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|corsu, lingua corsa|
|Pronunciation||[ˈkorsu] or [ˈkɔrt͡su]|
|125,000 in Corsica (2009)|
200,000 in Sardinia (1999)
|Latin script (Corsican alphabet)|
|Regulated by||No official regulation|
Corsican (corsu [ˈkorsu] or lingua corsa Corsican pronunciation: [ˈliŋɡwa ˈɡorsa]) is a Romance language within the Italo-Dalmatian subfamily. It is closely related to Tuscan, and thus to Tuscan-based Italian. In its Northern varieties especially, mutual intelligibility between Corsican and Italian is high. Varieties of Corsican are spoken, and to some extent written, on the islands of Corsica (France) and northern Sardinia (Italy). Corsican used to play the role of a vernacular, while Italian was the official language in Corsica until 1859; afterwards Italian was replaced by French, owing to the acquisition of the island by France from the Republic of Genoa in 1768. Over the next two centuries, the use of French grew to the extent that, by the Liberation in 1945, all islanders had a working knowledge of French. The 20th century saw a wholesale language shift, with islanders changing their language practices to the extent that there were no monolingual Corsican speakers left by the 1960s. By 1995, an estimated 65 percent of islanders had some degree of proficiency in Corsican, and a small minority, perhaps 10 percent, used Corsican as a first language.
As for Corsican, a bone of contention is whether it should be considered an Italian dialect or its own language. Usually, it is not possible to ascertain what an author means by these terms. For example, one might read from some scholars that Corsican either belongs to the "Centro-Southern Italian dialects" along with Tuscan and the Tuscan-based standard Italian, Neapolitan and others[better source needed] or that it is "closely related to the Tuscan dialect of Italian".[not in citation given]
The matter is controversial, as the island was historically and culturally bound to the Italian Mainland from the Middle Ages up until the 19th century, and installed in a diglossic system where both Corsican and Italian were perceived as two sociolinguistic levels of the same language; Corsican and Italian traditionally existed on a spectrum, whose proximity line was blurred enough that the locals needed little else but a change of register to communicate with the standard Italian-speaking elites and administration. "Tuscanising" their tongue allowed for a practice of code-mixing typical of the Mainland Italian dialects. Despite the geographical proximity, it has indeed been noted that the closest linguistic neighbour to Corsican is not Sardinian, which is a separate group, but rather Tuscan and the extreme Southern Italian lects like Siculo-Calabrian.
One of the characteristics of standard Italian is the retention of the -re infinitive ending, as in Latin mittere "send". Such infinitival ending is lost in Tuscan as well as Corsican, which has mette / metta, "to put". The Latin relative pronouns qui/quae "who", and quod "what", are inflected in Latin; whereas the relative pronoun in Italian for "who" is chi and "what" is che/(che) cosa, it is an uninflected chì in Corsican. The biggest difference between standard Italian and Corsican is that the latter uses the u termination, whereas standard Italian uses the o ending. For example, the Italian demonstrative pronouns questo "this" and quello "that" become in Corsican questu or quistu and quellu or quiddu. This feature was typical of the early Italian texts during the Middle Ages.
The Corsican language has been influenced by the languages of the major powers taking an interest in Corsican affairs; earlier by those of the medieval Italian powers: Tuscany (828–1077), Pisa (1077–1282) and Genoa (1282–1768), more recently by France (1768–present), which, since 1789, has promulgated the official Parisian French. The term gallicised Corsican refers to Corsican up to about the year 1950. The term distanciated Corsican refers to an idealized Corsican from which various agents have removed French or other elements.
The common relationship between Corsica and central Italy can be traced as far back as the Etruscans, who asserted their presence on the island in as early as 500 BC. In 40 AD, the natives of Corsica did not reportedly speak Latin. The Roman exile, Seneca the Younger, reports that both coast and interior were occupied by natives whose language he did not understand (see the Ligurian hypothesis). Whatever language was spoken is still visible in the toponymy or in some words, for instance in the Gallurese dialect spoken in Sardinia zerru 'pig'. A similar situation is valid for Sardinian and Sicilian. The occupation of the island by the Vandals around the year 469 marked the end of authoritative influence by Latin speakers (see Medieval Corsica). If the natives of that time spoke Latin, they must have acquired it during the late empire. It has been theorised that a Sardinian variety might have been spoken in Corsica, prior to the island's Tuscanisation under Pisan and Genoese rule.
