Talk:Corsican language

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Language versus dialect[edit]

At the risk of offending, should this be the Corsican "Language"? It's an Italian dialect not a seperate language, more recognizable to many northern Italians than many southern Italian dialects.

Whether Corsican should be considered a language if it’s own is a matter of definition. As far as I know Portuguese, Spanish, Corsican, Italian and Interlingua (an artificial language) is mutually understandable. Several centuries ago Portuguese, Spanish and Italian defined themselves as languages by creating their own rules of spelling. So did Corsican in the 1820s. It can’t just be the local dialect spelled phonetically with Italian rules: in that case Ajaccio would have been pronounced “uy-UK-ee-aw” and not “uy-UT-shaw”. Please tell me if I am wrong!

2007-02-16 Lena Synnerholm, Märsta, Sweden.

Well, Lena, it is a bit late to answer but I will. You know I was watching a Swedish film with subtitles on TV and it struck me, Swedish is a dialect of English! Once I could read what it said many of the phrases were just what I would have said in English, with but slight variation in pronounciation. I had great dreams of stepping into Sweden and participating in Swedish speech. On the other hand I went to Edinburgh once, and you know, I couldn't understand a word even though it was supposed to be English! They got pretty tired of repeating eveything for me at low rpm. So, the "mutual intelligibility" argument isn't so intelligible for languages in the same group that are close together. Unfortunately the universe is binary and Aristotle's first law for simultaneous events is rather strict. It either is or is not a dialect of Italian. Sorry, the middle is excluded. At some point in the evolution of the language it went abruptly from Latin to Corsu. At 3:00 it was Latin and at 3:01 it was Corsu and distinct from Italian. We may not know the exact time so we select a window within which it must have happened. You can't have it both ways. The consensus of the good people is that it is NOT Italian, so arguments are futile. It cannot both be and not be Italian. If that were true all linguistics would come crashing down and we wouldn't know what to say about the noises made by our apparatus. So if you don't mind let's stick to the non-Italian. There are many cases like this. You either are or are not guilty, are or are not married, are or are not responsible, are or are not the owner, etc. Deeds around here are only quitclaim but if you are quitting your claim then it is clearly mine and not his!Dave (talk) 07:06, 13 June 2008 (UTC)

Sorry, but many phenomena does not have sharp borders. There is no sharp line where the shrub-steppe ends and the desert begin. Instead the vegetation gradually thin out until you can tell for sue that you are in the desert and not on a shrub-steppe. People even have different definitions of what constitute a “shrub-steppe” and a “desert”. I remember passing a sign in western United States saying something like “Here the desert begins”. Then I had already passed the supposed “desert” without noticing. In fact, I would consider the area shrub-land rather than desert. This is just an example to show that the Universe is NOT binary the way you think.

How does this way of thinking relate to linguistics? Languages does not always have sharp borders. For example, the Afrikaner people understand the Dutch people and Flemings who in turn understand north Germans. The north Germans, south Germans, Austrians and German-spoken Swiss all understand each other. However, the Afrikaner, Dutch and Flemish peoples does not understand the Swiss. Somewhere along the chain the local language have changed enough to make the ends mutually incompensible. Yet there is no line where people on each side of the border does not understand each other. Thus the lines between Afrikaans, Dutch and German are arbitrary.

Did not you understand the Scotsmen when they spoke more slowly? Most English-spoken people does not understand most Swedish-spoken people. You might well be an exception from the rule. If you try to speak English to people with Swedish as mother tongue they will ether not understand you or answer in English. I know from my own experience that Italians understand Interlingua. On my last journey to Italy I tried a couple of phrases in Interlingua and the Italians understood me. My dad have talked to Spanish-spoken people in Italian an they typically understood him. Does this mean Italian and Spanish is the same language? Well, there are two ways of defining language:

1. “Distance language”: defined as a group of mutually understandable dialects.

2. “Construction language”: defined by dictionaries and written-down grammars.

The concepts where originally coined in German, I tried to translate the German words for them. Some linguists use only the first definition. According to them Corsican is just a dialect of “West Romantic” which also encompasses Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. (I did not know what they would call it so I made up the word “West Romantic” by myself.) Other linguists use only the second definition. They consider Corsican a language in its own right. I am not a linguist but I have decided to use the second definition for written languages and the first for non-written ones. As such I consider Corsican a language of its own. However, it has only been so as long as there has been a mutual agreement on how to write it. Before there was such an agreement Corsican was just an Italian dialect. Consequently, Corsicans who died before the agreement was made had Italian as their mother tongue. This group includes Pasquale Paoli, his contemporary Carlo Buonaparte, and Carlo’s children Napoleone and Elisa. Those who lived at the time of the agreement had “West Romantic” as their mother tongue. This group includes Napoleone’s old mother Maria Letizia, the six siblings who survived him, and the medical doctor Francesco Antommarchi. Corsicans born after the agreement had Corsican as their mother tongue. The most famous member of this group was Angelo Mariani.

