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Italian Literature and Language

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Nicholas Martin

on 21 March 2013

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Transcript of Italian Literature and Language

Italian Literature and Language Jason Luo, Stephen Ghazikhanian
and Nick Martin Standard Italian and its Dialects Dante's Effects on Italy Writing in Dialect Dialect cont'd Background Use of Dialects Standard Italian Spread of Standard Italian Overview In Videogames In Movies In Literature The Divine Comedy and Its Influence on Popular Culture For example, many violent videogames reference the Divine Comedy for its frightful imagery of hell. In the game “Devil May Cry,” the protagonist Dante and his brother “Vergil” fight through monsters named after the Deadly Sins to advance through the nine circles of hell. The Comedy is also referenced in many notable works of literature. Primo Levi, in his account of his holocaust experience, strikingly compared the fires of Dante’s Hell to the "real threat of the fires of the crematorium.” Levi was perhaps also making a comment on religion and his religious beliefs. In Lord of the Rings, the city of Minas can be compared to Mount Purgatory, which is discussed in part two of the Comedy and is a place of purification and temporary suffering. Minas rests on a mountain of seven terraces (analogous to the seven levels of suffering in Purgatory), on top of which is the tree of Gondor, which grows leaves only when a rightful king is crowned. Thus, when the king is crowned, a reference is made to the journey of reaching Mount Purgatory and the ultimate redemption of civilization. Dante was a very skilled writer who wrote in both his Florentine Italian dialect and Latin. This was very unusual, as most academic and scholarly writings of his time were written solely in Latin. Dante did not particularly support this, as he firmly believed that the language of one’s home and family was important. He went on to break the mold, writing La Divina Commedia in his Florentine dialect, which would eventually become the most popular dialect for writings in the future. Through writing in his dialect, he helped to unify Italian language. Standard Italian is now based on Tuscan dialect, of which the Florentine dialect is a subgroup. Dante popularized the use of this through his final masterpiece. It was also popularized by Machiavelli and Boccaccio, who came after Dante. The Divine Comedy, translated as La Divina Commedia, was written by Dante between 1308 and 1321It was written in a Tuscan dialect, which was peculiar as the majority of writings were done in Latin. No original copies exist. Earliest was written in 1330 by Giovanni BoccaccioIt actually took Dante 18 years to write La Divina Commedia and he did so during his exile. The linguistic diversity of Italy is due to the fact that there was no political unification of the region until the late 19th century, leading to the use of many different "dialects" (these varieties are not officially recognized as separate languages, but many consider them separate languages due to the differences between them and standard Italian). There are over 15 Italian dialects Standard Italian was established in the 19th century, and was spoken by only 2.5% of the population when Italy became a united country. With the influence of Alessandro Manzoni, the Florentine/Tuscan variety was the basis for modern standard Italian. Florentine was considered the higher variety, especially with its almost singular use in literature:
- Divina Commedia
- Canzoniere
- Decameron "lavare i panni in Arno" -The use of Standard Italian was institutionalized through its use in schools, government, and literature.

-With technological developments, the language was spread through newspapers, radio, and television.

-Furthermore, with mass migrations to urban locations, especially to the "industrial triangle" in the Northwest, Standard Italian was the only language through which people from different regions could speak to each other. With the increase in inter-regional marriages, Standard Italian was the main language passed on to the new generations.