The two most widely spoken forms of the Corsican language are the groups spoken in the Bastia and Corte area (generally throughout the northern half of the island, known as Haute-Corse, Cismonte or Corsica suprana), and the groups spoken around Sartène and Porto-Vecchio (generally throughout the southern half of the island, known as Corse-du-Sud, Pumonti or Corsica suttana). The dialect of Ajaccio has been described as in transition. The dialects spoken at Calvi and Bonifacio are closer to the Genoese dialect, also known as Ligurian.
This division along the Girolata-Porto Vecchio line was due to the massive immigration from Tuscany which took place in Corsica during the lower Middle Ages: as a result, the northern Corsican dialects became very close to a central Italian dialect like Tuscan, while the southern Corsican varieties could keep the original characteristics of the language which make it much more similar to Sicilian and, only to some extent, Sardinian.
The Northern Corsican macro variety (Supranacciu, Supranu, Cismuntincu or Cismontano) is the most widespread on the island and standardised as well, and is spoken in North-West Corsica around the districts of Bastia and Corte. The dialect of Bastia and Cap Corse might be included among the Tuscan dialects, being they the closest form to standard Italian than any other Italo-Dalmatian dialects, with the exception of Florentine. All the dialects presenting, in addition to what has already been stated, the conditional tense as being formed by the blend of Infinitive and the Remote Past Tense of avè (e.g. ella amarebbe "she would love") are generally considered Cismontani dialects, situated north of a line uniting the villages of Piana, Vico, Vizzavona, Ghisoni and Ghisonaccia, and also covering the subgroups from the Cap Corse (which, unlike the rest of the island and similarly to Italian, uses lu, li, la, le as definite articles), Bastia (besides i>e and a>e, u>o: ottanta, momentu, toccà, continentale; a>o: oliva, orechja, ocellu), Balagna, Niolo and Corte (which retain the general Corsican traits: distinu, ghjinnaghju, sicondu, billezza, apartu, farru, marcuri, cantaraghju, uttanta, mumentu, tuccà, cuntinentale, aliva, arechja, acellu).
Across the Northern and Southern borders of the line separating the Northern dialects from the Southern ones, there is a transitional area picking up linguistic phenomena associated to either of the two groups, with some local peculiarities. Along the Northern line, are the dialects around Piana and Calcatoggio, from Cinarca with Vizzavona (which form the conditional tense like in the South), and Fiumorbo through Ghisonaccia and Ghisoni, which present the retroflex sound ɖ; along the Southern line, one can spot the dialects of Ajaccio (having the cacuminal sound ɖ evolving from the ll nexus, the pronunciation of -ghj-, the feminine plurals ending in i, some Northern words like cane and accattà instead of ghjacaru and cumprà, as well as ellu/ella and not eddu/edda; minor variations: sabbatu>sabbitu, u li dà>ghi lu dà; final syllable often stressed and truncated: marinari>marinà, panatteri>panattè, castellu>castè, cuchjari>cuchjà), the Gravona area, Bastelica (which would be classified as Southern, but is also noted for its typical rhotacism: Basterga) and Solenzara, which did not preserve the short Latin vowels: seccu, peru, rossu, croci, pozzu).