Which leads me over to the topic of language evolution. Languages don’t change suddenly in the seemingly magical way you seem to think. In fact, I can’t come up with any natural mechanism that could create such a change. In the real world languages only change a little by each generation. Please note that all speakers of the same language variety alive at a certain time are able to understand each other. Yet those little changes adds up to big changes when enough time has passed. Typically, a language changes to the incomprehensible in about 600 years. Few present-day Italians would have understood Dante Alighieri if they had had the chance to talk with him. The reason we consider the language he wrote in Italian rather than Latin is that was more similar to present-day Italian than the Latin of Antiquity. But most present-day Italians would had understood Leonardo da Vinci. However, in Leonardo’s time there was still no mutual agreement on how to write Italian. I am not even sure if they talked about Italian those days: Leonardo might well have referred to his mother tongue as “Florentine” since he where from the city-state Florence. If a present-day Corsican could talk with Pasquale Paoli it would not have been more difficult than a present-day English-spoken person talking with George Washington. When the rules for writing Corsican was agreed upon this event did not change the way people like Francesco Antommarchi and Luciano Buonaparte spoke. Their dialect was just described and standardised. Corsican, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese are still mutually understandable. If you don’t get my points please tell what you don’t understand.

2008-06-18 Lena Synnerholm, Märsta, Sweden.

Hi Lena- well thanks for your response. I have to chuckle a little - ho ho ho. I agree with you actually - I was throwing you a philosophic "curve ball." Where is boundary between things? Some things appear to have a sharp boundary, others do not. And yet, if there are no boundaries between them they are non-different. We aren't going to solve this problem on Wikipedia. With regard to language, if you say one language descends from another, this implies they are different and that at some point they became different. So, you have to define that point. Your definition might be totally conventional I admit. In the node theory of language descent a language splits into different line of descent. But, if you can't distinguish any boundaries there cannot be any nodes. So, it is to a large extent arbitrary and conventional. All I was saying there is that there are no scientific or absolute standards for defining a language, some are easily defined, others not. With regard to Corsican feel free to jump in with any alternative opinions but please reference them. I think your stories are interesting. Thanks for swapping your experience.Dave (talk) 14:11, 19 June 2008 (UTC)

I though in terms of language evolution. Think about the theory of evolution! Today, there is a clear line between humanity and other species. The scientific consensus is that anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens) evolved from Heidelberg man (Homo heidelbergensis) about 200,000 years ago. Does that mean a typical Heidelberg woman gave birth to a typical modern human? No, speciation does not happen that way. The anatomical differences are too large to have been caused by a single mutation. What most likely happened was that a woman locking more similar to typical Heidelberg men gave birth to a child that was more similar to present-day humans. At the time people probably did not notice anything special. The whole speciation process may have taken ten-millennia. When modern humans spread out of Africa they encountered other human species: Neanderthal man (Homo neanderthalensis), Peking man (Homo erectus) and the recently found “Hobbit”(Homo floresiensis). Skeletons with a mix of Neanderthal and modern human features have been found. Since the two species evolved independently from Heidelberg men such people probably represent a cross-breeding of them. It is not known if such crossbreedings where sterile or not. Anyway, anatomically modern humans eventually out-competed the other species. As such we become the only human species in existence. Borders between present species are not always that sharp ether. The dog, grey wolf, red wolf and coyote are mutually interbreedable. Furthermore, crossbreedings between them are fertile. In fact, the red wolf evolved from a cross-breeding of grey wolf and coyote. However, wolves and coyotes rarely interbreed in the wild. This is why they are usually considered different species.

How does this analogy apply to languages? The borders between languages are not always sharp. My example of Afrikaans, Dutch and German is comparable to a ring species. Even if the borders are sharp today it may not have been so in the past. Today there are at least nine Romance languages: Catalan, Corsican, French, Italian, Ladino, Portuguese, Romanian, Romansh and Spanish. As I previously mentioned speakers of Corsican, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish can understand each other. Ladino and Spanish are mutually understandable. But I don't know if speakers of Ladino can understand Corsican, Italian or Portuguese. As far as I know speakers of the other Romance languages does not understand each other. Thus there are sharp borders between them.

