Every morning I head to the local coffee shop and it goes something like this … with the exception of the ‘beddu,’ that happened when I first arrived, a lot.
There’s been a lot of talk recently about the local dialects here in Sardinia and I have to admit that a good majority of people in my small town, do not speak Italian. Well, they know how to speak Italian but when conversing with others from town they speak strictly Gallurese. If I happen to be within the group and they direct a comment or question my way it’s in Italian, but the moment their head turns to their local companion it’s back to dialect.
Can you imagine what it was like in the beginning?
When I didn’t even speak Italian. Let alone this secret Italo-Dalmatian Romance language known as Gallurese or Gadduresu.
It was difficult. It is difficult.
I find myself more often than not just zoning out of those group conversations. It gives me a headache. I understand a great deal of Gallurese and sometimes mix up the two languages by using a word in Gallurese instead of Italian. You should see the looks on their faces when I do this. It’s a mix of surprised, soured faces. The locals have no idea what to say to me when I make this error.
Yesterday while out for my daily coffee I bumped into a few acquaintances from town, we sat down and ordered coffee. The entire conversation was in Gallurese and I followed along just fine. Then it was my turn to speak, to add to the growing excitement of our silly conversation. I started to tell my story, opening up in Italian and slowly but surely throwing in the odd word in dialect. Now, I wasn’t doing this on purpose, it just came naturally. They all looked at me in that flabbergasted way people usually do when I spill forth their language, and I said: “Ma, è tutta colpa vostra. Tutti parlano dialetto.” They all shook their heads in agreement stating that it’s not easy for an outsider here, in small town Sardinia.
Are you an expat in Italy? What is it like in your town? Do the locals speak Italian or dialect?
- A Year of Italian Language and Culture: Italian Dialects (becomingitalianwordbyword.typepad.com)
- ‘Sardinia feels like an ancient forgotten land’ (thelocal.it)
- Learning dialects shapes brain areas that process spoken language (sciencedaily.com)