaccio, Niccolò Machiavelli and Francesco Guicciardini. It would later become the official language of all the Italian states and of the Kingdom of Italy, when it was formed.

Subdialects

The Tuscan dialect is a dialect complex with many lesser local dialects, with minor differences among them.

The main subdivision is between Northern Tuscan dialects and Southern Tuscan dialects.

The Northern Tuscan dialects are (from east to west):

  • Fiorentino, the main dialect of Florence, Chianti and Mugello, also spoken in Prato and along the river Arno as far as the city of Fucecchio.
  • Pistoiese, spoken in the city of Pistoia and nearest zones (some linguists include this dialect in Fiorentino).
  • Pesciatino or Valdinievolese, spoken in the Valdinievole valley, in the cities of Pescia and Montecatini Terme (some linguists include this dialect in Lucchese).
  • Lucchese, spoken in Lucca and nearby hills (Lucchesia).
  • Versiliese spoken in the historical area of Versilia
  • Viareggino spoken in Viareggio and vicinity
  • Pisano-Livornese spoken in Pisa and in Livorno and the vicinity, and along the southern coast as far as the city of Piombino.

The Southern Tuscan dialects are (from east to west):

  • Aretino-Chianaiolo, spoken in Arezzo and the Chiana valley
  • Senese, spoken in the city and province of Siena
  • Grossetano spoken in the city and province of Grosseto

Speakers

Excluding the inhabitants of Massa-Carrara province, who speak Emiliano-Romagnolo, around 3,500,000 people speak the Tuscan dialect.

Dialectal features

The Tuscan dialect as a whole has certain defining features, with subdialects that are distinguised by minor details.

Phonetics

Tuscan gorgia

Weakening of G and C

A phonetic phenomenon is the intervocalic weakening of the Italian soft g ʤ (g in George) and soft c ʧ (ch in church), known as attenuation, or, more commonly, as deaffrication.

Between two vowels, the voiced post-alveolar affricate consonant is realized as voiced post-alveolar fricative:

/ʤ/ → [ʒ].

This phenomenon is very evident in daily speech (common also in Umbria and elsewhere in Central Italy): the phrase la gente, 'the people', in standard Italian is spoken as // [], but in Tuscan is pronounced [].

Similarly, the voiceless post-alveolar affricate is pronounced as a voiceless post-alveolar fricative between two vowels:

/ʧ/ → [ʃ].

The sequence // la cena, 'the dinner', in standard Italian is spoken as [], but in Tuscan it is spoken as []. As a result of this weakening rule, there are a few minimal pairs distinguished only by length of the voiceless fricative (e.g. [laʃe'rɔ] lacerò 'it/he/she ripped' vs. [laʃʃe'rɔ] lascerò 'I will leave/let').

Affrication of S

A common phonetic phenomenon is the transformation of voiceless s or voiceless alveolar fricative /s/ into the voiceless alveolar affricate ʦ when preceded by /r/, /l/, or /n/.

/s/ → [ʦ].

For example, il sole (the sun), pronounced in standard Italian [], will be pronounced by a Tuscan speaker []; this can be heard also word-internally, as in falso (false) /'falso/ → ['falʦo]. This is a common phenomenon in Central Italy, but it is not exclusive to that area; for example it also happens in Switzerland (Canton Ticino).

No dipththongization of /ɔ/

There are two Tuscan historical outcomes of Latin ŏ in stressed open syllables. Passing first through a stage [ɔ], the vowel then develops as a diphthong /wɔ/. This phenomenon never gained universal acceptance, however, so that while forms with the diphthong came to be accepted as standard Italian (e.g. fuoco, buono, nuovo), the monophthong remains in popular speech (foco, bono, novo).

Morphology

Double dative pronoun

A morphological phenomenon, cited also by Alessandro Manzoni in his masterpiece "I promessi sposi" (The Betrothed), is the doubling of the dative pronoun.

For the use of a personal pronoun as indirect object (to someone, to something), also called dative case, the standard Italian makes use of a construction preposition + pronoun a me (to me), or it makes use of a syntethic pronoun form, mi (to me). The Tuscan dialect makes use of both in the same sentence as a kind of intensification of the dative/indirect object:

  • in Standard Italian: [a me piace] or [mi piace] (I like it)
  • in Tuscan: [a me mi piace] (I like it)

This usage is widespread throughout the central regions of Italy, not only in Tuscany, and until recently, it was considered redundant and erroneous by Italian linguists. Nowadays linguists no longer inveigh against it. More on this issue (in Italian) can be found at article

In some dialects the double accusative pronoun (me mi vedi (lit: You see me me) can be heard, but it is considered an archaic form.

Masculine definite articles

The singular and plural masculine definite articles are both phonetically [i] in Florentine varieties of Tuscan, but are distinguished by their phonological effect on following consonants. The singular provokes lengthening: [i kkaːne] 'the dog', whereas the plural permits consonant weakening: [i haːni] 'the dogs'. As in Italian, masc. sing. lo occurs before consonants long by nature or not permitting /l/ in clusters is normal (lo zio 'the uncle', lo studente 'the student'), although forms such as i zio can be heard in rustic varieties.

