Regional variation in the use of passato remoto

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Carlo
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Regional variation in the use of passato remoto

Post by Carlo » Thu Sep 07, 2006 2:06 am

From a thread I opened at WRF:

I'll write in English so everyone can follow this interesting debate.

We need an in-depth thread on questo benedetto passato remoto
We're all agreed that it's hardly ever used in spoken Italian, esp. in the North. I would argue that even in spoken Italian it's the only possible tense in (i) telling fairy tales (ii) talking of historical events (iii) talking about the lives of dead authors/public figures/greatgreatgrand...s . In written Italian it is of course widely used in fictional writing. So let's not tell learners they do not need to learn it.
For a language to lose a tense all of a sudden is like a person losing a limb. You have to re-adjust. Could the loss of this tense in spoken Italian have caused the uncertainty between using the past and the past perfect?

Regional variation. According to textbooks the present perfect is rarely used in speech in the North (except for the specific cases I mentioned above), it is used more in the South but is losing ground there as well and Tuscan usage is halfway between Northern and Southern usage. Can Tuscan members confirm this?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Isapaola
In south Italy probably they would say: Diedi le lettere e lei ha promesso.....
End quote

i) No Southern Italian would mix the two tenses in this incongruous way. As a Southerner, I would never presume I can speak authoritatively about usage in, say, Monfalcone (even though I have friends there).

ii) Usage is not homogeneous in the South. My guess is that the past tense is more often used for very recent events in Sicily but I'll leave it to Sicilian forer@s to comment on that. I wouldn't be surprised if many Sicilians would use the present perfect when speaking Italian where they would use the past tense in their dialect. My Sicilian friends living here confirm this.
My personal use is a perfect example of the uncertain status of the past tense in Campania (I can't speak for the whole South). My use is - to be frank - inconsistent.

Adriano
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Passato Remoto - Differenze Regionali

Post by Adriano » Fri Sep 08, 2006 10:54 pm

I am only an englishman but when I was studying for my italian A level (= la maturita) my professor who came from Regio Calabria said that the calabresi often use the passato remoto in speech instead of the passato prossimo.

Another interesting use is in italian legal documents where one might state one's name as "Adrian Browne di Beryl e fu Trevor" meaning that these are my parents i.e. Beryl and Trevor, but also indicating that my mother was still alive but my father was dead.

Adrian

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disegno
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Post by disegno » Sat Sep 09, 2006 5:54 am

I am to the point where, for the most part, I have no problem understanding passato remoto in novels or written passages. I can recognize the root of the verb and by context, understand what is being said. But, to try to use it myself in writing is a completely different matter. There are so many irregular verb endings that makes this tense particularly difficult for a student. I tackle it every so often, but quickly become discouraged. As it is such a difficult tense to use, I stick to the more familiar passato prossimo.
Chi canta a tavola e fischia a letto e' matto perfetto.

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Peter
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Post by Peter » Sat Sep 09, 2006 5:25 pm

I think I've used the passato remoto only in relation to my father's death 6 years ago, and that was four years after he passed on. My teacher did not demur over the use. Otherwise I seem to get by on the passato prossimo or imperfetto, but can get a tad tangled up over when to use which!

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Ember
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Post by Ember » Sun Sep 10, 2006 9:18 am

I often (almost always) use passato prossimo instead of passato remoto but I have to say that southern people use often passato remoto instead of passato prossimo ;)
*** homo sum: humani nihil a me alienum puto ***

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Re: Regional variation in the use of passato remoto

Post by Tom S. Fox » Fri Feb 09, 2018 2:43 pm

Carlo wrote:
Thu Sep 07, 2006 2:06 am
We need an in-depth thread on questo benedetto passato remoto
We're all agreed that it's hardly ever used in spoken Italian…
Nope, I’m not in agreement, because that’s demonstrably untrue. It’s just as much a tired old myth as, “The subjunctive mood is disappearing!”

Here are many examples of people using the passato remoto in speech:
Avevo circa nove, dieci anni quando giocai, e un giorno — sempre mio padre — tornò a casa e disse: “Guarda, ho un nuovo gioco.”

I was about nine, ten years old when I played, and one day, he — I’m still talking about my father — came home and said, “Look, I’ve got a new game.”
Quindi ogni contesto era buono per crearci un simulator, e quello dell’ospedale sembrò veramente azzeccato.

So every context was good enough to make a simulator about it, and the one revolving around hospitals seemed to really hit the mark.
… all’inizio Theme Hospital, almeno negli Stati Uniti, ebbe qualche problema …

…at first, at least in the United States, Theme Hospital had some trouble…
Oltre due anni fa feci un video simile a questo […], ma me lo tolsero per violazione di copyright. Allora mi dissi: “O. k., lasciamo perdere.”

Over two years ago, I made a video similar to this one […], but it was taken down for copyright infringement, so I said to myself, “OK, forget it.”
Sì, non ho mai capito il successo che ebbe quel video lì …

Yeah, I never understood the success that video had
Ma nonostante tutto ebbe un buon successo …

But in spite of everything, it was a great success…
Quando venni a sapere che ci sarebbe stato un Birdemic 2, ho detto: “Perché?”

When I found out there was going to be a Birdemic 2, I said, “Why?”
E il prof spiega che nella preistoria due uomini primitivi vennero attaccati da uno stormo di aquile e morirono proprio qui …

And the professor explains that in prehistory, two primitive men were attacked by a flock of eagles and died right here…
E ovviamente venni a conoscenza di Bruce Lee.