- As a result, the use of dialects has decreased tremendously, especially in urban environments. Where?:
- South
- Northeast
- Islands (Sardinia, Sicily)
- Rural areas (less mixing) Who?:
- More common in Men
- Elderly
-Less educated Words or phrases from dialects like Sicilian or Neopolitan are used throughout the country as they have been spread through media and the "de-Tuscanization" of Italian. Italian in the US Interestingly enough, most Italian communities in the US have dialect speakers. This is because most Italian-American communities were established by Italians who immigrated to the US before the spread of Standard Italian. Without government implementation of Standard Italian, regional dialects were passed on in Italian Americans, and have remained vibrant today, while they are becoming less popular in Italy . Written at the start of the 14th century, Dante’s Divine Comedy explores the Christian soul’s path toward God and enlightenment. In describing this great journey of the soul, Dante intricately weaves themes and motifs of sin, struggle, pain, fright, and perseverance into an epic story of religion and what it means to be human. Because of its multitudinous themes and powerful ideas, the Divine Comedy is often referenced in popular culture as it compliments many aspects of life with its seeping potency; that, or it just seems epic and catches people’s attention. In Inferno (i.e. “Hell”), the first part of the Comedy, Dante and Virgil trek through the nine circles of Hell. Each circle represents a type of sin or action by which sinners are categorized. All sinners stay and suffer in their respective circles. For example, the second circle contains lustful people; the ninth contains traitors trapped in ice, with Satan in very the middle, for having committed the ultimate betrayal against God. Summary In the Divine Comedy, the poet “Virgil” rescues Dante and helps him to the right path. In another tremendously popular videogame, “Guitar Hero,” the final song battle is played against “Lou Devil,” a clever reference to Lucifer (i.e. Satan), who appears in the Comedy in the ninth circle. In the Popular game “Halo,” the final battle takes place in an environment similar to the ninth ring of Hell. This is appropriate because there is betrayal involved in the battle and because the protagonist is trying to deactivate a frozen ring structure that can destroy the world. Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein contains many references to the Comedy, as when Victor exclaimed about his creation: "Oh! No mortal could support the horror of that countenance… it became a thing such as even Dante could not have conceived." When?:
- amongst family or close neighbors Examples of Dialectal Differences Dialects mainly differ phonologically (different pronounciation because of varying inventory of consonants and vowels). Some dialects (i.e. Sicilian and Sardinian) have structural differences as well. Conclusion Clearly, Dante has created a set of powerful imagery that is referenced by media and literature across the world and has pervaded minds so much so that such symbols of hell and heaven have become iconic and entrenched.
Standard Italian: il gallo
Venetian: el galo (el replaces il, singularization of double consonants) Wimba Examples: Standard Italian: Voglio; volta
Romanesco: Vojo (the /l/ sound is completely dropped and replaced with only a /y/); vorta (/r/ is substituted for /l/). Standard Italian: più; la casa
Napoletano: chiù (the pi- is replaced by a chi-); 'a casa (articles are clipped to bare vowels) Bibliography Hall, R.A. (1980). Language, Dialect, and ‘Regional Italian’. International Journal of the Sociology of Language. 1980 (25), 96-105. Dal Negro, S. & Vietti, A. (2011). Italian and Italo-Romance dialects. International Journal of the Sociology of Language. 2011 (210), 71-92. Berrutto, G. (1989). Main topics and findings in Italian sociolinguistics. International Journal of the Sociology of Language. 1989 (76), 7-30. Summary Inferno
The first, and arguably most famous, section describes his trip through Hell, in which the Roman poet Virgil guides him through the nine circles, all which represent a different type of love-based sin. The cultural and popular references are abundant in this section, as we view some of the most infamous sinners and their punishments, all of which carry some sense of poetic justice. For example, all those who claimed to be fortune tellers during their mortal lives are forced to walk around their place in Hell with their heads backwards, so as they cannot see anything ahead of them. Paradiso
Dante’s third and final book details his trip through Heaven, in which Beatrice guides him. This final segment is meant to represent the soul’s ascent to God after experiencing the true morality of human nature. Dante makes sure to note, however, that this is merely his personal view of Heaven and is not sufficient as he is merely a mortal soul. Italian References It is in this work that we see many of Dante's Italian nuances arise. The most obvious comes in the final circle of Hell, in which a three-headed Satan is trapped in ice and each of his three mouths contains the body of three of what Dante views as the three most hideous sinners.
Brutus and Cassius are in the two outside heads, with Judas suffering in the middle. Brutus and Cassius are two of the men largely responsible for murdering Caesar. Purgatorio
The middle segment details Dante’s climb up Mount of Purgatory. Virgil leads him again until the last four cantos, in which Beatrice takes over. Whereas Inferno was used to depict sin and its consequences, this section is used to detail the nature of sin. The top of the mountain sees them reach Earthly Paradise, also known as the Garden of Eden. Bibliography Flood, Alison. "Divine Comedy is 'offensive and discriminator'y, says Italian NGO ." guardian.co.uk. N.p., 14 Mar 2012. Web. 11 Mar 2013. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/mar/14/the-divine-comedy-offensive-discriminatory>.

De Vito, Anthony. Dante's Attitude toward the Italian Cities in "The Divine Comedy" . Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1951. 1-14. Web. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/4172957>.

Alighieri, Dante. The Divine Comedy. eBook. <http://www.gutenberg.org/files/8800/8800-h/8800-h.htm>.

Galt, John. "The Effect of the Divine Comedy on Modern Literature." . Yahoo.com, 1 Oct 2007. Web. 11 Mar 2013. <http://voices.yahoo.com/the-effect-divine-comedy-modern-literature-564541.html?cat=38>.

Forrate, Joan. "The Political Vision of Divine Comedy." . N.p.. Web. <http://dante.ilt.columbia.edu/books/polit_vis/pvc6.html>. Merry Shelley, Frankenstein (New York: Dover, 1994).
http://learn.bowdoin.edu/italian/dante/written-word/12.shtmlhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dante_Alighieri_and_the_Divine_Comedy_in_popular_culture#cite_note-19 Bibliography
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