Check Out Romanesco

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=sJiEbXTQqos]
Romanesco is the Italian dialect or language of Rome and the surrounding area. This Youtube video took Italy by storm. It is called “Girls of Ostia Beach – Interview in Dialect.” The announcer interviews two teenage girls on the beach in Rome for about 1 1/2 minutes.
Their dialect was so strong that those who made the video had to put subtitles on it because many Italians couldn’t understand any of the dialogue otherwise. So you see, even the dialect of Rome is unintelligible in much of Italy.
This is interesting because Rome and its province of Latium and Tuscany are the two parts of Italy where the old dialects are the most far gone. Here they are heavily diluted and Italianized, reduced in many cases from full languages to mere dialects of Italian. But as you can see in this video, the hard dialect of Rome is still alive and well.
The video caused a storm all over Italy but especially in Rome. Many people, especially Romans, were outraged at the girls’ dialect, which they felt was coarse, rude, vulgar and low class. They compared it to the speech of the ghetto or to uneducated idiots. The truth is that this is just hardcore Romanesco dialect from the center of Rome, not from the suburbs or surrounding villages.
Many older Romans were outraged at what the video said about their beautiful Roman dialect. They longed for the “pure and elegant” Romanesco of 50 years ago, now kept alive by the elderly.
Many said that this was not Romanesco at all but instead was Romanaccio, a so-called rude street form of the “true and glorious” Romanesco. The truth is that what you hear in the video is the language of quite a few Roman youth today. And indeed it is quite a bit different from the hardcore Romanesco now spoken by the older folks.
Even if you can’t understand Italian, if you listen to the dialect and try to compare it to the subtitles, you can see that the speech bears little resemblance to the subtitled words.
I don’t speak Italian, but I kind of liked the sound of this dialect. Has kind of a wild sound to it. And the girls are pretty nice to look at.

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8 thoughts on “Check Out Romanesco”

  1. Oh mister Lindsay, I’m afraid that understandably you aren’t quite getting the spirit of this video – I’m Italian and I live in Rome even though I don’t have a Roman accent, so you can trust me about this subject. The speech of these girls is completely understandable in Italian, in fact it is Italian with a regional accent, comparable, say, to that of a redneck. Every single word that they say is Italian. The subtitles aren’t necessary at all. They are meant to be ironic. They are very different from what the girls say because, in a nasty and asshole-ish way, the editor of the video chose sophisticated, literary words in place of the girls’ colloqual phrases, just to stress ironically that they are low-class. You see, for somewhat mysterious reasons, the Roman accent is associated with being uncouth and dumb. No other accent in Italy carries this stigma, and I find it completely unfair and maddening, because the Romans aren’t any worse than the other Italians in any way. They aren’t any poorer or more criminal.

  2. The reason for the absurd stigma against the accent of low class Romans might be that the high class Romans are the ones whose pronunciation approximates the most what “Italian” is supposed to be. So by contrast, low class Romans must be dumb.

  3. As for “Romanaccio” versus “Romanesco”, the difference between the two is that “Romanesco” is the name of the historic language of Rome, which today hardly anybody speaks any longer, not even senior Romans. “Romanaccio” is an offensive name given to Italian spoken with a Roman accent. The word itself means “bad Roman”. The bullshit about it being the language of the “ghetto”, “rude” and whathever… or that it is spoken only in the center or only by young people (someone must have been trying to distance himself), is just nonsense. What is a “rude” accent anyways? Note that I have no axe to grind here, since I don’t speak that way myself.

    1. I have been told that some other Italians find the really hardcore Romanesco language to be hard to understand. Especially Sicilians and people from the north say they have a hard time with it sometimes.

      1. The girls in the video are speaking Italian; the interviewer has no trouble understanding them. Listen to the last word the girl says when she leaves, it’s a plain “arrivederci” where the dishonest subtitles use an absurdly bookish “cordiali saluti”.

        1. Hi, here are my notes on Romanesco:
          Romanesco is also considered to be a separate language sometimes. It is often not intelligible to other Italians. Sicilians and Calabrians cannot even understand Romanesco! However, what cannot be understood is the hard Romanesco. The Romanesco typically spoken today is a soft Romanesco, very much diluted and heavily Italianized

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