At a second thought I seriously doubt that you would had understood much Swedish without translations readily at hand. When the Vikings came to England a millennium ago Old English and Old Norse was mutually understandable. Yet today speakers of Swedish and English rarely understand each other. (Why would there otherwise be such a thing as Swenglish?) Six hundred years ago speakers of all the Scandinavian languages understood each other. Today there is a sharp border between East Scandinavian and West Scandinavian. East Scandinavian consist of Swedish, Danish and Norwegian while West Scandinavian consist of Icelandic and Faeroese. Within those groups languages are mutually understandable. However, Spekers of East and West Scandinavian understand little of languages from the other group. It is hard to tell when they become so since language evolution is usually very gradual. Anyway, the fact that there is no sharp border between two groups does not mean that you can’t describe the properties of the majority of each group. This is not any problem for me since I often think in correlations and overlapping groups. Your first inlay made it sound like you where unable to imagine such ways of thinking!

2008-07-04 Lena Synnerholm, Märsta, Sweden.

Wait, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and Corsican are all mutually intelligible? If you're talking about a very basic conversation (like "Where is the store?" "It is here."), maybe. But not any kind of in-depth conversation. A Portuguese-speaker and a Corsican could not easily discuss the day's events without knowing the other's language. (talk) 02:20, 14 May 2013 (UTC)

Corsican is a dialect of Italian in the same way as Valencian is a dialect of Catalan (or Catalan-Valencian-Balear) language and Croat is a dialect of Serbocroatian (or Serbian-Croatian-Bosnian) language. I understand the feeling and reasons of Corsicans (imposition of french, etc.) but facts are facts. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:44, 28 June 2013 (UTC)

I may be wrong about Portuguese being mutually understandable to Spanish and Italian. My Dad denies this last night which made me start thinking about it. On the other hand, Romanian seem to be mutually understandable to Italian. At least one mother tongue speaker of Romanian I know claims to understand Italian. Maybe Spanish, Corsican, Italian and Romanian are all dialects of a common language which we can call South Romantic. If Corsican is a language or not can be considered a matter of definition. Which definition do you use?

2013-08-16 Lena Synnerholm, Märsta, Sweden.

  • Many Portuguese in Corsica (there is a sizable community), without much formal education, state that Corsican is not difficult to understand/learn, due to several similarities with Portuguese, as it seems Italian with Portuguese and Spanish influence. So some of them are actual speakers. Notice the native name (corsu or lingua corsa) is "Portuguese" all the way. Portuguese and Spanish are intelligible to a good degree, especially if you are Portuguese. Although with different grammar, it is still understandable. But Italian, despite having identical words when comparing to Portuguese, it is harder to understand. --Pedro (talk) 14:13, 13 December 2014 (UTC)

Classification needs improvement[edit]

This article desperately needs a clear statement on the classification of Corsican, backed up by academic sources. The explanation given by Seidl on the discussion page of the German article agrees with my understanding, although I am not a Romanist and cannot provide appropriate sources.

According to the view which seems to me the best-supported one, the language spoken on Corsica in the early medieval period (called "Old Corsican") was essentially identical to Old Sardinian, the language spoken on Sardinia at the same time (which is remarkably well attested for such an early Romance language). One has to keep in mind that the Southern Sardinian dialects (also called Campidanese Sardinian) are more strongly influenced by Catalan and Italian than the more conservative Central Sardinian dialects (also called Logudorese Sardinian), especially the Central-Eastern group (also called Nuorese Sardinian), which is considered the most conservative dialect group of Sardinian. Especially the dialects of Bitti and the Barbagia are very distinctive. Old Sardinian and Old Corsican resemble those more than Campidanese or the new Sardinian standard language.

However, in the high medieval period, Corsica came under the influence of Pisa, and the local dialects became increasingly Tuscanised through the influence of the dialect of Pisa. The Tuscan influence is particularly strong in the northeast of Corsica, while in southern Corsica, the preserved "Sardinian" traits are considerably more frequent.

Unlike in southern Sardinia, the Tuscan influence was indeed so strong that unlike Campidanese Sardinian, which is still classified as genuine Sardinian, Modern Corsican is considered to be a different language from Old Corsican, basically a Tuscan offshoot (though with a strong native Corsican substrate), which could be called "Corso-Tuscan" to emphasise this shift.

However, Gallurese and Sassarese in northern Sardinia are considered to have experienced the same fate of radical Tuscanisation, or alternatively to have brought to Sardinia by immigration and import from the adjacent (across the strait) parts of Corsica (as the southernmost dialect of Corsican and Gallurese/Sassarese are remarkably similar), and for this reason, Gallurese and Sassarese are usually classified as Corsican (or "Corso-Tuscan" in the above terminology) rather than "Northern Sardinian", as could be expected on geographical grounds.