Noi + impersonal Si

A morphological phenomenon found throughout Tuscany is the personal use of the particle identical to impersonal si (not to be confused with passive Si or the reflexive Si), as the first person plural. It is basically the same as the use of on in French.

It's possible to use the construction Si + Third person in singular, which can be joined by the first plural person pronoun Noi, because the particle "si" is no longer perceived as an independent particle, but as a piece of verbal conjugation.

  • Standard Italian: [Andiamo a mangiare] (We're going to eat), [Noi andiamo là] (We go there)
  • Tuscan: [Si va a mangiare] (We're going to eat), [Noi si va là] (We go there)

The phenomenon is found in all verb tenses, including compound tenses. In these tenses, the use of si requires a form of essere (to be) as auxiliary verb, even if the verb would normally have avere (to have) as auxiliary. The past participle must be marked to agree with the subject in gender and number if the verb usually would require essere as auxiliary, while it does not agree in gender and number if the verb usually requires avere.

  • Italian: [Siamo andate a sciare], [Abbiamo mangiato al ristorante]
  • Tuscan: [S'è andate a sciare], [S'è mangiato al ristorante]

Usually Si becomes S' before è.

Fo (faccio) and vo (vado)

Another morphological phenomenon in the Tuscan dialect is what might appear to be shortening of first singular verb forms in the present tense of fare (to do, to make) and andare (to go).

  • Fare: It. faccio Tusc. fo (I do, I make)
  • Andare: It. vado Tusc. vo (I go)

These forms have two origins. Natural phonological change alone can account for loss of /d/ and reduction of /ao/ to /o/ in the case of /vado/ > */vao/ > /vo/. A case such as Latin: sapio > Italian so (I know), however, admits no such phonological account: the expected outcome of /sapio/ would be */sappjo/, with a normal lengthening of the consonant preceding yod.

What seems to have taken place is a realignment of the paradigm in accordance with the statistically minor but highly frequent paradigms of dare (give) and stare (be, stay). Thus so, sai, sa, sanno (all singulars and 3rd personal plural of 'know') come to fit the template of do, dai, dà, danno ('give'), sto, stai, sta, stanno ('be, stay'), and fo, fai, fa, fanno ('make, do') follows the same pattern. The form vo, while quite possibly a natural phonological development, seems to have been reinforced by analogy in this case.

Loss of infinitival "-re"

A phonological phenomenon that might appear to be a morphological one, unique to Tuscany, is the loss of the infinitival ending -re of verbs.

  • andàreandà
  • pèrderepèrde
  • finìrefinì

An important feature of this loss is that main stress does not shift to the new penultimate syllable, as phonological rules of Italian might suggest. Thus infinitive forms can come to coincide with various conjugated singulars: pèrde 'to lose', pèrde 's/he loses'; finì 'to finish', finì 's/he finished'. In practice this homophony seldom, if ever, causes confusion.

The fixed stress can be explained by supposing an intermediate form in -r (as in the Spanish verbal infinitive).

While the infinitive without -re is universal in some subtypes such as Pisano-Livornese, in the vicinity of Florence alternations are regular, so that the full infinitive (e.g. vedere 'to see') appears when followed by a pause, and the clipped form (vedé) is found when phrase internal. The consonant of enclitics is lengthened if preceded by stressed vowel (vedéllo 'to see it', portácci 'to bring us'), but not when the preceding vowel of the infinitive is unstressed (lèggelo 'to read it', pèrdeti 'to lose you').

Lexicon

The biggest differences among dialects is in the lexicon, which also distinguishes the different subdialects. The Tuscan lexicon is almost entirely shared with standard Italian, but many words may be perceived as obsolete or unusual by non-Tuscans. There are a number of strictly regional words and expressions too.

Characterisically Tuscan words:

  • accomodare (which means "to arrange" in standard Italian) for riparare (to repair)
  • babbo (which was until now considered the only real Italian form) for papà (daddy)
  • bove (literary form in standard Italian) for bue (ox)
  • cacio for formaggio (cheese)
  • chetarsi (literary form in standard Italian) for fare silenzio (to be silent)
  • codesto (literary form in standard Italian) is a pronoun which specifically identifies an object far from the speaker, but near the listener
  • desinare (literary form in standard Italian) for pranzare/cenare (to have dinner)
  • diaccio for ghiacciato, freddo (frozen, cold)
  • furia (which means "fury" in standard Italian) for fretta (hurry)
  • ire for andare (to go) (only some forms as ito (gone))
  • garbare for piacere (to like) (but also piacere is widely used in Tuscany)
  • gota (literary form in standard Italian) for guancia (cheek)
  • punto for per nulla or niente affatto (not at all) in negative sentences
  • sciocco (which means "silly" or "stupid" in standard Italian) for sciapo (insipid)
  • sudicio for spazzatura (garbage) as a noun and for sporco (dirty) as an adjective

See also

References

External links

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