The Southern Corsican macro variety (Suttanacciu, Suttanu, Pumontincu or Oltramontano) is the most archaic and conservative group, spoken in the districts of Sartène and Porto-Vecchio. Unlike the Northern varieties and similarly to Sardinian, such group retains the distinction of the short Latin vowels ĭ e ŭ (e.g. pilu, bucca). It is also strongly marked by the presence of the voiced retroflex stop, like Sicilian (e.g. aceddu, beddu, quiddu, ziteddu, famidda), and the conditional tense as being formed by the blend of Infinitive and the Imperfect Tense of avè (e.g. idda amarìa "she would love"). All the Oltramontani dialects are from an area located to the South of Porticcio, Bastelica, Col di Verde and Solenzara. Notable dialects are those from around Taravo (cacuminal -dd- only for the -ll nexus: frateddu, suredda, beddu; but preservation of the palatal lateral approximant: piglià, famiglia, figliolu, vogliu; it does not preserve the short Latin vowels: seccu, peru, rossu, croci, pozzu), Sartène (preserving the short Latin vowels: siccu, piru, russu, cruci, puzzu; changing the rn nexus to rr: forru, carri, corru; presenting the voiced retroflex stop in place of the palatal lateral approximant: piddà, famidda, fiddolu, voddu; imperfect tense like cantàvami, cantàvani; masculing plurals ending in a: l'ochja, i poma; having eddu/edda/eddi as personal pronouns), the Alta Rocca (the most conservative area in Corsica, being very close to the varieties spoken in Northern Sardinia), and the Southern region located between Porto-Vecchio and Bonifacio's hinterlands (masculin singulars always ending in u: fiumu, paesu, patronu; masculin plurals always ending in a: i letta, i solda, i ponta, i foca, i mura, i loca, i balcona; imperfect tense like cantàiami, cantàiani).
The Gallurese variety is spoken in the extreme north of Sardinia, including the region of Gallura and the archipelago of La Maddalena, and Sassarese is spoken in Sassari and in its neighbourhood, in the northwest of Sardinia. Whether the two should be included either in Corsican or in Sardinian as dialects or considered independent languages is still subject of debate.
On Maddalena archipelago the local dialect (called Isulanu, Maddaleninu, Maddalenino) was brought by fishermen and shepherds from Bonifacio during immigration in the 17th and 18th centuries. Though influenced by Gallurese, it has maintained the original characteristics of Corsican. There are also numerous words of Genoese and Ponzese origin.
On October 14, 1997, Article 2 Item 4 of Law Number 26 of the Autonomous Region of Sardinia granted "al dialetto sassarese e a quello gallurese" – equal legal status with the other languages on Sardinia. They are thus legally defined as different languages from Sardinian by the Sardinian government.
The January 2007 estimated population of Corsica was 281,000, whereas the figure for the March 1999 census, when most of the studies—though not the linguistic survey work referenced in this article—were performed, was about 261,000 (see under Corsica). Only a fraction of the population at either time spoke Corsican with any fluency.
The use of Corsican language over French language has been declining. In 1980 about 70 percent of the population of the island "had some command of the Corsican language." In 1990 out of a total population of about 254,000 the percentage had declined to 50 percent, with only 10 percent using it as a first language. (These figures do not count varieties of Corsican spoken in Sardinia.) The language appeared to be in serious decline when the French government reversed its unsupportive stand and initiated some strong measures to save it.
According to an official survey run on behalf of the Collectivité territoriale de Corse which took place in April 2013, in Corsica the Corsican language has a number of speakers situated between 86,800 and 130,200, out of a total population amounting to 309,693 inhabitants. The percentage of those who have a solid knowledge of the language varies between a minimum of 25 percent in the 25-34 age group and the maximum of 65 percent in the over-65 age group: almost a quarter of the former age group does not understand Corsican, while only a small minority of the older people do not understand it. While 32 percent of the population of northern Corsica speaks Corsican quite well, this percentage drops to 22 percent for South Corsica. Moreover, 10 percent of the population of Corsica speaks only French, while 62 percent speak both French and Corsican. However, only 8 percent of the Corsicans know how to write correctly in Corsican, while about 60 percent of the population does not know how to write in Corsican. While 90 percent of the population is in favor of a Corsican-French bilingualism, 3 percent would like to have Corsican as the only official language in the island, and 7 percent would prefer French in this role.
When the French Assembly passed the Deixonne Law in 1951, which made it possible for regional languages to be taught at school, Alsatian, Flemish and Corsican were not included on the ground of being classified as dialectes allogènes of German, Dutch and Italian respectively; only in 1974 were they too politically recognized as regional languages for their teaching on a voluntary basis.
The 1991 "Joxe Statute", in setting up the Collectivité Territoriale de Corse, also provided for the Corsican Assembly, and charged it with developing a plan for the optional teaching of Corsican. The University of Corsica Pasquale Paoli at Corte, Haute-Corse took a central role in the planning.
