Does anyone in your family speak Italian?

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Edward Keeports
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Does anyone in your family speak Italian?

Post by Edward Keeports »

I know that there are a lot of Italians from Italy on this forum, but also Italian-Americans and other descendants of the Italian diaspora, and it's them who this question is aimed at.

Nobody in my family can speak Italian, since my Italian great-grandfather married a Slovak woman, and since neither of them spoke the other's language, they spoke English at home. My grandmother (their daughter) knows maybe three words of Italian, at most.

My college degree is in music, and there are several opera arias I like, so I know some Italian from that (i.e. opera lyrics and musical terms like forte and pizzicato), and I have learned a few words to help me research my genealogy, but I don't speak enough Italian to have even the most basic conversation with an Italophone, unless you consider "ridi, Pagliaccio, e ognun applaudirà" to be a conversation.

My great-grandfather had a brother and sister who also immigrated to America, and both of them married other Italians, so their children (my grandma's first cousins) may have spoken Italian, but I am not sure.

I'm actually unsure that my family ever spoke Standard Italian, since they were from Sicily, and it's my understanding that Sicilian, not Standard Italian, was the main conversational language in Sicily well into the 20th century. My great-grandfather's family was very poor and he never went to school, so he may have never learned Standard Italian.
bbivona
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Re: Does anyone in your family speak Italian?

Post by bbivona »

My great grandparents emigrated from Sicily to Texas with young children. They Americanized quite a bit so they tried not to speak Sicilian/Italian that much, although out of necessity they spoke Sicilian with each other. The oldest two kids knew a reasonable amount of the language, while my grandfather, the fourth, just knew just a little. My dad didn't speak it at all. When I started going to visit Sicily at age 50 I didn't speak a word of it, so I started studying it and now I have 34 hours of university Italian courses under my belt. I read and write pretty well, and my speaking and listening isn't bad. I have online video conferences with native Italian speakers for 30-60 minutes per day to keep up my speaking/listening skills since almost no one in Central Texas speaks it. I am in small town Sicily a lot, so I have been learning some Sicilian too in order to be able to converse with the surprising number there that don't speak much Italian. Back to your original question though, when I was a child my grandfather taught me to count in Italian and that was about it. The family wanted to be Americans.
Researching Gibellina, Sicily surnames Bivona, Bonafede, Zummo, Ponzio, Bevinetto, Beninati, Fontana, Cipolla, Bruno, Manfrè, Lanfranca, and Navarra
NickAndreola
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Re: Does anyone in your family speak Italian?

Post by NickAndreola »

My father was the 3rd (surviving) of my grandparent's children and the first to be born in the USA --in 1928.

I believe it was in part because of things like this: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/ ... 180962021/ , that my father never spoke Italian (or Arbereshe/Albanian) in our home and rarely (if ever) really talked to me and my siblings about our heritage. So, none of us learned any of the language or much of the culture--because I believe his goal was to make us as 'Americanized' as possible as quickly as he could.
Celinebc
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Re: Does anyone in your family speak Italian?

Post by Celinebc »

My grandparents emigrated to France as children during the war and they were trying to blend in so they never spoke Italian outside the house. They could still speak it as adults but not as fluently and they didn't pass it on to their children unfortunately. My grandpa kept his accent but not my grandma.
juankax
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Re: Does anyone in your family speak Italian?

Post by juankax »

Celine, I completely agree with what you say.
Sunnydays
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Re: Does anyone in your family speak Italian?

Post by Sunnydays »

Language tends to get lost with the 3rd generation. I am second generation. My parents migrated in the late 1950s and spoke only their native language to us children. So yes, we speak Italian. Is it perfect? No. But I certainly understand and speak enough to hold conversation and travel around Italy without issue. It is not good enough to pass to another generation. My nieces and nephews- the third generation- are hopelessly monolingual. Once the people of the original culture die it’s all over as far as passing languages down.
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Re: Does anyone in your family speak Italian?

Post by marisasabatino »

I am 1st generation American. My Dad immigrated with his family from Sicily when he was in his teens. My Mom's parents met in the US, but went back to Italy for an extended visit. My Mom was born in Chiavari and came to the US when she was 2yo. Both my parents spoke Italian but wanted their 5 children to be Americans, so never taught us. Such a shame! Even worse, my siblings and I do not have an ear for learning languages.We all struggled with foreign language classes in high school.
Researching Sabatino, Oddo names in Alimena, Sicilia and Scandolara in Cremona, Repetto names in Mezzanego and Chiavari, Genova.
MaddalenaNYC
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Re: Does anyone in your family speak Italian?

Post by MaddalenaNYC »

I could speak and understand a Sicilian dialect when I was a child as my beloved godfather who was an uncle by marriage spoke same with his family. But it is lost now.
I didn’t want to be different so I adamantly refused from about eight or nine years old to speak Italian with my godfather.

My mother’s parents who came from Naples insisted that their American born children speak English. Although my mother had some ability with Italian, we the 2nd generation never heard it from her.

My father, 1st generation on one side and second on the other,never spoke Italian to us.

Ironically, I went on to study foreign languages, with German being my favorite. I can speak some Spanish and, when I concentrate hard enough, I am able to read simple Italian and French. And to understand a bit of both when spoken.

Needless to say, I am now furious at how I actually chose to stop speaking Italian with my godfather. That would have been another language under my belt.
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Re: Does anyone in your family speak Italian?

Post by mler »

My husband was born and raised in Italy and, of course, speaks Italian. My understanding of the written and (slowly) spoken language is quite good, but I’m not too confident speaking it. My children, unfortunately, know very little Italian.
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Re: Does anyone in your family speak Italian?

Post by MaddalenaNYC »

We have schools here on weekends for children to learn Greek, Polish, Mandarin etc. children of those cultures. There are also Italian weekend and after school classes. I could kick myself for not enrolling my children but they are multicultural; one half Italian descent, one quarter British and one quarter Mexican. By the time they were born, as I was born late in my parents’ lives, most of their 1st generation Italian American family had died.
I am afraid that the only “Italian Heritage” exists mostly in my daughter’s looks. She is the epitome of a Northern Italian and is also frequently mistaken for same.
emmydavid
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Re: Does anyone in your family speak Italian?

Post by emmydavid »

Ya my dad can speak
jacobchapman
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Re: Does anyone in your family speak Italian?

Post by jacobchapman »

My Mom)
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