Check Out Agrigentino Sicilian

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgm8gcX_IJg]

Check out the absolutely wild and over the top Sicilian speech of the young boy in this short clip from an Italian movie called Respiro – Vieni a Casa. He is speaking in the dialect of Agrigento on the southwest coast of Italy. Even other Sicilians, especially those on the other side of the island by Messina, can’t make heads or tails out of this speech.
Sicilian, at least in this clip, doesn’t even sound like Italian to me. I don’t know what it sounds like! It sounds like a Romance language, but Italian? No. The intonation sounds almost French.
Sicilian is indeed a completely separate language from Italian. Although you might be a bit better understood south of Naples, if you go to the city of Naples and speak Sicilian, you simply will not be understood. That’s all there is to it. North of Naples to the north of Italy, things only get worse.
To some extent, there is a north-south split in Italian dialects (the major ones of which are to be honest full languages). People from the north, especially the Gallo-Italic region, can understand northern dialects better than southern dialects. With people from the south, it’s vice versa.
I have a friend who lives in Trieste. I told him that I had read an online entry from an Italian language professor who related that even in Tuscany, there are unintelligible dialects. The professor related how he was watching a segment of old men from Tuscany speaking hard Tuscan dialect, and he wished it had subtitles.
My friend said that he had been to Tuscany, and he could even understand the old men well. But he said that that was because he was from the north, and Tuscan is northern. He asked me where the professor was from, and I said Naples. My friend told me that Naples is southern, and this is why the professor had a hard time with the old Tuscan men. He then related the basic north-south divide in Italian dialects, which I think is accurate.

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0 thoughts on “Check Out Agrigentino Sicilian”

  1. Florence is not northern, it is bets described as central. It’s in the same group as Rome. There are basically three types of Italian dialect/languages: Northern (Po Valley), Central (Tuscany to Rome), and Southern (south of Rome). There are further major fault lines. A big dividing line within the North is north of the Po versus south of the Po. Also, Sicilian is very different from mainland south italian, although they’re both variants of south Italians. Then there is Sardinian, which of course is another thing entirely.

  2. By the way, I have no idea what the kid is saying in the video, even though i’m italian, however I suspect that the reason the guy doesn’t understand him is not that Agrigentino is incomprehensible to other Sicilians, rather the reason is that the guy is an Italianized Sicilian who can only understand an Italianized version of the language, and doesn’t understand hardcore Sicilian. I doubt that Agrigentino is that much different from the other variants of Sicilian.

    1. Supposedly the hardcore versions of the major Sicilian dialects are not really understandable to each other. There would be what Italians call a “tight” dialect that would be hard to understand outside Agrigento, especially for the guy in Messina across the island. It all depends on whether they are speaking a “deep” or “tight” version of their dialect. There is also supposedly a General Sicilian language that can pretty much be understood across the island. It is a sort of koine.

      1. You’re probably right, obviously being Italian doesn’t make me an expert on Sicilian dialects.

  3. Often mutual intelligibility between Italians is less a matter of differences between the historic languages and more a matter of to what degree the speakers are Italicized. And Italicized Friulian and an Italicized Sicilian will be able to understand each other, but both might fail to understand a hardcore Friulian or Sicilian.

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