Venetian Dialect or Venetian Language?
First thing to perhaps mention before entering into this discussion, is the fact that the term dialect is not actually technically correct here. A dialect is more accurately used to describe American English and English. Whereas in this case we are talking about The Venetian Language.
The various languages spoken in different parts of Italy are not deviations from Italian, but they have evolved from Latin, and are languages in their own right. However, as the country became united it was important also to adopt one common language. Tuscan Italian. As you can imagine this was no easy feet.
What is fascinating about languages is the fact that we take such pride in belonging to one nationality or another, but in realty languages, dialects and accents reflect much more our geographical neighbours as apposed to our national brothers and sisters. By this I mean, you will find many more similarities between Venetian and Austrian or Slovenian, as apposed to Venetian and Pulgiese.
Now that this has been said, you will most probably still here, the Venetian language described as a dialect, but of well, now you know.
Language of the Sea
The Venetian Language is also known as ‘the language of the sea’, partially because of Venice’s location on the water, but also because many of the words, they say, have evolved to be heard clearly from one boat to another. As well as the numerous phrases which inevitably have some relation to the sea or water. The core of the language is derived from ‘Vulgur Latin’. This is similar to saying ‘pidgin English’.
In my opinion, and I am shamelessly bias, is that Venetian has a romantic gruff charm. Not as refined as Florentine perhaps, but there is a singing nature to it, that is calming and reminds me of Edinburgh. But it is fair to say that it is not always like this, the creative and colourful insults that are jokingly flung around in the market and by friends passing, have a tone of their own. That are usually better not to try and translate.
The language was brought into the limelight by Carlo Goldoni who reenacted popular scenes from daily life using the original dialect. Something that was previously considered uneducated to know.
Nowadays amongst the younger generations Venetian is spoken, but often it is not a whole sentence but only the odd word thrown in. I have also heard many friends saying they understand it completely but often don’t use it themselves. This I am sure has something to do with the fact that Venice is such a melting pot, and most groups of friends will be made up of a mix of Italians rather than all Venetians.
To conclude, whilst it is essential for the mentality of a country to have a uniting tongue, and in this case Tuscan, it is also true that once a language is lost it is almost impossible to recover. Therefore considering much of the city of Venice herself is written in Venetian, it is essential to preserve this historic part of Venice. Celebrating the wonderfully weird traditions of time.
Important words to learn before visiting Venice
Calle – Street
Rio – Canal
Fondamenta – Water side canal
Cichetti – small bite to eat (similar to a tapas)
Ombra – small glass of wine to accompany cicheti
Bacaro – a bar
Traghetto – a gondola that crosses over the river, offering passage
Schei – money
Straco – Tired
Ciao – hello/ goodbye