As a nation state, Italy has emerged only in 1871. Until then the country was politically divided into a large number of independant cities, provinces and islands. The currently available evidences point out to a dominant Etruscan, Greek and Roman cultural influence on today's Italians.
My husband's grandfather seems to have know the English language before coming to the United States (according to the censuses). My question is, considering the social and economic status of Sicily at the time he immigrated (1902), how would he have learned English--what are some ways that a Sicilian might have learned to speak English in the late 1800s while still in Sicily(he was born in Bompietro around 1880)? His parents, as well as his wife and her parents (who also immigrated in the early 1900s) never learned English and spoke only Sicilian. Thanks in advance for the insight.
I was going by what I had proof of, but I had thought family members had also indicated he could speak English before coming over. You have a good point, though. I will quiz family members again, and more thouroughly. Thanks.