At the primary school level Corsican is taught up to a fixed number of hours per week (three in the year 2000) and is a voluntary subject at the secondary school level, but is required at the University of Corsica. It is available through adult education. It can be spoken in court or in the conduct of other government business if the officials concerned speak it. The Cultural Council of the Corsican Assembly advocates for its use, for example, on public signs.
According to the anthropologist Dumenica Verdoni, writing new literature in modern Corsican, known as the Riacquistu, is an integral part of affirming Corsican identity. Some individuals have returned from careers in continental France to write in Corsican, including Dumenicu Togniotti, director of the Teatru Paisanu, which produced polyphonic musicals, 1973–1982, followed in 1980 by Michel Raffaelli's Teatru di a Testa Mora, and Saveriu Valentini's Teatru Cupabbia in 1984. Modern prose writers include Alanu di Meglio, Ghjacumu Fusina, Lucia Santucci, and Marcu Biancarelli.
There were writers working in Corsican in the 1700s and 1800s
Ferdinand Gregorovius, 19th century traveller and enthusiast of Corsican culture, reported that the preferred form of the literary tradition of his time was the vocero, a type of polyphonic ballad originating from funeral obsequies. These laments were similar in form to the chorales of Greek drama except that the leader could improvise. Some performers were noted at this, such as the 1700s Mariola della Piazzole and Clorinda Franseschi. However, the trail of written popular literature of known date in Corsican currently goes no further back than the 17th century. An undated corpus of proverbs from communes may well precede it (see under External links below). Corsican has also left a trail of legal documents ending in the late 12th century. At that time the monasteries held considerable land on Corsica and many of the churchmen were notaries.
Between 1200 and 1425 the monastery of Gorgona, which belonged to the Order of Saint Benedict for much of that time and was in the territory of Pisa, acquired about 40 legal papers of various sorts related to Corsica. As the church was replacing Pisan prelates with Corsican ones there, the legal language shows a transition from entirely Latin through partially Latin and partially Corsican to entirely Corsican. The first known surviving document containing some Corsican is a bill of sale from Patrimonio dated to 1220. These documents were moved to Pisa before the monastery closed its doors and were published there. Research into earlier evidence of Corsican is ongoing.
Corsican is written in the standard Latin script, using 21 of the letters for native words. The letters j, k, w, x, and y are found only in foreign names and French vocabulary. The digraphs and trigraphs chj, ghj, sc and sg are also defined as "letters" of the alphabet in its modern scholarly form (compare the presence of ch or ll in the old Spanish alphabet) and appear respectively after c, g and s.
The primary diacritic used is the grave accent, indicating word stress when it is not penultimate. In scholarly contexts, disyllables may be distinguished from diphthongs by use of the diaeresis on the former vowel (as in Italian and distinct from French and English). In older writing, the acute accent is sometimes found on stressed ⟨e⟩, the circumflex on stressed ⟨o⟩, indicating respectively (/e/) and (/o/) phonemes.
Corsican has been regarded as a dialect of Italian historically, similar to the Romance lects developed on the Italian peninsula, and in writing, it also resembles Italian (with the generalised substitution of -u for final -o and the articles u and a for il/lo and la respectively; however, both the dialect of Cap Corse and Gallurese retain the original articles lu and la). On the other hand, the phonemes of the modern Corsican dialects have undergone complex and sometimes irregular phenomena depending on phonological context, so the pronunciation of the language for foreigners familiar with other Romance languages is not straightforward.
As in Italian, the grapheme ⟨i⟩ appears in some digraphs and trigraphs in which it does not represent the phonemic vowel. All vowels are pronounced except in a few well-defined instances. ⟨i⟩ is not pronounced between ⟨sc/sg/c/g⟩ and ⟨a/o/u⟩: sciarpa [ˈʃarpa]; or initially in some words: istu [ˈstu].
Vowels may be nasalized before ⟨n⟩ (which is assimilated to ⟨m⟩ before ⟨p⟩ or ⟨b⟩) and the palatal nasal consonant represented by ⟨gn⟩. The nasal vowels are represented by the vowel plus ⟨n⟩, ⟨m⟩ or ⟨gn⟩. The combination is a digraph or trigraph indicating the nasalized vowel. The consonant is pronounced in weakened form. The same combination of letters might not be the digraph or trigraph but might be just the non-nasal vowel followed by the consonant at full weight. The speaker must know the difference. Example of nasal: ⟨pane⟩ is pronounced [ˈpãnɛ] and not [ˈpanɛ].