And I obviously found out about Bruce Lee.
Io lo dissi! Io lo dissi!

I told you so! I told you so!
Avete presente la bomba Oxygen Destroyer che uccise il primo Godzilla nel primissimo film?

Remember the Oxygen Destroyer bomb that killed the first Godzilla in the very first movie?
Come vi scrissi anche su Facebook …

As I wrote on Facebook as well…
E lo provai.

And I tried it.

Carlo wrote:
Thu Sep 07, 2006 2:06 am
For a language to lose a tense all of a sudden is like a person losing a limb.
Pray tell, Carlo, at what point did Italian “suddenly lose” the passato remoto?
Carlo wrote:
Thu Sep 07, 2006 2:06 am
Could the loss of this tense in spoken Italian have caused the uncertainty between using the past and the past perfect?
Who is uncertain about that?
disegno wrote:
Sat Sep 09, 2006 5:54 am
There are so many irregular verb endings that makes this tense particularly difficult for a student.
Actually, the passato remoto never has irregular endings. Some verbs receive a different stem and a new set of endings (which are always the same: -i, -e, -ero) in the first person singular, third person singular, and third person plural, but that’s about it. All you have to do is memorize the secondary stem.

For example, the secondary passato-remoto stem for vedere is vid-, so you know that you have to conjugate it like this:
  • vidi
  • vedesti
  • vide
  • vedemmo
  • vedeste
  • videro
Ember wrote:
Sun Sep 10, 2006 9:18 am
…southern people use often passato remoto instead of passato prossimo ;)
On what basis do you claim that there are cases where only the passato prossimo is correct?

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Peter
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Re: Regional variation in the use of passato remoto

Post by Peter » Sat Feb 10, 2018 9:51 pm

Tell me, Tom, what nationality are you? And what are your qualifications in Italian?

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Re: Regional variation in the use of passato remoto

Post by Tom S. Fox » Fri Feb 23, 2018 4:14 pm

Why do you suddenly care about qualifications?

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calum
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Re: Regional variation in the use of passato remoto

Post by calum » Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:36 pm

Tom S. Fox wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 4:14 pm
Why do you suddenly care about qualifications?
It's often mentioned by members during the course of their writings on the forum that they are at a certain level of study, or are native speakers, or have a background in teaching a language, be that Italian or another. I think it's reasonable to ask you since you are challenging at least three native speakers on here.

As for the passato remoto hardly ever being used in spoken Italian, I have to say that that is my experience. There will be localities where this is not true but, broadly speaking, I would agree with Carlo. I know that one of my teachers (from Sardinia) would tell us how her mother's generation would still use it in speech, even to describe an event that happened only the day before. This was something she thought was hilarious.

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Peter
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Re: Regional variation in the use of passato remoto

Post by Peter » Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:34 pm

calum wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:36 pm
Tom S. Fox wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 4:14 pm
Why do you suddenly care about qualifications?
It's often mentioned by members during the course of their writings on the forum that they are at a certain level of study, or are native speakers, or have a background in teaching a language, be that Italian or another. I think it's reasonable to ask you since you are challenging at least three native speakers on here.

As for the passato remoto hardly ever being used in spoken Italian, I have to say that that is my experience. There will be localities where this is not true but, broadly speaking, I would agree with Carlo. I know that one of my teachers (from Sardinia) would tell us how her mother's generation would still use it in speech, even to describe an event that happened only the day before. This was something she thought was hilarious.
I agree 100%, Calum. I think it is somewhat arrogant that someone who is not a native Italian speaker seeks to trash what highly intelligent native Italians are saying or have said. Indeed I find it more than a little unacceptable. As to the use of the remoto, it is a fact that it is found much more in literature than in speech, although as you say it is spoken in some parts - probably more in the south than in the north.

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Re: Regional variation in the use of passato remoto

Post by Tom S. Fox » Sat Feb 24, 2018 12:40 am

calum wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:36 pm
I think it's reasonable to ask you since you are challenging at least three native speakers on here.
Why does the word of native speakers trump evidence?
calum wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:36 pm
As for the passato remoto hardly ever being used in spoken Italian, I have to say that that is my experience.
Well, it isn’t my experience, and the links I posted above prove that.
Peter wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:34 pm
I think it is somewhat arrogant that someone who is not a native Italian speaker…
Prove it.
Peter wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:34 pm
…seeks to trash what highly intelligent native Italians are saying or have said. Indeed I find it more than a little unacceptable.
Again, I have evidence. Why do you treat the claims of native speakers like the Infallible Word of God that is not to be questioned, even when they are at odd with the truth?
Peter wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:34 pm
As to the use of the remoto, it is a fact that it is found much more in literature than in speech, although as you say it is spoken in some parts - probably more in the south than in the north.
Yes, that is absolutely correct, and I never said otherwise.

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Peter
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Re: Regional variation in the use of passato remoto

Post by Peter » Sat Feb 24, 2018 10:15 am

All you have done is to prove your arrogance. Why do you lay such store in your alleged evidence? What is the source of this evidence? Why do you treat this alleged evidence as the Word of God, which you clearly do? And why should we not accept that Italians will know their language a darn better than we stranieri? There are better ways of discussing these things than merely trashing what everyone else says and saying that you, and only you, know way better than us. I have had many good discussions with Italians, often where I have had conflicting 'evidence', for want of a better word, and have been able to come to a better understanding of the language. Your whole approach shows an enormous lack of respect, and that I find truly unacceptable.

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