Given this history, one could describe Modern Corsican as "Standard Italian with a strong Sardinian accent" and expect that strongly Sardinian-influenced varieties of Italian spoken in the remotest parts of Sardinia (such as the Gennargentu) would exhibit some similarity to Corsican dialects. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 14:12, 21 September 2011 (UTC)

Here it is stated (if I am understanding this correctly) that Gallurese was brought to Sardinia through an immigration of Corsican shepherds at the beginning of the 17th century. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 06:29, 4 October 2012 (UTC)
Southern Corsican ("oltremuntanu") is - like Sardinian - a romance Language, while northern Corsican ("cismuntanu"), which is spoken in about two third of the island, is practically Tuscan, i.e. an Italo-Dalmatian Language. See Bertoni, "Italia dialettale", p. 147, e G. Devoto "il linguaggio d'Italia". This has occurred, as is written above, because the north part of the island has been exposed during the middle age to a massive immigration from tuscany (cfr. the Corsican Surnames). So, a classifiation of Corsican as a whole is senseless, since actually in Corsica are spoken two languages. Alex2006 (talk) 04:45, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
A-ha! Very interesting. So Gallurese and Sassarese are Insular Romance, too? And the boundary between Insular and Italo-Romance runs right through Corsica? Do you happen to know which isoglosses are the most important of those used for the demarcation? Does the preservation of -s in Insular Romance play the role I suspect it should? --Florian Blaschke (talk) 02:09, 17 October 2014 (UTC)
That`s what affirm G. Bertoni: "Italia Dialettale"; and Giacomo Devoto: "Il linguaggio d`Italia". Bertoni describes (par. 97.) the characteristics of the oltremontanu (with respect to the cismontanu) that allow to insert it in the Sardinian system and make of these languages "un nuovo gruppo di parlari romanzi" Alex2006 (talk) 03:24, 17 October 2014 (UTC)
Good. It would be great if you could name some of these characteristics because I don't have these books at home. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 04:24, 17 October 2014 (UTC)
Ich werde es gerne tun, wenn ich nach Hause gehe :-) Alex2006 (talk) 05:06, 17 October 2014 (UTC)
I notice that Corsica#Languages supports the "oltremuntanu"/"cismuntanu" division along the same lines you've given, i. e., the "two languages on Corsica" stance (using the same refs you've given), while this article seems to contradict it. But it is just very unclear on the matter. I think the content from the Corsica article should be integrated here. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 19:19, 12 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for writing! At christmas I could finally get the books which I need, in the next weeks I will try to improve the article. In the meantime I wrote a small article about the Cuisine of Corsica... :-) Bye. Alex2006 (talk) 19:44, 12 January 2015 (UTC)

Italian the official language until 1859?[edit]

Corsican was long the vernacular language alongside Italian, the official language in Corsica until 1859; afterwards Italian was replaced by French, owing to the acquisition of the island by France from Genoa in 1768

Is this really true? Under French rule, Italian remained the official language for nearly a century in Corsica? That seems awfully hard to believe. (talk) 04:32, 28 August 2014 (UTC)

It is really so. You can read about it for example the history section of Le Guide de la Corse, by Georges Ravis-Giordani, who is a French ethnologist and antropologist of Corsican origin. According to him, the Corsican people until 1840-50 simply refused to learn and speak French, read books in Italian, studied in Pisa, etc. The Corsican simpathy for the italian Risorgimento was another factor that delayed what Ravis-Giordani calls L'ammarage a la France. You have also to consider that the language of the church in Corsica continued to be Italian until the beginning of the 20th century. Alex2006 (talk) 05:28, 29 August 2014 (UTC)

Requested move 15 July 2015[edit]

The following is a closed discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: No move. We have a clear consensus that the language is not the WP:PRIMARYTOPIC of the term. Cúchullain t/c 15:33, 23 July 2015 (UTC)

WP:PRIMARYTOPIC and WP:COMMONNAME. Shhhhwwww!! (talk) 07:16, 15 July 2015 (UTC)

  • Strong Oppose: Who says that Primary Topic and Common Name for the language are defined by the word "Corsican"? Moreover, French, German, Italian and many other nationality adjectives follow on wikipedia the current scheme: this change, if adopted, should be adopted for each one of these adjectives, and this needs a centralised discussion. Alex2006 (talk) 07:34, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose - nonsense In ictu oculi (talk) 09:37, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose no reasoning provided on why this is primary; and this is clearly NOT the primary topic, which is an adjective for Corsica, per WP:ADJECTIVE -- (talk) 07:51, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
  • COMMENT is this a bunch of WP:POINT violations? -- (talk) 07:51, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
    • Yes, it is. Maybe you could request a block? — kwami (talk) 05:28, 23 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Khestwol (talk) 09:21, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose as per Alex2006.Jeppiz (talk) 13:14, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Speedy close. Yet another attempt by Shhhhwwww to subvert NCLANG rather than having an honest discussion there. — kwami (talk) 05:28, 23 July 2015 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

External links modified[edit]

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