The Northern and central dialects in the vicinity of the Taravo river adopt the Italian seven-vowel system, whereas all the Southern ones around the so-called "archaic zone" with its centre being the town of Sartène (including the Gallurese dialect spoken in Northern Sardinia) resort to a five-vowel system without length differentiation, like Sardinian.
|Open front unrounded
|casa [ˈkaza] house|
carta [ˈkærta] card
|Close-mid front unrounded
open or close
|u celu [uˈd͡ʒelu] the sky|
ci hè [ˈt͡ʃɛ] there is
mercuri ['mærkuri] wednesday
terra [ˈtarra] land
|Close front unrounded||i||/i/||[i]
1st sound, diphthong
|dì ['di] say|
fiume [ˈfjumɛ] river
|Close-mid back rounded
open or close
|locu [ˈlogu] place|
notte [ˈnɔtɛ] night
|Close back rounded||u||/u/||[u]
1st sound, diphthong
|malu [ˈmalu] bad|
quassù [kwaˈsu] up there
què [ˈkɥɛ] that
|Standard Italian: I passatempi||Tuscan (Elba): I passatempi||Northern Corsican: I passatempi||Southern Corsican: I passatempi||Gallurese: Li passatempi||Sassarese: Li passatempi|
Sono nato in Corsica e vi ho passato gli anni migliori della mia giovinezza. Ricordo, quando eravamo ragazzi, che le nostre mamme ci mandavano da soli a fare il bagno. Allora la spiaggia era piena di sabbia, senza scogli né rocce e si stava in mare delle ore fino a quando, paonazzi dal freddo poi ci andavamo a rotolare in quella sabbia bollente dal sole. Poi l'ultimo tuffo per levarci la sabbia attaccata alla pelle e ritornavamo a casa che il sole era già calato, all'ora di cena. Quando faceva buio noi ragazzi ci mandavano a fare granchi, con la luce, che serviva per mettere l'esca agli ami per pescare. Ne raccoglievamo in quantità poi in casa li mettevamo in un sacchetto chiuso in cucina. Una mattina in cui ci eravamo alzati che era ancora buio, quando siamo andati a prendere il sacchetto era vuoto e i granchi giravano per tutte le camere e c'è voluta più di mezz'ora per raccoglierli tutti.
Sò nato in Corsica e c'hajo passato li méglio anni de la mi' giovinezza. Mi mentovo quand'èremo bàmboli che le nosse ma' ci mandàveno da ssoli a fa' 'l bagno. Allora la piaggia era piena di rena, senza scogli né greppe e stàvemo in mare fino a quando ingrozzichiti c'andàvemo a rivorta' 'n chidda rena bollente dal sole. Poi l'urtimo ciutto pe' levacci la rena attaccata a la pella e tornàvemo 'n casa che 'l sole era già ciuttato, a l'ora di cena. Quando veniva buio a no' bàmboli ci mandàveno a fa' granchi, colla luce, che ci voléveno pe' mette' l'ami pe' pescà. Ne aricogliévemo a guaro, po' 'n casa li mettévemo in de 'n sacchetto chiuso 'n cucina. Una matina che c'èremo levati ch'era sempre buio, quando simo andati a piglià 'l sacchetto era voto e li granchi giràveno pe' ttutte le càmmere e c'è voluto più di mezz'ora ad aricoglieli tutti.
Sò natu in Corsica è c'aghju passatu i più belli anni di a mio giuventù. M'arricordu quand'èramu zitelli chì e nostre mamme ci mandavanu soli à fà u bagnu. Tandu a piaghja era piena di rena, senza scogli né cotule é ci ne stàvamu in mare per ore fin'à quandu, viola per u freddu, dopu ci n'andavamu a vultulàcci in quella rena bullente da u sole. Po' l'ultima capiciuttata per levacci a rena attaccata à a pelle è vultavamu in casa chì u sole era digià calatu, à ora di cena. Quand'ellu facìa bughju à noi zitèlli ci mandàvanu à fà granchi, cù u lume, chì ci vulìa per innescà l'ami per a pesca. N'arricuglìamu à mandilate piene po' in casa i punìamu nu un sacchéttu chjosu in cucina. Una mane chì c'èramu arritti ch'èra sempre bughju, quandu simu andati à piglià u sacchettu ellu èra biotu è i granchi giravanu per tutte e camere è ci hè vulsuta più di méz'ora à ricoglieli tutti.
Sòcu natu in Còrsica e v'agghju passatu i mèddu anni di a me ghjuvintù. M'ammentu quand'érami zitéddi chì i nosci mammi ci mandàiani da par no' a fàcci u bagnu. Tandu a piaghja ghjéra piena di rèna, senza scódda né ròcchi è si staghjìa in mari ori fin'a quandu, viola da u fritu andàghjìami a vultulàcci in quidda rèna buddènti da u soli. Dapo', l'ultima capuzzina pa' livàcci a réna attaccata a à péddi e turràiami in casa chì u soli era ghjà calatu, à l'ora di cena. Quandu facìa bughju à no' zitéddi ci mandàiani à fà granci, cù a luci, chi ci vulìa par inniscà l'ami pà piscà. N'arricuglivàmi à mandili pieni è dapoi in casa i mittìami drent'à un sacchettu chjusu in cucina. Una matìna chì ci n'érami pisàti chi ghjéra sempri bughju, quandu sèmu andati à piddà u sacchéttu iddu éra biotu è i granci ghjiràiani pà tutti i càmari e ci hè vuluta più di méz'ora pà ricapizzulàlli tutti.
Sòcu natu in Còssiga e v'agghju passatu li mèddu anni di la mè ciuintù. M'ammentu candu érami stéddi chi li nostri mammi ci mandàani da pal noi a fàcci lu bagnu. Tandu la piaghja éra piena di rèna, senza scóddi e né ròcchi e si stagghjìa in mari ori fin'a candu, biaìtti da lu fritu andaghjìami a vultulàcci in chidda rèna buddènti da lu soli. Dapoi, l'ultima capuzzina pa' bucàcci la réna attaccata a la péddi e turràami in casa chi lu soli éra ghjà calatu, a l'ora di cena. Candu facìa bugghju a noi stéddi ci mandàani a fa' granchi, cù la luci, chi vi vulìa pa' accindì(attivà) l'ami pa' piscà. N'accapitàami a mandili pieni e dapoi in casa li mittìami indrent'a un sacchéddu chjusu in cucina. Una matìna chi ci n'érami pisàti chi éra sempri lu bugghju, candu sèmu andati a piddà lu sacchéddu iddu éra bòitu e li granchi ghjràani pa' tutti li càmbari e v'è vuluta più di mez'ora pa' accapitàlli tutti.
Soggu naddu in Còssiga e v'aggiu passaddu li megli'anni di la me' pizzinìa. M'ammentu, cand'érami minori, chi li nosthri mammi zi mandàbani a fazzi lu bagnu a la sora. Tandu l'ippiaggia era piena di rena, chena ischogliu né rocca e si isthazzìa a mogliu ori finz'a candu, biaìtti da lu freddu, andàbami a busthurazzi in chidda rena buddendi da lu sori. A dabboi l'ùlthimu cabuzzoni pa bugganni la rena appizzigadda a la peddi e turràbami a casa chi lu sori era già caraddu, a l'ora di zinà. Candu si fazìa buggiu a noi pizzinni zi mandàbani a piglià granchi, cu' la luzi chi vi vurìa pa innischà l'amu pa pischà. Ni pigliàbami umbè e dabboi in casa li punìami drentu a un sacchettu sarraddu i' la cuzina. Un manzanu chi zi n'érami pisaddi chi era ancora buggiu, candu semmu andaddi a piglià lu sacchettu eddu era bioddu e li granchi giràbani pa tutti li càmmari, e v'è vurudda più di mezz'ora pa accuglinniri tutti.
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|Corsican edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia|
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|Wikiversity has learning resources about Corsican language|
|Wikivoyage has a phrasebook for Corsican.|